Don’t Fall for the “Whistle Trap”

In one of Benjamin Franklin’s many writings, he told a friend, Madame Brillon:

“When I was a child of seven years old, my friends on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family.

My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don’t give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.

Don’t pay too much for the whistle. Be careful what you want, as you may get it, and at the cost of something else. There is a opportunity cost for every choice you make. Spend your time, attention, and money on one thing, and you forego another.

Be sure about what you want, and ignore everything else.

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