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Old 06-05-2010, 01:11 PM   #21
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I became a lot happier when I stopped worrying about keeping up with the Joneses and decided to ease up and let them win.
While it is true a certain degree of happiness is derived from comparisons to others, I realized fairly early in my career I wasn't going to catch Bill Gates, which took a lot of the pressure off and allowed me to retire early.
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Old 06-05-2010, 01:12 PM   #22
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[QUOTE=GoodSense;943641
I think the theory about peers is correct. Most of my peers are 30-year-olds who are either unemployed or paid $15/hour. I feel very well off in comparison.[/QUOTE]

My peers are 30 year olds as well(i'm 30). The majority of them would have to get a significant pay raise to be making $15/hour. I make only slightly more in base pay but work weekends at time and a half and double time. If I lost my job i'd be lucky to find a new one making $10/hr so I live as if that's what I make. I spend $15K/yr after taxes and that's with a mortgage. Of course i'd be happier if I made more money. Not because i'd be able to buy more "stuff" but because i'd be able to save more and FIRE sooner.
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Old 06-05-2010, 01:34 PM   #23
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Lars & Ziggy - sure - I don't care about keeping up and bettering the Joneses either.... even do a fair amount of anti-consumer lifestyle stuff. If you are truly immune that's great, but down deep inside me I think there is some little grade school crowd of emotions giving my happiness some input. I think tv is responsible for much of the unhappiness in the US, as we are shown absurd levels of consumption as if they were the norm. Advertising is big bucks - there are crowds of very intelligent, very well heeled people out there working nonstop to fill us with desires where none existed before - level creep.
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Old 06-05-2010, 01:40 PM   #24
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Lars & Ziggy - sure - I don't care about keeping up and bettering the Joneses either.... even do a fair amount of anti-consumer lifestyle stuff. If you are truly immune that's great, but down deep inside me I think there is some little grade school crowd of emotions giving my happiness some input
Sure, there is to some degree. And even if one can't *completely* overcome feeling "unhappy" because everyone around them has more than they do, some people are better at seeing the glass as half-full than others. These are people who are more likely to emphasize what they have than what they don't have. And while human nature probably won't let us completely ignore what we don't have, even if it's not a necessity, many people can and do place a lot more emphasis on the "I have enough" aspect of living than on the "they have more than I do" aspect of it.

Part of letting the Joneses win is the mindset that "I have enough and I'm not going to knock myself out or go deep into debt for more." I think many folks, if they could train themselves to see things this way, might not only shake their consumerist mindset but also find an inner peace, an epiphany not unlike what Thoreau experienced at Walden.
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Old 06-05-2010, 01:40 PM   #25
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Yes, advertising such as TV tries to work on our psyche and believe we aren't happy until we get their product. For some things it works, for others it doesn't. For me, just one walk down the laundry detergent isle and noticing all the dizzying brands out there is nearly crazy. I'm happy just to get the value brand.
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Old 06-05-2010, 01:51 PM   #26
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I have not yet personally met anyone who would rather be at work than not.
The few that I have met that would rather work, probably don't have enough to retire anyway. So hard to say, but I'm sure there are plenty who would rather work. There are some fun jobs out there, I just never had one.
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Old 06-05-2010, 02:02 PM   #27
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All I know is I'm happier now retired and living on a budget than while I was w*rking and not having to pay much attention to a budget. For me, it's a tradeoff, but one I'm happy to take.
Agreed. But for me, I still turn a decent surplus when comparing my dividend income to my expenses, so I don't live on a very tight budget (not that the budget is a big one to begin with). I do monitor my budget a little more than I did when I was working, although I did get to practice living on my current retirement budget in the last 17 months I was working because my wage income at that time was about the same as my dividend income is today.
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Old 06-05-2010, 02:05 PM   #28
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The few that I have met that would rather work, probably don't have enough to retire anyway. So hard to say, but I'm sure there are plenty who would rather work. There are some fun jobs out there, I just never had one.
These are related. If a job is one which a lot of people would find "fun," they don't have to pay much to get people to do it. So it probably is self-fulfilling that they both (a) enjoy their job and (b) can't afford to retire.

With very few potential exceptions for exceptional talents (sports and entertainment come to mind), show me a job most people would enjoy doing and I'll show you a job that pays like dirt. You simply don't have to pay someone six figures to do something they *want* to do when they wake up every morning. The "demand" for those jobs relative to their limited supply will take care of that.
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Old 06-05-2010, 02:43 PM   #29
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Pretty bold move to publicly put a "specific" price on (financial) happiness. I've always thought happiness was a state of mind unrelated to (any specific) income or net worth level. Many replies here seem to confirm it's not about (how much) money. I personally found:
When: Income > outgo = happiness
When: Savings stream > Income stream = retirement (possible)
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Old 06-05-2010, 03:01 PM   #30
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Pretty bold move to publicly put a "specific" price on (financial) happiness. I've always thought happiness was a state of mind unrelated to (any specific) income or net worth level. Many replies here seem to confirm it's not about (how much) money. I personally found:
When: Income > outgo = happiness
When: Savings stream > Income stream = retirement (possible)
Or as Charles Dickens' character, Mr Micawber puts it:
"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."
By coincidence, $60k / year expenditure is about right for us, but
I very much agree with Mr Micawber (and fritz) .
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Old 06-05-2010, 03:19 PM   #31
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Or as Charles Dickens' character, Mr Micawber puts it:
"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."
By coincidence, $60k / year expenditure is about right for us, but
I very much agree with Mr Micawber (and fritz) .

Thanks for that quote - was thinking of that but hadn't used the cloud brain to find it!
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Old 06-05-2010, 04:00 PM   #32
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Sorry to be picky, but.....Mr. Micawber was discussing cash flow and the study was about income.
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Old 06-05-2010, 04:09 PM   #33
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Sorry to be picky, but.....Mr. Micawber was discussing cash flow and the study was about income.
aye, but many were disputing that an absolute income is not relevant to happiness, and that cash flow is more important.
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Old 06-05-2010, 04:47 PM   #34
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I think $60K per year would be the sweet spot for most people too--it is enough money to support almost any lifestyle less than country-club living.

But isn't it funny to look back at ourselves starting out, making hardly any money, and remember that time as the best days of our lives....
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Old 06-05-2010, 05:04 PM   #35
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I think $60K per year would be the sweet spot for most people too--it is enough money to support almost any lifestyle less than country-club living.

But isn't it funny to look back at ourselves starting out, making hardly any money, and remember that time as the best days of our lives....

How very true. I do that sometimes. Look back and remind myself of a time before all these things and remember, I did it before and was happy then.

Reminds me of an old song...

JOHN CONLEE - COMMON MAN LYRICS
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Old 06-05-2010, 05:15 PM   #36
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Are you happy?

Yes. However our retirement 'income' is less than $60k a year.

Maybe I should play down my giddiness every once in a while.


Ahhhh screw it.....
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Old 06-05-2010, 06:02 PM   #37
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If I had a house paid for, then around $20k a year would probably max me out happiness wise. I basically buy everything I want right now and spent around $33k last year with about 60% of that being taxes and rent.
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Old 06-05-2010, 06:10 PM   #38
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I think $60K per year would be the sweet spot for most people too--it is enough money to support almost any lifestyle less than country-club living.

But isn't it funny to look back at ourselves starting out, making hardly any money, and remember that time as the best days of our lives....
Not so for me. I think my best & happiest years are right now. I wouldn't go back to callow youth for anything.

60k seems a reasonable figure on average. A bit more than the average salary should translate into comfortable. I heard of a study that found people get a lot happier in their 50s. I'm part of that too.
I'm definitely happier when my outgo is a comfortable margin below my income.
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Old 06-05-2010, 06:21 PM   #39
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All I know is I'm happier now retired and living on a budget than while I was w*rking and not having to pay much attention to a budget. For me, it's a tradeoff, but one I'm happy to take.
Ditto. When I was still working, there was nothing I could think of that I wanted, that I was willing to work longer to attain. And now that I've left megacorp, there's nothing I want enough to make me go back.
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Old 06-05-2010, 08:20 PM   #40
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\But isn't it funny to look back at ourselves starting out, making hardly any money, and remember that time as the best days of our lives....
Not me! I remember those days, and they were good. It was nice to have a young, supple, capable body and a long future with so much of life's potential ahead of me, true. But you know, I have to admit that really the best days of my life are right NOW....

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