Maybe money can’t guarantee happiness, but academic research does seem to show that having “enough” of the green stuff can give people a feeling of well-being.
And more importantly, knowing how to spend money the right way can boost your happiness quotient.
Here’s 5 tried-and-true ways to spread more happiness around:
Do unto others. Giving away money or spending it on others can be enormously rewarding. Studies show that spending $1 on others generates more well-being and satisfaction than spending the same amount on yourself. So go ahead and spread the wealth with your favorite charity, or donate to your grandchild’s college fund. It will make you feel warm inside.
Buy peace of mind. Money can be a great liberator. It makes scary things a lot less scary. Worried about losing a job? It’s less stressful when you have a hefty emergency fund. Your mom is getting older and needs more help at home? Not a problem; you can afford it. It won’t make problems go away, but will definitely make them more manageable.
Buy experiences rather than stuff. Sure, money can buy you the latest smartphone or a big screen TV, but once you get those new gadgets home, the thrill starts to fade. Using money to build lasting memories and try out new experiences has more staying power, and leads to more satisfaction. One client told me the best thing they’ve ever done is go on a mind-blowing South African safari with their kids. They’ll remember that trip and the good times for decades into the future.
Buy time. Time is the one thing we never seem to have enough of. Using your money to buy more free time – say, by moving closer to work to minimize your commute, or paying for a monthly house-cleaning service – is a guaranteed happiness builder. You free up time to do what’s really important to you, and can spend time with the people who matter most.
Treat yourself to small pleasures. Did you ever notice that the small things can give you more satisfaction than the big ones? Spending a special afternoon with the kids, watching the game with your buddies, walking on the beach, drinks and a movie with the girls … all these indulgences are small and not at all expensive, but they can do wonders in lifting your mood and putting a smile on your face.
The Takeaway: You don’t need a lot to enjoy life. You just need to know how to use what you have.