Amongst my current Personal Finance (PF) obsession, I stumbled upon this blog post – Work, Live What’s Most Important?. I’m struggling with this whole thing pretty significantly at the moment. I started to write a comment on the post, but it sort of took on a life its own, and thus it became this post instead.
The Financial Blogger, author of the post, included two graphs that show the “Average Number of Working Hours per Year” and the “Hours for Personal Care and Leisure per Day” for various countries [Source]. Compared to the average Canadian, I undoubtedly work more (300 to 400 hours more a year) and have less leisure/personal time (2 to 3 hours a day less). And it’s awful.
Many PF blogs talk about finding your “magical income number”. A few years back when I was reading The Happiness Project, the relationship between money and happiness was pretty prevalent as well. This study by Princeton economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman has come up many times. It states:
The magic income: $75,000 a year. As people earn more money, their day-to-day happiness rises. Until you hit $75,000. After that, it is just more stuff, with no gain in happiness.
(Note: The conclusion came from a series of Gallup surveys of 450,000 Americans in 2008 and 2009.)
I’m single, no kids, live in an affordable city, renting, and have no consumer debt – just a car payment and mortgage-sized student loan. But trying to determine my “magical income number” feels rather impossible, and is extremely depressing.
I would be thrilled to be making $75K a year! Especially if that was with only one job! (Even though after taxes I would net more like $55K.) But my salary will NEVER reach that point. Ever. I’m pretty sure that my bosses don’t even make anywhere near that. It’s extremely disheartening. Even if I were to move to a bigger city, or bigger organization, I wouldn’t be making much – if any – more. If I ever hope to make $75K a year, or even $55K a year, I’m going to need a new career. Great…
I don’t regret my undergrad years at all. Nor do I regret my year of post-grad. But in retrospect, it took a lot of time, and an unreasonable amount of money to end up in a career that can’t even pay for itself.
Why am I sacrificing so much of my life (my health, my happiness, my relationships, my interests) to work all the time, to make insignificant payments towards a debt that will take decades to pay off?