Money Thought Experiment!

July 6, 2023

Both a fascinating conversation with my parents and Elisabeth’s recent post about designer handbags made me think about this.

What would you do if your income suddenly doubled? Or, in my parents’ (both retirees) case — what would you do if your retirement savings suddenly doubled (permanently, not like a stock market bubble) – yet you knew you already had enough to comfortably retire on living your current lifestyle?

My mother initially said she might travel, but then took it back, especially when my dad said he didn’t want to.

I suggested they spend their (purely theoretical) cash on a luxury apartment or condo downtown, so they could walk to great restaurants and concerts . . . and they said “nah, we don’t want to move.” Apparently living in a 1950-square foot home in Havertown is just that awesome! My mother said then that mayyyyyyybe she would move to Narberth but my dad wasn’t excited about that either.

I don’t think jewelry or clothing or a fancy car even crossed their mind. Honestly, they couldn’t come up with much.

Unsurprisingly, I could come up with a lot (I am not an underbuyer or particularly frugal at heart!). Personally, I thought it was a fun question to ponder.

Things I would NOT buy:

  • a larger house. No thank you. Probably not even a ‘fancier’/nicer house, it would be too stressful to prevent the kids from messing it up. I guess maybe a move to a more walkable area would be worthwhile but also . . . I don’t feel that motivated. I like our neighborhood, aside from the summer weather!
  • pricey jewelry. Pricey jewelry signals wealth but who do I have to impress?!
This Cartier ring retails for $32K (and I don’t even like it!)

Things I would consider buying:

  • better and more sustainably made clothing.
  • mayyyybe a nice bag or two. Not necessarily something that screams a certain designer but more as just an extension of my wardrobe.
  • monthly massages, facials, and mani/pedis. I do all of these things on occasion, but definitely not monthly.
  • a nicer car? maybe? I’ve never driven a luxury car but I can kind of see the appeal IF I truly had that much $. Maybe like this one.
This car is like 2 of those rings

Things I would definitely buy:

  • I would accelerate my path to fully funded 529s. We are planning to fund the kids’ college educations, but it would be nice to be finished with that savings.
  • more travel! Well, not necessarily more than we are doing this year, but I’d continue with 1-2 ‘bigger’ trips for years and would spend out on nice accommodations, occasional first class airfare (OMG), etc.
  • new luggage, because ours is old and kind of past its prime
  • more running shoes, ha. I could get the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 AND the New Balance SC2 trainer, both just to try!
  • GIVING. I would very much hope that I would give away more, particularly to fight climate change but also other things (gun violence, human rights, many more).
$225. Less than 1% of the ring!

What would you do with a sudden doubling of your income or nest egg?


  • Reply Keren July 6, 2023 at 6:07 am

    I think there’s a big difference if your income has doubled but you still have to work or your retirement savings are doubled when you’re already retired. I guess if I still had to work the same hours, I would definitely spend more on travel and maybe will opt for luxury hotels when travelling. Another thing to spend on is get more help with housekeeping chores. I would get a designer and spend a little more on custom furnitures. But to be honest most of it will probably go to retirement savings, also it will be nice to be able to give more to causes I support.
    I think that if it were possible, I’d rather be in a situation where my income stays the same, for half the working hours😊

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 6, 2023 at 7:25 am

      fascinating about people immediately thinking to work half the hours!

  • Reply Omdg July 6, 2023 at 6:19 am

    I would buy time. Like stop working clinically as much as possible, have my husband work less.

    I would stay at nicer places when we go on vacation. Go to fancier places.

    I would buy an apt in a decent city ( NOT Detroit) and visit it.

    However these things would likely require more than doubling of our income.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 6, 2023 at 7:24 am

      That was Josh’s first instinct too: “work less.” I actually didn’t think of it. My work is less hectic / stressful (definitely still has some stress but less than him) so I’m sure that is why.

  • Reply Jen July 6, 2023 at 6:48 am

    If our retirement/general savings doubled, I would upgrade our house (location-wise, not size-wise) and cars. I’d probably add in one more vacation a year to someplace expensive.

    I would like to get regular facials and massages…and upgrade my wardrobe. I’m pretty sure you could increase the amount I have 5-fold and I’d have no problem spending it. It’s helpful to know that about myself so I don’t fool myself that things will be different once I meet my savings goals haha.

  • Reply Daria July 6, 2023 at 6:55 am

    Stay in more expensive places when traveling, hire a home designer and upgrade the furniture, hire home helper/assistant, buy a package of facials and massages.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 6, 2023 at 7:26 am

      So funny the home design piece is just not something I ever think about. But seems popular!

  • Reply Gillian July 6, 2023 at 7:04 am

    I agree on the no new house. I would buy a house in our favorite beach spot but that would also be an investment. Maybe one new car (one of our cars is new but because the old one was really old and becoming unreliable on longer drives). Definitely, max out the college savings. More travel. And yes to giving. I think starting a foundation and evaluating grant proposals would be both interesting and so fulfilling!

  • Reply Chelsea July 6, 2023 at 7:54 am

    I think the only thing we’d do to our house is put in a pool. My kids are growing out of the Y pool and it would be so nice to have their friends over to swim. Our mortgage and interest rate is so low compared to what you can get right now, it would take more than doubling our income to make it attractive to move… even though in our 1960s house it sometimes feels like we are completely on top of each other.

    I would 100% spend more on travel. I really want to go on a special trip with my parents for their 50th anniversary, which will be in 2025, and I would love to be able to do exactly what we wanted and have money be no object (I mean, within reason).

  • Reply McKenzie July 6, 2023 at 8:38 am

    I know exactly what I would do. Go back to school for a doctorate. My career is not exactly lucrative (music education) so it makes 0 sense to go into debt for further education. BUT there are so many things I’d like to research and I think I’d really love teaching at the collegiate level.

    • Reply Natasha July 10, 2023 at 11:51 am

      I went back for my PhD in my 40’s when my youngest hit kindergarten. Go for it!

  • Reply Elisabeth July 6, 2023 at 9:07 am

    Love this twist on my question. I know things I *wouldn’t* want to spend money on (designer bags, jewelry, cosmetics), but if there was a lot of money suddenly available, what would I do?

    If I suddenly had a large windfall of cash I would definitely get a different house – one that needed no immediate upgrades. We are in a bungalow from the 1970s and it has needed a lot of repair/modernization and I’m so tired of getting this work done. My husband and I are decidedly unhandy, so everything has to be hired out. I’d love to have a home that has a two-car garage, nice (albeit simple) backyard landscaping, and an open-concept kitchen with a big island and no major upgrades needed!

    Like Gillian, I love the idea of starting a philanthropic foundation. I also suspect my husband and I would both be interested in doing some angel investing.

    I would definitely travel more and spend out more while traveling. But I think my favourite investment would be in additional self-care; a spa every few months (I’ve never been to a spa, but I think I would love it!), hiring someone to cook some meals for us, pedicures, massages, etc. I have a hard time justifying expenditures like this, but they’re so luxurious and lovely!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 6, 2023 at 2:33 pm

      I received a Canadian spa rec from a reader who raved about it – a company called Le Nordik. It sounds fantastic! Perhaps worth adding to the 100 dreams list!

      • Reply Coree July 6, 2023 at 3:11 pm

        There’s a spa in Montreal on a boat and I so regret not going whilst I was there.

        • Reply Florence July 7, 2023 at 11:43 am

          I’ve been! So nice, one of the nicest outings with my husband post kids. A friend gave us a gift certificate when my oldest son was born…we finally went when my second baby was 2 years old and we were living in Montreal ha!

  • Reply Mireille July 6, 2023 at 9:15 am

    I’ve had this page open pondering this for a while and I honestly don’t know! It’s made me feel very priviledged that I already basically have everything I want..! I tried to do some home renovations and I hated the entire process (ended up cancelling before it actually started) so those are out. I guess I’d live the same lifestyle but would guilt myself about it less 😉

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns July 6, 2023 at 9:28 am

    Hmmm, this is a tough one. It would accelerate my retirement timeline for sure if our retirement savings doubled. Doubling my income is less important – I’d probably just put more money into our brokerage investment account. If we did not have young kids, I would travel more but honestly more travel is not at all appealing with a strong willed 2.5 year old that doesn’t do well with change. And with my parents being 75, I don’t feel like I can ask them to watch them for multiple vacations… So I guess I’d spend more on travel in like 5-10 years? I know there are very different view points on travel with kids. Like for LV, she has so many kids so spread out that they continue to travel even when it’s not ideal for one of the ages, or they will leave 1-2 kids at home. That is not really an option for us. We will only be in these little kid stages for a finite period of time since we are 1000% DONE HAVING KIDS. Yes, all caps! I think my husband would want to move since he hates that our house is on a steep hill but I love our neighborhood and school, and for the most part, I love the layout of our house – mostly I love that we have a guest room in the basement with an ensuite bathroom so we have an excellent set up for hosting guests.

    My grandma is 100 and my mom has longevity on her side of the family, so more retirement savings would give me more piece of mind. And like others have said, I’d increase our charitable givings. I would not buy cars, bags, etc. I mean, the car we want (Rav4 Prime) is just basically impossible to get so it’s not a question of money but supply and we don’t want to trade up to a more expensive car like a Tesla because we have young children that get cheerios and crackers all over the place and our garage is so very tiny so the chance of door dings is very high. And it would kill my husband to get a door ding/scratch a Telsa. But for something materials, I’d do a wardrobe consultation without any guilt for the cost.

    • Reply Arden July 6, 2023 at 10:11 am

      We’ve got Primes in CT – we had to hunt for the simple Hybrid. We got lucky and love it! Come on up, down, across. LOL

      • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns July 6, 2023 at 11:19 am

        This is kind of frustrating to hear because we have a car broker that has been looking for one for us since Aug 2021!! He has us on waiting lists in multiple states (there are none to be found in Minnesota where we live as they don’t allocate many to midwest states apparently) – sounds like we need to suggest he looks in CT!

        • Reply Arden July 6, 2023 at 3:04 pm

          Try A1 Toyota in New Haven and Middletown Toyota. Sorry SHU!

    • Reply Caitlin July 6, 2023 at 11:10 am

      Hey Lisa, kind of random, but I also thought I wanted a RAV4 prime and couldn’t find any, but recently ended up buying a Mitsubishi outlander plug in hybrid and I’ve only had it a month but so far I love it! Gets about 40 miles in straight electric mode, then goes to hybrid for longer distances

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 6, 2023 at 2:29 pm

        I had a Mitsubishi Outlander (not the plug in, the regular) as my rental vehicle in PHL and I thought it was really nice + drove well.

      • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns July 6, 2023 at 4:27 pm

        Ok, I will tell my husband about this! We were thinking we’d have to give up and get a Rav4 Hybrid (which would also be great) because we can not handle another Minnesota winter without 4 wheel drive!!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 6, 2023 at 2:32 pm

      Having a car I have to stress about messing up is like my worst nightmare. Same with my home!! If I can’t use something freely . . . I’d rather have an uglier/older/cheaper version. Hard stop.

      I like the “1000”%. also I bet travel will be far more appealing in just a few years!

      • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns July 6, 2023 at 4:29 pm

        Yes can you tell how sure we are about our family size? 😉 Ha! And yes, I can see that in just 2 years, things will look much different. I traveled with Paul when he had just turned 5 and it was pretty delightful!!!

  • Reply Nicole C Vinson July 6, 2023 at 9:33 am

    What is interesting is this post made me think… can I do any of these things now without our same income? I bet we probably could and live the fuller life 🙂 Maybe not all of the things all at once but it sure does help with prioritizing and goals! Monthly massages might just happen now. Great perspective!

    • Reply Jessica July 8, 2023 at 10:31 pm

      I love this reframe! Something like a massage isn’t that much $ in the grand scheme of things.

  • Reply Nicole C Vinson July 6, 2023 at 9:34 am

    *with our same

  • Reply Erin July 6, 2023 at 10:00 am

    Ok I wrote a long comment but it never posted! Anyway my main point is that this thought experiment totally depends on what your actual income is now – we DID double our income from somewhere in the $100K to $200K range maybe like 6-7 years ago and that meant we could pay off loans (student, car, home equity for renovations) and START 529s for our kids…… but now if our income doubled, it would be different – we have everything we need (and really, most of what we want too).

    I would NOT move, purchase designer anything/jewelry because I just don’t care about those things. I would probably upgrade one of our vehicles and some travel experiences (although we don’t have time to ADD more travel at this stage in life).

    • Reply Jessica July 8, 2023 at 10:49 pm

      “We have everything that we need (and really most of what we want too)” this resonates with me! With slightly different reasons – in my DINK household, our income goes a lot further than it would with kids, so I already spend on all the things that are priorities for me (or at least, all the things that are within x scale of our income… It would need to increase much more than double to make much difference).

  • Reply Linda July 6, 2023 at 10:07 am

    Read Laura Vanderkam’s book “All the Money in the World “. She talks about this exact topic. I have a quote from that book written out on my desk where I pay my bills.
    “If you had all the money in the world, not literally, but all you wanted, what would you change about your life.”

    • Reply Linda July 6, 2023 at 10:58 am

      I forgot to add that my answer to that question is usually “not much “ and it reminds me that I have a pretty good life.

      • Reply Ronni July 6, 2023 at 2:00 pm

        I asked myself a version of this question last year – what would I want to buy if I won the lottery? And one of the first things I thought of was prescription sunglasses. And then I realized … Wait, I could do that. They were expensive, but not wildly so (in my opinion).

        It is a good question to ask!

        • Reply Seppie July 7, 2023 at 10:15 pm

          An ancillary question that we have asked is, if we won the lottery, what would we stop doing?

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 6, 2023 at 2:30 pm

        yes! Definitely provokes gratitude in me, as well. Which is appropriate!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 6, 2023 at 2:30 pm

      I love that book and feel it is underrated 🙂

  • Reply Anonymous July 6, 2023 at 10:46 am

    I’ll leave my name off of this one, because this actually happened to us… more than once… recently! We went from student life, making $15ish/hr part-time, to graduated (spouse making $75kish full-time, me at $30/hr part-time but professional now), and then in the space of three years he got raises to $108k, left for a new job at $150k, moved to another job at $205k, and when he had no interest in leaving was recruited into a job where they said “name a number” and he gave a pie-in-the-sky number that the company said YES to much to our surprise…. So for the past year he has been making $310k and I make $40k working very part-time while mostly home with our multiple young kids.

    We are big savers, very young, and have chosen to see this job as a temporary part of our financial life, although the possibility of perpetual growth does exist. We have found that beyond about $115k our day-to-day life has changed very little as our income has increased, but our savings have increased dramatically. We have big plans as our kids get a little older, but right now we have PLENTY of joy and “experiences” that can “wow” them right around home. We do live in a larger house, mostly because we moved states (rented out our first home) and weren’t sure how big we wanted to grow our family. We wanted a place where we could host teen gatherings in a decade if we are happy enough with our location not to move.

    Otherwise…. We mostly just save aggressively, donate generously (target 15% or so) and look forward to the day when we can use our nest egg to seed a business or do “big travel” when our kids are older, or even without them. 🙃

    • Reply Anonymous for today July 6, 2023 at 11:56 am

      This has also happened to us over the past few years, and based on some new developments at work for both of us we’re looking at another boost in the immediate future that will bring our income to >$400k. The one major thing we did over the pandemic was to completely pay off our house. At this point, we’re the only people we know at our age (39 and 43) that have no mortgage or car payments. We had a really low interest rate on the house (~2.6%ish?) and probably could have made more on investments but not having those payments was important to both of us so we did it. Other than that, we have just shuttled more and more into retirement and kids college funds, but our day to day living hasn’t changed appreciably. Even with the salary boost that I’m getting (30% + bonus, which I never thought in a million years that I’d get), I don’t really know what I might do differently! I’ve actually been trying to figure out a ‘yay me!’ gift for myself to celebrate, since this promotion+raise has been a long time coming and a lot of work, but…I can’t think of anything! We do like to travel and are planning to do a family trip to Europe next year, but we were going to do that anyway. Maybe we’ll upgrade parts of the trip? Maybe I’ll do a little pre-trip shopping spree? (but even that is anxiety provoking since I live for the thrill of finding a deal…) This is a fun question to think about but much harder than expected to come up with a concrete answer!

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 6, 2023 at 2:28 pm

        No mortgage = amazing. Not in the cards for us anytime soon but similar to you, our interest rate is under 3% so we feel okay about that.

  • Reply Emily July 6, 2023 at 11:41 am

    I think I’m more like your parents in that I struggle to come up with exactly what I’d choose (except increasing 529 contributions, which is so boring :)). We are lucky we already have everything we need and most things we want. Maybe I would splurge for some pricier high quality clothes and nicer hotels when we travel, and it would of course provide peace of mind to have college savings taken care of. Most of the areas where we’ve chosen to spend less money are not just a money choice but also a “values” choice so I don’t see us wanting to spend more in those areas (examples–public schools, affordable summer day camps with a diverse group of kids, a home without fancy upgrades, only one small car which we bought used). We donate a percentage of income (currently 15%) so that would go up but maybe we’d start donating a higher percentage too.

    • Reply Anonymous July 6, 2023 at 11:09 pm

      We have doubled our income in recent years.
      We upgraded our home to one with a pool and more acreage (little financial impact due to low interest rate + large down payment from sale of previous house), increased investments/savings, and increased donations to our church and child’s private school. We feel good about all these decisions.

      We did not upgrade vehicles, clothing or anything material that depreciates. Our neighbors drive Lamborghinis, Ferraris, etc while we have a Mazda and a 10 year old SUV. Makes me laugh when I’m driving in the neighborhood.

      I wish we’d look into outsourcing more and traveling more. The travel is coming post COVID and post toddler :), but the outsourcing comes with a level of guilt since I only work PRN. I technically have time to do household tasks. I just “don’t wanna” sometimes. 😉

  • Reply Kat July 6, 2023 at 12:48 pm

    We would stress less about travel expenses (we travel a lot but would like to not blink at doing 2 international trips/year and then we’d upgrade accommodations/flights and bring a nanny along), probably upgrade our house by adding a second level or large ADU to upgrade our 2 home offices and gain a proper guest suite, and my husband would probably work less. If working less was not an option than getting more household help (private chef to prepare weeknight dinners) and more childcare would be the first thing we’d do.

  • Reply Amanda P. July 6, 2023 at 12:54 pm

    Add a half bath to our 1 bathroom house, buy better plane tickets when we travel (especially internationally), and maybe upgrade our one very old car to a cute little electric vehicle. I also really like the idea of monthly massages and wonder if I could fit that in now… Otherwise, life is pretty good, so up retirement/savings.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 6, 2023 at 2:27 pm

      I know, I love massages. Part of me feels like maybe they could be a separate line item from allowance (um . . .’health’)? Something to ponder for the future . . .

  • Reply Erika July 6, 2023 at 1:22 pm

    I love this question. If our household income doubled, I’d consider looking for a different job where I was not committed to full-time in-person work and would encourage my husband to go to part-time. He would love this: more time to exercise, primarily. I like my job and feeling challenged, but I wish my home and life felt more organized. If I could outsource more, I would. Maybe hire one of those personal assistants to sort of handle logistics? Or a house manager?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 6, 2023 at 2:11 pm

      Annabel would want me to hire The Home Edit – ha!

  • Reply Suzanne July 6, 2023 at 1:38 pm

    This is a fun question! Like Mireille, I feel super lucky to have a hard time answering this question. I suppose it would be nice if my husband could retire early? I think he would like that. And it would be fun to travel more. I would love to be able to support the causes I support more substantially.

  • Reply Ali July 6, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    My middle child asked me a similar question a few weeks ago. There isn’t really much I would change about my life. I’d probably pay for extra household help or maybe some small house upgrades, but that’s about it.

    Funny enough, I recently quit working (at least for the time being) after a similar thought experiment. We don’t “need” my income (it basically went to savings and we have done a great job of saving), and it was causing a lot of stress. I finally thought—why am I incurring all this stress if it isn’t bringing something good? I do think I’ll go back at some point, but decided to take a break for a bit. It is so freeing to have the financial ability to do this (not based on a huge household income, but on being frugal-ish and having healthy savings).

    • Reply Ali July 6, 2023 at 1:52 pm

      Also—just want to add how much I love the commenters and community here. We live in a very status driven area, and I think it is so refreshing how few mentioned more “stuff.” I really have to reframe my thinking sometimes as we are surrounded by luxury cars, homes, etc. It can be a challenge to not get sucked into all that!

    • Reply Florence July 7, 2023 at 12:09 pm

      Love this question! So interesting.

      We essentially had this happen to us when we finished residency. The main thing we did was buy a nice but average house in a nice but not overly fancy neighborhood. Theoretically we could have afforded it in residency, but we lived in a high cost area during residency. I love it. I love walking around our neighborhood, we made friends with the neighbors who have kids the same age as ours, commute to work is quick and we decorated the house (nothing crazy extravagant but new furniture that we chose because we liked it not because it was the cheapest we could find).

      I also do not budget at all buying groceries. If I want the fancy granola bars etc I buy it.

      We spend more on clothes since I try to buy from sustainable eco-conscious Canadian brands- this isn’t always easy though as I don’t like to be showy though when other kids are dressed in Walmart or Carter’s.

      If we doubled our income again, we’d save more for college/retirement I guess and I would cut back my hours on a daily basis so I feel less rushed at home and have more time off when my kids are home (summers off!) and also more time off with just my husband. The limiting factor for this is really work itself though and not finances.

      Other stuff we want: fence in our yard (it costs like $20000 CAD which seems like a lot given its value), more household help, BETTER LUNCHES (I have terrible boring repetitive lunches currently because no time), a Toyota Sienna, an electric car when the kids are out of carseats, buying carbon offsets/charitable donations…But lots of this is achievable, just not done yet.

      I would not spend on travel which is frankly unpleasant with 3 kids under 6 yo. I would not move.

  • Reply Jessica July 6, 2023 at 2:47 pm

    Such a fun question! Travel for sure would be my #1. I would love to take a year and travel around the country with our camper.

  • Reply Helen July 6, 2023 at 2:59 pm

    Speaking of bags, I just got a tote from Portland Leather Goods and it is amazing. I think it will last me a very very long time!

    Like you, I’m not an under buyer. I would definitely want to make sure 529s and retirement are handled though! I wouldn’t want a bigger house because it’s more to clean haha! And I think it really is true that if we have more space we tend to fill it.

    • Reply Liz July 6, 2023 at 8:13 pm

      If my income doubled, I would hire a nanny. Just the peace of mind that comes with having extra childcare would be amazing. My husband and I would be comfortable taking kid free trips. I’m always jealous of the families who have their nannies doing pick up from daycare/aftercare. So much childcare! So many options!
      And if my retirement nest egg doubled, I would barista FIRE.

      • Reply Liz July 6, 2023 at 8:44 pm

        Oh my. I see I nested my comment under someone else! But I agree with the above commenter, larger house = more upkeep and overhead. Not in my double income dreams.

    • Reply MP July 7, 2023 at 9:08 am

      How can I live in Portland and not know this company? The bags look great! I will be purchasing one this weekend thanks to you!

      • Reply Helen July 7, 2023 at 10:51 am

        I hope you love it! I have a tote so far and will be getting more.

  • Reply Coree July 6, 2023 at 3:22 pm

    We are hanging out with my son’s pal’s family this week, and they are very wealthy. And I’ve been surprised how much choice that wealth brings, and honestly, it seems a bit overwhelming? Like they can pay for the “perfect” school, so are shopping private schools and agonising over the choice, versus us, the state school is the only viable option. Like the mom was worried that the fact that her son’s classmates were the children of Bitcoin millionaires and models… which is not a problem we have 🙂

    And whilst I’m jealous of their fancy ebike, I’d be a bit overwhelmed by that lifestyle. We are better off than most people in our town (very socioeconomically mixed town, Academic/civil servant, fairly unusual that we have two parents working fulltime) but the differences aren’t stark because we all use the same school, services, etc. The only noticeable thing is how we spend our summers (mostly abroad, driven by my hatred of Scottish summers and need for childcare rather than resources).

    • Reply Sarah S. July 6, 2023 at 8:23 pm

      This is really funny and helpful to read because my immediate thought was that I would like to comparison shop less. I feel like we can afford what we want in terms of both belongings and experiences, but only with consideration, waiting for sales, deciding which upgrades are worth it, etc. I would love to just pick whatever we like the best and get it. Now I wonder if this is just the maximizing part of my personality and more money would just mean the same amount of time comparison shopping at higher price points for larger ticket items?

  • Reply tedditalks July 6, 2023 at 3:47 pm

    I love this question! And, weirdly, we have A LOT of the same answers.

  • Reply Jordan July 6, 2023 at 4:06 pm

    I would likely want to move to a different house in our same neighborhood. We love our area, but our house is on a busier street because it’s all we could afford when we first moved here, and now with interest rates and the real estate market taking off, we’d need to pay double to get a similar sized house in our same neighborhood. My parents always cautioned me about being “house poor” so we feel really lucky that we were able to buy our house when we did because we have plenty of room, but if money were no object, I’d want to be on a sleepier street.

    I have no interest in new cars, designer bags/clothes, etc. but I’d likely up my Botox and hair highlights cadence 🙂

  • Reply Coco July 6, 2023 at 5:11 pm

    great thought experiments. i think i might just give more as i don’t feel like needing anything else. even with double income, although I’d like to take business classes for all trips, i wouldn’t do when knowing i could help someone with that amount of money.
    definitely not designer bags. i had wanted a designer bracelet that i lost for my 40th birthday. when i turned 40, i stopped wanting it.

  • Reply Amy July 6, 2023 at 5:25 pm

    I think this question is so fun! My husband and I have already decided: we’d buy some land, outside of town but not so far that commuting would be annoying, and build a right-size house that will work for us very long-term. Beyond that, I think I’d replace both of our cars with something nicer and also buy myself a fun car (convertible? antique? I hope I get to choose someday).

    My husband and I are actually in a good position where we’re comfortable financially, but my income will likely more than double in the next few years, and he’ll be earning more too. In all likelihood, we’ll be paying for some renovations and landscaping, but we’ll see!

  • Reply Anon July 6, 2023 at 8:16 pm

    I drive a low key car and my partner drives a seriously luxury vehicle, which from time to time I have borrowed, and I don’t want it for myself. I never lock my car, and have no hesitation parking it on the streets, and people don’t give me a look when I step out of it in a parking lot, etc, which you get when your car is *that* high end. While I love nice clothes and carry a 2k handbag (not one of the flashy names, but if you know you know), a car for me is utilitarian past a certain point (and that point is reliability + working air conditioning) plus I love being able to load the (older) kids in it, enjoy a Starbucks or trashy snack without worrying, etc.
    If our income doubled at this point (kids in college for me, grandkids happening for him), I think the differences in our attitudes towards spending would become more evident, so perhaps this is a good thing that it’s unlikely??

  • Reply Sara July 6, 2023 at 9:33 pm

    Loved reading everyone’s answers to this question!

    A few things I’d do: stop spending my precious time/energy comparison shopping, upgrade our home with practical, but modern finishes + add a master bathroom and open layout kitchen (agree with others that more space isn’t better)), fully fund 529s, and buy a (modest) second home a few hours away in the mountains. I also enjoy expensive yoga classes, but feel guilty doing them too frequently. I’d probably go out to restaurants more often, too. Getting the nice takeout salad for lunch for $15 is ridiculous every day, but if I had double income, why not? I also like nice wine and do appreciate the good stuff, so would enjoy that, too.

    We’re planning on several of these things already (like the house renovation), but it would be nice to just go ahead and do them without extensive budgeting/planning. I do wonder whether I’d ever be able to stop comparison shopping though! I think I like the game…and like others have said, I can certainly do these things right now, just maybe not all at once.

    Things I don’t really care about (similar to others): luxury car (just bought a minivan and it’s wonderful), jewelry, a lot of clothes/shoes, manicures/pedicures/massages, and a country club membership.

  • Reply Jessica July 6, 2023 at 11:12 pm

    This did happen to us, about 10 years ago, and I found the list I had created of things I would do to know I had “made it”.
    – bi-weekly manicures and pedicures
    – monthly massages
    – being able to buy anything at Target I wanted
    – grocery shopping without looking at the price (spoiler: I still look)
    Such simple things! Since then, our income has doubled again, and we spend the additional amount in alignment with our values. For more family time, we bought a vacation home that we use all summer. We upgrade our travel, since travel with many small children is never easy. We have always given between 10-20% of our income to charity, so I love the fantasy of setting up a large foundation to make more meaningful changes.
    In the end, I still don’t want designer bags or shoes, i just want time with my kids. And that time isn’t made easier by money, they still want mommy, still need diaper changes or emotional support.

  • Reply Kersti July 7, 2023 at 12:21 am

    I’m a homebody, so I’d prefer a nicer home and decor rather than nicer/more trips.

  • Reply Ashley July 7, 2023 at 11:16 am

    First off: Cut my work hours to 20-25 hours a week. That sounds perfect.

    DH and I would love to have a lake house somewhere. I would happily spend nearly every vacation there. We probably could afford the actual structure, but the time and money required for maintenance would quickly make it less doable. So I’d use the money to make sure we could outsource the maintenance so that we could actually enjoy it and use it for play. I would NOT want to become the owner of an Airbnb or VRBO property to offset the costs; that sounds like my worst nightmare, actually.

    Absent the lake house, I would put in a pool at our current house, which we love.

  • Reply Jessica July 7, 2023 at 11:51 am

    Hopefully our income will be almost doubling in two years. I am currently on leave without pay from work, so when I go back our income will not quite double, but be significantly more. We are spending a lot right now on “once in a lifetime” experiences while we are in Europe, so it will hopefully all be going to build our savings back up.

    I think our bills are going to increase quite a bit as kids start going to college and driving. I am not expecting to really have any extra money until a few of these kids have graduated from college. (Some of that is because we have not been great about saving for college, so we will be paying the bills as we go.) Hopefully these experiences have been worth it

  • Reply Melanie Novak July 7, 2023 at 2:54 pm

    I’d rent office space – a dedicated place to work that wasn’t my home or my corporate office.

    Although since that thought popped so violently into my head, makes me wonder if I couldn’t swing it now……

    • Reply Arden July 13, 2023 at 10:41 pm

      I’m late but I think she should go for it.

      • Reply Arden July 13, 2023 at 10:44 pm

        You not she

  • Reply Jessica July 8, 2023 at 11:10 pm

    I’m in my late 20s, so if my income doubled, I would save for a house!

    There’s not much I would change on a smaller scale, mostly because I save a decently large portion of my income, so I’ve already thought about this sort of question a lot.

    What has changed from thinking about it: I get massages whenever I want, I’ve hired a cleaning service for a one-time deep clean & plan to again at some point, I travel where/when I want (not luxury travel, this ends up limited by my time/energy, not $), I moved to an apartment with more space and better access to nature, I don’t stress about spending money on experiences such as concerts/etc, and I increased giving to 5% of my income.

  • Reply Leona July 9, 2023 at 5:39 am

    I‘ll be finishing my legal training this fall and I‘ve been looking forward to doubeling my income for months! At this point of life, I guess I‘ll be spending it on a really nice bike, eating out more (at all) and a couch. What did you spend most on after you finished medschool?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 9, 2023 at 6:24 am

      Probably you mean residency because residents don’t make much either 🙂 (though more than 0!)
      When we got ‘real’ jobs we bought a house and hired a nanny (2013). I remember being surprised with a huge bump in income that there were still SERIOUS limits in what we could afford! But yes – our spending habits changed a lot very quickly (plus then I quickly had a 2nd kid, about 6 months into my first ‘real’ job). So the $$$ went up but the expenses seemed to rapidly expand with them.

  • Reply Meg July 9, 2023 at 5:20 pm

    What is the amount to max 529? Doesn’t it depend on the college and how the money grows?

  • Reply San July 9, 2023 at 7:50 pm

    It’s nice to dream LOL
    I’d definitely buy/rent a nicer, bigger place. CA prices are pretty outrageous for renting and buying (and the interest hike is not helping). I’d also spend more time on travel. And probably get a Peloton tread. Other than that, I would invest and give to good causes, I think.

  • Reply Maggie July 10, 2023 at 9:10 am

    I would also save more for retirement and then I would outsource more but pay the people more. We pay more than minimum wage now but I would like to pay a really good hourly wage. And yes, work less probably in order to be able to be with my extended (and aging) family more.

  • Reply alyce July 10, 2023 at 10:21 am

    Our salaries have more than doubled since we first started working after grad school, to get us to the point where we have a lot of financial ease in our day to day lives. If it doubled again, we’d be talking serious money, and I would buy a second home someplace with cool summers so my daughter could play outside in the summertime without worrying about seizures. For our primary home, I don’t want to move or have a bigger home necessarily, but I would love to have an ADU that an au pair or other caregiver could live in. Our smaller (1500sq ft) home makes it harder for us to want to have a third party move in, but an au pair would probably be the ideal childcare arrangement as our daughter starts school full time. Of course, ADUs aren’t legal in my jurisdiction, so more money can’t actually get me what would be ideal. So maybe I am talking about moving and buying a house that already has a rental unit attached. I’d also consider adding a pool. Pools are one of the few ways we can enjoy outdoor time in the summer without risking seizures. But it’s really nice going to neighborhood pools where we can gather with friends.

  • Reply lawandcreative July 10, 2023 at 10:46 am

    I’ve recently got back from a stay in the countryside, and now I’m back home I’m really missing the fields. So I’d consider moving within the local area but to somewhere with a bit of land.

    I have zero interest in designer anythings, jewellery, etc.

    Travel, gifting and experiences sound like good ways to spend money to me 🙂

  • Reply Irena July 11, 2023 at 6:20 pm

    If we double our income, i would hire an integrative Dr. for my kid. My son has eczema and allergies, and we are treating it with the help of integrative/functional practitioners for the last few years. We have done stool tests and allergy tests, have added supplements, probiotics, digestive enzymes, etc. Put him on elimination diet – show me a 5 y. old who can easily do gluten free and dairy free, better sugar free and processes food free diet 😉 When we have some extra money, we do small improvements around the house, like removing the carpet and replacing it with the wooden floor ($$$) getting air purifier ($$), water filter ($), etc. Sometimes he gets better, but i don’t know why and what actually helps, and then he gets worse – and it is always a mystery to me of what is causing it.

    I know about practices where pediatricians (MD) who has gone through integrative medicine training/fellowship can work with you for a year, and do regular tests to figure out what actually works. Last time i checked, the price was $12,000 for a year of membership (not including supplements), and they don’t do appointments, it is a membership-based practice. Just having this number in front of me actually made me think that we should seriously start working towards this goal!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 12, 2023 at 12:34 pm

      yes! sometimes actual numbers can make what seems like a pipe dream more like something you could actually shoot for!

  • Reply Brooke July 12, 2023 at 4:54 pm

    This was us in the last few years – both early 40s – and honestly we didn’t change much. It basically all goes in savings, because we don’t have much extra we want to spend on. We did hire someone to manage the pool, and next summer will likely be the year we break down and hire a service for the yard (both things we enjoy using but not maintaining even if we are capable to do so).

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