Would You Rather… Make $50k or $100k? (But…)

Welcome to Friday, hustlers.

You know how everyone’s always talking about “keeping up with the Joneses,” and how it’s best to not compare yourselves to others? Well, this Would You Rather we’ve got for you today will test you on just that ;) I reckon most of you will vote the financially smart way considering you’re on this site, but do try to answer this honestly so we can get a good discussion going.

You ready for it? Here we go….

Would you rather…. Have a salary of $50,000 where everyone around you only has $25,000 – OR – Make $100,000 but everyone around you makes $200,000?

Haha… Not as clear cut is it? Obviously making more is the best answer for you and your goals/family, but what happens when everyone around you is making double? For presumably doing the same amount of work as you are? (There’s a ton of factors that would go into this of course, so let’s just assume everything else in life is the same besides the salary people are making).

Would you be able to comfortably live your life when everyone’s blowing more $$ on fancier cars, houses, vacations, toys, etc? Which odds would go in that direction since a vast majority of people aren’t as sexy with their money as you are? How would the quality of your life change? Or would it? (Also, what happens to everyone else’s life in the reverse? $25k is not much for most people.)

Initially I chose the $100,000 off the bat, but then I stopped and pictured exactly where I’m living now and pretended that all my neighbors, friends, etc were all making $200,000. Would that make me feel funny? Truthfully – yes. It definitely doesn’t make me feel BETTER, haha… But why? Do I care about fancier stuff or what others are doing? Not really. In fact, I ignore most everyone. But the idea that I’d be the only one with 1/2 of what everyone else gets just feels weird. And again, in this situation it’s not like I could work more or get a better job/etc to pump up the $$$ – we’re all magically stuck at our salaries!

And perhaps that’s the problem I have with this. It strips away the level of effort or smarts we all have. Everyone gets a flat $200,000 instead of those of us who choose $100,000 no matter how awesome or sucky we are at our jobs. You’re forever earning 50% less!

But then I close my eyes and focus on what a lifestyle of earning $100,000 would mean. Would I be able to live an awesome life? Hell yeah! In fact, I’ve earned $100,000 or more two out of the last three years, and I can damn well tell you it’s better than making $50,000 :) The ratio of lifestyle and happiness isn’t an incredible amount (it doesn’t take much for me to enjoy my life), but it’s certainly noticeable. And frankly, much more desirable. With an extra $50,000 you could speed up your goals an extraordinary amount.

[Of course, the main problem w/ this whole question is that we’re not all making the same amount of money right now so depending on where you are on the scale, $100k might sound lame if you’re making more, and $50k might sound incredible if you’re making less. But just play along anyways and assume this morning that everyone’s salaries got wiped away and now 99.9999999% of the world will make the same amount, and then there’s you ;)]

When all things are considered however, I’d opt for the $100,000 in the end. Yeah the emotions might take some getting used to, but ultimately I’d need to do what’s best for me and my family. And we can live a much better – less stressed – life at $100k/year than we could at $50k. We could make $50k work too if needed, but with a magical fairy doubling it on the spot why not? Also, wouldn’t that mean my wife now makes $200,000? ;) Ooooh!!! Yet another factor to consider! Haha…

The Harvard Study: Is More Always Better?

Before I turn it over to you to get your thoughts, let me tell you where this whole thing came from…

I was reading one of my newer favorite blogs, A Wealth of Common Sense, and one of the articles Ben wrote was on a study that Harvard researchers did on how people (and monkeys!) compare themselves to others. They asked this same salary question to their subjects, and here were the results:

In the end 52% of the respondents preferred the $50K scenario. These people would accept half as much money in absolute terms as the second option just so they could make twice as much as their neighbors… Unfortunately, perception matters when money is involved. The problem is that there will always be someone getting richer at a faster pace than you are. Stating the obvious, this is not a great way to live your life.

So more people chose the $50,000 option than the $100,000 option! WOW! I figured it wouldn’t be a total win for the $100k’ers, but to LOSE the battle in the end? Pretty incredible.

If you’d like to see the entire story by Harvard, I dug it up here [PDF]: Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns

There’s a lot of garble in there (ie. stuff that only smart people would follow ;)), but here were some other interesting choices they gave people:

A: You have 2 weeks of vacation; others have 1 week.
B: You have 4 weeks of vacation; others have 8 weeks.

A: Your IQ is 110; others average 90.
B: Your IQ is 130; others average 150.

A: Your physical attractiveness is 6; others average 4.
B: Your physical attractiveness is 8; others average 10.

A: Your child has 12 years of education (high school); other people’s children have 8.
B: Your child has 16 years of education (college); other people’s children have 20 (graduate degree).

This must have been one fun study :) Here are the choices I would have made:

  • Vacation: More! I could really care less about others here (my wife agreed)
  • IQ: I was torn 50/50. I hate feeling stupid around people, even if I’m smart at 130 (wouldn’t the scales not matter anymore if everyone else is smarter than you thus making you not smart?)
  • Attractiveness: Same problem I have w/ the rating here too, but I’d def. choose 8 :) Would be hard to erase what we consider attractive after living a life having a perception of it already.
  • Child’s education: More every time! As much as I don’t care much about other people in normal situations (ie, not in weird magical land like this one), I DEFINITELY don’t care at all about other children… Wait, that sounded bad, haha… I mean, I don’t care whether they’re smarter/better or worse than mine. I just want my boys to be happy and healthy and live a great life!!

Okay, now it’s your turn.

What would you rather have? $50k while everyone else has a $25k salary, or a $100k salary when everyone else has $200k? What was your initial thought before analyzing it to death like I just did? ;) What do you think about some of those other Harvard questions?

If you want to waste more time at work right now, here are some of our past Would You Rathers too ;)

While we’ll never be able to fully test these in real life, they’re great things to consider while working on our money. And a much more fun way too ;) Enjoy the weekend homies.


[Photo cred:  Mark Dodd]

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  1. Petrish @ Debt Free Martini November 21, 2014 at 5:58 AM

    I watched my mom clean toilets for a living growing up so for me its about living within your means and being happy with what you have. I have never looked at other people and wish I had what they had. I always believed that if I worked hard enough I could achieve anything. When my salary becomes six figures if I am able to drive a luxury car and look like the Joneses so be it. As long as my family is taking care of and we are not house and bank poor…..I’m good.

    1. J. Money November 22, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      Great mentality to be in! And good of your mom to do what it takes too – my unemployed friends wouldn’t dare clean toilets out of pride alone, so I’ve got mad respect for her.

  2. Kirsten November 21, 2014 at 6:20 AM

    Across the board, I went with more every time. It’s not that I don’t care what others think or how I would feel in comparison. Those are real issues for me and I recognize the struggle is have, but I want more money for ME and my goals – not to top family and friends. I’d rather be as smart and as pretty as I’m “allowed” to be – even if I lived in a cave away from civilization. Wanting more of these things is basically human nature. And I definitely want as much time off as I can get!

  3. Mark November 21, 2014 at 6:48 AM

    My wife just asked me this question last week! She asked because that basically describes our situation (or our perception of it). I live in a smaller town with only a few major employers, so it’s easier fall into the trap of comparing yourself since we all work at the same place. I make about $100K, but it seems like that’s on the lower end of what a lot of the people I associate with make. So she asked me “Well, would you rather be somewhere normal where most people don’t make more than you?” I have concluded the answer is no. I am learning to be thankful for what I have. There is so much to be grateful for! Not comparing is easier said than done, but it allows us to take so much more joy in life.

    1. J. Money November 22, 2014 at 3:44 PM

      Can I move to your town? :)

  4. Mr. Frugalwoods November 21, 2014 at 6:58 AM

    I’d go with the 100k every time.

    In fact, that’s pretty much what Mrs. FW and I do already. We both have great jobs, but we chose to work in the nonprofit sector. Our friends doing similar work in the corporate world make more than we do… and we’re OK with that. We make plenty for what we need.

  5. Jahyd November 21, 2014 at 7:03 AM

    I generally want more for myself, but it made me think about how those changes would make our society different. I mean, would everyone else only making $25,000 mean that the cost of everything else be cheaper as well? Or does the cost of living stay the same? Does everyone elses children only having 8 years of schooling to my childs 12 give them them the edge in the job market? While I would obviously want my children to have a great education, I would also want them to be able to get a good job. Maybe only having 16 years of schooling to other peoples 20 would mean my child is working the minimum waged jobs and I certainly don’t want that for my child.

    1. J. Money November 22, 2014 at 3:45 PM

      These questions are tricky cuz of how things would change for sure, but in the study everything is supposed to stay as-is just like it is right now. Which of course would never happen :)

  6. S L November 21, 2014 at 7:20 AM

    *grin* slighlty political — as I am a woman, studies are saying I pretty much do that already in my field (make half to 3/4 those around me [especially since I am a minority in my field, too *laughs*] ) Not black and white. is $50K enough for what I want and then some, and enough for me to stock up when I don’t work anymore? is $100K? So, Assuming all four numbers live where the cost of living is the same and all are above poverty line, I would want the $100K.

    As for the others:
    •Vacation: More – and since most people around my job have been at this company longer they already have more vaca than I
    •IQ: Smarter than others – I prefer teaching *grin*
    •Attractiveness: Really don’t care in this one. As long as I am happy with who I am, others’ scales do not matter.
    •Child’s education: Prefer more education, knowledge is power! But happiness where they are in life is utmost. Enough for them to live with their definition of comfortable.

    1. J. Money November 22, 2014 at 3:48 PM

      Good insight on the gender/minority part – that hadn’t even crossed my mind (probably because I’m a male and Caucasian)

  7. Dee @ Color Me Frugal November 21, 2014 at 8:03 AM

    I would say more across the board BUT the one that really gave me pause was the attractiveness one! I do think it would be a little hard on the self esteem to be constantly surrounded by supermodels, even if I were an 8! Does that make me really shallow or insecure? I’m not sure. But I’d still rather be an 8, I guess. But you know how some studies show that attractive people are more readily hired and may be paid more? Hmmm, maybe now I’m changing my mind…

  8. Taylor Lee November 21, 2014 at 8:09 AM

    I’d choose the 100K every time. It’s actually not so dissimilar to where I am now in terms of my workplace: well-paid around even more well-paid people. Yes, lifestyle inflation, jealousy, yada yada yada, but at the same time I benefit from the the hand-me-downs of obscenely well-off people (because I’m the relatively poorer junior associate) so, you know, cheap second hand electronics goodies all the time ain’t so bad?

    As for the others:

    Vacation: Definitely more time off! I don’t really talk to others about their vacation.
    IQ: Since the difference between numbers at the upper scale of the IQ spectrum are pretty negligible and IQ tests are flawed anyway, I’d go for 130.
    Attractiveness: Oy, this is hard because mating is all about relative selection. That said, probably end up being an 8 since, like IQ, difference on the upper end of the scale are negligible.
    Child’s education: College definitely. Doesn’t matters what the neighbors do, my kids need to go to college.

    I think these questions are weird to me because distribution of IQ, attractiveness, education, etc. is unequally distributed by where you live and even if in the big pond you’re just a wee little fish, having “higher scores” will still give you more places where you would be the big fish and people you can’t really stop people from moving around a lot nowadays so…

  9. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom November 21, 2014 at 8:30 AM

    It depends on if everything still costs the same. The $50K scenario seems pretty awesome if a comfortable the standard of living is set to $25K, $100K doesn’t seem as great if it’s set to $200K.

    I’d also prefer to look better than everyone and be smarter than everyone. Vacation was a clear give me more!

  10. Steeb November 21, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    Go with the 100K. I’ve got a number of friends that make more than me, I can live with it. So it would be nice to be making more than what I am now.
    4 weeks of vacation.
    IQ of 110, there’s something about being the smart one in a group that feels so good. If everyone else averages 90 you can likely con them into thinking yours is higher than it really is anyway.
    Looks of 8, especially if everyone else is a 10. I’m looking at them all the time, not at myself, so may as well have something pretty to look at.
    Children with more schooling. Forget about what those around you are doing, be all you can be (if I can steal the phrase).

  11. Mrs. Bug November 21, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    I would definitely choose $100K. I don’t care what others make, I am more concerned with what we could do with the money. Realistically, I could do more with the $100K than most could do with their $200K.

    1. J. Money November 22, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      “Realistically, I could do more with the $100K than most could do with their $200K.” – Hell yeah! Cuz we’re financial smarty pants on this blog ;)

  12. Ben November 21, 2014 at 8:49 AM

    Thanks for the shoutout. Nice find on the rest of those questions from the study. They’re not always as easy as they appear at first glance. It really is tought to live in a wrodl where you’re not constantly comparing yourself to the situation of others. Easier said than done, as usual. Good stuff here.

    1. J. Money November 22, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      Thanks for the inspiration and finding it in the first place :)

  13. Mel @ brokeGIRLrich November 21, 2014 at 9:00 AM

    I’d go with the 50k, if people around me are getting by on 25k, clearly I can banking at least half of that money. On the flip side, I may actually be struggling at 100k in a 200k average area.

  14. Jen @ Jen Spends November 21, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    I’d go with the $100,000. That would be more than ample for our family…in fact, we’d feel rich! As long as my family has what we need and we’re not stressed about money, I really couldn’t care less what other people who earn more have/do. Being surrounded by people who have what they need, can invest in making their homes look nice, and provide tax money to the community would be a win/win in my opinion. I know a lot of people would blow that $200k on stupid stuff, but I think in general we’d all be better off. The reality in my area is much closer to the $50/$25,000 example, though, and most people are struggling to some extent.

    As a Mensan, the IQ one was interesting to think about. It is cool being surrounded by very intelligent people at times. But, on the other hand, higher IQ often comes with social and emotional challenges that few people know about or understand–it’s not all fun and games. I think if I had to choose, I’d go with 130/150, but it could be a wild ride! :) Really, society is much richer with a variety of IQs who complement each other in different ways.

    That last one on education is tough. It’s easier for *me* to choose to have the least, but it’s always tough when it comes to making those choices for my kids, unless I believe they will be better off as a result.

  15. Erin M November 21, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    50k definitely.
    If 99.9999% of the people of the world are making 25k then the cost of goods would have to be much lower. While at my current expense level 100k makes more sense, it doesn’t in your proposed scenario. In your scenario if everyone is making 200k then the cost of good would be more expensive and my 100k wouldn’t go far at all.

    1. Colby November 21, 2014 at 5:05 PM

      Everything else remains the same. There is no change in living costs between the two incomes. This question is just to see if people are comfortable making less money than everyone else in return for a higher overall income, vs making more than everyone but making less overall.

      1. J. Money November 22, 2014 at 3:52 PM

        You got it, Colby. We’re in magical land here :)

  16. Swank November 21, 2014 at 9:25 AM

    I would take the $50k but not because of how I would look compared to other but my spending power would be double the “norm”. If the median cost of living is $25k then my money would go further and everything would adjust to that cost of living and vice versa my $100k would be half the buying power of everyone around me as they raise the cost of living to double what my cost of living would allow. I would compare this analysis to would you live in Manhattan where you could make more $ or in a more average place (anywhere in the midwest). The appeal of working in NY would have a financial driver but the lifestyle may not match what you would prefer as you are spending the extra made money to afford your apartment. Once again it has more to do with the value of the money you are making than the actual $ amount.

  17. Shannon @ Financially Blonde November 21, 2014 at 9:39 AM

    It is not a clear cut question. I had the 100,000 when everyone around had 200,000 (or multiples thereof) and I was not satisfied. Over the last two years, though, I have adjusted my money mindset and now it doesn’t matter to me. I could go either way because I am happy with what I have and it doesn’t take much to achieve it. It really doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing.

  18. Michelle November 21, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    Of course I want more…but, I am willing to a lot of things to make what I already have stretch. Also, I’ve finally learned to be content with I have. Interestingly enough, I live in a neighborhood where I can safely say everyone makes more than I do…but, I paid the least amount for my property and got the best return. Tehe!

  19. Money Beagle November 21, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    I spend very little time trying to measure against others, I would take the $100k in a heartbeat in this scenario.

  20. Brian @ Debt Discipline November 21, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    IDK. If I made 100k and other made 200k for doing the same job that might make me resentful and hate what I’m doing. )K might be the way to go as look as I live withing my means.

  21. Ben Luthi November 21, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    I’m probably about a 5 on physical attractiveness, so I’d totally go for anything higher than that!

    As for the income thing, I had a good lesson on this yesterday. Since being un/underemployed for the past 2 years out of college, I’ve always felt self-conscious about my income versus my peers. I wrote a post the other day about how I’m making about $3,500 this month from freelancing on top of my day job and one of my wife’s friends (whose husband I felt inferior to) texted her and asked her if I really make that much. She then told my wife that it was almost as much as her husband makes.

    In my head, my immediate reaction was “HA!” But in the end, making more or less doesn’t change how I manage my money or what my inherent worth is as a human being, so why should any of it matter in the first place?

    1. J. Money November 22, 2014 at 3:54 PM

      Interesting experience indeed! And way to pull in that extra $3.5 G’s – that’s killer man!

  22. Green Girl November 21, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    Well, the problem is also that the Joneses are fat, sick and tired. When you value a simple life, a little goes a long way for true health, wealth and happiness. Also, we are definitely beings who value good looks, but this goes back to our evolutionary period, where things like facial symmetry and healthy looking bodies meant good genes that humans wanted to pass on.

  23. Francisco Rodriguez Jr November 21, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    I was going to say 100k till i thought about cost of living and it seems others were thinking the same thing. So my answer would depend on that, if cost of living was higher bc everyone else is making 200k than i think itd be smarter to take 50k since cost of living would be lower. Cost of living not factored in id definitely take the 100k, its about double what id make now and id be able to save up that much more faster for early retirement! :)

  24. Kayla @ Everything Finance November 21, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    Wow! Talk about some tough choices. I feel like in the salary arena I’m already in the one where I make $100 and others make $200 (not that I actually make $100, just that I make way less than most of my co-workers). As far as the others, I’d rather be smarter than those around me. Attractivness…I’m not sure!

  25. Darrell November 21, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    When you state it in terms of you get X and EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD gets Y, then I would choose the smaller dollar amount. I am now making twice as much money as everyone else in the world! The purchasing power is double in my household than everyone! I can afford two houses! I can retire in 10 years! Life is awesome!

    If in terms of just the people around me, or my neighborhood (A true keeping up with the Joneses scenario), then I want the larger dollar amount.

    For most of the Harvard questions, altruism plays a bigger role for me. I’d prefer that everyone have higher IQ’s, education, etc. I’m certainly not helping with curing cancer with my 110 IQ…I need some geniuses with a lot of education taking care of the world’s health, political, and engineering issues, which would result in a better quality of life for me, anyway…so it’s really not all that altruistic.

    1. J. Money November 22, 2014 at 3:57 PM

      Ooooh great answer!!! So true – the world wouldn’t grow and adapt as well without all the smarties out there. Excellent point.

  26. Jason @ Islands of Investing November 21, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    Wow, this really did make me pause when I imagined it. Perception of others is such a powerful force, and I almost had to re-centre myself to make the ‘wiser’ decision to choose more money. However, all I could think about what if absolutely everyone had twice as much income, I’d really struggle to afford something like a house, because everyone would be bidding the prices up like crazy! Everything would be more expensive! (If that didn’t happen, then I’m fine with $100k :) )

    The attractiveness is tricky too – again, if you’re the only one who isn’t, boy you’ll stand out as being dumb and ugly! An 8 becomes meaningless if all everyone knows is a 10! Same for IQ – it’s like they’ll never have met anyone as dumb as you!

    I just want a few friends who are in the same boat as me, so we can lean on each other – a bit like this personal finance community does :)

    1. J. Money November 22, 2014 at 3:58 PM

      You know it ;)

  27. Deasy Noel November 21, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Toughie XD I thought I’d like the $100k scenario but after thinking about it, I do know that, try as I might, I do get influenced by my environment. If all I see and know by being in the $200k environment is luxury, I will probably want what they have, which means big disappointments with the $100k salary.

    So I guess the safe route is the $50k in a $25k environment.

  28. Chelsea November 21, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    Hmmm… I’m imagining two different scenarios here: one, where I’m working in an office of 150 people (like I used to) *or* I’m self-employed and work from home or wherever I choose (like I do now).

    If I had to work in the office, I’d go for the $50,000 option hands-down. When you work in an environment when you’re constantly in each others’ faces and many of your “wonderful” co-workers are constantly making your day harder, it’d be completely demoralizing if you made half the salary as them, to the point it would probably affect my mood even when I wasn’t at work.

    However, if I work for myself and don’t have to deal with others constantly adding work to my plate or coming up with bad ideas that I have to implement even though I don’t believe in them, I’d totally go with $100,000. If it means my brother, my friends, my roommates, and everyone else in my remote social circle makes $200,000, who cares? For all I know they’re smarter than me, work harder than me and deserve it (and I can still have a pretty nice life to boot)… but in the office scenario I know that’s not true. ;)

    1. J. Money November 22, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      Damn, y’all are smart! I didn’t consider this either… and I work from home too which would help insulate me as well. I like that answer :)

  29. Even Steven November 21, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    I’d take the more option on every single one. My reasoning is if you surround yourself with smart people, rich people, etc eventually you will become one of them or open the doors for a step in a positive direction.

  30. Marty November 21, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    An interesting thought I had while reading this. If everyone else in the world were making 25,000 and I 50,000 that would essentially make me the top income earner in the world. So, wouldn’t I be paying less for utilities and merchandise since the mass population isn’t making as much as I?

    If this situation was flipped around I’d be making less than every other person so chances are prices for essential items in the world would most likely be raised as the customer base can afford it. So will the ratio between expense and income be worth the 100k?

    1. J. Money November 22, 2014 at 4:00 PM

      In this magical land everything is supposed to remain the same as-is. Though it’s still hard to decide sometimes because we all know it *would* change.

  31. Crystal November 21, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    I’d want to make $50k. The cost of goods and services would settle somewhere that is technically affordable for the majority and then I’d be making double…

  32. Curt November 21, 2014 at 8:57 PM

    You could almost rephrase the question – would you rather live in a small town in the southern United States or would you rather live in a big city? In my experience it seems easier to make more than the average person when you live in a small, low cost of living area. In big cities though, it always seems that most others have more. Perception isn’t reality, but there is a startlingly high percentage of New Yorkers that are millionaires compared to percentages elsewhere.

    1. J. Money November 22, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      That’s an interesting take on it too.

  33. Charles@gettingarichlife.com November 21, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    Id go for 50k which means your cost of living is much lower if everyone else made more than you. This scenario exists today, make 50k in rural Alabama vs. others 25k or 100k in sf where everyone makes 200k. Your living standard is much higher at 50.

    1. Done by Forty November 23, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      Love that take on things, Charles. The same person (e.g. – college educated, reasonably well paid) very well could make $50k in middle America and $100k in San Fran or NYC. You’re likely much happier in the former scenario, outearning your neighbors and living like a fat cat on a smaller salary.

      These questions are hard to answer honestly, especially publicly. We want to think of ourselves as rational beings. That logical fallacies and societal pressures are interesting, but they affect other people…not me

  34. Kate@GoodnightDebt November 22, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    I can’t think of this just in “magic land” so I went with $50k. I’d want $50k because buying power. If everyone else is making $25k, the economy will have to adjust to those dollars and things will cost less. Vice versa for $200k. I wouldn’t expect my spending habits to change. I would just rather be able to buy more with my money than buy less, regardless of what I choose to do with my money.
    If I really had to play by the rules and just have a bunch of potentially rich or poor friends, I still think I’d pick $50k. If they can live on $25k, then I can too… and I’d still get to take my sweet vacations. DAMNIT. I went back to economics again. Sorry, I can’t play this game.

  35. 1MansMoney November 22, 2014 at 9:56 PM

    J. Money, my wife has had an amazing year at work, earning just over $200K. It’s surreal and provided me the opportunity to leave my company ($73K/year salary) at the end of September to look for something that provides a better work/life balance. If I can find a new job making $50K+/year and with the freedom to restart some of my time consuming hobbies (jiu jitsu, surfing, etc.), I will be all over it!

    1. J. Money November 23, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      Kick-ass WIFE! And love that you’re now able to adjust life around it for the better – good for you guys :)

  36. Gary @ Super Saving Tips November 22, 2014 at 10:48 PM

    I’d take the $100k. First, that’s enough for me. Second, I’d be the last one they fire!

  37. Josh F November 23, 2014 at 1:36 AM

    Since we are ignoring the cost of living question, I assume we also have to ignore not being able to get into the members only club, being the only person making less than $200k, and we would also ignore the limited supply of nicer things do to scarce resources. I would pick the $50k because it would cover expenses with money left over to build toward the future.

    I know I would do this because, where I used to live I was surrounded by high income individuals while making a modest income, and I was looked down on for being a renter, who walked to the bus. a few years ago I moved to a town where I was making much less, but still more than most people. I now own a house, and am building a sizable nest egg.

    as to the other questions:

    4 weeks, I don’t even take the 2 weeks I have now, but if everyone else is gone for 8 weeks, I might need more vacation.

    130, it is just slightly less than my real score and I tend to hang out with people smarter to me already. honestly I have found people with 150 IQ’s highly enjoyable. 90 or even 110 people tend to bore me.

    hmm maybe 8, because even an 8 is not bad, and it will help with everyone’s confidence.

    more college. even if it is more college in basket weaving more people will be exposed to new ideas and perhaps be more innovative. and really even a BA is probably more than most people need to have a happy life.

    to recap, I value happiness over the jones’

  38. Abigail November 23, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    $100,000. Most couples our age probably make the same or more that we do, since Tim doesn’t work. So it doesn’t seem like there’d be a lot of difference. Yeah, the occasional pang of jealousy would happen, but what matters is what we need to keep up our lifestyle and, most importantly, pay our expenses.

    Not all of our problems would be solved with $100k but that $20k+ bill coming up for Tim’s teeth would be a lot easier. And we could get double pane windows sooner. And we could pay off the house faster. And once some of that was taken care of, we could enjoy those 4 weeks of vacation more. Because honestly I don’t think we could afford 8 weeks even on a $100k salary anyway. And I don’t think you want a world where everyone gets only 1 week of vacation. That’s an angry, angry place.

    With IQ… I’d have to be selfish and go for 110. Not to sound arrogant — she said, about to sound arrogant — but I’m pretty smart. I don’t think I’d handle being dumber than everyone else all that well. Thought maybe 20 IQ points wouldn’t make a huge difference, I’d rather be on the better end of that.

    For looks, ugh that’s tough because of the word “average.”

    For the kid… Well, on the one hand, I don’t want a world full of 8th grade educations. (Idiocracy, anyone?) But as Tim pointed out when I asked these questions, your kid could graduate with a ton of debt and have a hard time getting a job. And everyone else would have a ton of debt, so we’d be a nation where every single person started adulthood in debt.

    1. J. Money November 23, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      I love that you asked Tim these questions too – it’s even more fun seeing how significant others respond :) (Sorry to hear about the crazy $$$ teeth, ugh…)

  39. Jeremy November 23, 2014 at 7:24 PM

    I would rather make the $100k. It’s really good enough for me. I had fun reading this article. Thanks for sharing this. It’s a great post!

  40. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank November 24, 2014 at 4:21 AM

    I prefer earning more. But, if my colleagues earn more than I do, I’d rather not know it, knowing we do the same job. It’s hard to keep working if I feel I deserve what they’re getting. However, I’d actually talk to my boss or the HR personnel to at least ask them of this issue. I wouldn’t say that I know they are getting higher because salary is confidential info.

  41. How To Save Money November 24, 2014 at 4:57 AM

    Interesting topic! I’d go for the $100k as well.

  42. Kathy November 24, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    I’d go for $100K and not give a second thought to what others made. For the other questions, I’d choose 4 weeks vacation, 130 IQ, physical attractiveness of 8 (because I consider myself a 4 now so I’d be substantially more attractive at 8) and child’s education of at least 16 (he actually has the graduate degree already so that is sort of a moot point.) On your post from an earlier date where you ask about the billion dollars vs. 15 years of life….I’d definitely choose the life since I’ve had a bout with cancer and now have a liver disease which will be with me the rest of my life. Good health is better than a billion any day….just ask Steve Jobs’s family.

    1. J. Money November 26, 2014 at 8:24 PM

      Awwwww, I’m so sorry to hear :( Life is def > than money, and it’s unfortunate that many people don’t realize it until it’s too late. *IF* they even realize it… It’s a wonderful thing to be able to appreciate life!

  43. Logan November 24, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    Of course I picked the 100k right off the bat. But as J Money further explained the stipulations that this applies to everyone in the world I flipped my answer. If EVERYONE made twice as much money as I did then the markets would equal themselves out so that, proportionally, I would be paying twice as much for everything. But if EVERYONE in the world made 25k and I was the only person that made 50k then it would be like buying everything 50% off since the markets would adjust to match the 25k salaries. Therefore, in our magical question, it wouldn’t be a matter of dollar values at all but a matter of if you wanted to buy everything 505 off or pay double.

    I think that it is more insightful to ask these questions in a smaller range of effect. Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought that this study was given to students and told that they were comparing themselves against their peers in the class. Which would completely change the outcomes compared to a having a global impact.

    But it makes you wonder how secure you are with yourself doesn’t it?

    1. J. Money November 26, 2014 at 8:30 PM

      Hah! Well, if that’s the case (kids in the class, which would make MUCH more sense, now that I think about it) then half of this article is now pointless, haha… So let’s go with “the whole world” shall we? ;)

  44. The Roamer November 24, 2014 at 6:18 PM

    The 100k for me. HAHa I’m going to play the woman card and say I’m already in a position where everyone I work with probably out earns me is it frustrating sure. But I’m not going to shot myself in the foot over it. More money means FI sooner period.

    More vacation for sure. More time with my kids.
    The beauty one is so lose lose. Do I want to be vain because I want to be the most attractive or do I want to be vain and be the most attractive I can be(an 8). Ugh….

  45. Jason November 26, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    The “everyone around you makes $200,000” part is a bit subjective….

    What if…it was everyone in your city/country versus just in your neighborhood?

    If it were the former, the prudent option would be to make $50,000, no? Inflation/cost of living alone would make a $100,000 salary harder to survive on (or you’d have to be more of an aggressive saver) when everyone else is making $200K. Fancier grocery stores, etc would be the norm. It’s akin to transplanting a person making $100K from, say, Indiana to Switzerland and having them live the same lifestyle.

    If it were the latter, then perhaps the $100K is a good option. You could always go outside your immediate neighborhood to find cost saving alternatives for groceries, daycare, etc.

    I have no formal economics training but I assume a lot of economics gurus would say….it all depends….

    1. J. Money November 26, 2014 at 8:32 PM

      Yeah, that’s why the question is supposed to be in “magical world” where everything else would remain the same. Only us smarties know that would never be the case :)

  46. Nic November 26, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    I side on earning twice as much as everyone else ($50k). I think you have to take into account that prices would fluctuate downward so that more people could afford things and your $50k just became much more valuable (4 times as valuable? twice what everyone else has vs half of what everyone else has) than the $100k was when everything is higher priced (since everyone else is making more). Purchasing power wins out in my opinion.

  47. Cecilia@thesingledollar December 1, 2014 at 6:02 PM

    I think it depends: if everyone around you is making $25K, does that mean COL is set to where $25K gets you a middle-class comfortable lifestyle, while $50K is over the top rich? If so, then I pick $50K. But as someone who currently makes just shy of $50K, I can easily say I’d take $100K and damn what everyone else was doing, if it meant I got to double my salary and keep my normal expenses where they are now.

  48. weenie December 6, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    £100k (it’s a bit more in pounds sterling, haha!) – firstly because this is so much more than my current salary but also because I’m in a situation already where most of my friends earn more than I do and I don’t have a problem with it. Their high salaries = higher debts in most cases!

    As long as said friends don’t change when they’re on £200k, then I’ll be fine!