Bigger isn’t always better

February 16, 2010 · 16 comments

I love when people say “Bigger is better.” I mean, we all know the popular Texan slogan “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” We are told we need to make a BIG income, so we can buy a HUGE house, with a LONG driveway, to park our EXPENSIVE cars in. Unfortunately, success is often measured by appearance and not by personal accomplishments. Today, I make my case for a few areas where bigger is not my priority.

Income. Like every other college graduate, I was determined to enter the workforce and bring home a big salary. The grim reality… that didn’t happen. I started my job at a solid $38K/yr (quite a bit less than the $80K/yr I felt like I was worth). But now, after a few years in the work force, and a couple promotions later, I’ve learned BIG income can mean BIG problems. After a few more years, I could begin to explore the option of pursuing supervisory type positions. They make more than I can in my current field, but their increased salary just isn’t worth it.  Sure they make $15k/year more than I will, but they don’t get to work from home, they don’t get a work vehicle, and they are responsible for a whole crap-ton of issues I would never want to deal with. Yes, they make more than me, but in my eyes, the “bigger” income is not worth the increased responsibility.

Home size. Who doesn’t drive by a ridiculously beautiful white mansion with big columns and think “Ah, that must be the good life”? I know I am guilty of “mansion envy” every now and again. But when it comes down to it, I don’t ever plan on living in a house with twice as many bedrooms as people living in it. A larger home means larger everything (i.e. property tax, maintenance costs, utility bills, more furnishings, etc). I live in San Diego in a small 2 bedroom apartment with a roommate. I hate having to dust my tiny living quarters as is, I couldn’t imagine having to dust a 5,000+ sqft home. I’ll take a moderate sized home over a mega mansion any day of the week.

Student Loans. I don’t know what clever marketing scheme the college recruiters conjured up, but they are geniuses. People are graduating from college with six figure student loans for an undergraduate degree in art therapy. WTF do you do with a degree in art therapy?! I went to a ridiculously overpriced private college, and learned my lesson the hard way. Although the school might be cool, it’s not really worth taking on MASSIVE student loans. Instead of getting $5,500/yr tuition at the University of Washington (a rather reputable school), I went to a private college that no one has ever heard of with tuition upwards of $25,000/yr. With the help of scholarships, and the parents, I managed to “only” rack up $28,000 in student loans, compared to the $120,000 loans many of my fellow classmates had. HERE ME NOW ALL PROSPECTIVE COLLEGE STUDENTS: Harvard is nice, but so is your local state school. I promise the college you get your degree from, will not be as important as you think. Bigger student loans, don’t mean a bigger income…sorry.

I could keep on going, but I think I’ve proved my point. In a culture where size matters (that’s what she said), I take a stand and say “F YOU culture.” I’ll take my modest home, slightly used car, average job, and enjoy life just fine.

How the heck as society been so clever and tricked us all in to desiring “more”? What are some other areas you can think of where bigger is definitely NOT better?

p.s .the answers to yesterdays “two truths and a lie” are both A. Good job to those who guessed right, you earn the creepy stalker award.

1 Jake Stichler

Screw the state school, that's where *I* went! Penn State's bastard child known as PCT. And look what I got for it. Go to your local community college instead! That's one of the biggest things I wish I would have done. Not only would it have been hellishly cheaper, but I could've actually found a job, too, or kept working my summer job year-round. And not lost my girlfriend! Oh, life, you rotten bitch with your rotten ways…

2 StackingCash

I hate to say it because I love them, but the big price on cars can be brutal to one's personal finance. I find it difficult to resist the lure of a nice, shiny automobile but after a certain point the money becomes wasted. Depreciation hurts a lot. I lucked out and bought cars that held some sort of value, but I can imagine that is not always the case. Growing up in the Big Eighties, and living through this Great Recession, has turned me into a harsh cynic. Or should I say experienced optimist. As much as I wish for a better future, I doubt it. It's late now…I'll stop rambling…

3 Jeff

Biggie said it best. Mo Money = Mo Problems.
PF Advice for everyone.

4 Mrs. Micah

I'd rather have a job I love with a smaller salary and live in a small apartment and just be happy than find a more stressful but higher-paying job so I can have a bigger apt/house, car, etc.

Tax refunds are another time where bigger isn't better, even though it feels like you're getting more. I like a small refund, but any money in a refund is money you could've had earlier.

5 @Small_Town_Runr

I work in a physicians' office, and there is no way I would want the responsibility that comes with being a doctor, even with the enormous salary.

6 D&D

Funny…our mottos has always been "Less is More" My husband came from a family of hoarders and when he met me he discovered what that motto meant….Now he is the one who is always saying that back in my face as he throws out the kids toys that are only 2 months old…or the recently purchased kitchen items. He is a total convert on that saying!

7 Chad Arnold

I'm with you on the school. I went to a small private Christian school. I have found Jesus since but could have paid a 1/4 of the cost to drink the same amount of beer at a state school. Private schools are of no better value. Great post and as always great drawrings.

8 RainyDaySaver

Your "income" section in this post screams "federal worker"! I know people in similar situations, where moving up to a supervisory position wouldn't be worth the salary increase — it would actually decrease their quality of life. Like you said, you have perks like working and home AND a work vehicle — two things that sound at odds, since you're likely not going anywhere often enough to justify the use of a paid-for vehicle, right? Sure, it's good for you, but bad for taxpayers (if your position is paid for by our taxes).

9 PunchDebt

If you noticed I said I work FROM home, not AT home. There is a difference. I am not required to go to an office everyday or check in with a boss. If you have followed other posts, where I have discussed working FROM home, you would notice I said about 50% of my work is done in my home, the other 50% is done all throughout San Diego county, meaning I drive around to various locations to conduct my investigations.

It definitely sounds like you have a disdain for government employees, which I can't say I don't understand, but I can tell you this… my job keeps you safe. While the importance of certain government programs may be debatable, my agency is well worth your tax dollars (remember I pay taxes too).

So yes, I work from home, and yes I have a government vehicle, but that doesn't mean it is "BAD" for you.

10 RainyDaySaver

I've totally been misreading "from home" as "at home." I didn't mean to single you out like I did, it was just a stream-of-thought comment that I didn't edit well — don't tase me, bro! ;)

I don't dislike fed workers (or state) — I know others who hold positions that, like yours, keep us safe. But I know in many cases, there's a lot of fat on the payrolls. It's just my cynicism showing, because I live in New Jersey, where corruption runs rampant.

11 Kd_trying2B_debtfree

"HERE ME NOW ALL PROSPECTIVE COLLEGE STUDENTS: Harvard is nice, but so is your local state school."

I wish that someone would go knock some sense into the graduating high schoolers! Sooooo many of my fellow graduates went to private, out of town schools only to drop due to the tuition was too high or came out with crazy loans.

12 @eemusings

Agreed – I would hate to have to manage people for a job!

Also, I hate cleaning – that alone is a good enough reason to keep the house a reasonable size.

13 esperanza

so were you an extra on Veronica Mars? I loved that show.

14 Fearful

I’m totally with you on the salary increase not being worth it when moving into a supervisory role; I could become an administrator and earn about 20K more per year, but I wouldn’t get summers off, I’d have to work nights and weekends, and I’d have to be managing a very diificult staff. SO not worth it!

I also agree that big houses are for the birds – I grew up in a McMansion and the thought of the utility bills my parents are paying now, with only the two of them left in the house, turns my stomach.

15 MoneyHoneySF

I agree with you on "Bigger is not always Better". Wouldn't want to live in a big huge house. I'm germphobic so cleaning it might be a pain. Bigger cars don't tickle my fancy neither, since it means more on gas consumption. And Bigger salary always come with more headache and stress.

I go by the "JUST RIGHT" standard in life

16 GI Jane

You will really enjoy Thomas Stanley's "Stop acting rich." He made the same points you did about living in a smaller home. You spend more with a bigger footprint. I totatlly agree with with mansion envy. I loved jogging along Sheridan road and dreaming about the beautiful old Victorian homes and the life inside. But I am with you, who needs a 5,000 sq foot house? really?

I'm sure you would not mind being in a supervisory position later in life. I like being in charge…a bit of a control freak. You do not want to be a worker bee forever!

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