There’s a scenario I’ve been thinking about for years, but I don’t think I’ve ever posted it. (If I have, and someone can point me to it, you’ll have my thanks and apologies). I’m curious what y’all think.
Angie and Brian are a couple getting ready to buy a house together. They work identical jobs, where they can set their own hours and receive equal pay for the hours they work. You may think of permutations, but if you do, please keep the income part equal.
The problem, when they come to house-buying, is that Angie wants a bigger house than Brian. Brian would be happy with a house they could afford by working a combined total of 80 hours a week. Angie would be happy with a house they could afford by working a combined total of 100 hours a week. There are a whole bunch of houses in between, affordable by working different amounts of time.
Note that Brian would enjoy the larger house–it’s just not particularly important to him. Note equally that Angie would enjoy working fewer hours–it’s just not particularly important to her.
The question is, how many hours should they each work, and what kind of house should they buy?
The obviously correct answer is, “whatever they mutually agree on.” That’s obviously correct, and boring and cowardly. I want you to take a position! What would you find satisfactory, if you were Angie? If you were Brian?
Four possible choices:
- They each work the amount of hours they’re comfortable with. Angie works 50, Bob works 40, they get a house worth 90.
- Angie works 60 and gets her dream house; Brian works 40 and gets his dream hours.
- Angie and Bob both work 50 hours and get the dream house.
- They each work 45 hours and get the 90-hour house.
I personally find #4 the most satisfying–each person stretches a bit past their zone of comfort (Brian works more, Angie settles for less), and they share both the sacrifice and the benefit equally–but I’m curious what y’all think.