11 votes

Time for Happiness - Research consistently shows that the happiest people use their money to buy time

4 comments

  1. [3]
    masochist Link
    I love this. It reflects how I've chosen to live my life in a number of ways. I live in the middle of a major northeast city in the US, which means I can walk just a few minutes (15 at most, each...

    I love this. It reflects how I've chosen to live my life in a number of ways. I live in the middle of a major northeast city in the US, which means I can walk just a few minutes (15 at most, each way; yes, I've timed it) to cover almost all of my daily needs. I never need to waste my time sitting in a car and get some exercise and fresh air too. But that kind of lifestyle costs a lot more than living out in the middle of nowhere, I'll admit it. That said, I also don't need a car, so the money I'd spend on maintaining a car goes to my rent and overall higher cost of living. Sometimes I'll pay for a ride. This is probably the simplest way that urbanites like me trade money for time, with Uber and similar services.

    I also do grocery delivery (or did, before a grocer opened a block from my apartment). I could order a week or two of groceries in ten minutes (again, I've timed it--or more accurately, I realized I needed to submit my order at 23:00 to get next-day delivery and I started shopping after 22:50) and it'll be delivered to my door at a time that's convenient for me. Again, this costs more than going to the grocer that's a block from my apartment, but also saves time both in terms of getting the shopping done quicker and in providing me the choice of when to have the delivery. This extends to doing other kinds of shopping online, too, of course. There are other threads here talking about reliance on Amazon as a bad thing, but it absolutely meets the criteria of trading money for time. I give Amazon a chunk of money every year for fast shipping, so I'm definitely trading money for time there, regardless of whether it's a good decision.

    Aside from the anecdotes, I would disagree with the article that people in developed nations have a lot of discretionary income. Folks who work in tech (like me) tend to have more income in general, purely by happenstance of their career choice, which means they're in a better position to make these kinds of tradeoffs. I know folks who wouldn't be able to make the choices I have just because they chose a career that isn't in technology. My career choice providing me with more money, independent of the value I actually contribute to society (the software I build is really not that important), than many others is something I've become acutely aware of recently. I hate how this word is so overused and abused, but this really is a sort of privilege that the article seems to dismiss by saying "in developed countries a large proportion of people have a nontrivial amount of discretionary income to play with".

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      Micycle_the_Bichael (edited ) Link Parent
      Random question: Do you live in Boston? I'm going to have a real and longer response to you I'm just curious bc that's where I live and I hear my experiences echoed in your post and you said you...

      Random question: Do you live in Boston? I'm going to have a real and longer response to you I'm just curious bc that's where I live and I hear my experiences echoed in your post and you said you work in tech in a major NE city and that screams Boston to me. If you don't feel comfortable sharing your information that's fine realistically a better privacy choice.

      1. masochist Link Parent
        Nope, Philadelphia. But it's interesting to see that the experience in vastly different cities is so similar.

        Nope, Philadelphia. But it's interesting to see that the experience in vastly different cities is so similar.

  2. Micycle_the_Bichael Link
    One of the parts I found most interesting to me was the active leisure vs passive leisure. I fall into that trap all the time. When I have long weeks all I want to do is sit on the couch and do...
    • Exemplary x2

    One of the parts I found most interesting to me was the active leisure vs passive leisure. I fall into that trap all the time. When I have long weeks all I want to do is sit on the couch and do nothing, but then my weekend ends and I just feel miserable instead of recharged. When I go out and do things I go into work feeling great and refreshed and ready to tackle the week. It is hard to overcome the thought of "Man I do not want to do this I just want to stay at home and do nothing" even when I know its objectively false and that I'd be happier if I went out and saw friends or doing activities with my partner. Obviously, there is going too far the other direction: It's not relaxing or recharging to run a marathon and spend every moment of the weekend running around doing things. Something I'm working on right now is trying to strike a healthy balance of rest and activities over the weekend to feel my best. Something like going to a museum and getting coffee at a local coffee shop with my partner and/or some friends, and then at night getting comfy on the couch and watching a movie or doing some yoga or whatever people do at home to relax. It is wild because I just had a multi-hour long conversation about a lot of the topics in this article the other day and struggled to articulate but came to similar conclusions to what the article suggests.

    Something they didn't talk much about but I think is very interesting is sacrificing time for money to spend when the time is PERFECT. I see this a lot with the generation above me. An anecdotal example: my mom has been talking about redoing the kitchen for as long as I can remember. At least 10 years now. However, it has never happened because things are never quite right. She is miserable in her current kitchen: its small, space is laid out so stupidly in ways you can't easily fix (cabinets are in weird places, which means the refrigerator only fits in one place but in that one place the doors can't open all the way without damaging the wall, etc), but she constantly finds reasons to not spend the money on it. Something "more important" comes up, she "needs to work summer school so her pension is higher" (it's a negligible amount, I asked how much it would change things.), she wants to make sure they have money in case I decide to get a masters degree (I have no desire to get a degree, also I make more at my current job than both my parents combined so I wouldn't ask them for money anyway), etc, etc. A lot of it comes back to different points this article was talking about.

    One thing I think is understated in this article, or maybe it is just a problem for me and my family: it is hard to spend money on things to make your life easier if you have low self-esteem and don't think you deserve it. Ex: My parents and I all suffer from various mental illnesses. We never spent money on things that would help us get better (medication, therapy) because to us having money to spend on other things were more important than our own happiness. We didn't/don't think we deserve to spend money on that over something else. It is a really toxic mindset that I wouldn't be shocked to find out is really common in people who have low self-esteem/depression like myself. Sometimes it masks itself really well though. For a long time it wasn't that I thought I wasn't worth the money, it was just I valued other things that might treat the symptoms of my unhappiness (not feeling guilty because I spent money) as more important than treating the cause (mental illness). Thankfully, I've gotten my butt kicked (in a good way) to spend money on going to therapy and unlearning a lot of those things. I'd be curious if other people had similar experiences.

    3 votes