Saturday, February 18, 2012

Joy to Stuff Ratio

I have been interested in the study of time and money for some time now.  So I was excited when I met  Ellen Frankenburg and read the 2001 article referencing Joy to Stuff ratio (Frankenburg references the book "Your Money or Your Life" by Vicki Robin et al).  In Joe and Vicki's book they have a great graphic describing the fulfillment curve -  visually depicting when you have "enough" (note -fulfillment  is on the vertical axis and money is on the horizontal axis).

Accumulating money takes time and spending money ( "stored time") is spending life energy (the time it took to earn that money).  Short term, we are all equal and have 24 hours in the day.  Long term, some of us have more time than others but each unique individual is given only so much "life energy" time. 

Stuff comes into play when we use money to buy stuff - presumably for survival,  comfort, and luxuries.  So money is traded for stuff and that stuff becomes the new "stored time". Many people try to use stuff to increase their feeling of comfort, happiness and joy.  Everyone has a different fullfilment curve and must individually define for themselves "how much is enough". Ellen Frankenburg's point is that it is important to  "Keep your joy to stuff ratio in balance".

OK - this is where my mathematics background overpowers the "literary and philosphical" points the authors are trying to make.  Since this is a ratio, it is only natural that I begin to ask the mathematical question of what happens when the values approach zero or infinity and what is the "optimal ratio"? 

Start with stuff (keeping joy constant).  As stuff approaches infinity, the joy to stuff ratio becomes zero.  As stuff approaches zero, the joy to stuff ration approaches infinity.  I think this is the  point the authors want to make - Eliminate the over pursuit of stuff and your joy to stuff ratio will increase.  Yes - your ratio increased (and some would confuse this with joy increasing) - but your joy may have remained constant. 

The joy to stuff ratio misses discussing the real goal - How do you increase joy (or fulfillment) - regardless of stuff?


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