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Buy Your Happiness

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Who says money can’t buy happiness?

I say it depends on how you spend it, and Gretchen Rubin has seven terrific suggestions for how to do just that in her bestseller, The Happiness Project. These all strike me as really good ways to make your money truly work for you, although I confess that I’m still working on most of them myself:

Strengthen Social Ties: Close relationships are one of the most important elements of a happy life. Money spent travelling to see friends or relatives are sound investments in happiness. Throw a party, meet your crew at a restaurant, or go to the ball game with your brother. Don’t skimp on social spending.

End Marital Conflict: Unhappy marriages lead to unhappy lives. Not all marital problems can be solved with money, but it sure does help. Mundane chores often are the source of much bickering and resentment. Nagging destroys relationships. Hire a painter, landscaper, or cleaning service. Your marriage will thank you for it later.

Upgrade Your Exercise: Data proves physical activity improves your mood substantially. Hire a trainer, join a tennis club, or buy that surfboard. The $150 monthly Cross-fit bill is pretty cheap if you actually go. There’s no better investment than your own health-- you’ll receive dividends in perpetuity.

Think About Fun: Experiences are more valuable than possessions. They may seem more expensive in the short run, but don’t be shortsighted. Just anticipation of the activity you planned will give you more enjoyment than purchasing a brand new pair $200 sneakers.

Serenity and Security: Does debt keep you up at night? Pay it off. Maybe you could get a higher return with the funds you’d apply to pay off a 4% mortgage. Who cares! If paying it off gives you peace of mind, go for it. There are both rational and emotional arguments to be made when making any financial decision, and both are equally valid. Life is not just about running the numbers.

Pay More For Healthy Food: You get what you pay for. Fast food dollar meals are cheap and convenient, but the long-term health costs simply aren’t worth it, whereas the extra few dollars spent on fresh fruit and vegetables will generate long term value.

Spend Money On Someone Else: I love selfish and greedy people – said no one ever. Give to charity. Help out somebody going through hard times, maybe even anonymously. Giving sparks more joy than receiving, so don’t dispute the science. Give freely and enjoy the results.

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