Was Ben Franklin right? Does waking up early make you rich?
Ben Franklin famously said “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”. Was he right? Does waking up early make you rich? Inspired by Freakonomics, the Art of Being Cheap has conducted a study to determine if this old saying is true.
How to investigate
Many years ago I was mapping out garage sales in my home town to determine the most efficient way to go to many garage sales in the shortest amount of time. When I did this, I noticed something interesting: All of the garage sales in the more expensive neighborhoods in town started early in the morning, and garage sales in the less expensive parts of town would start a couple of hours later.
To do this study, I looked on Craigslist for 30 garage sales ads on Saturday mornings that listed both an address and a start time. I then went to zillow.com to get an estimate of the value of the houses at those listed addresses. Now that I had an approximation of when people wake up (by using garage sale start times) and an approximation of their wealth (by using their home value) I had the information to test whether Ben Franklin was right, and whether waking up early makes you rich. Here is what I found:
|Garage Sale Start Time||Average Home Value|
Of the 30 garage sale ads I looked at, there were 10 early birds that started before 8am. The homes at those addresses had an average value of $223,800
There were 12 garage sales ads that started exactly at 8am. The homes at those addresses had an average value of $185,100.
Finally, there were 8 households who slept in and didn’t start their garage sale until 9am or later. As you might guess, these houses were worth the least with an average value of $143,600.
Does this prove getting up early is good for your wallet?
Now this study is obviously very unscientific. Garage sale start times are probably a poor representation of what time people actually wake up. We all know that a person’s home value might say something about how rich they are, but it is just as likely to tell you how much debt they are in, so that is a poor approximation as well.
The study is unscientific, but the results are pretty clear, so surely there is something to be learned here. Is this enough to lead us to believe that waking up early makes you rich? After all, I know several wealthy individuals and I have never heard any of them brag about how late they sleep in. I sometimes hear poor people brag about how late they sleep in.
But, maybe people in more valuable houses don’t get up early every day, maybe they just got up early on the one day they had a garage sale. Maybe these are the people who are more likely to make sure everything is ready to go the night before and then get up early to maximize the amount of time shoppers have to visit their garage sale. Maybe every project they do they try to act like a professional, even if that project is only trying to raise a couple hundred dollars selling your old stuff.
Maybe it is this professional attitude that leads to the more expensive house rather than simply getting up earlier. Perhaps this professional attitude leads to both getting up earlier AND taking garage sales seriously. So what do you think? Was Ben Franklin right, does getting up earlier make you healthier, wealthier, and wise?
This article was published at 6:00am. I just wanted to point that out.