May 25, 2019

"Our spreadsheets hammered home that what contributed most to our happiness was time spent together or with friends — while, crucially, not working — and there was no way to get more of that..."

"... if we continued to live in the Bay Area, one of the most expensive parts of the country. So I proposed an idea that would have seemed radical were there not so much data backing it: 'I think you should quit your job, we should sell our house, and we should move somewhere cheaper,' I told my husband matter-of-factly one day. So we did.... In addition to leading to a better understanding of what made us happy as a family, I also found the spreadsheet to be an incredibly useful tool for expressing things I might have otherwise avoided. It made the invisible visible. Instead of arguing about housework, for example, both feeling like we were doing more than our fair share, we could talk about it relatively objectively.... Far from making our marriage seem cold and robotic, the spreadsheet sparked more honest conversations than we’d had in years. It also reminded us that we had more control over our lives than we had been exerting...."

From "The Surprising Benefits of Relentlessly Auditing Your Life/We tend to think that good marriages and happy families are born of love and care, not spreadsheets. But what if that’s wrong?" by Amy Westervelt (NYT).

75 comments:

Susan said...

My husband doesn't need a spreadsheet. He has me to keep track of these things for him.

Just ask him. :)

gilbar said...

'I think you should quit your job, we should sell our house, and we should move somewhere cheaper,' I told my husband matter-of-factly one day. So we did.... In addition to leading to a better understanding of what made us happy as a family,

So, to coin a phrase;
she wanted them to turn on (their PC), tune in (the spreadsheet app, and drop out (of San Fran city life?)
This is New? Is it? Really?

Leland said...

I understand decision quality and that a spreadsheet model of a decision framework can lead to better decisions in one's personal and professional life. I even spent time working in the Bay Area proving IT services. What I learned without the need of a spreadsheet is that there is more to a happy life than a big paycheck to pay for even bigger daily expenses and taxes. So, I never moved my family there. I am very happy with the time I have with my family and my current income.

Bay Area Guy said...

I love it when the NYT doggedly investigates how certain folks in the Bay Area are so wacked out.

Spreadsheets!

MBunge said...

New York City is full of people who would be happier and more prosperous (relatively) living in Mason City,Iowa, but they've been convinced being a nobody in the Big Apple is better than being a somebody in River City.

Mike

gilbar said...

don't let anybody try to tell you, that we don't have Trouble; Right Here, in River City!
medicinal wine from a teaspoon,
Then beer from a bottle.
An' the next thing ya know,
Your son is playin' for money
In a pinch-back suit.

buwaya said...

This has been going on forever.
That is why just about every leadership class ever has created country homes and an exclusive social circle.
That is also one reason why cities have always been population sinks, even with modern sanitation and medicine.

Narayanan said...

If you take out housing expenses how much more is California than anywhere else?

Chart or website?

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

MBunge said...
New York City is full of people who would be happier and more prosperous (relatively) living in Mason City,Iowa, but they've been convinced being a nobody in the Big Apple is better than being a somebody in River City.


it's hard for them to cut the cord,Bungee
but we did it

buwaya said...

look it up Narayanan.
Ok, I will give you a clue, try MERIC.
Half of education is the process of research, as you run into masses of irrelevant facts, immediately rejected, but which may become relevant for something else, later. Or if they work into some connection.

jnseward said...

Thank you, VisiCalc.

Michael K said...

Google is trying to get the city of Mountain View to ban overnight parking of RVs.

By the way, I did that search first on Google search and nothing came up. Then I used duckduckgo.

Kevin said...

If you take out housing expenses how much more is California than anywhere else?

Real estate prices factor into the cost of delivering just about everything.

You're either paying more in rent to be close to the action, or you're paying more in time, gas, and parking to commute there from a place with lower prices.

Either way, you're paying.

AJ Lynch said...

Paywall so I can't read the story either. Where did they move to?

Original Mike said...

The spreadsheet is the most important use of personal computers. I use them for everything.

Today I am updating my camping lists. Lists are easier to implement in Excel than Word.

fivewheels said...

"I think you should quit your job"
"I told my husband"
"what made us happy"
"we had more control"

I would like to hear from the husband. I'm not saying he should be opposed to any of this or that she's an unreliable narrator, but ... single-source stories can be misleading, no?

BarrySanders20 said...

I wonder if these spreadsheeting women relentlessly audit their sex life too. Number of times per month, kind, locations, positions, results, etc. It's data, man!

gilbar said...

Kevin said...
If you take out housing expenses how much more is California than anywhere else?


Gas here in West Union, Iowa (which is COOL! not like stupid Sac City!!) was $2.66/gal, yesterday. My Carne Asada dinner (in New Hampton) was $16, (including my Limon Jarrittos soda); and was Very good. Jack's large frozen pizzas (which i like) were 4 for $10 at the Quillins Food Ranch. How much is that stuff in San Fran?

Original Mike said...

Can't maintain my weight without tracking it in a spreadsheet.

Ralph L said...

Cats love spreadsheets so much you have to push them off the bed.

I like Jack's cheese pizza, too, and that's cheaper than my (geriatric possessive) Walmart.

I bailed out of the DC area in 1992 after 6 months in an efficiency, after 20 years in houses in Alexandria and 9 years working for defense contractors.

robother said...

I could see this possibly working, not least by sublimating all marital anger at a common enemy, Microsoft Excel.

rhhardin said...

Make neat clothesline pulleys from those old Sherman tank thrust bearings.

Bill Peschel said...

No matter what, you still have 24 hours in a day. That's what people miss.

The only way to do more is to either stop doing stuff you don't care about, or hire other people's limited lifespan to do it for you.

Seeing Red said...

It sounds like there was a lack of communication in their marriage.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The unexamined life is not worth living

Ignorance is Bliss said...

If you start a spreadsheet in the first paragraph of a New York Times article, you must use it to completely change your life by the end of the article.

etbass said...

Checked just the price of gasoline by state and California is highest at over $4.00 per gallon. Check that against your own state average.

Meade said...

"The spreadsheet is the most important use of personal computers. I use them for everything."

So very true. For instance—keeping track of our ever-changing sexualities. How DID people do it back in the days before spreadsheets?

Michael said...

I sold my ridiculously expensive house in Atherton 25 years ago and moved to Atlanta. Worth 10 times more today. Alas.

Michael said...

If you cannot afford to buy the house you are currently inhabiting you should consider moving on. Pro tip.

glenn said...

I’m so old I remember when you didn’t need a spreadsheet to know this stuff.

rcocean said...

Does the NYT's have a "Woman's page" or is that the whole magazine?

He grumped.

rcocean said...

Good thing she didn't try this on multi-mate.

Nancy said...

When my husband and I retired, we chose our new location using a spreadsheet with 20 rows for all the places we might possibly move to and maybe 20 columns for salient characteristics which we then scored from 1 to 5 -- State taxes, local housing prices, winter weather, summer weather, accessibility to NYC (where my elderly mother was living), adult education opportunities, cultural amenities, proximity to Civil War sites (his interest) etc. Worked for us!

rcocean said...

Hammered Home. What does this cliche mean? You hit your house with a hammer? You built your home with a hammer? You got "Home" by hammering your way there?

Discuss.

Leland said...

How DID people do it back in the days before spreadsheets?

Dropped their pants.

Narayanan said...

Movie out called 22 Bridges.

Cops Blockade exit out of Manhattan to catch perps.

Of course no incoming.

Q: How long can Manhattan survive if blockade by surrounding communities?

The Godfather said...

You could use a ouija board to decide where to live, or throw darts at a map, or consult a relocation consultant. Any of these methods is as likely to get you a satisfactory result as would using a spreadsheet, but they’re not going to get you published in the NYT.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

How DID people do it back in the days before spreadsheets?

spread sheets aka "setting the table of Love"

Yancey Ward said...

Great. What every husband wants- a PowerPoint presentation with graphs of how bad he is doing.

Unknown said...

I used a spreadsheet to evaluate our assets, income streams, expenses, and tax rates to convince my fiance to sell the house, quit our jobs, and retire to FL. We're midway through that plan now, I was able to transferred to Coconut Grove a few months ago, and my fiance is in the process of selling the house in MD.

--Rt1Rebel

traditionalguy said...

That is real good advice. They are using the facts spread out in front of them to communicate each ones boundary to the other. Then they know what is wanted by the other and can respect it.

Mutual respect is the foundation for love and romance.

DAN said...

While you're reading, you can listen to "I Never" by Rilo Kiley...

So let's take a loan and I'll put it down on a house in
A place we've never lived
In a place that exists in the pages of scripts and the songs that they sing
And all of the beautiful things that make you weep but don't have to make you weep
'Cause I never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, loved somebody the way I loved you...

pacwest said...

Everything should be done 'by the numbers'. It's just a matter of whose numbers you are going to use.

Krumhorn said...

If you take out housing expenses how much more is California than anywhere else?


Where to start....filled the tank yesterday at $4.59/gl, pay 9.5% sales tax, 12.3% personal income tax rate not including the millionaire tax, 11.23% state tax on phones, Los Angeles charges a 10% tax on utilities, an LLC or S-Corp pays $800 per year to the franchise tax board regardless of income.

None of this should come as a surprise in a state that is dominated by Democrats.

Compare all this to living in Florida. 6% sales tax, no personal income tax, gas $2.65/gl.

The only thing golden about the Golden State is the gold the lefties extract from you for living here.

- Krumhorn

Christy said...

I do my thinking via Excel. Graphs, trends, ect. Althouse has written that she works out what she thinks by writing. I'm an engineer; she's a lawyer. Sounds like we all lay down neuron pathways that work for us.

I've been wondering how online shopping has affected the cost of living in various places. I used to lock myself out of cars and houses regularly. So I know a locksmith that cost $85 in Baltimore cost me $35 in Knoxville. That's service and I get that still varies with location, but what about goods? I remember that 30 years ago wedding crystal for my cousin was $36 a stem in Baltimore but $10 less in Knoxville. Today I just go online and order for the same price wherever I reside. Who won in that leveling of prices? Everyone, big city dwellers, nobody?

Virgil Hilts said...

Never understand # of people who put up with long commutes for a slightly bigger house. In PHX we're 12 min drive/22 bike to work, 10 minutes from 3 great mountain hikes. If you have 45+ min commute to work, do the math and see how much of your waking life you're giving away over 20 years. Yes, you can listen to audiobooks/podcasts while stuck in traffic or on train/bus, but you can also do that while running or hiking or just watching your children play. Don't spend an extra year of the best years of your waking adult life sitting inside of a car.

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Unknown said...

"Compare all this to living in Florida. 6% sales tax, no personal income tax, gas $2.65/gl."

And your vote counts.

--Rt1Rebel

pacwest said...

"If you take out housing expenses how much more is California than anywhere else?"

Not an answer to your question, but a few years ago we inherited 3 homes in the bay area. We spruced them up a bit before selling, and one of the things we did was buy some bags of soil to plant flowers. Seperable from all the local and state taxes when you buy something California has a "dirt tax". That's right, common dirt is taxed. I swear they would tax the air you breathe if they could monitor it.

Krumhorn said...

Hi Mark. So glad you are doing better. I heard a guy say that his doc ordered him to consume an entire #10 can of jalapenos. He was shocked at the prescription and asked the doc if that would really work. The doc said, "No it won't cure your HIV, but it will teach you what your asshole is really there for."

- Krumhorn

Fen said...

Paywall so I can't read the story either. Where did they move to?

Ooof. Now you've done it - you said the P-word. Now our Dear Leader will delete you and get all snippy in comments about not being boring.

Unknown said...

"California has a "dirt tax". That's right, common dirt is taxed. I swear they would tax the air you breathe if they could monitor it."

Carbon taxes are exactly that, an air tax. MD has a "rain tax," you pay a tax based on the calculated precipitation runoff from finished surfaces of your home or business property, in other words, roofing and paved area.

Bay Area Guy said...

There's a spreadsheet for that, Mark Russ.

Fen said...

Wife and I have done similar "spreadsheets". I have to admit that when we kept at it, our life was more efficient and enjoyable. When we fell off it, we slipped back into bad habits and subconscious routines that were self-destructive.

But only 2 real fights in 18 years of marriage. Joining the Marines and proposing to her are the smartest things I have done in this life.

Sebastian said...

"which we then scored from 1 to 5"

A key point in spreadsheeting your life.

Big Mike said...

. I swear they would tax the air you breathe if they could monitor it.

@pacwest, what do you think is behind the multi-decade effort to declare CO2 a pollutant that should be taxed?

(Yes, Unknown, you beat me to it.)

AJ Lynch said...

Fen- I hear you and I guess everyone else did because no one answered my question.

Bobb said...

A review of the writing of Amy Westervelt show her to be a good liberal drone who supports policies that made her life miserable. But via a spreadsheet (!!!) she finds she should move. Unfortunately, for the rest of us, she will probably move to a conservative region only to vote to impose her San Francisco policies, which made her miserable, in her new area.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

So where did you end up, Nancy? I’m guessing PA or the Carolinas.

pacwest said...

"what do you think is behind the multi-decade effort to declare CO2 a pollutant that should be taxed?"

I wasn't trying to make a statement on GW or carbon taxes. It was about tax happy CA. But...

One of our retirement homes is in Minnesota, and that was the first time I saw a 'rain tax'. I can justify that by considering infastructure necessary to handle the runoff. Weird, most places handle it differently, and who knows where the money actually goes, but if it is for sewer infrastructure I have no problem with it.

As for CO2/GW I am of two minds. If GW (or climate change) is real it should be addressed in a realistic manner. That means China, India, developing nations, rational solutions without the panic. But before that...overpopulation and clean up our lifesblood - the oceans. On the other hand...bullshit. Give me something to go on besides computer models based on unprovable math. Or screaming inane propaganda.

But let me modify my earlier statement about CA taxes. If they could tax the blood coursing through your veins they would. And I'm not going to be suprised when someone tells me they are doing it.

Anecdotal, but I've spent the last five years RVing full time, traveled all fifty states, and the roads and general infastructure is best in states with lower taxes. Go figure.

Michael McNeil said...

I notice that the iPhone's prepackaged spreadsheet “Numbers” is actually pretty good, IMHO — though I like to use it (rotated horizontally) outputing it onto a big-screen TV at the back of my desk (via an hdmi dongle) — meanwhile inputting to it via a bluetooth keyboard. In this circumstance the iPhone's screen serves merely as an oversize mousepad.

Unknown said...

"I notice that the iPhone's prepackaged spreadsheet “Numbers” is actually pretty good, IMHO"

Tell me more, Michael McNeil. As I have mentioned, I'm about to retire, and for now I use my company phone and laptop. I gotta have excel, or something that works like it and can import excel data. I have an iphone 6s on the way, but not a plan for a computer. I can start from scratch with Numbers if necessary.

--Rt1Rebel

Browndog said...

The last three Althouse posts:

I'm frustrated. Read some obscure shit. What do you guys think?

Open thread....

Ambrose said...

There is a reason it is called "work."

Michael McNeil said...

Numbers will accept input from either Excel files or CSV formatted files (packaged within a zip file) — from a variety of other apps along with (e.g.) iCloud and Dropbox — then write its files back into those formats, if requested.

Big Mike said...

Put me with the people who would rather lefty extremists who have turned places like LA, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, etc., into shit holes would try to clan up the shit holes where they live (literally a shit hole in the case of San Francisco) instead of bringing their voting patterns to a new location and using those voting patterns to replicate the shit holes they left.

Big Mike said...

CLEAN up

Michael McNeil said...

This is the (bluetooth) keyboard I like to use with my iPhone (and sometimes other devices). Since this (full-size!) keyboard folds quite compactly it's convenient for carrying around with the phone when out and about or traveling. (There's also a less than full-size model I don't much care for.)

It is capable of generating Apple's Command and Option key inputs (via the Win and Alt keys here).

The only complaint I have about it is that it's mildly inconvenient switching to another device when you need to (you must forget the earlier device it's married to each time and reacquire).

Althouse's Amazon portal was used for the search.

Hey Skipper said...

If you take out housing expenses how much more is California than anywhere else?

I don't live in CA, but visit occasionally.

Taxes nearly double the cost of renting a car.

Earnest Prole said...

Isn’t the real problem that she was incapable of knowing this without a spreadsheet?

stlcdr said...

At some point, these people will regress to discovering fire.

stlcdr said...

It’s called ‘balancing a checkbook’. Money is one of the biggest stressors in life, and creates both directly and indirectly an emotional burden. Without being able to balance a checkbook, and react - proactively address - the results in a cold calculated (sic) way, you will find yourself often struggling to be happy. It doesn’t matter where you live, or what your income.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Making big decisions about life events, lifestyles and potential changes to such, does demand that you do some analysis. The worst decisions that can be made are done "purely" on emotion.

Doing a cost benefit analysis is my "go to" position. Not for everything in life like who did the dishes last, but for those big decisions.

We are doing one now on the topic of potentially selling the business, retiring, maybe selling the property, moving?, traveling? costs? property taxes here? elsewhere? medical etc etc etc. Included are some of those emotional issues like proximity to family. Attachment to our present environment.

You can't just up and make a sudden decision like the above. If you make an unconsidered mistake, there often can be no going back and can then descend into blaming each other. If you make a considered mistake, then at least you gave it your best analysis.

Nancy said...

We ended up in Williamsburg VA. Second highest score was Tampa FL with very different pros and cons. PA probably wouldn't have been warm enough. The Research Triangle was attractive but I wanted to be able to make day trips to the ocean.

The cultural scene here was a disappointment, coming from Boston, but we can visit DC and NY occasionally for museums and concerts. And there have been many unanticipated delights of small town living.