utility is a powerful concept. imho, its the most important concept in economics.
at this point in my life, my main goal is to maximize my financial security. that doesn't mean i wont sacrifice my happiness. i wont take a higher paying job over a lower paying job if i like the latter better. however, i will always try to maximize finances. i live frugally. when i go out with my friends we go to $ drafts, etc. i plan on moving to a cheaper apartment when my lease is up in july. every penny i have right now is in the stock market. i almost live purely on credit. if at some point in the next year when the rental yield equation screams buy, i will probably put myself into some serious debt-- even if that means saving $500/mo. $500/mo goes a LONG way (think about compounded interest, etc).
at some level, im pretty emotionally detached. i don't look at financial losses and cringe. i like math and im as numbers oriented as they come. however, i live this way for a reason (granted the economy also sucks). my greatest fear in life is that i will not be able to provide the same quality of life for my family as my parents have provided for me. im extremely lucky. ive had a great life, realistically, i think ill probably make $7-10m in my lifetime. with a family, after taxes and living expenses im not quite sure where that leaves me. certainly that is more than enough for a great life and maybe leaves me 500k-$1m net worth to retire on.
thats my logic for living the way i do, right now. i need to save to reach that goal. however, i think that will change. if i reach my goals, i think i will probably want to own a home when the equation says rent. sure, there will be external factors that lead to this decision (maybe my wife kicks my ass and that pleases her as well). but for me, it symbolizes the fact that i can provide for others in the way i was provided for. i wont mind being tied down by financial assets, etc. i want my kids to play little league and go k-12 with the same friends as i did. why? because that made me happy and i want to give someone else that same opportunity. life is too short not to maximize your happiness. im willing to sacrifice myself when im young and hate life so to speak. ill *say* i hate life because ill work 18 hour days to get where i want to go. that might not be fun, but it still makes me happy based on my future utility potential.
so yeah, i think it holds true for BOTH groups-- our parents and us. of course, this is just me. i know many of my friends feel the same way but utility is a strange thing. utility is what got us into this mess (too many people tried to maximize what made them happy). utility is why markets aren't efficient (think greed and fear). people tend to act on emotion first. clearly my lifestyle is a result of my emotions. am i doing things the right way? im not sure. utility inhibits our ability to learn in the short term and this holds true for just about every results based environment. ultimately, learning comes down to luck. i guess ill have to wait and see.
Originally posted as a comment by jeremystein on This is going to be BIG! using Disqus.