1.1.4: What unites every money decision?
Everything in this book ties to one central idea: we each have resources we’re trying to allocate in a way that turns them into our best possible life
Viewing life at a high level, we’re all doing the same thing. We each have a bunch of resources – which we’ll simplify into money, time, and energy[1] – and we’re all trying to turn them into a ‘Good Life’ (whatever that may mean to each of us).
This game is played out in innumerable different economic, political, social, and psychological circumstances, but as Will Durant noted, if history teaches us anything, it’s that ‘everything changes, except woman and man’.[i] A bunch of women and men trying to corral whatever circumstances they find themselves in so as to live as well as possible.
DIAGRAMS TO COME
Resources –> Good Life
Human + non-human separate –> Human + resources combined
It seems reasonable to think that there should be correlation between more on the left and more on the right. And there should be. But because of what happens in the middle – because of how we relate to the resources, how we combine them with ourselves – there usually isn’t. And in some cases, the correlation is negative.
Historically, the role of money in this equation hasn’t changed. It sits firmly on the left-hand side. It can be turned into a Good Life, but it is not a part of the Good Life itself. You do not get or have a life, you participate in it. On its own, as a determinant of your Good Life, money is as useful in another person’s private bank vault as it is in your hands. Yet as much as people may talk about how money does not equal happiness, they think, speak, and act otherwise.

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[1] We could include other resources (e.g. one’s network, intelligence, etc. but these tend to be inexhaustible, so their allocation is less of an issue). When we talk about time and money, we’re not doing so in the fatuous fortune-cooking profundity ‘time is money’ sense that infects the discourse of the pathologically ‘driven’ to justify both their jobs and how much they spend on cleaners, coaches, and cooks. This sort of attachment of time to money obscures the value of time that they thought they were revealing. These are also the last people to realise that not all time is created equal and the first to have severe energy-management issues.
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[i] Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, vol. 1
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