This another reminder that people have different preferences and different budget constraints and that’s ok. Just like how some people enjoy Brussels sprouts, blech. We may not understand but we do not hold it against them so long as they don’t make us eat them (or otherwise force their preferences on us).
Planning FUN events to do every weekend is in right now because Laura Vanderkam has a new book out about what successful people do on the weekend. Some supporters note that if they don’t plan a fun event, then the weekend ends up getting subsumed in Chores and Projects and they never have any fun. Better to outsource the projects and as many chores as you can afford, or else stuff the chores into after work time on the weekends, keeping the weekends sacred. God forbid your anchor event be cleaning out the garage, for that is a weekend wasted.
Mr. Money Moustache, otoh, goes the other route. He enjoys (gets consumption value from) chores and projects so much that he’s doing them as an early retirement job even though he doesn’t have to. Not only does he seriously enjoy fixing up houses, but he also notes that it’s ridiculous to pay someone to do chores that give you exercise while also paying to exercise at the gym. (Although he doesn’t seem to be a jerk about his wife belonging to a gym.) There’s time for other stuff too, but no weekly, “if we don’t do something that’s not a chore we’re not being productive” stress. For him, there’s just as much, if not more, value in producing something good with his labor.
These are examples of different preferences. We have them too. #1 enjoys folding laundry with her family– it’s fun together time. #2 hates that part the most and wishes she could just keep her clothing in piles. Some people spend time doing crafts, which seems to us a type of chore– for FUN. We don’t understand but we do not accuse them of wasting their time.
Consumption value from chores isn’t a new thing, though it may be going out of fashion. It wasn’t so many centuries ago that big projects were also social events. Any Little House readers can remember corn shucking, quilting, or barn raising parties.
In addition to differing preferences, there are also differing budget constraints. If you have more money, it’s easier to go out and do things. If you live in some parts of the country, there’s a lot more stuff to do than in other parts.
The year we lived in a beautiful city in CA, we went out every single weekend, usually something small one day and something major another. We could walk to playgrounds and ice cream and sushi and Trader Joe’s and a farmer’s market and the library and a fantastic South American place and all sorts of things. Small events were neither onerous or time consuming. Meanwhile, an easy drive away (at least on weekends) we were surrounded with big parks, museums, zoos, restaurants, theater, and much more. We took advantage.
Now we live in a small rural town. There’s nothing to walk to except a church and a dentist office (and the dentist isn’t open on weekends, also she’s crazy). The weather sucks a good portion of the year, and the nearest enjoyable “nature” is a couple hours away. We’ve been to all the restaurants many times over. Theater productions come in the middle of the week as they travel between real cities. The little local festivities are repetitious and I’m not as saintly as my parents were in terms of taking the DCs to every one. Also the local branch of the library sucks (we go anyway) and it’s 30 min to get to either the good branch or the farmer’s market. To get to the really fun stuff in the city, it’s a 1-3 hour drive there and 1-3 hours back. That can get pretty tiring, so we do it about once a month.
Our choice set, or budget constraint, is different now. It’s harder to have fun event weekends. But we can still enjoy homely things– cooking, chores, puttering, and so on. Does that mean we’re wasting our weekends when we could be going to yet another local town festival… probably not. Does it mean we’re wasting our lives when we could be living someplace with more cultural amenities? Maybe. Or maybe not. That depends on our preferences.
The thing about preferences is that they’re ours. Bloggers can tell you that you that there’s something wrong with you if you enjoy chores or if you don’t enjoy chores. (If you’re super-malleable, you may even believe them.) But for most of us, either we like doing something or we don’t. Either we have opportunities or we don’t. Don’t feel like you have to stress yourself out to have fun events every weekend if you’d rather stay at home and fix that thing in your house that’s been bothering you. Don’t feel like you have to fix that thing in your house if you can afford to pay someone else to do it and you’d rather be out enjoying what your city has to offer. There’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t do what the “in” thing is among whatever circle you (virtually) hang with.
And really, that’s all basic economics. We maximize our individual utility subject to our budget constraints. Which basically means, we do what makes us happy based on the opportunities we have available. So long as you’re in tune with what makes you happy and what you can afford, you’ll be doing fine.
Of course, as Cloud recently pointed out to me, knowing what makes you happy is often the hard part.
And as personal finance blogs note, what you can afford varies wildly.
Where do your individual utility functions and budget constraints take you most weekends? Are you in tune with what makes you happy?