Five Ways to Buy Happiness

Question of the Week

Five Ways to Buy Happiness

Happy Friday, all! And for those of you in Chicago, Happy Beyoncé weekend!

I can’t express how excited I am to see Queen B this weekend. I hate crowds, so I tend to avoid concerts. But Beyoncé is one of the few people I will pay good money to sit with my anxiety.

This decision made me think about the importance of how you spend your money rather than how much you earn. Science seems to back this up. In their book, High Income Improves Evaluation of Life but not Emotion Well-Being, Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton found that for a person earning around $75,000 per year, making more money has no impact on their day-to-day feelings of happiness. And whether it’s happiness, comfort, safety, and security, emotion rather than logic drives our behavior. Behavior scientists have backed this up, showing that we must focus on motivating our emotional elephant to truly change behavior.

For that very reason, Elizabeth Dunn focuses on spending differently rather than earning more to produce more happiness in her book, Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending. She writes, “Rather than suggest that you stop trying to get more money, our goal is to help you use the money you have to get more happiness.”

Dunn suggests five fundamental principles of happy money:

  • Buy experiences: buying experiences rather than material goods can inoculate you against buyer’s remorse.
  • Make it a treat: When something wonderful is always available, people are less inclined to appreciate it. Limiting our access to the things we like best may help to “re-virginize” us, renewing our capacity for pleasure.
  • Buy time: By permitting us to outsource our most dreaded tasks, from scrubbing toilets to cleaning gutters, money can transform how we spend our time, freeing us to pursue our passions.
  • Pay now, consume later: delaying consumption allows spenders to reap the pleasures of anticipation with the buzzkill of reality. For example, vacations provide the most happiness before they occur.
  • Invest in others: new research demonstrates that spending money on others provides a more considerable happiness boost than spending money on yourself.

These principles provide an excellent foundation for making the most of your money.


Quote of the week

“Shifting from buying stuff to buying experiences, and from spending on yourself to spending on others, can have a dramatic impact on happiness.” – Dr. Elizabeth Dunn


Task of the week

In what ways are you using your money to buy your happiness?

Take some time this weekend to think about how you can spend your money in a way that increases your overall fulfillment and enjoyment of life.

I’d love to hear what you come up with! Let me know at the links below.