How your decisions change when you have more money

In New York City, you can take a helicopter to the airport. It runs about $200, and takes you five minutes.

There are a few different ways you can respond to this particular factoid.

For many/most people: “That is absolutely ridiculous. How could someone part with that much money to get to an airport?

But for some people: “Sounds great. Sign me up. Screw the BQE.

And maybe there are some who sit in the middle.

In NYC, you can also take a cab to the airport. There are some variables, but let’s just say it costs $50.

Are you still on the same side? Are you maybe on the fence? Or did you switch sides?

If this isn’t a bad example, how about:

  • A $200 bottle of wine versus a cheaper one?
  • A $200 flight versus a bus?

What is the lesson here?

Things change

Your money decisions change as you build wealth. You are more likely to trade money for comfort and convenience as your income or financial net worth grows.

This process is both gradual and sudden. The way you used to do things will over time start to feel a little out of sync with your values, and eventually, you might make a different decision without much thought.

I had a few recent experiences like this. I don’t live near downtown Portland, but I have an office there that I rent. I always take the bus/train to get downtown, for lots of reasons (I’m a huge advocate for public transit), but also because of the cost: I pay $100 a month to ride anywhere I want as often as I want.

But recently, feeling very strapped for time, and with a desire to get downtown, I thought to myself, “the hell with it, I’ll just drive there and pay the $15 for parking.

I had never, never thought this before. Never had parting with $15 unnecessarily in this realm felt so…natural.

But then it did.

The next time this happens, I might just do it, without thinking.

Now, everyone takes Ubers everywhere except me, so you might not be able to relate to this, but I bet there’s some place where you’ve already experienced this change.

The formula for “feeling prices”

If you double your income, things will often feel half as expensive.

If you triple your income, things will often feel a third as expensive.

If you grow your income ten times, things will often feel a tenth as expensive.

READ MORE:  Why prices will seem to change as you build wealth

So if you’re wondering how people could spend $200 on a helicopter to the airport without a second thought, ask yourself: “What would I do for comfort and convenience that’s like that, but at $20?” People with ten times your income would feel that way about the helicopter ride.

Comfort and convenience

It’s not just about income. When it comes to convenience and comfort, the curve is different. After you reach a certain base level of financial wellness, you will have the luxury of considering comfort and convenience in a way that you never allowed yourself to do before.

Remember that time I slept in the Greyhound bus station? I can say pretty categorically that unless something catastrophic happens, I will never do that again. It’s not worth it. I’m not even sure I’ll ever take Greyhound again. Certainly not long distances.

For me, comfort and convenience have become slightly more important, now that I have the luxury of doing so.

Becoming more financially stable creates a number of surprising emotional changes. Life gets more complicated. Prices will change. Comfort becomes more important.

It’s a fascinating journey, and one we’re all on together, on the path toward feeling okay. Feeling less anxious. Feeling more in control. Feeling more hopeful.

You don’t have to get to the point where you take a helicopter to the airport to feel the effects of making financial progress. But don’t rule it out either, as that could be you one day.

How would that feel?

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