I'm re-reading The Fun Theory Sequence and enjoying it. But my question is not about theory:

What are some concrete, practical ways to spend $100,000 to generate a non-negligible amount of fun?

Underlying assumptions:

  • "We're not nearly as unique as we think, at least when it comes to emotional responses to events"[1]. (Therefore it makes sense to ask this question.)
  • The hypothetical person who has the money and wants the fun doesn't possess any specific skills that would make answers too unique (e.g., buy an exquisite antique violin to happily play it every day).
  • This hypothetical person is predisposed to boredom (although not depressed or particularly unhappy, just easily bored). This is meant to exclude a wide range of things that some people consider fun but that are actually not fun at all. :)
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Travelling with a nice friend. It is(was) easy to spend like 10-30k a month by living in 5 star hotels, eating fine cousin, shopping etc. But travelling alone sucks.

Learning skills from actual world class experts. Including things one might not normally think of as a skill but might be influence-able from osmosis.

We're not as unique as we think, but we're not anywhere near as uniform as this question implies. At the very least, answers will vary based on timeframe, and on future spending expectations, and on past experiences of fun or surprising un-fun.

You might find it fun to give a random responder to a web forum question $50k. At least try it once to find out.

Alternately, and an interesting idea: http://www.overcomingbias.com/2020/04/what-can-money-buy-directly.html recommends hiring a happiness agent, who you pay proportionally to the happiness you actually gain.

One might even find it doubly fun to give a random internet forum participant $100,000.

What a fascinating question. As a self-proclaimed hedonist and an egoist, I feel compelled to throw in my two cents.

First of all, it's crucial not to spend this money recklessly. If you do, and you end up regretting this waste of money for significant time, the anguish will outweigh the fun. You are better off if you never had the money to begin with.

That means you need to know reasonably well what will bring you fun before you pay a lot for it. Significant portion of the 100k budget should be distributed over many smaller experiments that might bring you fun. If you expect to have similar fun budget in the future, perhaps even entire 100k should be spent that way. And even if you have clear idea of what brings you fun, it's still worth to drop a few k every now and then into new ventures, to see if they might increase your fun. This is quite tricky: things that at first seem to deliver a lot of fun might habituate easily, so repeated experiments might be in order.

I would also recommend that this budget is spent over some time rather than in a single shot. I know that in my pursuit of fun, more often than not the anticipation was more enjoyable than the thing itself. Also, when I knew that my purchase of fun was time-limited (e.g., it was a short trip), I was pressuring myself to make the most out of it and thus significantly diminishing the fun I was experiencing. I now make it a point to keep myself perpetually in a state of anticipation of near-future pursuits.

Now, some specific ways that may or may not bring you fun:

  • Gifts for people you care about.
  • Travel. Try doing it solo and with a friend, see what works better.
  • Vanity: Getting professional haircut, grooming and style advice.
  • Prostitution (if it's legal and not coerced in your area).
  • Signalling wealth (expensive watch, jewellery).
  • Prestige (get recognized for making a substantial donation to some org).
  • Activism (you can get a lot more done in an NGO if you don't need to look for funding).
  • Vengeance (no specific ideas here; I do like The Count of Monte Cristo, though).
  • Home upgrade (easiest way: stay in a lot of AirBnBs, see what you like, be extremely picky based on those criteria when searching for future homes). <- This advice is HUGE and possibly the greatest contributor to my enjoyment of life.
  • Professional equipment for any hobbies you have.
  • Eliminating un-fun (get a maid, order food delivery instead of cooking, use Uber instead of public transit).
  • Like-minded people (if you think that you would enjoy the company of LessWrongers, move to the Bay Area, perhaps only for a short period of time at first to try it).
  • Time (quit your job, or at least get unpaid time off; or switch to working part-time).

It's time to go to bed here in Europe. I will probably add some more tomorrow.

Things that will improve your amount and quality of time spent with friends and family. Games to play together, vacations to go on, housing in close proximity or transportation costs, admittance to events. What has high marginal benefit depends strongly on your situation. I know one guy who had more money than friends, and moved to a town with his family and old friends, and then scaled up the blues dance scene in town (spending say a thousand dollars worth of food, another thousand or two in subsidized lessons, and plenty of time and expertise) and made new friends there. But this strategy wouldn't work at all for someone in a different situation.

Plausibly, things that will improve your attractiveness - nice clothes, healthier food, a few sessions with a personal trainer. Or if you think you've got the basics covered, maybe efficient signalling by buying fancy versions of inexpensive things.

A 100k potlatch is easy.

If male, do a dangerous looking activity that demonstrates your mastery of some activity with / in front of a group of your closest friends, then bring them to a wild party with plentiful dopamine agonists and easy sex with attractive women (cocaine and hookers).

If female, pay young and attractive females to do your bidding, dress yourself up to be as pretty as you can, and go somewhere where you can be seen by as many (ideally high status) people as possible.

Repeat until out of money.

Try to avoid alcohol, strip clubs, slot machines, and canned hunting, as they are cheap and shitty imitations.

Enron's inner circle did company retreats with atv riding followed by wild parties. Larry Ellison owns a fighter jet and pays a 25k noise fine whenever he takes it out at 3am.

I initially wrote a lot more, with activity recommendations, but really this covers it.

If you do want specific advice, it's available, just invite me to the party.

You know, for science.

4 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 9:14 PM

For me, the limiting factor of fun is that I have to spend almost all my time and energy doing my job and taking care of my kids. $100 000 would pay my bills for 2 - 4 years. Suppose it is 2 years of bills, plus lots of babysitting. So the fun that I could buy would be 2 years of:

  • visiting friends,
  • watching movies,
  • reading books,
  • playing computer games,
  • learning new things,
  • working on my own projects,
  • ...some other things I forgot now.

That sounds like a lot of fun!

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