CAC W5D2: Outrunning & Outlifting the Joneses

JLP at Allthingsfinancialblog.com wrote a post today entitled, “Will Earning More Make You Happier?” based on this College Journal article.

The author noted that while 60.5% of individuals making under $20,000/year said they were “Pretty happy”, only 51.8% of individuals with annual incomes of over $90,000 categorized themselves the same way. She chose to interpret this data as proof that higher income does not necessarily equate to happiness.

Of course, I should also point out that 17.2% of those making $20,000 also said they were “Not too happy” versus just 5.3% in the $90,000+ group.

Apparently money can’t guarantee bliss, but it can sure go far in alleviating misery.

I think it’s a matter of priorities, or, as David Bach likes to put, it values. If you value time with your family, the ability to help others, or your health the most, you can probably manage to be “pretty happy” even if you aren’t making huge pots of money. However, if one of your highest values is security (specifically financial security), then a certain baseline level of income might be necessary for you to be completely worry-free.

Because I always thought that security was more important to me than health (though both are in my top five values), I found one of the comments to JLP’s post pretty interesting:

“There are some recent books/articles that suggest that our happiness is relative – that we’re not happy unless we are not just keeping up with the Jone’s, but beating the Jone’s at their own game. Maybe that’s true to some extent.”

This got me thinking.

Now I make enough money to satisfy my need for security, but I don’t feel all that competitive with my peers or neighbors in regards to actual income or acquisition of material things. I earn enough to set aside more than 37% of my gross pay in savings and retirement funds while still leaving me with a decent amount for a comfortable but not extravagant lifestyle. My younger sister quite frankly makes more than double my gross income, but I spend less and save more. 😉 I have a LOT of friends from college who are now doctors and pulling in six-figure incomes, yet I’m content with what I have.

I have passed that financial baseline needed for current and future financial security, and that’s enough for me.

I am, however, hell-bent on being in WAY better physical shape and health than the Joneses, the Browns, the Smiths, and at least 90% of the general population.

So if a value’s importance is measured by the degree of competitiveness I feel, I guess “health/self-improvement” is actually higher on my hierarchy of values than “security.” 💡

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YESTERDAY’S EATS

1. 1/3 c. oatmeal, 3 T. raisins, 1 whole egg, 3 egg whites
2. 1 peach, 1/2 scoop whey, 1/2 c. light soy milk
3. 4 oz. chicken breast, 1/3 c. (dry) oatmeal, 1 c. Mandarin veggie mix
4. 1 unsalted rice cake, 1/2 T. all-natural peanut butter, 1 scoop whey
5. 4 oz. chicken breast, 1 c. Mandarin veggie mix, 2 c. spinach
6. 1 c. light soy milk, 1 scoop whey

Water: 16 cups

Supplements: multivitamin, calcium 600+D, EAS l-glutamine

Calories: 1369 calories (45.1% carb/39.4% pro/17.2% fat)

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YESTERDAY’S WORKOUT

* YF Cardio (30 min)
* 5k timed run (28:57)
* Walk (4 mph / 12 min)

Calories burned: 571 calories

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DEFICIT: -867 cal (Target: -632 cal/day)

BUDGET NOTES: None

2 thoughts on “CAC W5D2: Outrunning & Outlifting the Joneses

  1. I think what it all boils down it is priorities.

    I read an article in the Boston Herald yesterday that was irritating.

    The was a woman complaining about how much the cost of living has increased.

    The woman and her family have a gas-sucking SUV, a summer home in Maine, probably live in a house year round that goes well above their means and a dog.

    In the article she complained that she cannot afford the gas for her SUV to spend time in her summer home, but she has stopped buying fruits and vegetables because they are “too expensive” and she’s thinking about getting rid of the family dog because of the price of dog food.

    Now if it were me, I would sell the vacation home. I don’t know if they are paying two mortages or not, but since they cannot afford the gas to spend time there, I’m gathering they cannot afford to maintain the second home properly either.

    But instead her family will do without healthy food and possibly their pet because she’s too proud to give up her second home.

    People are really stupid! :tongue:

  2. Stacy…I completely agree with you about priorities! We recently got rid of our gas-guzzling SUV; traded it in for an ugly, but cute in a only-a-face-your-mother-could-love kind of way, Honda Fit! It cost us $12.5K brand new including a 100K full warranty and it gets almost 40 MPG! The difference in gas is tremendous!!! Now I don’t hesitate for one second to buy fresh, organic produce for our family even though it’s so expensive!
    I felt silly driving such a small, inexpensive car at first, because society as a rule laughs at that. But now I love it and feel great that for the first time ever, the dealership had to pay US when we walked out! Our priorities in life have changed dramatically since we had out 2 boys (2 and 4) and for us, it’s all about living in healthy moderation. I feel so much better that our money goes to healthy food and college savings, rather than gas and expensive car payments!!!

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