How you spend your money is your business. What you may like to consider, though, is that your spending habits can often affect your level of happiness. And what you initially think may make you happy – the new car, bigger house, and large screen TV – may not give you the most smiles for your dollar. With this in mind, I have come up with what I consider are 10 ways spending your wealth can lead you to a happier, and more satisfying, life.
1. Spend it on hobbies
Personally I think too many people give too much time to passive forms of entertainment. Sure, there are times when I just want to relax in front of the TV. But what makes me happy is when I am active. If you need some ideas, consider buying tools, board games, or a musical instrument.
2. Spend it on friends and family
There is a strong correlation between happiness and satisfying relationships. But lets face it, sometimes it can be expensive to maintain great relationships with our friends and family. If your family live far away, it can seriously drain your savings to visit them (as an Australian living in Canada, I am familiar with this one). Or if you are invited to a wedding, it can cost you a small fortune buying after the present, clothes, etc are taken into account. All I suggest is that when deciding if it is worth it, remember the first line of this paragraph.
3. Spend it on education and job training
Perhaps the greatest asset you can invest in is yourself. Education and job training are often essential to attaining the job you want, or in being promoted within your work. This may sound obvious, but people who are more satisfied with their jobs tend to be happier.
4. Buy sporting goods
Happiness and exercise are often associated with each other. Firstly, there is the scientific explanation that exercise releases brain chemicals called endorphins which make you feel good. Secondly, when you are physically fit you just feel great.
5. Take a holiday
I believe everyone needs at least one decent holiday a year for the sake of their sanity. However, a word of warning is necessary: holidays get real expensive, real fast (but you already knew that). Don’t let a holiday mess up your financial goals.
6. Spend it on having fun
Fun and happiness go together like peas and carrots. Plus, you don’t want to be boring, do you?
7. Pay your bills and reduce debt
Being up to your eyeballs in debt and surrounded by piles of bills will clutter your mind and stress you out. I suggest investing in your happiness by paying your bills on time and keeping your debt at a manageable level.
8. Pay more for healthy food
Unfortunately healthy food often costs more money. Personally, I can justify an additional monetary cost with the knowledge that I feel better when I eat well and that is is better for me. I believe health is one of those things we don’t tend to appreciate until we lose it. Why not learn from others’ mistakes and look after yours?
9. Create an emergency fund
Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way we hope it will. Creating an emergency fund is all about having peace of mind so that if things ever do go awry, you have access to some quick cash. The minimum I would recommend is $1000. An ideal amount, though, would let you live for approximately 3 months without working.
10. Give it away
Donating to charity often leads to warm and fuzzy feelings inside. More importantly, though, you will be doing a good deed that could potentially make a big difference in the life of someone less fortunate.
Photo by 401(K) 2012