Lately I was wondering: If I had substantially more money (much more income or much more assets) and thus would be able to spend more money, would I actually do it? Would my life or my happiness actually change?
And I just can’t come up with things that I would really change. We would still drive the same car, I would still have the same furniture, I would still use the same clothes, we would still travel like we are currently doing. I can’t think of anything that would make me more happy. We would maybe eat out more regularly, but would that really be better than cooking yourself? Especially if you or your spouse/partner is excellent in doing that? I asked my girlfriend the same question and the only thing that she came up with: hiring a cleaning crew to clean our apartment every week.
This made me realize that I maxed out on useful spending (thus lifestyle) and that anything I would earn on top I would just invest in ETFs.
certainly some minor things, it would basically mean a more careless spending habit. what if you were a centi-millionaire or billionaire, (what) would it change? imo, that might even be more of a burden than just great.
Really great question. Tbh I find this really hard to answer because everything about my life is implicitly structured around needing to work to earn money, and it’s difficult to imagine how life would be if that were suddenly not the case.
I think there are really two distinct questions you are asking, each with different answers:
No change to assets but suddenly I earn substantially more money without much change to the stress of my job:
In this case, I don’t think much would change for me. I’m focused on keeping costs down and limiting lifestyle inflation, and can only imagine a bigger change in lifestyle once the wealth / passive income is there to support it.
Sudden increase in assets or guaranteed income not tied to work (e.g. winning the lottery)
This is more interesting I think. The biggest area this would impact my life is work: I would like to start my own company one day. But currently the opportunity cost / loss of job security and stability is too high for me to be comfortable doing that. Having massive wealth would change that.
There are plenty of other things that would make a marginal improvement but I don’t think they would increases happiness long term (but might give a short term kick): bigger apartment in nicer area, more domestic help, more luxurious travel etc.
I would take the fact you wouldn’t change much in your life given more money as a great indicator that you have organized your life into something that fits your needs and wants, congrats!
I think it would change a few things for me: I would take some time off work which would normally let me regenerate my ability to plan and deploy agency outside of near burnout zone. Freeing time would help to develop my side hustle, I would also take time to actually learn to spend resources on myself in order to enjoy life more. This would also free time and mental availability for more meaningful relationships.*
*That last sentence makes me realize that it is not that much time nor money that I lack, but really mental availability so more money would probably just buy me the year I need to regenerate my mental energy, which would be awesome and enough.
I think there are thresholds: being poor (which I am not) actively makes life happiness harder to achieve (not unachievable, but harder). Having enough gives us more agency and an increased ability to align our life with what suits us. Having more than enough doesn’t help much on the path toward happiness and may even actively hurt and make it more difficult.
I’m not near burnout but this resonated with me a lot - I’ve definitely dedicated most of my energies in life so far to work (and studies before that) leaving less mental energy for things outside of that than would be ideal. I guess this is what I was trying to express with
When you spend years living like that it’s impossible to not become mentally blinkered and it would take some time to change that.
(That said, one always has to make tradeoffs and I’m happy with the choices I’ve made, but the best next steps for the future would probably change if my financial circumstances materially changed overnight)
If I had enough money I would immediately reduce my work hours to 80% or probably even 60%. The amount of our limited time in life that we give away in exchange for money is just staggering if you think about it, so this would be my way out of that rat race.
Beyond that, not much would change. I can easily afford my current expenses, hobbies, travel, relationships, it’s really the time that’s the bottleneck.
I would help others, donate more, pay entire school costs for some children in some poor countries, I would spend more time with my parents and family. I would be more bold in my job, not changing it though. I would decrease work time to 80% and I would try new things, for which now I don’t have the time. And many more…
@Quack was imho spot on. If it’s a bigger wage I won’t change anything. If I win the lottery or something like that… well I think about it from time to time, it’s a fun dream, but 100% of the time, my first thoughts are always about someone else, like pay for the renovations of a friend’s place, buy a holiday for someone else etc. I even thought that I will create a sort-of win-for-life ticket for some of my friends (very easy to do if you have 2-3millions and not too many friends )
I would probably hire somebody to teach me whatever I want to learn whenever I start something new or continue or current hobby. Let’s say you’re interested in learning Greek, you could think that it makes sense to learn the very basics on your own (you can learn the alphabet on your own, the basic pronunciation, do some Duolingo…) before you hire a teacher. With more money you optimize for time so you just hire somebody right away. Applies to all hobbies really. Since you don’t care about money, you make sure to pay a premium to get the most convenient option (reschedule classes as needed, make the teacher come to your place etc.).
Having way more money also means that you spend less time chasing discounts etc. Just take the best hotel, because who cares if it’s 2x as much as the 2nd best if it’s still negligible given your wealth. Decision fatigue is a real thing, so that means you can spend more time and attention on things that matter more to you.
Flying / riding train in 1st class also makes a big difference, and only starts making sense (if you do it regularly) once you reach a very high net worth (compared to, say, what most people aim for with FIRE).
Maybe hiring a stylist would change your mind though? This would sound ridiculous for most people, but it’s not really anymore past a certain level of wealth. Why spend time trying to figure out what to wear and do a bad job at it if you can just throw money at the problem?