Happiness is Not $100,000

The Atlantic reports that a study done in 2010 found that while money can buy happiness if it’s lifting you out of worrying about bills into not worrying (which they defined as $75,000 or about $92,000 in today’s money) after that, it doesn’t make much difference to general contentment; another more recent study showed that more money after $100,000 doesn’t do much for your happiness. I’ve found this to be generally true depending on where I live; years ago as a single mother with lousy child support, every damn bill was a stress and I routinely priced out my grocery list before I went to the store and several times took a second job. And then my books began to make money and suddenly, paying bills wasn’t agony, I just wrote the checks. I went to the grocery with a list, but I could impulse things. I had a savings account for sudden disasters. I stopped doing a running calculus of how to manage money (although some things still stick: Every time the power goes off, I think, “Did I pay that bill?”). I wasn’t rich, but I was secure, and according to that study, secure was better than rich.

So how do you get happy after you hit security? According to that study, people. Connecting with people, having experiences with people, doing things for people. Share a meal or a vacation with people you love, pay people to do work you don’t want to do (thus freeing yourself and helping them achieve security), give to a charity you trust so you know you’re helping people. It’s people, not money; money just makes it easier to be with people.

Or, you know, start a blog so you can talk with smart, funny, kind people every week. Argh makes me happy; thank you all for showing up.

What made you happy this week?

+21

93 thoughts on “Happiness is Not $100,000

  1. Security. Yes, money security is really important, but I think the “security” is more important than “money.” Took me until the last six years to feel secure because previously money didn’t flow in at a steady rate; the kids were a source of my anxiety because I couldn’t keep them permanently safe (this is my problem, not theirs); while she was alive my mom needed a lot of support; my husband needed lots of support (not as much now and he supports me, too). I felt like a poor version of good person. Not worthy (ah! gotta love Terry Pratchett — I’m an orc!).

    Life is great now — not shiny and magical — so I’ll correct “great” and say it’s really, really good. (It’s great.)

    +15
  2. On Friday I was two weeks out from my second vaccination. My husband was a week ahead of me. His workplace is having a COVID outbreak, so I’m highly relieved and happy he’s more protected now. We went for a walk in our favorite park which was incredibly full of people, hundreds of people. We work masks and tried to take the oath least traveled. It made me happy to be in the pretty park for the first time in more than a year, but was also so uneasy at being among such a crowd.

    +16
  3. Owning my own home is a huge help, and I’m hoping to relax more about money after my state pension kicks in next year. Think I’ll still need to do some work, if I want to keep my car and have a holiday every few years, but I’m going to see what I can get away with – because I would love to retire and just do my own work.

    And this week, sitting in the garden made me happy, over and over again. Also digging out the rest of the concrete from the expanded rear corner bed; and realizing I could just edge it with bricks (which I have) rather than getting a timber edge made. Then getting a refund on the apricot I was doing all this for – which I realized was actually dead rather than slow into leaf. I’m going to buy a bare-root one in the autumn and fan-train it instead: and that’s another thing that’s made me happy – the flow of new design ideas for the garden and allotment that keep coming.

    And Argh definitely makes me happy. Thanks, everyone.

    +22
  4. As an adult, financial security has always been important to me. My family was never poor but my father changed jobs regularly and once my parents divorced, my mother was raising 3 teenagers on her own. My husband and I had secure jobs and I have a good pension. Not having to worry about money made a big difference for me in going back to school, compared to my earlier degrees. We set up an education account for our son when he was born so he can complete his post-secondary education debt-free.

    This week, we finally did practical work on campus, weeding, preparing vegetable beds and building a stone patio. I learned how to use a stone saw! DH and DS helped me till my new garden in my neighbour’s yard – I have almost the full yard to grow flowers and veggies. Had a lovely outdoor visit with dear friends I haven’t seen in over a year due to Covid restrictions and met their adorable new puppy.

    +14
    1. Love that it’s in your neighbor’s yard. I have a small flower garden in my neighbors’ yard (they’re emphatically not growers), mostly things that they like, so it’s for them, not me. And I just made a planter for their deck with two kinds of lettuce, plus radishes, onions (to cut the greens) tatsoi, and basil.

      +11
  5. The opposite can also be true – I have an excellent life, and TWO people in the last week said essentially that I seemed so unhappy lately – ARGH!!! Not who I want to be!!!!! The only good news is it made me realize that trying to fix things outside my control does not do good things for my outlook, and I need to step back.

    My friend’s mantra seems appropriate: “I’m sorry you feel that way”, followed by moving on. Also “Not my circus, not my monkeys”. I have therefore been more able to be pleasant, to the betterment of all.

    Today, I am re-reading a Kerry Greenwood. I also have flowers from the grocery store, chocolate, and bacon scheduled for later today so nothing but good times ahead.

    +11
      1. My husband found a meme that said “Not my circus, not my monkeys, but the clowns look awfully familiar.”

        I thought it was accurate.

        +20
  6. I have a sort of new position at my company! Same role, new department, which I’m very excited for!!! I wasn’t looking for this role, but they liked the work I’ve done so much to date that they ASKED ME. It was one of the best feelings!

    I was actually settling in to be in this role at least another year, flesh things out, etc., but I jumped on this opportunity. I was/am getting burnt out on some things, and I think this will help alleviate more of that.

    I also just got a FREE PLANTER, AND some dirt! My parents neighbors were getting rid of it and my parent snagged it for me!! I’m going to use it for indoor herbs, since I can’t stand the thought of pesticide on outdoor ones. How does anyone else handle this?? Last outdoor basil I did was completely eaten in like 2 weeks. Strawberries I never saw mature, and my tomatoes I think didn’t have the space/were killed off by heat…

    We’re getting our second shot next Saturday! Woohoo!

    So it’s a happy weekend! I have discovered some new to me songs, and rediscovered The Greatest Show soundtrack. I’m quite in to it, despite being disappointed by the movie. The dog thinks my “singing” means playtime ha

    The only bad thing right now, because life cycles, is taxes because we keep forgetting to do them. Normally I try do them early and couldn’t this year, and now we are very behind…

    With respect to financial security, we are currently secure, but I worry all the time. We have been extremely lucky during the last year and not had pauses to income, but I realize that we are one big emergency from not having enough money to handle it. Medical emergency, car accident, etc. I try and pack away as much money as possible, but some months are easier than others. So I dream of making more money just for security. I suppose thats not a bad reason to want more money, but constantly thinking of money is exhausting and demoralizing, too. I’m debating getting a side hustle just to increase this cushion. We shall see.

    Anywhere, this day is about taxes, seeds and groceries! 😀 A full day, to be sure, but a good day!

    +10
    1. In my experience, basil doesn’t grow well indoors unless you have a REALLY sunny location for them (or grow lights). I’m surprised they were eaten, since bugs tend to avoid herbs. But you might do better with some of the fabric used for row covers and making a sort of coccoon for the plants to keep away whatever’s eating them. It wouldn’t be pretty, but you could probably concoct a sort of tent over the entire planter outdoors. That would help the strawbs too. For tomatoes, you can grow them in a bucket, like you’d get at Home Depot or Lowe’s. Cut a hole in the bottom for drainage, one plant per bucket, and keep well watered, since it will dry out faster than if the plants are in the ground. Tomatoes like the heat, but need the water. And probably some organic fertilizer — fish stuff or compost tea, that sort of thing. Oh, and plant in composted manure rather than potting soil. If you’re on Instagram, there are a lot of gardening accounts talking about container growing. (There’s a lot of junk accounts too, but you can probably find some good ones.) I’m experimenting with grow bags this year, both on my deck (on a table, for easy access) and in the garden itself to substitute for a raised bed. They’re really popular on IG too, and can be purchased cheaply — the compost to fill them will likely cost more than the bags themselves!

      +12
      1. Been growing my tomatoes in large planters (some of them you can get cheaply) because I think it conserves water. It’s been working well.

        Indoor herbs never worked out for me (not enough light) but if they are in containers I find I can extend the season a bit by bringing them in. Fresh herbs are expensive if you buy them in the grocery store. Get a plant at he start of the growing season and you are good for months. And maybe you can preserve some, too.

        +12
        1. I had pretty dang large pots, but I live in AZ, and I think the heat killed em off. :/ maybe the indoor herbs will be ok – it’s a very well lit area. Worst case I can bring em outside, but we’ll see!

          +7
      2. I shouldn’t cover strawberries with fleece or very fine netting; insects need to be able to pollinate the flowers. Bird netting is pretty essential – you need to raise it a few inches above the plants so they can’t reach through. Good luck!

        +10
        1. It was def a bug that ate them. Haven’t had issues with birds on my third floor patio. It’s enclosed, so maybe that’s why. Will see what indoor does for the herbs!

          +9
      3. That might have been the
        Issue with the toms – the compost! I have been wanting to do my own compost, but we get roaches on our patio (apartment complex). I was going to look into dumping used tea grounds just on top of the soil!

        +7
        1. You might be able to find a small enclosed composting system. Maybe that Japanese one would work (bokashi); I think it’s designed for people without a garden. Or else buy some really good compost; and of course feed the plants. I use a seaweed-based tomato food; should work for all flowering & fruiting plants.

          You’re sure you don’t have mice? I’m struggling to think what kind of ‘bug’ would eat unripe strawberries. Unless you’ve got vine weevil (they attack the roots, and the plant suddenly dies).

          +9
          1. It was a green stick looking bug, if memory serves. Not an actual stick bug, or any of the obvious bugs – no idea what it was. I saw it hanging around and left it bc I was dumb,, and good bye strawberries. They might have been just as as color started to change?? Caterpillars ate the basil, afaik. I haven’t seen mice, although apartment complex, but no other evidence.

            +5
      1. Good idea — collars on the basil might work, or diatomaceous earth around it. I hadn’t thought of slugs. I never want to think of slugs. Blech.

        +8
  7. It’s not that I think money can make me happy, but lack of money of is always a concern. I grew up in a financially insecure situation and some of my earliest memories are about worrying because we didn’t have enough money. I don’t know if there’s any amount of money that would ever feel like enough. My brother once told me that he used to believe if he ever reached his financial goal, he’d feel safe. And then he did and he told me that’s when he realized there will never be enough financial security for him to feel safe. I know what he means.

    +13
    1. Grew up as the child of parents who lived through the Great Depression. It’s been hard to get to aplace where my actual situation matches my mental situation. Maybe I’ve started to loosen-up because I’m getting old enough to realize if I don’t enjoy it, the nursing home will.

      +12
    2. Twenty years ago, I asked a friend who was a big financial whiz was “rich” was in terms of money. She said ten million. I
      d have to think it’s at least twice that today.

      +12
        1. True that! I used to work for a “high-net-worth individual,” and the amount of shenanigans surrounding keeping track of it all, keeping track of the people keeping track, the household employees…. It was a lot – a second job all on its won.

          +4
  8. We had an outdoor choir rehearsal this week, and it made my heart sing to hear myself in the middle of four part harmony. Yes, we haven’t been together in ages, and yes, we’ve been doing zoom rehearsals – but switching from unison on one verse to four part harmony on the second was sublimely uplifting.

    And my cat appears to be recovering from her pancreatitis. We’re feeding her a lot of small meals to make sure she eats – and she’s fine with that. The others are a little jealous, but mostly let the old lady have her food.

    +17
  9. I was thinking that! Argh is happiness. I was on another author’s website and thinking, the comments are not as interesting as on Argh, I’d better go and have a look, the Sunday post must be up by now for us European Arghers 😀

    +18
  10. Today I learnt to make sushi, which is maybe my favourite food. I also learnt that it is possible to eat a bit too much of it which is a new problem with a food that is usually too expensive to ever have too much of. Luckily I have someone here to help clear up the dregs. A happy day.

    +11
  11. Getting an early start on the garden is making me happy.

    Financial stress is terrible, and the thing is, given the American health system, you can have $100K and be stable one day, and the next day have half a million bucks in medical debt and be bankrupt. Or you can have that $100K in a 401K account and then become unemployed, with no cash flow, so you have to cash out that 401K and then you’re broke AND you have no safety net. Or any number of other crises that will leave you with serious cash flow problems. So I can sort of understand the feeling that “enough” is never really “enough.” (Although, clearly that goes too far at some point, and people complaining about paying a 40% marginal tax rate on their last million dollars earned in a year deserve to pay another 60% as a fine for whining. Billionaires should not exist. It’s just morally wrong when so many live in financial stress.)

    +17
  12. One of the blessings of living in the UK is the NHS. Going to see a doctor or to the hospital is free. For prescriptions you pay a flat rate £9.35 unless you are exempted. If you are under 16, over 60, pregnant, have a medical condition, are a jobseeker, … you are exempted. Of course we pay all this with our taxes and that is something I am so happy to contribute to.

    +19
  13. Argh makes me happy too; I consistently get great book recs here and that’s worth a lot. But the thing that made me happiest this week; husband and I both got our 2nd vaccine shots. It’s an enormous relief.

    +16
  14. My DH and I probably are financially secure in large part because he worked for a decade for an international organization that had a really generous pension. He grew up financially insecure—father had long periods of unemployment and mom worked as a department store clerk—so he is only now beginning to really feel secure and able to turn down jobs he doesn’t want. It definitely makes a huge difference in his stress level and thus in mine when he doesn’t feel he has to do what pays best instead of what he loves. (And he kept doing that for years after it was in any sense necessary because he felt financially insecure.) I think the benchmark for him was knowing he would continue to have that $100,000….he had seen so many reversals that he needed to know he would keep having it. Once that was sure he relaxed so much…

    My mom was a depression baby and her parents were definitely financially insecure. She grew up with 4 people in a one bedroom apartment. She is now secure at 83 since my dad and she both were college professors but she doesn’t really grasp what she has. So she toggles between saying she isn’t worried and ignoring her finances and saying she can’t afford to help her grandkids (grrr—mine are fine but that isn’t true of two siblings) without even checking to see if she can. I have the unfun of serving as her financial analyst since she won’t pay for it. Every year we do an asset update and every year she finds out she has 2-3 times the money she thought she did. I assume this is a legacy of being a depression baby. It’s interesting to see how for my DH becoming secure really changed his life and for my mom on some level it hasn’t registered.

    I’m happy because DH and I both got our second shots this week, and my son got an appointment scheduled. My daughter probably has to wait a couple more months but the covid rate in England is so low that she is at much less risk.

    My garden just had the bulbs and cherry trees in bloom, my lilac is blooming for the first time in several years and more generously than it ever bloomed, the fig tree has tiny fig buds, and I just bought out the annuals at the plant store (lantana, Angelonia, salvia, portulacas, dianthus, all in the same shades of pink and crimson and orange and yellow as the cut and come again zinnias I and the various nasturtiums that I will plant from seed, so the whole garden should be a mass of the same bright colors this summer, and I will over plant it so there are no empty spots for weeds).

    Friends are coming over for an outdoor lunch and a walk on the canal.

    I may have an big new exciting project at work.

    I’m beginning to plan a road trip to visit various family .

    So, I guess for me happiness is people and plants. Although I’m no where near Jane’s competency I do get a lot of pleasure from it.

    +12
    1. Also I just persuaded DH that we can move the six bubblegum pink scrawny azaleas in the back along the path and put in colors I really like. Heaven forbid we should actually ditch the plants. This is the same philosophy that has landed us with 17 jade plants. I think. He does occasionally give some away to what he thinks will be a good home but then a branch falls off and next thing I know he is rooting it! So we could be between 10
      And 25. I’m afraid to count.

      +10
  15. I’m finally feeling financially secure. The bills will be paid and I can splurge on a few things . That includes impulse buys at the grocery store and a reasonably excessive number of books. I’m finding it doesn’t take too much to make me happy.

    As I stated before, this is all my ‘Great Depression’ parents’ fault. As well as coming in at the end of the ‘work for same company for 30 years and retire with pension, social security and savings’ era. I didn’t think I’d make it for the last 5 years of that which was also really anxiety-inducing. It’s hard to realize that I don’t have to cling to that save-save-save mindset and to change some habits. Even just working on it has made me happy.

    And, of course, all of my current stability is due to the above ‘trauma’.

    ARGH makes me happy because it gives me a place to vent (not whine; I’m in favor of a ‘whine’ tax).

    +12
  16. My son and his classmates had to bury one of their friends last Wednesday. At 16.
    Some parents attended (due to Covid only a maximum of 50 were allowed). It was heartbreaking. Whenever I think of him and his poor family, tears well up again.

    So I am happy whenever I can hug and feel my kids, whenever I can see their peaceful sleeping faces in the morning before I have to wake them up.
    And I’m happy that I can escape into books, into positive feelings, into awe how great life can be, to Argh, that I can be hugged by my family, that my husband understands without words.

    And I’m more than glad that my husband got help, very good medical help, when he needed it urgently last year (and still gets it) and thanks to the German health and insurance system (different financial model to the UK, but similar outcome) it didn’t mean financial ruin.

    +23
    1. Oh how awful. My son lost a soccer teammate at 13 and it’s still such a sad memory a decade later. All the children grappling with death and the reality that they were not invulnerable. My sympathy to you and your son.

      +19
      1. Thank you, Debbie and Justine. It’s the first time the classmates together experience grieve, but the positive thing is they seem to do it together. As do we as family by dealing with the situation together. And I’m aware that grieving takes time, a lot of it.

        +4
  17. I love this, it’s definitely true – and I hope to be able to do it myself, soon.

    This week I took Monday off work to go kayaking – it was absolutely fantastic.
    Serene with blue green water and rounded boulders and sunshine and icy water. I went for a swim in the ice melt lake, cause that makes me happy too.
    There was good company, a dog and a whole quiet lake. It made me sooooo happy.

    +10
  18. I agree with the principle, but the threshold amounts vary a lot depending on location. Due to the high cost of living, the level of income needed for security in the San Francisco Bay Area is much higher. In SF in 2018, the poverty line to qualify for low-income housing was $82,000 for a single person and $117,000 for a family of four.

    The other challenge to feeling secure (in the U.S. at least) is worry about the future. The average Social Security benefit in 2021 is around $1500/month which is not enough for most people to retire comfortably.

    +13
      1. Financially we’re okay, but I work in an ICU. I really know how much health care is. The insurance may take care of the initial diagnosis but if you lose the job… Also I think a lot about the rehab or long-term care. I have family members with depression spiralling out of control back to an eating disorder-multiple hospitalizations and long term care, gets better, goes home, then lather rinse repeat.

        Oh wait happy- that would be my dog.

        +2
      1. If you see some article on Homes of Hollywood Stars and the cost of the homes, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the homes are over the top. Housing in the area is expensive.

        My parents paid $12,500 in 1955 for the Family Home which would sell for at least $1.5 million today, if we sell it. It’s still a modest 1905 Craftsman which has been reasonably maintained, but nothing fancy.

        +5
        1. My parents and my sister live in San Diego, so I know exactly what you mean. And my step-daughter in San Jose at one point was renting a ROOM in a house for over $1,000 a month.

          +2
          1. You have reminded me that I can recall my grandmother (1885 – 1985) saying that in her head, bread was still 5¢ a loaf, and the houses in our neighborhood should still cost about $5,000 (those are the same modest Craftsman homes). Intellectually she knew that prices had risen, but her mental scale was out of date.

            +2
  19. On the personal side, I got a lot of work done on an important work project thinking the deadline was this past Friday then realized the deadline is next Friday. Big boost in happiness(and relief). I’m also really enjoying my certificate program in digital storytelling facilitation.

    On the other hand, my car was stolen yesterday. Second time in three years. There’s some hope it will be used then abandoned with minimal damage (happened last time). Luckily I can live without a car for a while until I see how it plays out.

    +14
    1. I had a car like that a couple of cars ago. The thieves just didn’t Understand It, so they abandoned it pretty promptly. Like all my cars, I finally junked it when my garage told me to because they couldn’t get replacement parts any longer.

      +6
    2. I missed this the first time around. Fingers crossed for you.
      My car is a 2006 Prius that’s missing a fender. I don’t see anybody stealing that.

      +2
  20. I’m a huge believer in FIRE (financial independence, retire early). I love money not in and of itself, but because it represents freedom and security. I recognize my privilege in saying this.

    My life coach and I were discussing money on Friday, and I realized that I feel confident that I can make money from medicine, but I’m always anxious about writing income. “I may never make another dollar again!”

    She pointed out that I like writing All The Things (for example, writing in different genres, including playwriting), which makes it more difficult to earn money consistently. “I think the money will come, but it might take longer.”

    She recommends we make choices according to our values. In my case, the freedom of writing whatever I want is more important than the financial gains of writing according to market. This brings me peace.

    Wishing you all peace, health, and prosperity.

    +18
    1. Yes, exactly.

      One of the things that’s kneecapped my career is that I don’t consistently write the same genre. The money is in contemporary romantic comedy, but then I get distracted. I think I pretty much said all I wanted to about that genre in Bet Me, so now I’m interested in art crime and magic (illusion/non-supernatural) and gemstones and a ton of other things, and my editor was very clear that my re-entrance into publishing should be contemporary rom com and NOT a story about the devil’s daughter.

      I love my story about the devil’s daughter. And all the other things I’ve started. I think I’d write a lousy book if I decided to write a contemporary rom com just to reignite my career. I don’t want to live a career, I want to live a life full of interesting things.

      TLDR: I agree with you absolutely.

      +5
      1. Does your editor read this blog? Has she read your books? I guess I should have more sympathy for her (I’ll bet she’s pressured to pressure you to go with the tried-and-true “best-selling” model) but the truth is that anyone who has read ANY one of your books is hooked for life. I kinda wish she saw that what you consistently promise to deliver in your books are smart, funny, fearless heroines in unique stories. Not formula books.

        And who’s to say you’re not on the cutting edge of what readers are craving? Having come out of the hell of the past four years, but still facing plenty of hellish issues maybe we need a new view of how to get to HEA. Or a book about how the grand-daughter of a mafioso type solves art theft. Or a book about how to protect innocents from buying an actively evil house. Or even a book about former con artists who find love. Or …

        +2
  21. I got my first shot today. Woohoo! Financial security as a child of parents who lived through the Great Depression, as well as my mother married twice, three children each time and the husband dying when the youngest was just over a year old, laid a foundation to fear not having enough money especially as my mother lived to 97. So…was feeling financially secure for many years and now that I’m retired, I’m back to feeling less financially secure. H’s mother passed at 96…he is feeling the same. Downsizing, selling the house for something we can live in for many many years regardless of mobility is in our future. We just do not want to go into care. Who does. Keeping healthy and both received the two pneumonia and the Shingrix 97% efficacy against shingles (according to Zoomer round table on vaccines), and keep on learning will carry us through to our expiration dates. Hopefully!

    AND Argh makes me happy. Smart caring funny people.

    +14
    1. Wishing you good success with the vaccines. The first one I did okay, but the second one kicked my butt for a few days. Hopefully you can build in some down-time after the second one…most of my friends are finding they need it.

      My parents sold our childhood home when I was in college (many years ago) and bought their retirement home (even though they were in their 50s). It was two-story, but just guest bedrooms on the second floor. Everything they needed was on the first floor, and they designed the dining room with glass French doors in case they needed to make it into a hospital-like room. It was good foresight on their part. I wish you good luck finding a home that will suit your future needs. Personally, I think it’s smart.

      +11
      1. Heh…I should have said “everything they needed was on the GROUND floor.” Sheesh. I write historicals. You think I’d remember that by now!

        +9
      2. Thanks Justine, we are looking at something like that. Really the best solution for the future. Still many years ahead of us. Cheers.

        +4
  22. My birthday was on Saturday and I actually got to see my mom and her boyfriend (all of us all clear shotwise) and hug them and hang out with them. I actually ate indoors in a restaurant and had fried chicken (one of my top favorites) for the first time in over a year. And went on an independent bookstore book crawl and did my first shopping spree since February 2020. It was great. It was almost normal! It was like going back in time, except for all the masks out there.

    +14
  23. Im happy that tomorrow is preorder release date for the new Martha wells. I have Jenny to thank for finding her. It was in a recommended rereads authors post. Fell in love with the Murderbot and got them all. And have reread them all and am browsing the last one a little bit today just because.
    thank you !

  24. I’ll simply say that we’re some of the lucky ones. We’re very, very fortunate to be debt-free; to travel around the world (and take family with us); to treat friends and family to fun adventures, meals, and unique experiences; to pursue my dream of writing full-time; and to be able to support our local community by both providing work and funding charities. Money by itself doesn’t give me joy, but the things I can do with it sure do. I am grateful for that each and every day.

    +14
  25. As someone who grew up in what was at times abject poverty, I don’t think there’s an amount of money that would make me feel secure, maybe Jenny’s friend’s 10 million. But only if it was in cash and hidden in coffee cans buried in my garden. My dad worked a lot but it was spotty, had a hell of a time getting paid as often he would have to wait for others to get paid before they could pay him (a lot of my life he did land clearing for farmers who needed the land to grow more crops to make more money but couldn’t afford to pay him until the crops were sold in the fall) and my mom has mental health issues that made things difficult. As an adult, I am of two minds. Part of me thinks that they both could have made different decisions and put the financial stability of the family ahead of their own needs. The other, more compassionate part, knows there were mitigating circumstances.

    I was able to see them yesterday (the first time since well before Christmas!) and my mom gave me our traditional Christmas scratch and win tickets. When we were scratching them, Paul said that he didn’t think he could win the grand prize on a ticket and not give it back to them.

    I will feel significantly better about things when we are finally debt free. The plan for that is 3 years but that’s a God-willing-and-the-creek-don’t-rise kind of plan. Having been un/under employed since 2013 hasn’t helped my peace of mind either.

    While I don’t judge people for how they spend their money, it’s none of my business, I still get this clutch in my chest when people, even strangers on the internet, announce they are spending pots of money on something. My first thought is always “what if you lose your job?”

    Also, wish me luck on my visit to the ortho specialist tomorrow for my messed up knee. If he tells me all I need to do is physio exercises or lose weight, I might lose it on him.

    +17
  26. We have this saying that goes: “money doesn’t make you happy, but no money makes you unhappy”. The amount might vary depending on where you live.

    +15
  27. A dear friend got the word this week that her first novel IS going to be published, and I’m sworn to secrecy until contracts are signed, so I’m telling all of you. It makes me so happy, and it’s such a good book! (I got to read/edit it.)

    +11
  28. I grew up as something of a hippie changeling in a family of type A over-achievers. I didn’t much care about money (we had enough while I was growing up, in part because my parents worked their butts off), although I didn’t much enjoy the years as a young adult without any. It simply wasn’t a motivator for me. But then I got seriously ill and had to live on disability and the generosity of my parents for ten years, and that changed my views on things somewhat.

    Independence and security make me happy, and having a certain amount of money definitely make those easier. I still don’t care about being rich (although I could learn to live with it…) but I have felt a level of relief the last few years as my writing career has brought in enough money to supplement my relatively low-earning although beloved day job. Although that feeling of security comes and goes along with the ups and downs of the writing. Thank goodness for the tarot deck I did for Llewellyn. That thing is the gift that keeps on giving.

    Getting older has also focused my mind on money more. I’ll be turning 61 in a few days, and knowing that my house will be paid off by the end of the year and I can take the monthly mortgage payment and start stashing it away for later makes me surprisingly happy.

    Of course, I also splurged and ordered some really good chocolate from Soma, in Ontario, for my birthday. So apparently I care more about chocolate than I do about money. That sounds about right.

    Argh is happiness for me too.

    +16
  29. Though it wouldn’t normally occur to me to mention it, I had a conference with a financial manager who made me happy by telling me that my retirement investments are doing really well since — surprise! — Biden took office. But I had the option of choosing a defined benefits pension, so there’s always that security. When my great-great-grandfather retired, the business owner shook his hand and wished him well — no pension or any other financial security after decades of work at a skilled job.

    Other things, though — the vaccine situation seems to be easing in the San Francisco Bay Area and I was able to get an appointment — at the local supermarket, which has a pharmacy — for myself on Saturday morning and another for my brother Sunday morning. Saturday was a little rushed, since I had to get the shot and then whisk myself thirty miles to a funeral service. However, that was rather sweet in more ways than one — lots of stories about the deceased, who’d been a Navy medical corpsman and received the Apollo Seven astronauts when they splashed down, and X-rayed them (pictures to prove it, though not the X-rays), and a nice account from a neighbor who’d been feeling unwell when he dropped in to visit — he asked if he could feel her abdomen, pressed his hands first on one side, then the other — nothing — and then let go suddenly — excruciating pain! He told her husband to get her to the ER immediately, and she was operated on for an emergency ectopic pregnancy. As she said, he saved her life. And as an extra treat, the buffet provided by the church ladies included a platter of Kunafa, a traditional Egyptian phyllo sweet. Normally I only see it at the Coptic church festivals, but this Baptist church has an Egyptian member!

    A statue of John Lewis has been raised in Rodney Cook Park, Atlanta, and that makes me happy.

    AND today is the 99th birthday of my late mother and her surviving twin sister, who has had a happy day with her children able to see her!

    +12
  30. You make me happy. Just knowing you are out there writing is a source of happiness. I thought Dillie was a nickname for daffodil. Yes there are weird mothers out there who would name their child daffodil.

    +6
    1. The problem with being named Daffodil is that some family, friends, schoolmates, et cetera will choose Daffy instead of Dilly. I have a sister-in-law named F. Marguerite Jordan – note that initial – who does not use her legal first name due to childhood teasing and an unfortunate association with a talking mule.

      +5
  31. It rained today. Since the state is about to officially declare a drought, the rain made me happy. There’s still a drought though, unless things take a sudden change for the soggier.

    As for the money question, I’m pretty sure that no matter how much I have, I’ll worry that it won’t be enough to handle whatever old age throws at me. My parents and their parents had the same fears.

    +6
  32. Happiness for me this week was hiking the Milford Track.

    It’s not expensive (national park access is free, kids stay in the huts for free, adults are NZD50/night for a bunk), but you need kit to do it – packs and boots and sleeping bags, and really good rain gear. It’s the family and outdoors time that made me happy (and god, the beauty, it was really, beautiful at every moment – it makes the dehy food worth it), but being able to afford to do it definitely helps.

    I have pictures.
    https://www.instagram.com/p/COIQcaxgiwl

    +11
    1. PS, it’s a 3 night tramp (hike). We made the kids carry their own gear and snacks (although not dinners, lunches or cooking equipment) – they are 11 and 13, yes there was the expected level of whining, and my god did it rain on the second day. I had a pack rain cover, a plastic pack liner, and my sleeping bag in a drysack and still the rain got in, just a little. Still, a few days after we left, SNOW, so yay for waterfalls and hut drying racks, and the lovely reminder that warm and dry is not to be taken for granted. So I’m also happy to be warm and dry right now 🙂

      +9
      1. Warm and dry! My father was in the Coast Guard during the war (in the South Pacific) and his best friend was in the Navy, in the same area, but a different fleet, and when they wrote each other they would sign off “I’m warm and dry and hope you are the same.” The censors could not object to that reassurance that their ships were afloat.

        +7
  33. Between our retirement savings and the proceeds from the sale of our house, we currently have a very good nest egg, which is calming on so many levels. I wouldn’t call it happy-making, calming really is the right word for it. We can afford a very nice life here in Portugal (which is happy-making in and of its own self).

    This week, besides obtaining our residency, happiness has consisted of daily walks on the beach and getting more settled in our new home. Of course, we won’t really be settled until our stuff is here and unpacked (mid-May), but we’re making do with the rental furniture and very basic cooking tools until then. Were I to do this again (please, no), I would have devoted a suitcase to some a few pots & pans and wooden spoons and the like. Lesson learned.

    +10
    1. Is there an equivalent to a dollar store (not pots and pans of course) but for throw away items you can use in the meantime?

      +4
  34. I’ve always been careful to keep my required expenses (mortgage, other housing expenses, health insurance) as low as I can so that I don’t have to worry that I can pay them. I was smart enough to start saving young, and lucky enough to be young when that was a lot easier to do, so I have a cushion that keeps me from ever panicking. Plus if all hell broke loose I know my mom would help out. I am grateful to have that security.

    What I don’t have a good sense of is when (if) I can retire comfortably and whether I have even close to enough. I’m near enough to retirement that I need to start figuring it out. I mean, I’ve done all the saving I was advised to do…

    I wish we had the NHS or something equivalent. The fear of medical bills/bankruptcy is such a negative thing here in the US. It keeps people trapped in jobs they hate, stifles entrepreneurship… it’s really dumb that people have to depend on an employer for medical insurance. Really dumb.

    What made me happy this week was driving to a friend’s house on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and spending the weekend. Kids! Dogs! Goats! Chickens! Ducks! I really needed a break. It’s been so good that I decided to stay an extra night and work remotely from my normal remote work location. it’s too bad we have a major deadline today, because I would much prefer to be out playing.

    +9
    1. You need to cast around for a financial advisor who specializes in retirement. My company, bless them, sponsored regular classes for people approaching retirement with respectable financial groups — my original one was Metropolitan Life, for instance — and advisors who understood the various retirement options the company offered. If your company has a retirement benefits department or contracts the function out, that may be where to begin.

      They’ll explain your different goals at different stages of your retirement

      (immediate, you’ll be as physically active as you are now — probably a good time to plan to climb a Pyramid, or a Himalaya, or hike Milford Track;

      later, still able to get around, but Yosemite Valley instead of Mount Whatsis with oxygen tanks;

      later still, cruises with day trips;

      at some point senior housing with easy access;

      finally, physical care as necessary).

      Then they’ll work out how to organize your assets into short-term, medium-term, long-term programs with perhaps a suitable annuity.

      My advisor reckons that as long as I continue to live on my pension and Social Security, I’d better figure out to whom I’ll leave everything else. I pointed out that the rest should be enough for my brother to arrange for my care if necessary and anything left over can found a home for unwed cats.

      +4
      1. P.S Check into the retirement planning right away. First, you can’t plan too early, and second, when you HAVE a plan in place, a lot of worry should promptly evaporate.

        +3
      2. Just saw this! It’s been busy busy busy at work this week.

        I work for the federal government, which tells me that I could retire in September if I wanted to, but that’s just crazy talk. They do provide lots of retirement info.

        Pyramids and Milford Track – checked off
        Cruises – well, never say never…
        First and only condo is a single-level place with easy access to public transportation and walking distance to everything…

        But I really have to figure out this whole annuity thing. My eyes cross every time I read the word.

  35. I’ve seen that number as well – $100K – and thought ‘they mean annual income, right?’ Because that amount of money isn’t enough to live on forever. Not anywhere in the U.S. You can’t even buy a house on that in L.A. (says the person with a fat law-firm job who rents an 840sf post-WWII tract house within sight of two freeways and an airport for $1800/mo, well below market because our good friends own the property. We couldn’t afford to buy this house).

    I remember getting to an income level where I could buy anything I wanted at the grocery store. Literally anything. Fancy imported jam or honey? Organic grass-fed beef or bison? Bottle of wine from the top shelf? Veggies from the deli that someone else did all the prep work for? Mine mine mine. That was a great feeling. Whenever Day Job stresses me out I remember what it was like to have to look at prices on the grocery shelf.

    Today is happy because I scoured out the in-box and have another day off planned for Wednesday. Also because Yao Ming Sunflower is nine feet tall and blooming. The orchid DH got me last year has two flower stalks going so I have a whole living bouquet in my yoga space. I took Sunday off from the computer and came back to it with some new material for a WIP novel that is very close to done. At the end of the week we will get vaccine dose #2, and my mom is working on a new miniature room.

    +5
    1. The grocery store was my tipping point, too. The day I could go off list and not check the price of everything was just amazing.

      It’s good to have started with not much and grown into financial semi-security, but the not-much wasn’t fun.

      +4
  36. Argh makes me happy too. And I agree wholeheartedly about money and security. I grew up insecure enough that my parents worried, and so did I. We always had food and the other basics but no buffer and that was a constant background worry.

    My financial goal as an adult was to have enough that I didn’t have to think about whether I could afford food, shelter, books and some luxuries, like traveling within my country a few times a year. And I’ve got there. I still get almost everything secondhand if I can, but I’ve saved enough to be financially thoroughly secure, and I’ll probably be able to retire early. If I can bring myself to.

    That travel means I can keep in touch with family and friends a lot more than otherwise, plus feed my soul with the outdoors. So, yes, the money doesn’t make me happy but what I can do with it certainly does.

    +7
  37. Your post certainly made me feel lighter. And “happy?” That came from something beautiful at the end of a very sad two weeks. (A friend’s daughter-in-law and unborn baby died within days of each other. Another friend started palliative care. My mom’s husband is in intensive care.) But my friend who lost her DIL wrote to say that on the weekend her son gave away his late wife’s car to a grandmother in their district who suddenly has custody of her three grandchildren. That made me feel joy for all concerned.

    +7
  38. No offense meant to anyone — I know everyone has worked hard for her success — but Luck is a huge factor in my experience.

    Lots of hard work and lots of luck.

    +5
    1. Luck is HUGE. I was lucky to grow up in a house full of books, with parents who valued education and helped me get it. My total education debt through grad school was less than $5K.

      Then I was lucky that when I had a deadbeat to unload, I hadn’t married him. So while he walked away with a lot of my money, I didn’t have to go through a divorce or pay alimony. Also lucky that him taking my money was the worst of it.

      And I’ve been lucky to have won the genetic lottery re: health. It’s easier to be happy when you feel good and are physically able to do everything you choose to do.

      Working full-time for the past 32 years has furnished a good many comforts, a few luxuries, and a lot of fun. It’s much easier to be happy when you can afford to have some fun. 🙂 But falling into that first law-firm job (instead of any of the other low-paying clerical jobs open to me at the time) was luck.

      +3

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