Now Read This — what you really want, house happiness, and the fiscal cliff
Erica Strauss on getting what you really want
Remember ‘miswanting’? Erica at Northwest Edible Life offers a another way to rethink your tangible purchases with Occupy Your Brain (Why You Don’t Really Want What You Want). She lays out a nice little chart to help you dig down past the initial desire-reflex and examine the real issue.
I’ve been trying to implement this process myself in the weeks since Erica first posted this, and I have to say that my answers rarely come out as cleanly as the ones in her sample chart. For any significant purchase (e.g. iPad) I usually have a whole stack of reasons for wanting it, so that even with a huge grid of intermediate problems and feelings in place, the answer to the final yes/no question is not always apparent.
But despite this messiness, I still think it’s a great way to facilitate consideration of your spending. Just the attempt has helped me clarify my emotions and expectations — and when the issue is whether to drop four months’ personal allowance on an iPad, I can’t have too much clarity.
Matthew Amster-Burton on happiness and houses
The secret to happiness, writes Matthew, is to Live Like a College Student for the rest of your life. In particular, that means keeping your domicile 1) small and 2) close to your work or other frequent destinations.
I almost wrote an entire rant explaining in great detail why I think you should take every last word of this article to heart RIGHT NOW, but I thought better of it (see also: whining). Let me just say instead that, as I sit here in our isolated, inconvenient 1800sf mistake, I am feeling what Matthew has to say in a big way.
Not only have I now read the same psychology studies he references, I’ve lived them. Getting separate rooms for the kids was a major factor in our house selection process, and it was completely, utterly misguided. In addition to wishing we’d remained renters, I wish we’d stayed small and prioritized location over space.
At some point the bank will decide to come after our house, and we’ll be moving. This time (and from now on) I’m aiming for tiny — less cleaning, less clutter — and convenient. Two of my top three criteria are access to public transit and walkability. I’ll trade a whole lot of space for those.
Ezra Klein et al. on WTF is the fiscal cliff
It’s all fiscal cliff, all the time on the news these days. Read/listen/watch for a while and you get the idea that it has something to do with taxes, and something to with government spending, and it’s all about Democrats and Republicans fighting. But the details are pretty vague.
Fortunately, the fine people at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog are here to help with The Fiscal Cliff: Absolutely everything you could possibly need to know, in one FAQ. The title is not an exaggeration — it really does break down the whole thing and explain it piece by piece, in language that you don’t need to be an economist or a politician to understand.