Plotting Prudence

A $200 computer can do almost everything that a $2,000 computer can do, yet it is one tenth of the price. A Toyota can do almost everything that a Ferrari can, but you can own seven fully loaded Camrys for the price of a 458 Italia. It’s true that a Ferrari outperforms a Camry in almost every area, but is that extra performance worth so much?

This phenomenon is present in every category, from studying for a test to cooking a meal. In anything which we invest time, energy or money to get a result, we will find that we get 90% of the value for the first 10% of the cost.

Of course, the value on this graph is in relation to functionality, not luxury or aesthetics. A painting which has received countless hours of detail is much more beautiful and meaningful than a doodle on a napkin, though they may depict the same scene. Likewise, a meal, when cooked with care for a loved one, conveys the appreciation and love not found in microwaving a frozen burrito. However, if you are going to make an investment or purchase for the sake of necessity or functionality, the efficient choice lies somewhere around the 10% mark.

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