I just returned to Portland after a week in New York City, a week during which I spent five days packed with personal-finance meetings and events. (I’ll have plenty to say about those meetings and events in upcoming articles.)
While I was away, Kim was responsible for managing our tiny little household — one puppy and two kittens — all by herself. This proved challenging since she was also working twelve-hour days as a fill-in dental hygienist.
“I’ll tell you what,” she said when I got home. “This week taught me just how important quality of life is.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, because the animals were home alone all day, they needed a lot of attention every evening. Like three hours of attention. Especially the dog. On the days I worked across town, that meant I was getting home at 6:00 or 6:30 and having to entertain the animals until bedtime. It didn’t leave me time for anything else.”
“That sucks,” I said.
“It was frustrating,” Kim said. “But one day I worked at the dental office just up the street. I walked to work. I had so much more free time. I had more free time in the morning, and I had more free time in the evening. The dog was still wild when I got home, but I got home at 4:30, which meant I had time to take her for a long walk before dinner. And I still had that done before the time I’d been getting home from the offices across town.”
“Sounds like you should try to get a job at the office up the street,” I said.
“I agree,” Kim said. “Even if they were to pay me less money, it’d be worth it for the increase in quality of life.”
Kim’s observation is nothing new, of course. For a long time, I’ve preached the importance of picking homes and jobs that match your lifestyle — and encouraged folks to live as close to work as possible. With few exceptions, a long commute is simply wasted time (and wasted money).
But her comments reminded me of a conversation I had during my week in New York. Somebody — and I can’t remember who because I didn’t take notes during this particular discussion — was describing the importance of what they called “secondary effects” and how people generally forget to factor them into their decisions. [Read more…]