279 comments

Hacking Hedonic Adaptation to Get Way More For Your Money

After three years, wall-mounted toilet paper has become the latest thrill.

When I built our current house, I decided to do as much of the work as practical myself, because I learned years ago that this is the most satisfying way I can possibly live.

I love sitting back late at night, especially during cold winter nights or intense summer rainstorms, and looking up at the high ceilings and the ornately framed windows and thinking about all that structure holding itself together and protecting us so nicely inside. Satisfaction.

Sure, practicality also required some compromises – I hired out the big, repetitive task of drywall, and hired friends to work with me on the heavy parts like framing the roof.

But as soon as the house was even remotely habitable, with plywood kitchen countertops and no bathroom sink, we moved in. This allowed me to keep working on the place without being away from the family, and also to move out and stage the previous house nicely so we could put it on the market.

That was in early 2014, and true to my nature I’ve never really stopped working on the house since then. The first things were urgent, like quality countertops and sinks and faucets, appliances and light fixtures and functioning closets, so I did these things quickly. Then I installed a really nice woodstove before that first winter came, then built the second bathroom, and moved on to renovate our son’s room in the old wing of the house that had not been part of the fully rebuilt section. Then more closets, trims, cabinetry, little features here and there as the need arose, and even the rather major feature of the detached Rock’n’roll Studio.

There have been a hundred little upgrades, always arriving with random timing, as time permitted.  And the interesting thing about them has been this:

Each little upgrade – whether big or small – has brought a similar amount of short-lived but genuine happiness.

When I upgraded the countertops from plywood to stone, we were all thrilled at the new, smooth and easily cleanable nature of the kitchen. Then after a week or two, this thrill became the new normal, and it was gone.

But then, I added shelves to a closet, and fighting with piles of clothes in laundry baskets became a joyful flip through a row of hanging shirts and nicely folded pants on smooth wooden shelves. Another thrill! For another couple of weeks.

On and on these small upgrades went, each one accomplished by my own two hands, so that I got the satisfaction of a job well done, and also lived in a house that was constantly getting just a bit better every week.

Looking back, this has been so much better than just moving into a pre-made, perfect, fancy house that somebody else built for me, and doing it this way has also saved me hundreds of thousands of dollars at the same time. And even if you’re not a carpenter yourself, you can get the same benefits by understanding the human pychology at work here.

Hacking Hedonic Adaptation.

You may recall me cautioning you in this long-ago MMM Classic, to avoid buying yourself fancy shit, because the thrill of every new life upgrade – whether it is a nicer dishwasher or a faster Mercedes – always wears off, and your overall life happiness returns to exactly where it was. It’s quite an un-intuitive result, but if you watch yourself over time, you will notice it is uncannily accurate.

For example, I started this blog seven years ago in 2011, and distinctly remember being very happy with life, even way back then. Sure, I had problems just like everyone else, but on balance it was still a great life, because I was already pressing most or all of the actual buttons for human happiness

Some of the recipe for happiness (a slide from my WDS talk)

Since then, I have stumbled into a few upgrades:

  • A nicer house
  • A nicer bike (several, actually)
  • A nicer car
  • A nicer dishwasher
  • Internet fame
  • Several times more money than I had before
  • A really fun new business (the MMM-HQ coworking space)
  • And many, many other nicer things (clothes, electronic gadgets, interesting trips, and so on)

And yet, I’m still not really any happier than before, sitting here right at this moment. My life looks more prestigious and luxurious on paper, but since I was already extremely fucking happy with life before, there was not much to improve.

This brings up a strange paradox. Because I also remember feeling quite giddy and thrilled with each of these upgrades as I made them. Those happy feelings were genuine. What Gives?

The Happiness Bump

The phenomenon at work was the temporary thrill of a new life upgrade. If we were to sketch it out on paper, it would look like this:

The Short-term Happiness Bump from lifestyle upgrades

As you can see, you make the upgrade, and you do get some genuine thrills for a short time.

The key thing to know about your happiness is that you have a ‘baseline’ level. Some of it is genetically inherited, but you can also have a strong affect on it yourself, by pressing the genuine happiness buttons in the diagram above.

Most lifestyle upgrades (cars, dishwashers, or even my new toilet paper holder) do not press these buttons, unless they truly address a shortfall in your previous life.

In the best possible outcome, you might make a life change that helps you gain new skills, increase your health, or improve your life’s core relationships. This could stretch out the shaded “Actual Benefit” part of the graph to be much longer, in the extreme cases for your whole life.

But in the typical outcome, most of us make changes that produce only a short bump, and then may even come back to haunt us with a payback time (which I labeled the “debt hangover” in the picture. Anything that puts you into debt, makes you less healthy or otherwise compromises your ability to live a happy life fits into this category.

Putting it into Practice

Your job as a wise, badass Human is to understand your strengths and weaknesses, and then arrange your life to make the best of things. The temptation to pursue  shiny but useless upgrades is one of our biggest weaknesses.  So try the following hacks:

  • Consider each potential change (whether it is a purchase, a trip, or a lunch out at a restaurant) from the perspective of one year in the future. How much better will your life be in one year, if you make this decision right now?
  • Delay everything and space it out as much as possible. The anticipation of a treat often provides at least as much joy as the consummation. Simply doubling your waiting period will cut your spending on this stuff in half. 
  • By cutting your upgrades into smaller pieces (as I did with the piecemeal home construction), you get to experience the thrill more often.
  • Put your priority on upgrades that remove a strong daily negative or a barrier to happiness. For example, upgrading from a 2009 to a 2018 BMW will very likely not make you happier, but upgrading a barely-functional bike or shitty kitchen faucet to a to a good one you use daily can make a real difference.
  • Find ways to modify each potential upgrade so that it presses more of your happiness buttons. Make it more challenging, do things that require you to learn or accomplish something first, choose things that allow you to create or strengthen friendships, and choose the healthier options out of any alternatives you are given.
  • Use your temptation to buy or consume new things as a habit trigger: catch yourself in the moment of weakness (because this happens automatically and frequently), and use this to do something good for you instead. For example, every time I walk by my fridge and gaze longingly at the handle, thinking of pulling out a cold beer, I am reminded to go out to my back patio and do 100 pushups instead. In really disciplined times (like the last few months for me), I back this up by also not keeping any beer in the house. But even if the end result is a bubbly reward, I have improved the reward bump by packaging in a permanent benefit (fitness) with the otherwise very short term reward of a drink.
  • And finally, keep a list of your top life priorities on your fridge door, or your work computer monitor, or somewhere else that you see it many times per day.  Stuff like better friendships, better parenting, health, financial independence, happiness, personal growth. Looking at this list before you decide to do anything – whether it’s planning a lunch or moving to a new house, can serve as a surprisingly powerful anchor to help you fine tune your happiness bumps – stretching out the good parts and eliminating the hangovers.

Happy Hacking!

In the comments: which life upgrades have you made that ended up producing neutral results or even regret, and which ones have provided more lasting happiness?

 

  • KEV April 20, 2018, 5:20 am

    Bought and installed a new deadbolt for $15 at a garage sale.
    My old one would stick, poor alignment due to slight shift of the door frame, and required substantial amount of force to lock/unlock. Double the frustration during during wet seasons. Hated the daily routine but lived with for 2 years but my finger strength improved. Now, it’s a pure joy enjoyed by my entire family. It turns like butter. No doubt this joy will soon wear off.

    Reply
  • Dan April 21, 2018, 7:32 am

    I guess the best thing I did years ago was to get my engineering degree. Although, I’ve had to move around the United States, I have largely remained employed. Now, I am rapidly approaching pretty good financial independence (FI). In these times, I may not have ever been able to stop working had I not obtained the sheepskin. I did not like school. I did not enjoy the engineering training. However, if I had given up, there’s a very good possibility I could have been one of these many homeless folks in this country. Maybe, the final thing it may do for me is to provide time to help others. I think the best satisfaction will arrive then.

    Reply
  • Jen April 22, 2018, 7:59 pm

    A happiness upgrade that backfired on me lately was a family trip to Florida. Financially we were fine to take the trip, we stayed with family and saved money by enjoying natural attractions over theme parks. The regret came from the shift in weather. I have never taken a vacation in the winter to a warm location, and coming back to Ontario in a snow storm actually put me into the ‘post-vacation blues’. I was really happy before the trip, going outside everyday and not minding the unpredictable winter-to-spring weather. Since returning though, I’ve struggled to even get dressed (not like me at all), because it’s ‘cold’ out! Reflecting back on this with my husband, I actually think that I regret the timing of our vacation. If we were to plan a vacation in the winter again, I would probably want to go skiing or stay in a cold climate, likewise picking a warm destination when it was a bit warmer here. Has anyone else experienced this? It was very new for me, and very eye opening!

    Reply
    • David Houston April 25, 2018, 3:17 pm

      This happens I think with the frequency of trips south during winter. Those that go every year and the snowbirds that stay the whole winter south become soft and weak and are unable to cope with the cold climate their bodies were once naturally acclimated to.

      To combat this do not go south as much in winter or skip a few years. You will appreciate the trip more, save more money and will be able handle any cold weather better

      Reply
  • Dakota Reuland April 22, 2018, 10:19 pm

    I like where the idea of going back to original happiness comes from. For a long time, especially in my younger years, I was a shoe fanatic – I always needed the newest pair of shoes. Looking back on it, I feel like an idiot, because it might have only been literally a WEEK before that happiness wore off, and I was back to wearing flip-flops or boots. As I grow older, I do find things that bring me happiness, but the idea of material happiness is something I have put to the forefront of my overall “happiness examiner” – am I happy with my truck, phone, computer, apartment, etc.? Sure, they are all worth something to me. I think that if you find something of worth to you, it will bring you most happiness – much like you with your bikes. I am going to be buying a house in the next week or so to fix up, live in, and sell when I am done with college, and honestly could not be any happier or ecstatic to have the opportunity to do so!

    Reply
  • Jay McConnell April 23, 2018, 9:56 am

    Neutral or regret: lots of fancy clothes, suits, etc. I threw the majority of them out. Damn I looked good, but so much to manage!
    Decision with Lasting benefits: not too happy with life, but making a conscious decision to run a mile every night. That lead to 11 years of vigorous health and feeling great. (so far)

    Reply
  • Oona April 24, 2018, 2:00 am

    Today I was thinking if I need to get an insurance for accidents. Then remembered MMM writing about it. Read it and realized that my stash will help, if something happens. And after that I realize that we have very good public health system here in Finland, so I’m good. Moments pause and MMM helped me to save my money. Perfect!

    So that was my small adjustment of the day, more stash = less worries.

    Upgrade: Bought a new bike. Oh that money loss. But thanks to MMM I’m so hooked! It’s so fast and light and easy. Thank MMM that I have sold my car and switched to bike and public transportation.

    It looks like downgrade to some people, but they don’t see the stupid smile on my face when I bike around the city thinking ”This is so much better than a car ride!”

    Oh and best way to not feel bad about losing your money is to book a ticket to visit a friend. Never goes wrong!

    Reply
  • David Houston April 25, 2018, 3:08 pm

    Burning wood in winter especially in cities has got to end. I go out at night for a walk in the winter and can barely breath from all the homes burning wood. And woodsmoke particles get deep in the lungs I’ve been told. Some cities in the USA have banned wood burning in the winter. They all should and fast. We are so worried about car pollution but overlook pollution from constant wood burning.

    Reply
  • Pit April 25, 2018, 3:31 pm

    Talking about cycling to work and stuff… I cycle to work daily and frankly I enjoy it. Recently I got an offer to change jobs, with 15% salary increase and a more senior role (principle engineer). The catch is that it will involve 40min drive one way and working time is not flexible at all. The things at the current place are not rosy, job satisfaction is not what it used to be and redundancies are looming. All those things are a motivation to consider a move. How much value would you put on a 40min daily commute? Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 29, 2018, 12:34 pm

      Hi Pit,

      I guess I’d put the 80 minutes of my time at roughly $100 per workday, and the 40 miles(?) of daily driving at another $20. So if the job is truly better, and the pay is at least $30,000 after tax higher than your current job, it could start to become worthwhile financially.

      But remember that it’s also very easy to simply move. It takes about two weeks of work (80 hours) to pack up a house and re-set up in a new place (even less if it’s an apartment), so this is generally much wiser than just doing the commute. You’ll waste 80 hours driving within the first 60 days of work, so I’d prioritize moving.

      Reply
  • JessiBrader April 26, 2018, 3:21 am

    HI MMM,

    this is my first post on here ever! :D I am a German girl living in London, 26 years old and about a month ago I started from the first article, reading daily, and now I am here! I was afraid this day would come, I have now officially ran out of MMM to read!! ahhhh my life is over…but in all honesty, thank you so much for what you are doing here, I really appreciate it immensly. Glad to hear more more mooore!:) xxJessi

    Reply
  • Clair April 27, 2018, 3:02 am

    Yes. Love this post mmm! We bought a modest house that was the height of late 80s beige- we didn’t want to overcapitalise so have a duplex with 400sqm garden. I restore furniture given, won in the road side pick up lottery or purchased on the gumtree for under $300aud. Finding what ever we need is a frugal lottery for me. Everything has a a story and many of them quite funny because most of it is not from a big box shop, and that involves talking to actual people who are goldmines of interesting stories, sorting out how to get it home or just the joy of stripping back an old piece of furniture to find a sublime wood grain that is then restored. People regularly comment on how lovely our little house and garden is and it is a place that friends and kids stay to play or come when they need a cuppa and a hug. I wouldn’t have got as much happiness out of a perfectly renovated house because it would be financially crippling and we have learnt so many skills along the way, have so many stories, appreciate every upgrade, have money to spend on things that bring us joy and stay true to our values. It’s all win!

    Reply
  • Alisdair April 27, 2018, 8:07 am

    Hey MMM,

    Another important post thanks again, recently I started doing a coursera course online called The science of well-being. Some of what you mentioned is there. It’s free. May interest a few people here.

    I always like to pause and ask, will this make me happy?

    Reply
  • Phil April 27, 2018, 5:57 pm

    I have always said that just knowing i can buy most anything i want and pay cash for it is all the happiness i need without spending the money!

    Reply
  • MAD Wealth April 30, 2018, 8:38 pm

    Ahhh such a true principle. Experienced this when we upgraded from the annoying spring loaded toilet paper holder to an uber fancy pivoting arm version. We were both so excited to have something shiny, new, spiffy, and of course a better user experience :) . That was all at the store even before I could install it, HA!

    At that point even I had to consider if our lifestyle was really out of whack to have such joy out of a $10 upgrade since we don’t generally treat ourselves to luxuries in the traditional sense, but live pretty lavishly anyway. Then I thought about it for a second, and decided it was just where it needs to be!

    Reply
  • Kate May 6, 2018, 6:47 pm

    Regret – often taking on too big DIY projects is a regret for me, I find that it eats into my time in ways I don’t like and wears me down. We re-fitted our own kitchen and it took us so long and we were tired for months as we tried to fit it in, it has honestly affected my enjoyment of the kitchen itself – by the time we had actually finished I just wanted it over, I didn’t feel like I got that lovely moment of satisfaction.

    Neutral upgrades – we inherited my Grandma;s small, energy efficient car to replace our small energy efficient car when she decide she was too old to drive. At the time I really wanted it – our car didn’t have air conditioning…. but I don’t think I’ve really noticed the difference and it was actually rather nice having the windows open in summer.

    Positive – Small DIY projects, things that make life better in the time that is around to fit them in (I find blocks of a half day work best for me, sometimes a few – but I need to be able to see the whole task). The learning and the concrete improvement make me feel great – for example we repainted and it felt so nice to have a brighter house. Learning in general is associated with the positive for me – instruments, skills, gardens, etc whenever I have learned something the thrill sticks around that little bit longer.

    The best lifestyle upgrade I’ve made was not commuting any more – it has it’s struggles, I could earn more somewhere else…. but right now I cycle in 2 miles and work for 5 hours and then I come home/go to the park with my kid and it is absolutely worth it.

    Reply
  • Paul May 7, 2018, 9:23 am

    I haven’t peeked at the blog in a while – I have slowly been upgrading my life by spending less time on the internet. I’m guilty of looking for upgrades in specific areas, and it is almost always, not exactly a mistake, but, well, money that’s not well spent. My worst habit is buying stuff and then not using it because I worry about its wearing out and/or getting stolen. For example, a long time ago I spent a fair amount of money on some Rivendell Bicycle Works panniers. Hey, they’re cotton canvas! They won’t degrade with the sun! But because they were so expensive, I didn’t want to leave them on my bike when I was parked. They also tend to sag from one side or the other because they are basically throw over the rack in style. I bought an Arkel Bug pannier because it converts to a backpack, but it was fidgety. I did use it a lot, but it eventually wore out, and a I bought another one, but the backpack strap is coming unsewed,a nd it is not where I can repair it without ripping the seams and resewing most of the pannier. Currently, I’m using some old Eclipse panniers I bought at a thrift store for $15. They work great, but they’re old and no longer made. Hell, they’re practically collectors items, I argue to myself. They’re going to fade sitting out there on the bike all the time. So, of course I find myself looking at the new Rivendell panniers, thinking I could leave those on the bike. They’re cotton! They won’t disintegrate with the sun! And of course, that original set, that I bought years ago, is sitting in my closet, underneath the Arkel Bug that works perfectly fine even with the strap coming unsewed, and the other Eclipse pannier, since I only really use one at a time. The odd thing is I spend more to buy durable stuff, and then I don’t use it because I don’t want to wear it out and/or have it stolen. If I just used whatever it is until it does get worn out, beyond repair, or stolen, I’d be just fine. “But it’s a hobby…” I tell myself. And so it goes.

    Reply
  • James Gutschmidt May 8, 2018, 4:22 am

    I get general happiness from reading your blog, and especially most of the comments from readers.

    Reply
  • Chris May 9, 2018, 9:37 am

    What if happiness is the wrong pursuit? Is it actually possible to reach a point where you are 100% happy? If you do have the chance to reach this place, what about the tragedies of life that are guaranteed to come, such as illness of loved ones? We are always thinking about how we can improve our future making us “more happy”. It seems to be almost a law of the universe that happiness is always in the future and it cannot stay forever. With that being said, is it possible that we should pursue something besides happiness, since it is never here to stay? I think the last paragraph started to touch on this. It seems “meaning” would be a much more worth while pursuit. If you have a meaning, you will still have a reason to get out of bed when tragedies have struck. If your only pursuing happiness, what do you do on such days, throw in the towel? To find meaning,you may think, “what would an ideal future be like for myself, how do i want to be as an individual, how do i want to feel and think?” . Then, you can orient your life’s purchases in a way that will help you achieve this. You could ask your self before every purchase “will this aide in progressing me toward how i want my life to be in 5 years?”. You could purchase things for your home that will help you become the most productive version of your self as possible accelerating you to your pre defined goal. I think purchases based on the concept that they are tools to help you achieve and progress on the meaning you have found, will continue to provide value as you will remember that it was a necessary purchase. Side note- it seems people can find meaning through feeling like a productive member of society, like they are contributing to the success of the human civilization. Also through responsibility such as raising children, taking care of someone, or providing for family. Just a thought

    Reply
  • FireHackerOne May 9, 2018, 11:59 am

    For me, pretty much any “thing” upgrade fades. Some fade faster than others. In fact, many new (used) things actually cause me a bit of pain. I don’t like buying things. It’s taken me a while to get there, but at this point if we don’t really need it, I don’t even want it.

    A while back, a friend gave me a basketball goal. I have received more happiness from playing basketball with my sons and the neighbor kids from that one “upgrade” than anything else I can remember from recent acquisition. I could have purchased it, and gotten the same result, so I’m not saying it needed to free.

    My point is more that it seems that I get more happiness when the benefit is shared and is something that encourages me to spend time with people I love. We get the same type benefit from board games versus video games.

    Reply
  • Nicole May 11, 2018, 11:46 am

    Yes, it’s okay to upgrade and have things the way you want them! If you can do it yourself, great! If you need to hire things done, great!

    Reply
  • Married to a Swabian May 13, 2018, 7:05 am

    After two weeks in our new, smaller house, we are finding that it is, in fact, a great move for us. Happiness is up and debt and time wasting tasks like mowing are down. ;) This will help us to retire sooner and build our nest egg faster. It IS rewarding to do many improvements yourself! ;)

    On the flip side, buying a new car in 2013 was a regret. Waited until age 48 to buy my first (and last) new car: a Ford Fusion. It has been a good car, but every time I calculate the annual depreciation alone for the vehicle, it causes regret: new price: $32k, current value about $12k = $4k / year depreciation! Very anti-mustacian. ;(

    Reply
  • TomTrottier May 15, 2018, 10:58 pm

    Washing the dishes upgrades my environment for a week!

    Reply
  • T-Bird May 16, 2018, 10:16 am

    Tim Minchin put it well IMO: “Don’t Seek Happiness – Happiness is like an orgasm: if you think about it too much, it goes away. Keep busy and aim to make someone else happy, and you might find you get some as a side effect.”

    Reply
  • Jamee May 17, 2018, 6:56 pm

    Loved this article! I completely agree with spacing out purchases and experiences… the happiness expands immensely when something feels like a treat to look forward to, rather than immediate gratification of a thought or desire. I like to keep something in my “cart” for weeks or sometimes months, and only end up buying about half the stuff. Oddly, the feeling of deciding I no longer want/need something and deleting it from my cart is often just as satisfying as buying it.

    Upgrades/Downgrades…

    Negative: having two mature shade trees on our property cut down last year because we were told they were dying. In hindsight, they both had at least a few more years left on them and plenty of shade to provide our house and large yard; we should have had them pruned instead. We paid almost $1000 for each removal and I still feel sad every time I think about it or look at that empty, exposed side of the yard.

    Neutral: 1. Random furniture such as desks and storage shelves that served their purpose in the short term but no longer fit with our lifestyle/layout, and now which we must either store in the basement or spend time and hassle trying to sell. The house feels much better with less furniture and less stuff anyway. 2. Eating out any more often than once a week… I’ve realized that if I keep meals out limited to once every 1-2 weeks, the enjoyment is much greater and the experience less taken for granted. Also, purchasing alcoholic beverages at restaurants…joy to cost ratio sucks. 3. Most clothes that I haven’t bought secondhand & cheap… neutral or downright regret.

    Lasting happiness: 1. Adopting our dog Luna… serious joy every single day. 2. Renovating our old, cheapo kitchen and doing everything ourselves… we’ve replaced the whole kit and caboodle: completely rewired the electric, ripped out old flooring and put in hardwood, installed real wooden soft-close cabinets/drawers and beautiful quartz countertops, created more space above the sink and stove. At times the experience has been nothing short of traumatic and has consumed our weekends for the last 3 months, but I can smile knowing how delicious the outcome feels after having put so much work and time into it. I cook all the time so these upgrades are priceless, not just for functionality but for a lovely, happy space to work in. 3. Planting fruit trees and berry bushes on our property… we delight in seeing them grow and produce delicious food for us year after year. True abundance right in our back (and front) yard. 4. Most of my travels have provided lasting happiness in the form of memories and world-expansion. I live in the US. Every single second spent camping, hiking, and going to national parks was worth so much more than the meager amount spent on gas/lodging. I’ve stayed a total of 9 months in various countries of Europe, mostly staying for free with friends and lovers, and living like a local (grocery shopping and cooking; no touristy activities). An exception might be the 3rd and 4th times I let my husband drag me to Vegas for a long weekend. Twice was plenty. Part of me still yearns to travel to other faraway locations like Japan, Bali, New Zealand, Australia, Ethiopia, Cape Town, etc., but I’ve come to realize how little I’ve seen of my own beautiful country and how much less expensive it would be to take a road trip and go hiking in one of our many gorgeous (and now endangered) national parks, so I’m trying to go more in that direction.

    Reply
  • Liesbet June 16, 2018, 11:51 am

    Great article! Since my husband and I are not financially independent (yet), but instead of working a well-paying job, we have been able to work “jut enough” to live our alternative lifestyle for over a decade, everything out of the ordinary (like an ice cream, or a dinner out) is and remains a treat. We don’t do it often enough, yet, once we do it, it is special. And, we always weigh its price to other items we might need more. Same with stuff we don’t need for our life on the road: every time we even think about purchasing something, it has to be needed, or we skip buying it, saving the money for more important things (usually related to the “happiness buttons”).

    While I agree with your statement that upgrades only give temporary joy, there are the simple things in life (like unlimited internet and a hot, pressurized shower) that I still enjoy (and appreciate) every day since being off our sailboat, in which we cruised and lived full-time for eight years. Knowing what it’s like to not have these things that are taken for granted by everyone, makes their use more enjoyable – long-lasting pleasures.

    Reply
  • Anonymous July 10, 2018, 8:45 am

    Regret: buying myself a $115 purse. I was so excited about it the day I ordered it online, but about 2 days later I completely forgot I purchased it.

    Satisfaction: My husband & are installing hardwood flooring in our room. I am glad we did not outsource it. I know I will appreciate/love my floor much more than if I had hired someone else to install it.

    Reply
  • Kevin July 25, 2018, 9:16 pm

    My most appreciated upgrade is the woodstove we put in about four years ago. Every winter we get to enjoy it again just as if it was new! Even dealing with the wood is not a hardship.

    Another one was taking time out of a trip to the UK to visit my family, for four days in Venice. Done on the cheap (as far as that’s possible in Venice) we still talk about it and enjoy the memories.

    Regrets… accumulating 80k of consumer debt in the late 90’s and not even having anything luxurious to show for it 😒

    Reply
  • Iain August 2, 2018, 5:25 pm

    That happiness bump drawing is perfect. It sums up exactly what the problem is with people who are always looking to go out and buy the next best thing. I have one friend in particular who does this, he’ll buy something new (and usually expensive) be ecstatic about it for a few days then go back to being the same level of happiness as he was before, usually leading to regrets.

    Reply
  • Granddaughter of the Depression August 9, 2018, 9:19 pm

    I am so grateful to my parents, who were teenagers and young adults during the Drought and Depression. I remember well how happy my father was to be at the kitchen table on Sunday afternoon putting together a tuner and amplifier (ah, the smell of solder!) and then in the evening cracking walnuts over newspaper. And my mother canned fruit; no patent-leather peaches for us! They taught me the basics–but it’s good to have refreshers and refinements now and then.

    Reply
  • Bailey September 3, 2018, 7:42 am

    A book just came out that explains all the neuroscience behind the happiness treadmill, it’s a fantastic read, learn about dopamine to conquer it. It’s called ‘The Molecule of More’, available on amazon

    Reply
  • Goldland1cow October 31, 2018, 7:40 pm

    I just found this site and love it! I try to be thankful each day. I grew up in a poor home with a single mother. You learn to appreciate everything. We could have qualified for welfare but my mom was too proud to go on the dole. My greatest luxury everyday is a hot bath. Besides good health, owning no man anything is the greatest thrill yet!

    Reply

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For more casual sampling, have a look at this complete list of all posts since the beginning of time or download the mobile app. Go ahead and click on any titles that intrigue you, and I hope to see you around here more often.

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

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