Sometimes this causes a bit of schizophrenia when it comes to the money-time trade-off. Half the blogs tell us to keep our expenses low, do everything ourselves, earn less money to buy ourselves time. The other half tell us to work hard, invest in our careers, live that upper-middle class lifestyle (saving responsibly on the big and/or important stuff, of course), and outsource anything that takes time away from what we want to be doing.
After reading the former I always feel a little guilty. Surely there’s someplace more we can cut. Maybe I could force myself to eat greens instead of just not taking them at the CSA. After reading the latter I worry, am I not doing enough to make more money? Am I not outsourcing enough? Am I spending too much mental power worrying about those former blogs when I should just relax, or am I spending too much mental power worrying that I shouldn’t be worrying?
But, of course, after some soul-searching I always realize that no, I’ve been optimizing my utility subject to my budget constraints and my time constraints all along. It’s only when there’s a change coming ahead (like DH quitting his job…) that I need to think about re-optimizing. Mr. Money Moustache is very persuasive, but in the end I don’t really want his life. I want *my* career. And my career means that’s where the bulk of my time goes, so some outsourcing makes sense. I don’t want to do it part-time (though after tenure some people do). But I also haven’t taken my career or money making to extremes and doing so might stress me out.
I think most of us are probably somewhere in between the two extremes of minimizing spending and maximizing earning. And that’s probably healthy, and given diminishing rates of marginal utility, that’s probably utility maximizing. If we’re off the equilibrium, we can cut some spending to get more time or use more time to get more money and we’ll be happier.
However, it’s really intriguing to read blogs from people who are extreme on one end or the other. They show what’s possible. And it’s compelling to read authors who are 100% sure of themselves and tell other folks what they should do. Martha Stewart didn’t build an empire with doubts, but with her way being a good thing.* Mr. Money Moustache has his dictatorial Moustachian way, many parts of which I completely disagree with (despite being in his target demo in terms of income). Laura Vanderkam has hers with making the most of every one of those 168 hours.
Funnily, Mr. Money Moustache makes this comparison on his own blog but with the I will teach you to be rich guy and the 4 hour work-week guy. But for me, Laura Vanderkam is a more realistic proponent of outsourcing and careerism/money making. (Just like Mr. Money Moustache is a more realistic version of financial independence than Early Retirement Extreme was.)
*Hilarious interview with Martha Stewart on Wait Wait Don’t tell me the other weekend– she admits that there are multiple correct ways to get seeds out of a pomegranate, but there are also very wrong ways. My sister left us a pomegranate at Thanksgiving that I am too scared to open for fear of doing it wrong. The instructions she gave were complicated!
Where do you fall on the early retirement vs. work hard/play hard spectrum? Who are your favorite extreme bloggers and other personalities?