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Bee on a shopping spree

“It would be a good thing to buy books if one could also buy the time to read them; but one usually confuses the purchase of books with the acquisition of their contents.” — Arthur Schopenhauer, before Beeminder existed

Are you about to buy something that requires ongoing time or energy? Some things don’t. A meal, for example, or a trip, just happens and then is done. But a musical instrument, a bike, a book — these require investment beyond the actual purchase. Some things, like a video game, require rationing lest they be even worse than a waste of money.

So ask yourself, might this purchase be a waste of money (or worse) without a concomitant commitment — a do-more (or do-less) Beeminder goal?

We decided on this as a family rule a few months into the pandemic (and feel silly it took us until 2020 to think of this), initially for sports equipment and musical instruments. For example, last summer our daughter Faire borrowed a guitar from her aunt and uncle that she’s now played hundreds of songs on. And Bee swapped her pre-pandemic gym membership for some kettlebells, which she has swung around many thousands of times.

In conclusion, make treadmill clothes racks and bibliographic coffee-table paperweights a thing of the past. Beware buying before beeminding!


This started as a forum post by Bee “the bee in Beeminder” Soule, then was discussed in daily beemails. Thanks especially to Cayenne Geis, and several other Beeminder users for helping hone and generalize the rule.

Image credit: Faire Soule-Reeves.