Italy – part 1: Internet and the „Fear Of Missing Out“ – underestimated potential for addiction?

A view from the camp site at Lago di Garda, Northern Italy.

Currently in La Spezia, Cinque Terre, after staying 5 days on a campsite at lake Garda in Italy.

Finally some travelling again! Home lent out to good friends, and on the road for a bit of time…hurray!

What I really love about travelling is that you come to see different things, leave your every-day life and surroundings behind you and get open to see everything from a different angle. For me that’s like a retreat from common life, like being raised to a kind of meta-level where you can see life more clearly and understand better what is important, what already goes right and what could yet be improved.

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A new era of work – Part 2: Both partners working full time – what a crazy concept!

One of the more relaxed jobs – lighthouse keeper. (Lighthouse seen in Brittany, France)

When talking about work you often get the impression – at least here in Germany – that people live for their work and define themselves only by their job.

Their job seems to be no more a tool to generate maximum possible income at the minimum possible inconvenience, so that it serves you such that you can dwell happily with your hobbies, social contacts and families in a maximized spare time (as I think it should be).
Instead the job surprisingly often seems to totally define people, and the reasoning is turned upside down so that the spare time seems to be there to serve your job and not the other way round.

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Another frugal trip – to Woodpeckers home, Franconia!

A quick little trip to another nice and mostly unknown part of Germany:


The “Altes Rathaus” (old townhouse) of Bamberg, sitting in the middle of the river Regnitz.

…where Woodpecker spent a happy youth in the beautiful small, and happily quite un-poshy town of Bamberg.

Bamberg with its 70.000 inhabitants is a medieval town founded more than 1000 years ago, then the seat of the holy Roman Emperor Heinrich II and today one of the few cities in the world which are entirely entitled the world cultural heritage status. Reason is that the old town was not bombed in WWII and Bamberg lacked massive industrial development afterwards, leaving it quite in its original state.

Once again it was really inspiring to stay there due to the contrast the town offers compared to Munich.
As pointed out, I love Munich and it is and excellent place to be, but its main disadvantage are too many un-frugal people who live there. A thing certainly more rare in Bamberg. Here you will see less hectic people running through the city with cell-phones on their ears, you will have difficulties finding anyone running around hacking on his blackberry, you see less top-edge designer-cloths and high-class cabriolets. All in all it is (like most smaller towns) more relaxed and more modest.

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Peergroups and Happiness

Decide well where to live – and how to choose the rest of your peergroup. (Seen in Munich: An old farmers house, now located almost in the middle of town).

A very important factor for your personal happiness is frequently stressed by happiness economics research, while very often underestimated or outright ignored by many people in practice, is the influence of your peer group.

Or more precisely:

The influence of your peer group’s material and financial level relative to yours.

Let’s look at an example:

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The Welfare Paradox

Trips like this eat away lots of the work efficiency gains made since 50 years ago. On the other side, they can be great fun. You might try the middle way: Live general frugally but allow for occasional punctual luxury (whatever is luxury for you) every now or then within pre-set budget planning. (picture taken on the isle of Teneriffe, Spain).

When thinking about downshifting, saving and frugal living, one often encounters what I call the „welfare paradox”:

Whereas there is ample proof that your relative earnings are much higher today than that of your ancestors, meaning it will take you much less time of work to earn the money for almost any given good  (see here), average working hours do not decrease that significantly.

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