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Humans are quite possibly the most irrational creatures on the planet. How do I know this? Experience. I know this because I continue to do things that are irrational and every single time I think to myself, “this seems like a very good idea.” I’ve thought this about things I’ve bought, things I’ve done, people I’ve connected with. But in no area has there been further proof of my incredible irrationality than my experience with Moleskine notebooks.

I have a deep love of writing. I’ve been writing everything I can in anything I can find since I was about 8. My first novel was completed after a found the first chapter in a Five Star coil notebook several years after it began. I’ve been looking, for years, for the perfect notebook. And then, suddenly, I found it.

I’d heard a lot about Moleskine notebooks but I’d never bought one because, honestly, they seemed a little overpriced for what I was going to get. But one day, as I was leaving Chapters, I happened to glance over to the bargain table and I saw a Moleskine notebook. Now, since I was looking for a notebook and since this one was on sale and since it happened to have a red accent, I decided to give it a try. And I was not displeased.

There are several qualities that I particularly enjoy about a Moleskine notebook, which I will briefly review now.

  1. Depending on the model, they have a firm cover which makes it easy to write when you don’t have a table.
  2. Depending on the model, they have an elastic that keeps the book closed when you don’t want it to be open.
  3. The paper is thick enough that ink doesn’t run through easily.
  4. The book stays open well, wide enough that you can use pretty much the entire page.

So why in the hell have I bought 6 notebooks since that point, NONE of which has been a Moleskine notebook?

People are always looking for a cheaper way to get the same results. We want a deal. We want to spend less. We want to save. And so we spend a significant amount of time trying to replicate those results, for less and less.

I’m cheap. I’ll admit it. For years, I bought knock off versions of things, cheap versions of things because, among other things, I grew up without a lot of money so I was used to shopping for bargain basement deals. Now while some things are expensive because they have a cool check mark or an apple with a bite out of them (PS I happen to like both of those brands) some things are expensive because they’re better. What I’ve learned is that a lot of good products last longer and perform better than their bargain doppelganger.

So why in the hell do we do it? Well, we think that we will be the ones that stumble across that great deal. WE are the ones who are going to discover that there’s a $6 notebook at IKEA that does the EXACT same thing as a Moleskine. Except we won’t, because there isn’t.

And then, I found it. It was beautiful It was bright, NEON, orange. It had a built in pencil holder (which I would obviously replace with my favorite pen) and in general it was just about the prettiest thing you’d ever seen. And when it comes to good things I have to say about that notebook, it pretty much ends there.

It doesn’t stay open well, the pen I wanted to fit in the fancy pencil holder doesn’t actually fit, and in general, it’s just about useless. BUT the good news is that it cost about half of what the Moleskin notebook cost. As of this point I’ve now purchased 6 notebooks since purchasing my Moleskine. They have cost me $2, $2, $4.50, $6.00, $3.50 and $13. The Moleskine notebook that I want costs roughly $28. I’ve now spent $31 on shitty notebooks because I wanted to save a buck.

We usually do this for financial reasons but occasionally we’ve got even dumber reasons. Sometimes we do it because we’re “committed to the local movement.” Now, I like local, but I will not shop local when it’s worse. I MIGHT shop it if it’s as good or if it’s NEAR the same price. But I’m not going to shop a worse product for more money because someone in my neighborhood made it. Now, some of the people in my neighborhood make some pretty amazing stuff. And I buy it. Because it’s great.

So what’s a fella to do? Do I bite the bullet and buy a Moleskine? No. I’ve got at least ONE notebook that I can use for now. And some others that I might use in a pinch. And honestly, I’ve still got about 30 pages left in my current Moleskine. But I will tell you this, and for once, I’ll actually follow through; until I see absolute, incontrovertible evidence that a product is BETTER than Moleskine…not CHEAPER…not AS good…but BETTER, then I will never buy a notebook that’s not Moleskine so long as I shall live.

Whether it’s software or hardware or something else, understand this; saving a buck will cost you somewhere else. It might take longer. It might not work as well. It might not work at all. A new friend just wrote a post about how they just made their first hire. They spoke about the idea that when hiring someone (see buying a notebook) it is a relatively minor investment for the possibility of a great return. They’re right, even more so in the case of an employee rather than a silly notebook but the premise is the same; you get out what you put in.

Invest wisely. Figure out what you can’t do without and pay for it. Figure out where you can replace money with hard work and then start hustling. But don’t take shortcuts. And don’t buy cheap notebooks.