Career Goals: Time Affluence

“I have no time for anything that I want to do.” Sean said. Sean commuted from Fairfield to Stamford back and forth each day. Someday someone will solve Connecticut’s I-95 challenge. For now, Sean’s only other option was the train but both his house and office were not conveniently located to make Metro-North a better option. He typically would leave his house only a few minutes after his elementary school children awoke and would do his best to rush home before they went to sleep. “Last week, I added up the minutes that I saw them during the week. It was less than an hour. It made me really sad.”
Sean had come to see me because he had found a different job that was closer to home, allowed telecommuting on Fridays, and where the family friendly atmosphere was genuine. The problem: the salary was $12,000 less than his current $130,000.  Sean’s wife didn’t work so he thought he couldn’t cut his income. We went through his expenses – which also led to the realization that he would save a few thousand in gas and car depreciation based on his shorter commute – and realized that he would lose about $7,000 after taxes. That’s still a chunk of money. But… 
Every study that I have seen on happiness indicates that beyond a certain point money does not lead to additional happiness. $70,000 seems to be the magic number for the Western world.  I’ll add $30,000 for my wealthy Connecticut brethren. So, let’s say that beyond $100,000, Sean would not have that much happiness from an increased salary. But he would gain what is commonly thought to be a major indicator of happiness: time affluence. 
Sean took the job and just sent me a Christmas card showing his happy family.