Spending your way to happiness: it’s basically the North American dream. And you can live it, if you follow these research-based tips on the spending habits of happy people.
Spend on others
The old adage is true: it is better to give than receive. Rich, poor, young, old, it doesn’t matter – repeated studies show that we all get more satisfaction from spending on others than on ourselves. So next time you find yourself with some extra cash, donate it. Or, buy a little sumpin’ for someone you love.
Spend on experiences
We easily assign financial value to things, but it’s harder to guess the worth of good experiences. But “there are tremendous benefits to happiness,” says psychologist Ryan Howell, and choosing to do things rather than have them is proven to bring more joy.
Spend on all kinds of experiences
You needn’t spend a lot for a happy experience. As we get older, we increasingly value the little moments – a coffee with a good friend – as much as grand experiences like big trips. If money can buy time with people you love or the chance to form a good memory, it’s well spent.
Spend on experiential goods
We lied. Some material goods can bring joy. “Experiential products,” like a new bike that gets you outdoors, a video camera that connects you with faraway friends or a musical instrument that draws out your creative energy can actually increase happiness.
Spend on learning
Education offers a wealth of statistical benefits, from a higher salary, to better health to a longer life. Learning new things can also improve your value as an employee or businessperson, possibly leading a higher income and more money (to spend on education, experiences and others, of course).
Spend on special items
The more nice things you buy, the more anxious you’ll be to acquire new things to match them. But, says one researcher in an interview with The National Post, “By depriving ourselves in between purchases, we get more satisfaction when we do buy something.” The lesson? Save up and buy something really good.
Spend on help
“Anything that fundamentally changes the way you spend your time is a good use of money,” says Happy Money: The Science of Spending author Linda Dunn. Whether that means hiring help or buying faster appliances to reduce chore time, earmark your extra money for goods and services that create time to do what you like.