The American Dream in terms of being wealthy, is to work only four hours a week, outsource your tedious chores to those whose time is worth less than yours, and to put your feet up and relax while being pampered from all sides. With more money, you’ll get there, right?
It turns out that wealth is a predictor (i.e., not necessarily a cause or effect) that people will spend less time on pleasurable activities.
People who make less than $20,000 a year… spend more than a third of their time in passive leisure — watching television, for example. Those making more than $100,000 spent less than one-fifth of their time in this way — putting their legs up and relaxing. Rich people spent much more time commuting and engaging in activities that were required as opposed to optional. The richest people spent nearly twice as much time as the poorest people in leisure activities that were active, structured and often stressful — shopping, child care and exercise.
Commuting, traveling from affordable homes to well-paying jobs, is an activity of the wealthy, and those who are wealthier spend more time doing this than others. Is this what we have to look forward to as we work to increase income and net worth? More stress?
The study mentioned in this article indicates that people assume mistakenly that being wealthy involves playing leisurely sports (like golf, I would assume), watching television and movies on a large, flat-screen television, and receiving massages and other pampering. Is this a stereotypical misconception, or does the study not take into account differences between the wealthy and the ultrawealthy?
Is there a difference between the small company CEO, earning lots of money with lots of responsibility (including stress and commutation) and the very few multi-billionaires that let their money earn more money while they do other things? Is that perception a myth? Even Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are still quite busy running their foundations or businesses. Are there multi-billionaires relaxing on the coast of Mexico without a care in the world?
How Rich People Spend Their Time, Washington Post, June 23, 2008
Published or updated June 24, 2008.