Everything in life is a trade-off

As we start a new decade going into 2020, I’ve been thinking of some wisdom that I’ve learned over time. Everything in life is a trade-off.

What do I mean by that? Typically for everything you maintain in your life, there is a counter-force that goes along with it.

Here are some examples:

  • If you own a home, then you have to spend time and money maintaining and renovating it. You now have mortgage debt which is stressful.
  • If you buy a new car, it will instantly depreciate and you’ll be out the money or have a stressful auto loan.
  • If you own a part-time vacation home, then it has a huge cost in terms of your time and effort to keep it going.
  • If you are in a rewarding relationship, then you much spend significant time, money, and energy to nurture that relationship.
  • If you have kids, then you must spend significant time and resources raising them. The same is true with pets.
  • If you own a car, then it needs constant maintenance to keep it on the road.
  • If you buy material items, then they’ll clutter your house and it will take longer for you to retire.
  • If you go on a vacation, you’ll spend a lot of time traveling and that can be stressful.

Many things in life represent not just a 100% positive effect, but a tradeoff between the benefits versus the costs. I believe part of human nature is to focus on the positive benefits but to disregard the negative consequences.

Many people are undoubtedly unhappy because they are single. They think about how great it would be to be in a relationship or to be married. What they are truly missing is how much freedom they have to do whatever they want in their life. When you are in a relationship you feel responsible for another person’s happiness. These individuals are missing the bigger picture.

Think about how relaxing this vacation home would be! We don’t think about the costs and effort to maintain it!

Does someone purchasing a vacation home do so thinking about all of the time they are going to spend cleaning the place? Do they think about all the mortgage\insurance\HOA\tax fees that they’ll pay? Do they think of all the stress packing and traveling to this secondary home? Of course not, they just think about how nice it would be to lounge and relax in a second home.

To me, many of these things don’t make sense. That is why I don’t own a vacation home. If I owned one, I would feel like I need to use it on weekends to get my money out of it even if I didn’t want to travel for 3 hours.

Industries thrive on getting consumers to part with their money only think about the positives. They don’t want us to think about the real costs in terms of our time, energy, stress, and financial expenditure.

A more rational way to think about lifestyle decisions is to think about the true costs. What are you giving up in terms of your time and resources to purchase something?

One should think about if those costs are acceptable. Ultimately the benefits should greatly outweigh the costs or else we risk not increasing our happiness and creating stress instead. Decisions in life should ultimately be a cost versus benefit analysis rather than a one-sided benefit analysis. This is necessary if we are to increase our overall happiness.

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