The Information Diet: How Less Information Can Make us More Informed

Published: March 8, 2017 at 10:32 am

Last Updated on December 19, 2021 at 7:19 pm

Technological advances in the past 25 years have reduced information access time from days/hours to seconds. However, our ability to process this information has not changed much and if anything, has only decreased due to an information-excess. Yes, most of us are addicted and slowly drowning in information that we practically have no use for.  In this post, I discuss how and why less information can make us more informed.

What is an information diet?

When we have understood and implemented (if applicable) the essential ideas of a topic (art/finance/science etc.), there is no further need for information that reinforces the same ideas. Avoiding such information is an information diet.

In the context of personal finance, before I read an article, book,  or social media post, I ask, “will reading this benefit me in any way, change the way I invest or make be a better investor?”. Almost always the answer is no and I do not read it.  Soon, it becomes a habit, and there is no need to ask that question.We can shut ourselves out from such news.

Take for example, the best advice that can be squeezed into an index card (these were used for cataloguing books or inventory before the advent of computers) by Scott Adams.


Join over 32,000 readers and get free money management solutions delivered to your inbox! Subscribe to get posts via email!
🔥Enjoy massive discounts on our robo-advisory tool & courses! 🔥

Best-financial-advice-on-a-index-card

I have decoded what this means in the Indian context here: The best financial advice on a single index card!

Now, we begin to take an active interest in money management via different routes. For some, they chance upon an article that says their insurance policies are useless. For some, it is because of friends and colleagues. For a few, due to parents. For others (like me) it can be a sudden change in personal circumstances etc.

Whatever the cause, we become information hungry in the first few months. This is natural and even healthy. If we complete each task in this Personal Finance Self-Evaluation Checklist, at the rate of one a week, it will take no more than 1-2 years to complete them and realise why Scott Adams feels that money management principles can fit on an index card (the image is almost real size).

So until we understand the basics and implement then, a hunger for information is natural. After that, it is redundant. Recognising this is the key to an information diet. The rest follows naturally.

What does it take to adapt to an information diet?

Over this period of a year (or two), our ability to process information or immediately recognise the core idea in an article should improve. Without this ability and associated confidence, it is not possible to go on an information diet.

Not everyone who reads the intelligent investor becomes one. Unless I can process information fast and implement them faster, reading is of no use. Asking for book recommendations is of no use.

information-diet
Dr. Hannibal Lecter, from the movie Silence of the Lambs (1991), created by Thomas Harris. For illustration only, under fair use policy.

First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature?

 My Information Diet

Allow me to discuss my case: It amuses me to no end when people assume that I have “read a lot” (of financial/business books) to be able to write in freefincal. If there is a recognition for least-read-published-author, I stand a good chance of winning it.

I strongly believe in not reading anything unless I have a clear idea of what I am looking for. Looking for books on personal finance? Know what to look for first! And as mentioned above, it did take me 1-2 years of information hunting to know what to look for.

The same is true of Excel. I knew nothing about Excel, when I made my first calculator, circa 2009-10. I had a specific goal, and I entered that into Google, and it did the rest. God bless the Excel forums and the people who take the time to respond there.

I have probably completed at most 4 books on finance and as regular readers would have guessed, they all discuss market risk in some form.

And today, I don’t want to read news article or magazines because I am scared I will lose my originality. I know that sounds stupid, but I hate posts that quote Buffett, Munger or Marks, every second paragraph. To me, that is not original.  I prefer lateral reading. Read stuff unrelated to finance and I find that it keeps the creative juices flowing.

I prefer textbooks on finance because it gives me ideas to push the boundaries of freefincal. And here, what I learn is new and exciting. For example:  The 80/20 rule: Making sense of richest 1% Indians owning 58% wealth! or the Fractals: The True Nature of Stock Market Returns Sure, not many takes for such posts, but I become a better person while learning. That is good enough incentive.

I do not know who manages my mutual funds. The current market trends or my portfolio value. Once a month, I run my portfolio tracker and enter the amount invested in my investment tracker. That is it. The rest is noise.

Asan Ideas for Wealth is my only information source and even here, my presence has reduced considerably. And thank God for Facebooks, block-person feature. Although I have 2000+ friends on FB, near-3000 likes on freefincal FB page, 2200+ followers on Twitter, my social media presence is minimal. Thank God for productivity tools like IFTT and revive-post plugins.

Less Information Can Make us More Informed?

Yes indeed. When do we stop seeking information? When we recognise what to look for. When we assimilate the basic principles = more informed.

If you have implemented the basic steps of money management and feel that the constant chatter from FB, Twitter, Whatsapp is making you more confused, it is time for you to give an information diet a try for say, a month. Can’t hurt. The basics principles of investing and money management are centuries old and have stood the test of time. I am sure not much can change in a month.

This applies to freefincal as well. There are many readers who have travelled with me for the last 4+ years. If you think, freefincal has no more use for you (I am assuming it did earlier, apologies, if wrong), it is time for you to move on. The same applies to me too.

Over to you. What do you think?

Do share this article with your friends using the buttons below.

🔥Enjoy massive discounts on our courses, robo-advisory tool and exclusive investor circle! 🔥& join our community of 5000+ users!
Use our Robo-advisory Tool for a start-to-finish financial plan! More than 1,000 investors and advisors use this!
New Tool! => Track your mutual funds and stock investments with this Google Sheet!
Follow Freefincal on Google News
Follow Freefincal on Google News
Subscribe to the freefincal Youtube Channel. Subscribe button courtesy: Vecteezy.
Subscribe to the freefincal Youtube Channel.
Follow freefincal on WhatsApp Channel
Follow freefincal on WhatsApp
Podcast: Let's Get RICH With PATTU! Every single Indian CAN grow their wealth! 
Listen to the Lets Get Rich with Pattu Podcast
Listen to the Let's Get Rich with Pattu Podcast
You can watch podcast episodes on the OfSpin Media Friends YouTube Channel.
Lets Get RICH With PATTU podcast on YouTube
Let's Get RICH With PATTU podcast on YouTube.

  • Do you have a comment about the above article? Reach out to us on Twitter: @freefincal or @pattufreefincal
  • Have a question? Subscribe to our newsletter with the form below.
  • Hit 'reply' to any email from us! We do not offer personalized investment advice. We can write a detailed article without mentioning your name if you have a generic question.

Join over 32,000 readers and get free money management solutions delivered to your inbox! Subscribe to get posts via email!

Explore the site! Search among our 2000+ articles for information and insight!

About The Author

Pattabiraman editor freefincalDr. M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over ten years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter, Linkedin, or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
Our flagship course! Learn to manage your portfolio like a pro to achieve your goals regardless of market conditions! More than 3,000 investors and advisors are part of our exclusive community! Get clarity on how to plan for your goals and achieve the necessary corpus no matter what the market condition is!! Watch the first lecture for free!  One-time payment! No recurring fees! Life-long access to videos! Reduce fear, uncertainty and doubt while investing! Learn how to plan for your goals before and after retirement with confidence.
Our new course!  Increase your income by getting people to pay for your skills! More than 700 salaried employees, entrepreneurs and financial advisors are part of our exclusive community! Learn how to get people to pay for your skills! Whether you are a professional or small business owner who wants more clients via online visibility or a salaried person wanting a side income or passive income, we will show you how to achieve this by showcasing your skills and building a community that trusts you and pays you! (watch 1st lecture for free). One-time payment! No recurring fees! Life-long access to videos!   
Our new book for kids: “Chinchu gets a superpower!” is now available!
Both boy and girl version covers of Chinchu gets a superpower
Both the boy and girl version covers of Chinchu gets a superpower.
Most investor problems can be traced to a lack of informed decision-making. We have all made bad decisions and money mistakes when we started earning and spent years undoing these mistakes. Why should our children go through the same pain? What is this book about? As parents, what would it be if we had to groom one ability in our children that is key not only to money management and investing but to any aspect of life? My answer: Sound Decision Making. So in this book, we meet Chinchu, who is about to turn 10. What he wants for his birthday and how his parents plan for it and teach him several key ideas of decision-making and money management is the narrative. What readers say!
Feedback from a young reader after reading Chinchu gets a Superpower (small version)
Feedback from a young reader after reading Chinchu gets a Superpower!
Must-read book even for adults! This is something that every parent should teach their kids right from their young age. The importance of money management and decision making based on their wants and needs. Very nicely written in simple terms. - Arun.
Buy the book: Chinchu gets a superpower for your child!
How to profit from content writing: Our new ebook is for those interested in getting side income via content writing. It is available at a 50% discount for Rs. 500 only!
Want to check if the market is overvalued or undervalued? Use our market valuation tool (it will work with any index!), or get the Tactical Buy/Sell timing tool!
We publish monthly mutual fund screeners and momentum, low-volatility stock screeners.
About freefincal & it's content policy. Freefincal is a News Media Organization dedicated to providing original analysis, reports, reviews and insights on mutual funds, stocks, investing, retirement and personal finance developments. We do so without conflict of interest and bias. Follow us on Google News. Freefincal serves more than three million readers a year (5 million page views) with articles based only on factual information and detailed analysis by its authors. All statements made will be verified with credible and knowledgeable sources before publication. Freefincal does not publish paid articles, promotions, PR, satire or opinions without data. All opinions will be inferences backed by verifiable, reproducible evidence/data. Contact information: letters {at} freefincal {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
Connect with us on social media
Our publications

You Can Be Rich Too with Goal-Based Investing

You can be rich too with goal based investingPublished by CNBC TV18, this book is meant to help you ask the right questions and seek the correct answers, and since it comes with nine online calculators, you can also create custom solutions for your lifestyle! Get it now.
Gamechanger: Forget Startups, Join Corporate & Still Live the Rich Life You Want Gamechanger: Forget Start-ups, Join Corporate and Still Live the Rich Life you wantThis book is meant for young earners to get their basics right from day one! It will also help you travel to exotic places at a low cost! Get it or gift it to a young earner.

Your Ultimate Guide to Travel

Travel-Training-Kit-Cover-new This is an in-depth dive analysis into vacation planning, finding cheap flights, budget accommodation, what to do when travelling, and how travelling slowly is better financially and psychologically, with links to the web pages and hand-holding at every step. Get the pdf for Rs 300 (instant download)