We’ve all heard that money can’t buy happiness, but we also know it can play an important role in helping us get more joy and pleasure out of life.
Our resident money expert, Melissa Leong, wrote a book called Happy Go Money, so we asked her to break down how we can get happier—and wealthier—in 2019.
The connection between happiness and money
Whether it’s working or spending on our credit cards or buying lottery tickets, we’re all trying to buy happiness. There’s a connection but there’s a limit to that connection. One study in 2018 put that figure at $90,000-USD per single family household for life satisfaction, and about $60,000 to $75,000 for every day happiness. After that, happiness can actually start to decrease.
Money makes us unhappy, too
In 2019, there are three things we need to stop doing in order to be happier with our money and our lives.
Stop the comparison game
Stop comparing and competing. A study revealed that the neighbours of lottery winners are more likely to declare bankruptcy within a few years of the big win; whether you live in a high- or low-income area, if you live beside someone who’s won some money, you were more apt to ramp up your own spending on visible assets, like cars.
Stop the negative money talk
Are you always saying that you can’t go out because you’re broke? That’s not empowering. Pay attention to how you talk about your finances. Instead of saying, “No, I can’t go out for dinner because I have no money,” say “No, I can’t go out for dinner because I’m tackling my debt.” All of the negativity will stress you out and what you do we do when we’re faced with stress? We avoid it or we try to make it go away by spending more.
Stop using money as a way to alleviate pain
When you spend as a way to fix something or replace something—to relieve pain or stress, to boost your confidence, to get approval—you’ll end up regretting the purchase. Deal with your stress and pain first, then you can also build in a Plan B to support you in tough times, like having budgets or peer support.
Create a happier relationship with money
Focus on your values
You can’t just spend your way to happiness. You have to work on being happy, figure out what that looks like, and then spend your money in a way that supports that.
Start building your happy tank in other ways
Strengthen your relationship by doing new things together. Spend money on a boxing class, a meditation app, a nutritional coach. Those things—relationships, exercise, meditation, healthier eating—scientifically translate to more lasting happiness in your life.
Things to spend on that will make you happier
These three things are scientifically proven to make you happier:
Experiences make us happier because they make us feel more connected to others while material goods are usually enjoyed alone. You’ll also get more bang for your buck because experiences increase in value over time with great memories and goodwill.
New research shows that people who value time over money are happier people.
Spend money on others
There is a clear link between giving to others and happiness. Whether you’re rich or poor, worldwide surveys show that donating to charity makes you feel more satisfied with life and makes you feel wealthier.