Can Money Buy Happiness After All?

by Honolulu Mother

The Washington Post found a recent study so interesting that they reported on it twice:

Yes, you can buy happiness – if you spend it to save time

One surprising way money can buy happiness, according to scientists

In the study, people were given $40 and told to spend it on some fun item, and then given $40 again the next week and told to spend it on something to save them time. They reported greater happiness from the purchase than the fun-item group. The study concluded that you can buy more happiness from spending on anything from take-out to a yard service or weekly cleaners than from spending the same amount on material things.

We may be in the Totebag minority in not having a cleaning service or yard service, and we also go pretty light on the dining out or takeout. My first reaction was to wonder if my household is missing a good thing here. My second reaction was to wonder if the study had really accounted for hedonic adaptation, i.e. the idea that if you normally take care of some task yourself but one time you have someone else do it for you, it feels *great*, but if you always outsource it, that just feels normal. For example, when I get back from a vacation I always have a few days of adjustment to the idea that no, really, we do have to provision and prepare all the meals and yes, we really do have to go back to work. Then I settle back in and the routine feels normal again.

So what does the Totebag think? Is outsourcing pesky tasks really a surer route to happiness than saving for a family vacation or other goals? Or is this study missing a distinction between outsourcing something as an occasional treat versus routinely?


82 thoughts on “Can Money Buy Happiness After All?

  1. Interesting topic. For me, money does buy happiness because it is a security blanket that assures me that we have the resources to weather life’s ups and downs. We have savings to cover college expenses, unemployment, and any illnesses that come our way. If we both lose our jobs, we can retire early, if we have to.

  2. As I get older time becomes more precious, so yes I do appreciate that money saves me time.

  3. I don’t know that $40 is going to change anything in the long term, but certainly money cushions the bad times and makes them less terrible. And it kind provide for some fun things and experiences. So, all in all, I am very pro-money.

  4. I really really believe in this. We have always spent a disproportionate amount on services, and it helped me maintain total flexibility for my career, As well as pursue tons of hobbies that have greatly enriched my life and have leisure time with my three sons despite a crazy job. Also, I know lots of people who never were able to adjust to having staff once they could really afford it.

  5. I absolutely agree with the article. Outsourcing the most dreaded tasks is worth a lot of contentment.

    We don’t have any outdoor tasks that aren’t voluntary (my garden) because that is covered in our HOA. The money we spent on a weekly cleaning service is money very well spent as that is complete drudgery to us. Do we get used to it? Yes, I suppose, but trust me, every Friday when I walk into a clean house, I appreciate it! I also get a lot of contentment out of living in a clean house, but hate cleaning myself. If iIdidn’t mind living in a messier house, maybe I wouldn’t get as much value out of it.

    OTOH, I don’t mind grocery shopping, meal planning, or cooking, so spending $$ on instacart, Blue Apron, or takeout/delivery is not something that would buy me a lot of happiness. It’s not like I get great job from running errands and cooking every single night, but I don’t find it to be horrible drudgery like cleaning the bathrooms and dusting ceiling fans. So I’d rather put that $$ toward early retirement stash, vacations, etc.

  6. hedonic adaptation

    How much of a thing is that really? For me, there a great many things that are equally wonderful no matter how many times I experience them.

  7. Like Ivy, I am always very happy when I come home after the cleaners have been there to find the house so clean. There was a period when our previous cleaner moved and we went without having a housecleaner. DH wanted to try and go without a cleaner. We tried it for a couple months. I was bitter and resentful every time I had to clean the bathrooms. We went back to having a housecleaner after about 2 months (I told DH it was non-negotiable).

  8. Phone, excuse typos.

    I’m more for the timesaver or experience than the thing. So, yes, sometimes takeout pizza is just so worth it. Typical eg: perfect spring weekend day so we plan to grill something we all like for dinner. But then all the stuff we’re doing/accomplishing runs late into the day so by dinner prep time I’m not up for grilling. So ordering pizza / wings/ salad is a valued choice.

    (Side note: on vacation this week at the jersey shore — boardwalk food heaven. I couldn’t figure out what to order for dinner last night so i bought salmon and broiled it. Great, and better for me. Accompanied by a couple of different salads. I felt so Totebaggy, but i was very hungry by 1030)

  9. hedonic adaptation

    Every year we go to Florida, stay at a nice place, float down the lazy river, go to Roy’s. It’s pure heaven and each trip is equally delightful. Would the hedonic adaptation crowd say you should just stay at the Best Western and make sandwiches in our room because we’re just going to adapt to anything fancy and it won’t make us any happier?

  10. @Rhett- I do think hedonic adaptation is a thing. But I don’t really care AND I feel like I still get plenty of joy out of the vacation that I am now used to. If I ever found myself in a situation where I had to, I could stay in a Best Western again and get used to it again. I think it’s a bit overblown – or maybe, I just don’t know what to do about it. We’re not living on the edge, financially speaking, so we are already prioritizing things that bring us more joy over those that really don’t. Am I supposed to really worry that I am getting “soft”? Pffffft.

  11. “Accompanied by a couple of different salads. I felt so Totebaggy, but i was very hungry by 1030”

    But then you toss out all your Totebag cred and go order fried anything on the boardwalk.

    Maybe next September we’ll hit the shore. Have to remind myself to price out a house rental.

  12. Another thing – in an anti-MMM vein. I think it is totally worth it to hire people to do household tasks that we could perhaps DIY. Current example – spending more to get someone else to install our replacement screen door is well worth the time and energy bought back. We could probably do it ourselves, but it would take all day, multiple trips to Home Depot, and lots of tension.

  13. Oh, yeah, hedonic adaptation is a thing. Floating down the lazy river for a week a year is awesome; doing it every day gets boring. Similarly, if your normal vacation is a week in Florida at a Best Western, and you then take a couple of years to, say, stay in a castle in scotland or a resort in Thailand or [insert whatever floats your boat here], suddenly the Best Western is looking a little faded around the edges. And I can tell you right now that any other car that I drive in the future is gonig to be a huge, massive letdown, because I am having so damn much fun right now.

    The lesson isn’t to avoid doing new/better/fancier things. It’s to scale slowly and make a point of appreciating and enjoying what you have right now. If you’re always chasing newer and better and fancier, you’re going to jack up your lifestyle and spending and really in the end not end up much happier.

  14. Rhode
    To my credit I didn’t take that 7 block/15min walk up the boards to the nearest Eg Taylor Pork Roll (to choose something i know you’ll identify with) place. I had a bowl of cereal which was, in fact, some kind of organic granola my crunchy SIL bought when she was here.

  15. When we had 2 kids under 2 outsourcing everything was a lifesaver for us. I would tell people that having a cleaner was cheaper than divorce. To tie back to earlier discussions we spend way more than others here on eating out and ordering delivery. We have had hedonic adaptation to eating out. We really like local restaurants vs. chains and we have so many good choices near us, so eating out is more expensive than getting fast food or going to an Applebee’s. Maybe my 30 day challenge in September will be to cook more. I don’t mind once I start cooking but I’m never very motivated to start.

    We’ve cut back on the cleaner and other services as school prices go up. So far I haven’t noticed much change in happiness and any happiness decrease in having a clean home is offset by an increase in happiness at our school choice. We really love the community and our kids are flourishing there. The explosion last week has knocked DH and me off our equilibrium. I spoke to one of the moms who works at the school. She was right next to the woman who died when they were told to get out. The mom ran to a different exit and survived. She found out a few days ago that she got a concussion. She said she hasn’t really processed what happened. I gave her a hug but wish there was more I could do – trying to think of a gift or something. I’m looking forward to next week as DH and I are going to Chicago to see Hamilton, so I’m hoping the break will help us clear our heads more.

  16. ITA with the article. “Experiences” over “things,” right? And buying a service is a double-whammy experience: I can enjoy NOT having to do the chore I hate worst (whatever that is — obviously, if someone gives me free money to spend on a service, I am going to spend it on my least-favorite chore); and I can then use the time to enjoy my favorite thing (because, again, if I have unexpected free time, I will use that to do the most fun thing I can in that time).

    I also don’t think that is necessarily inconsistent with hedonic adaptation — if someone routinely gave me money that allowed me to outsource Designated Nasty Chore, I suspect that my joy in having someone else do it would probably drop a little every week, and then if they stopped giving me the money, I’d be even less happy about having to go back to doing said chore again.

    But maybe it also depends on who you ask. I feel much more time-limited than stuff-limited, so it makes sense for me to buy time than stuff. OTOH, if I were worried about putting food on the table, I’d probably take a lot more pleasure in just using the $40 to buy groceries and feed my family.

    I also think the “experiences vs. stuff” issue can be a false dichotomy, because aren’t we always buying a feeling? You’re not really buying a trip to Tahiti — you’re buying the way you think you’ll feel sitting on that overwater bungalow while some nice man brings you another umbrella drink. But at the same time, DH wasn’t really buying a drone — he was buying the way he thought he’d feel flying it with DS.

    So maybe it comes down to how well you can predict how something makes you feel? Doesn’t the current science suggest that people are horrible at predicting what will make them happy? So maybe we are just better at predicting when an experience will make us happy than when buying a “thing” will? E.g., DH envisioned hours of fun playing with the drone with DS, but then it got caught in a tree within 15 minutes, so they had to stop and get it down, and then 15 minutes later it lost a little rotor in the back yard, so they put it aside until DH could order a replacement, and he never got around to it, and so there’s that money gone, without so much of the happy playtime he envisioned — expectations were high, and reality did not live up to them. OTOH, if I shell out to go on a zipline, I’m pretty much guaranteed to be flying through the air, so I am better able to predict how that will make me feel.

    I don’t think that ability to predict is limited to non-tangible-objects — it’s just that with “stuff” it’s easy to focus on the wrong kinds of “feelings” that you think it will bring. E.g., “I really really want to buy a Rolex because it will signify that I have made it,” or “I want XX brand because it’s totally hip” — that’s the kind of feeling that fades, because someone always has newer/better, and there’s always something else that you’ll find you want. Or, like DH, focusing on the intended fun, and failing to give sufficient weight to the obvious downsides (i.e., crappy construction, poor small-child piloting skills). OTOH, I gotta say, a convertible with a stick shift and a good suspension is one of God’s great gifts to mankind — there is a completely visceral feeling of the sun beating down, wind blowing, downshifting into a corner that just truly never gets old; it’s one of those happy places that makes me smile every single time.

  17. The only thing we outsource is lawn care and snow removal. My husband is threatening to take back the lawn. I am more than willing to outsource such things as painting the inside of our house. It gets done fast, and clean. My husband insists on doing it himself when he retires which is in 18 to 36 months and then he figures he can do a little each day – I shudder!

  18. Fred – you’re resisting hedonic adaptation. ;) You’re on vacation. You can live it up. (I know you have worked very hard for your healthy lifestyle and healthy eating habits; I’m not trying to be insensitive to that).

    I can say outsourcing the things we do has saved our lives and increased our happiness. OTOH, we don’t outsource a lot as a family. Personally, I outsource everything I can. DH or my mom want to cook, clean, take out the trash? Fine by me. It lets me take on the things I want to take on, or fight for the things I like (like cooking, tending our garden, etc.). I have a mental list of things that I have to do to be happy (meaning that I like the way I do something, and everyone else is just inferior). If I do those things, life is good. I’ve spent a large part of the last few years culling that list. No, Rhode, you don’t have to be the only one who cooks dinner or cleans up. Someone else can do that just as well as you. That culling alone has made me happier.

  19. I worry about stuff, and having more money helps me worry less about certain things. For example, I care less about delays at the airport when i am flying business for first. The reason is that I am more comfortable, I won’t run out out of food or water, and I can just enjoy the experience even if there are delays. The same is Not usually true in coach. BTW, I generally fly coach, but I am just giving an example of where money buys happiness in my life. In coach, I worry about who is going to sit down next to me. Will they squash me, will they fall asleep on me, will they bring out smelly food from the boarding area etc. Stupid stuff, but I don’t generally “worry” about this when I am upgraded or pay for better seats.

    I just worry less in general knowing that I have money saved to pay for problems that might happen. For example, we all had major dental (unplanned) dental work last year. It was very expensive, but we could afford to pay for it. We didn’t like having to pay for it, but we didn’t have to worry about making choices about which one of us would have to wait to deal with the problem.

  20. A personal assistant (that ad L linked to pays $15-35/hour btw) would be a dream, except that I know that managing an employee can have its own challenges. An app like Tackl looks promising.

    Imagine your to-do list done.
    Just Takl it.

    (I’ve been thinking about a Jersey shore vacation. Maybe next year.)

  21. L – if they had time to write that post, they have time to post on social media (which is a task they plan to delegate). And while I can handle a 40lb dog, ain’t no way I’m putting myself in harm’s way if another dog attacks their dog (again, another requirement). And what’s with the “bonus” of defense training? Do they plan on getting mugged in SF?

    I’d be afraid to work for these people… they are all “we’re human and not perfect” enlightened folks who will probably kill you for having 1 knick-knack out of place.

    I did read about this ad:;

  22. We don’t outsource very much day to day stuff since I don’t work and DH enjoys doing yard work. I clean/do laundry/cook/run errands and sure, if we had unlimited money it would be nice to have a house cleaner but it’s not a big enough priority right now. I mostly enjoy cooking and DH does most of it on the weekends, so while it’s not 50/50, I get enough of a break from it not to think it’s drudgery.

    We do hire out for bigger stuff – right now a landscaping company is redoing our backyard which I anticipate making us pretty happy (nice area for kids to play in, prettier to look at, etc.). DH and I actually went back and forth about spending the $ but at the time I didn’t anticipate putting too much more money in investments this year and we want the house to be ready to sell in the event DH gets a job elsewhere in the near future. It is nice to be a little older and have a financial cushion which brings me happiness.

  23. I actually think my DS would do great in a job like that one that L posted. $35 an hour is pretty good money. Maybe I should encourage him to go into high-end personal-assisting after high school, rather than going to those $70,000 per year colleges we were talking about the other day.

  24. @Rhode – I totally agree with you that it is beneficial to outsource to others in your family as well.

    DS doesn’t fold his laundry well & jams it in his drawers willy-nilly? Who cares? He’s doing his own laundry, he dresses himself, and I don’t have to do any work. Fine. I do not give one little %^&* about how the dishwasher is loaded as long as I don’t have to do it. Etc. While I like the way I cook certain things, there is also great joy in doing nothing & having a home-cooked meal delivered to my chair at the table sometimes.

    This was a very, very good lesson to learn when DS was an infant too. (not learned right away either….)

  25. “I’m not trying to be insensitive to that”

    And I have very thick skin, so no insensitivity perceived. Besides, I try to eat healthier than in my fairly recent past, but I’m mostly about avoiding crap when other appealing-and-better-for-me options are available. Some things just no longer appeal, like cheesesteaks and my favorite cheesesteak purveyor is in this town. We are indeed having pizza for dinner tonight at my insistence for the convenience/I’m on vacation benefit of it, not so much for the I-get-to-have-my-junky-meal aspect.

  26. I am the worst negotiator in the world when it comes to household repair/construction. They are licking their chops when I call. But since I always pay top dollar and know exactly what I want or make necessary decisions with them on the first visit, they show up on time and do great work. Is that 20-25% premium worth it to me? You betcha. I have a carpenter who seemed ready to do my drywall. But I am not sure he is going to make the effort to do it by the floor guy’s deadline, so I might have to do it myself in a half baked fashion. I guess he isn’t used to the pay extra for service model. I hinted at it, but I think I may have to call him again and say – you get to overcharge me for doing this next week!! So the fallback DIY is always good to cultivate.

    As for hedonic adaptation, I take a car service to the airport for trips. And fly economy plus or better where available for longer trips. Those are things I discovered when someone else was picking up the tab and I don’t plan to go back. But I don’t need to upgrade further. There are also things I don’t want to try because I think there is a great risk I might succumb. Such as custom made shoes.

  27. My extravagant habit is not brown bagging lunch and buying something for breakfast on work days. I could bring food from home if I put in a little effort but I don’t. I also like the experience of picking different lunch options though I might decide to eat the same thing every day. I don’t think I am going to change this habit. I usually eat something like sushi or a salad with protein.
    Our eating out as a family has dropped. Ironically we used to eat out more when the kids were younger.
    Years ago DH used to do the yard but when he got busy we outsourced. That’s pretty much it for outsourcing.

  28. I have always had a housekeeper since I have had kids. She comes weekly and we consider her family. While we are sailing she only comes twice a month (really don’t need her but don’t want to cut off her income too much). I tend to bring my lunch and breakfast because I don’t really enjoy spending money on a meal eaten alone and I eat healthier from home (and have little self control if given choice to go out). Never mowed my own lawn. Not much of a DIY’er except maybe pulling weeds and trimming hedges when unruly. On the boat, we are very hands on and clean and fix everything ourselves (to the extent we are capable) – that is because you would go broke very quickly with marine repairs, many repair people don’t show up and things break all of the time.

  29. “just truly never gets old; it’s one of those happy places that makes me smile every single time.”

    Like carving turns in dry powder on a deep base.

  30. “I don’t mind once I start cooking but I’m never very motivated to start.”

    That suggests that when you do cook, you should cook large quantities.

    That’s what I do, which fortunately for us is consistent with us doing our grocery shopping at Costco.

  31. Along with others, having enough savings makes me happy and makes me feel more in control of my options in life, which helps me not sweat career/job as much. There are a number of things in life that I can’t get to between work and family that I could probably outsource to one of these task services but finding the right one seems like a chore in itself. Things I would like to do: have all of my files scanned and shred originals, get more things electronically (and saved if needed for taxes) while also reducing amount of emails I have to filter on a daily basis, get better music on my phone and make awesome playlists (family friendly ones, workout ones, etc.). Frankly I need to work on contentedness and the amount of distractions. I still get emails about houses on the market (from our move 3+ years ago) and I spend time looking at them. I have no intent to move but I like knowing what’s out there, what’s a deal, whether market is cooling, etc. I look on Zillow all of the time in different neighborhoods and then waste time imagining my life living there. Do that for nearly every city I visit as well. Also spend too much time reading twitter and news – those things stress me out disproportionately to knowledge gained.

  32. Overall, this isn’t a surprise to me. DW talk about how we’ve progressed to having more money than time, from when we were younger and childless and had more time than money.

    We continue to adjust to the progression, e.g., not spending as much time shopping for the best price, just find a good price and pull the trigger.

    Some of these decisions become a bit starker when traveling. E.g., the decision to take a toll road is easier when we consider the thousands we’ve already spent to get to that point.

  33. “For me, money does buy happiness because it is a security blanket that assures me that we have the resources to weather life’s ups and downs.”


  34. “I think it is totally worth it to hire people to do household tasks that we could perhaps DIY”

    Yes, but there’s a point at which the effort to complete the task yourself is less than the effort to find and hire someone.

    I also like doing this sort of stuff, and hope that doing more of it in retirement will also help slow cognitive decline as I have to keep learning new stuff to do different projects.

  35. I can see myself spending more money on lunch once all of my kids are in school during the day. I don’t like eating breakfast out (or really dinner very often) but lunch at home is usually unappealing and when we do go out it’s grabbing CFA.

  36. Atlanta – do you have a Whole Foods near you ? I have often thought if I were at home, I would probably do lunch some days there at the salad and hot lunch bar. Our WF is also a meeting place for friends and nicer than Starbucks. Bit more expensive than CFA but not by much.

  37. Louise – yes, 5 minutes away and I actually did grab sushi there when I was getting groceries a few days ago.

  38. I really don’t mind the cleaning, but I hate cooking and having to be responsible for feeding people. DH loves to eat out and we spend a significant amount on eating out. We or at least I have hedonistically adapted to it and do not find much joy in it anymore. So I am seriously thinking of hiring someone to co emand cook delicious home made meals for us. That person will also have to clean the kitchen up after. I can clean the rest of the house.

  39. “decision to take a toll road” – I have never once thought about whether I should take a toll road or not. Whatever is faster is the way I go.

  40. “So I am seriously thinking of hiring someone to co emand cook delicious home made meals for us.”

    How does that compare cost-wise to going out to eat?

    A former coworker of DW used to have a meal plan with a local restaurant. He paid a set amount weekly, and they’d prepare a takeout dinner for him every night they were open. I believe the cost/meal was quite a bit less than eating a meal in the restaurant, but the it would also seem to be a win for the restaurant in having a steadier income stream. I think that restaurant had a number of mealplan customers.

    I’m wondering if you couldn’t similarly have regular meal service from some local restaurants, perhaps even with delivery.

    Or perhaps the responsibility for feeding people could be reassigned.

  41. I have never once thought about whether I should take a toll road or not. Whatever is faster is the way I go.

    How much are the tolls there? There aren’t many toll roads here but they are ridiculously expensive (IMO). There’s one that goes near where I work one day a week, and I have the option of taking a surface street or the toll road for about 5 miles. The toll is $2.60 for that stretch, and it saves me about 5 minutes. I just can’t bring myself to pay that unless I’m really in a hurry.

  42. Not speaking for L, but we don’t have toll roads here. One problem for us when we’re traveling is we don’t know how much they are, so we’re hesitant to just take them.

  43. I wish I could avoid toll roads. It’s a way of life here, and it’s just like another tax. I was coming back from Rockland county last night. There is really just one way back and it requires a toll for the Tappan Zee bridge unless I want to go through NJ and pay much higher tolls. I was amazed at how far we can travel by car without paying a toll when we are in the western part of the US.

  44. Off-topic but happy here: we have a car! My stepdad’s first wife is loaning us hers for free.

    But the big lesson for me is how amazing this group is – both WCE and Ada had all sorts of great suggestions and even offered their cars as loaners for someone they had never/barely met.

    And btw, for others who might find themselves in this situation in the future: UHaul rents vans and pickups, and they tend to have plenty of availability even when the rental cars are gone. 😉 (Give you three guesses who came up with that idea, and the first two don’t count)

  45. We outsource the lawn, and recently housecleaning. My family, especially DH, vastly prefer my cleaning as they think I’m especially good at it (ahem, thank you mom for giving me such an opportunity to build this skill?). And I’ve mentioned my DH is a transplant recipient, so on top of his OCD feels justified in being a clean freak. Well, a couple of years ago I got a good promotion and finally put my foot down (something I do well at work, but not so well at home). Anyway, we now have every-other-week housecleaning and it’s life changing. I finally have some weekend down time. We have to deal with some hassle factor, but I keep reminding them and myself that it’s a small sacrifice!

    We recently did a bathroom remodel, and the contractor had a honey-do hourly rate while he’s in the house. Omg. I thought I’d died and gone to heavenl. I told my DH we might just have to adopt him or keep him til Christmas. In the end, he couldn’t get to everything on the list before his scheduled time was up on ur project, but we got a lot of little random stuff taken care of. Like Meme, we picked a contractor who charges a premium, but the quality of work and completely non-frustrating experience was sooo worth it.

    Overall, I also totally agree with the comment above that having financial wherewithal to deal with life’s ups and downs is huge to me.

  46. Denver – I don’t actually pay attention. ;) Off the top of my head I think the ones on the Pike are maybe $2 total from 128 in to downtown, and the only ones that are a lot (comparatively) are the Tobin and the tunnel to the airport, maybe $3 or $4? I have EZ pass and don’t notice that I have to re-up the $30 very often.

  47. Finn, Houston and others who have kids going to college, it is going to be OK.
    Since it is August, always think back to when I arrived here, not knowing what Windex was on my college packing list, not knowing how to operate a coin op washer and dryer (those who had washing machines at home, had those old tub washers). I didn’t know how to type let alone use a computer. I had to start producing papers when I never had to submit a paper prior to that.

  48. .One problem for us when we’re traveling is we don’t know how much they are, so we’re hesitant to just take them.

    And I go the other way when traveling. I figure it’s just part of the cost of the trip.

  49. Saac – some of those micro-generation characterizations ring true.

    A lot ring true for us true Gen Xers as well. I took the test and got “You are a true xennial” and I was born in 1971.

    I don’t think there are definitive breaks between the generations anyway, they flow into each other. If we assume it to be correct that there is this smaller group of folks who don’t completely fit into Gen X or millenials, it’s not because they are a unique “mini generation”, it’s because they have experiences common to both generations.

  50. Big relief on the basement floor front. The neighbor two units down was lucky during the flood because he hadn’t laid his new floor yet and the basement is pretty empty. He said we could store all the large furniture there for the week, so no issues for DD and I moving it 60 odd feet from one basement to another. No word from the various carpenters yet, but I have been assured that drywall is not a hard thing to do.

  51. Laura, glad it’s worked out! I bit my tongue, but kept wondering why extended family wasn’t stepping up. Glad to hear they have.

  52. PSA – At Athleta today, I saw a whole range of Eileen Fisher type travel clothes that looked great. My DD liked the choices in Athleta Girl.
    Mall was crowded with back to school shoppers.

  53. @Louise. I love Athleta. They have some things that are nice enough to wear in a casual workplace too.

    The Skyway toll here just went up to $5. It is kind of a ridiculous amount to maybe, not always, save 5-10 minutes going to Indiana. But I never think about it – I always just check traffic. And then when we go through I think – man, that’s expensive!

    But I don’t go that way often. Certainly not once/week. More like a few times a year (2 ways).

    We just passed a soda tax, and people are really up in arms over that.

  54. SM – regarding James Noonan’s blog post, I agree on him giving his daughter a background of events but I am glad he stopped retelling the story in his own words. The language represents a place, time and is told from the authors perspective. I say this as a lifelong reader of books, none of which were read to me by my parents. I read Little House on the Prairie too and that led me to read various parts of American history, told from different perspectives. I guess I want the reader to read, discover for themselves and make up their own

  55. The bridges and tunnels tolls to cross the Hudson River between New Jersey and Manhattan are $15, discounted to $12 if you use EZ Pass. A sliver lining of living in such a high-cost area is not being shocked at high prices when I travel. I used to be in the opposite situation.

  56. Louise, I agree. There is a lot of racism in “the classics” and it doesn’t do any good to anyone to sugar coat it. Teach kids the historical context at an appropriate level.

  57. Louise, you say that as though wishing genocide didn’t happen can make it so. Wouldn’t that be nice! Racism is a fact of life for all of us, though it affects us in different ways. I think it’s important to teach kids about it, so they can spot it and do something about it. So hold off a bit on the Little House books too kids are around 8 or 10, and take the time to discuss what’s going on in them. Why were they so scared of those people, and what had happened that those people didn’t have stabile communities? It’s a simple truth that the land grabs that enabled the Ingalls and many other homesteaders to settle the US West also removed large numbers of people (though of course not as large as before the arrival of European diseases like smallpox) from their homes, whether they were killed outright, went to the Carlisle Indian school and similar institutions where they were actively taught to despise their family’s history and language, or moved to reservations too small to provide a living. This weekend we have seen how pretending racism isn’t a thing is just another way to let it grow to deadly proportions.

  58. “There is a lot of racism in “the classics” and it doesn’t do any good to anyone to sugar coat it.”

    Sexism too.

  59. Ivy
    Philly has a soda tax too. Maybe for a year now. Some are upset but people seem to be surviving.

  60. @Fred – Yes, we will endure paying a penny per ounce for soda. I am for the tax, I suppose, but I was engaged in an argument with the checkout lady and the person behind me in line recently about it. I was not even buying any soda, but she assumed that I wasn’t buying any because I was going to drive 30 minutes (and potentially pay a $5 toll) to go to Indiana to buy it. It is all over Nextdoor and my Facebook feed. At work, it has not been mentioned. That is firm La Croix territory.

    @July – in that article – the majority of people worth over $25MM don’t feel financially secure? I take back what I said about hedonic adaptation.

  61. “For the average person, the correlation between objective and subjective wealth is around 0.5 or 0.6.”

    That’s pretty much random.

  62. Very roughly, a correlation coefficient between about -0.7 and 0.7 is typically considered not to be a correlation (R^2 less than 0.5).

    OTOH, while this suggests the correlation is not linear, that’s not to say there’s no correlation. A more robust look for correlation should also include plotting the data on log and log-log scales, and perhaps even other types of plots, e.g., Arrhenius plots.

  63. Louise – we get Scientific American (lengthy serious articles plus some short items on recent developments up front and a few regular columns toward the back), Popular Science (much lighter, quicker read), Popular Mechanics (also a light quick read, more focused on making stuff and new technology by which I mean mechanics and design more than computers or phones), National Geographic (mix of science, travel / geography, history, and of course the photography) and National Geographic Kids (lots of features on cute animals, every time I ask the kids if they’ve outgrown it they say No!!). We were getting Scientific American Mind until it stopped doing a paper version a couple of months ago. I’m probably not going to try to replace it.

    Maybe start with Popular Science / Mechanics and Nat Geo Kids and then add on from there?

  64. July, I stopped using compression bags for travel because though removing the air enables you to pack more, it also made the bag too heavy to manage for air travel.

  65. We outsourced the clogged drains that backed up into the sink but I DIY changing the gasket on the canister in the toilet tank (all were in need of replacing on our five toilets). Plumber wanted to charge minimum of $50 per toilet and its a $6 part on Amazon. A little youtube video and voila….I am now capable of fixing my running toilet.

  66. Mia, which sinks?

    Bathroom sink clogs are usually due to hair, and are pretty each to clear, often not even requiring removal of the stopper.

    DW bought a little snake designed for this purpose (a little one is often all that’s needed for this). On the packaging, there’s a picture of ubiquitous infomercial pitchman Anthony Sullivan, touting the snake as “pitchman approved!” (Google turbo snake if you want to see it.)

    I haven’t tried it yet (I usually just use about a scrap wiring cable about 2 or 3 feet long), but it looks like it should work.

    OTOH, if you don’t have a scrap of cable, with a long cable tie and a knife you can make something similar to what I’ve seen sold at Amazon for this purpose.

  67. This caught my eye — COMPRESSION packing cubes. I might go for cubes with that feature.

    Now I’m intrigued with packing cubes.

  68. What Scarlett said about compression bags. No benefit for my weight and size limited travel. And any carry-on larger than a kid backpack or purse is weighed for international at check in and needs an approved tag.

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