Unlike children of today, I didn’t have a computer, cell phone, tablet or even internet access until I was a teenager.
And guess what? I am not complaining. I consider myself lucky to grow up in an age when there weren’t that many entertainment options. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t love to read as much as I do now and consequently, my English would not be good enough to churn out posts like these.
During my kindergarten and early Primary school years, the highlight of the afternoon was those one hour re-runs of some SBC (prior to TCS and Mediacorp) serials which included my all-time favourite 早安! 老师. After that, there were no more programs until like 7pm. Zilch. That’s what happens back in those days with only 4 or 5 TV channels. (Those one-hour cooking shows catered specially for housewives like my Mum were torturous.)
So, I was only left with two choices: read or sleep. Since my mum knew I hated naps (that was then), I was pretty much stuck. At first, books were forced down my throat. My English was weak and my English teachers always recommended reading more storybooks as a remedy. My parents dutifully obliged by buying some here and there even if they weren’t the type to read bedtime stories to me.
Eventually, I grew to enjoy those Enid Blyton staples (Secret Seven & Famous Five) before progressing to gobble up those Hardy Boys mysteries (unfortunately for my mum, at the expense of homework).
Reading became one of my favourite pastimes. Even now with my job and housework taking up more than 50 hours a week, I still find myself naturally picking up a book during my down time. Thankfully, this habit has also resulted in considerable financial benefits. Three of them are described below.
1. Low cost of entertainment/hr
Let’s take a look at the series where I always find myself going back to once in a while: Harry Potter. I am no intellectual snob and proudly proclaim that I love them. They are really the work of a genius! So obviously, I own the entire set of 7 books.
Ok, I admit that these books aren’t that cheap. They definitely set me back by more than $100 which is also roughly the price of about 10 movie tickets. I guess some of you might rather take those movie tickets if given a choice. But not me, especially after accounting for the enjoyment (calculate in terms of time) I received.
10 movie tickets: 20 hours of enjoyment, at most?
Harry Potter books: >100 hours of enjoyment, and more to come (plenty of re-reading ahead)
I haven’t even got started on the quality of the entertainment yet. Because seriously, I find that many of the movies that I have watched aren’t as enjoyable (Dukes of Hazzard, anyone?) as cuddling up in my recliner with a good book. And let’s not even get started on the comparison with other supposedly cool activities like clubbing or prawning.
2. Free with the library
It doesn’t hurt that most books (except those latest bestsellers) are available for free too! Whether it’s the newspapers or e-books, you can access them in a conducive and air-conditioned environment: The Library.
Compared to 15, 20 years ago when I was visiting the old Jurong Library for my reading fix, our libraries have improved by leaps and bounds. Instead of old and tattered books, the library is now filled with the latest reads. In fact, I just borrowed “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” and “Search Within Yourself”, two recent bestsellers from Sengkang library two weeks back.
And with libraries in almost every neighbourhood, it has solved the problem of purchasing books (sorry Borders/Harris/PageOne). Sometimes, it’s really not about the cost but the storage considerations since I already have two shelves in my study room packed with books. I figured that I might even donate most of them to the library soon. Besides not having to source for a home for them, these good reads would also be shared with others.
3. Financial knowledge
There really isn’t any secret behind the financial knowledge I have accumulated at this tender age. It’s all about reading. From personal finance books to investment blogs, I guess I have easily spent >1,000 hours reading them (too bad I haven’t developed a keen interest in financial reports yet).
And to help some of those who are just starting out and looking for more of such reading materials, I will be preparing some blog and book reviews soon!
So if you’re still not doing so, perhaps it’s time to bring your family to experience a relaxing day at the library doing some fun, free and beneficial reading!