We know, money can’t really buy you happiness! However, if you’ve covered all of the necessities rent or loan payments and still have some cash left over, it’s always nice to spend a little on what makes you happy. And usually the things that make us happiest aren’t material items, suggests author of The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin. With her help, we’ve put together a shopping list of suggestions to make your spending a little sweeter.
Invest in your relationships
According to many psychologists, the key to happiness is your relationship with other humans. So it figures, if you use some of your money on strengthening or maybe rebuilding relationships, you will hopefully end up a little happier! Whether it’s splashing a bit of money to attend a university reunion or a friend’s destination wedding, spending quality time with friends is sure to give your mood a boost.
The usual advice is “buy experiences, not things”, but that requires a deeper dive. “What I find is often the line between experiences and things is not that clear,” Rubin says. A bicycle can provide an experience, and a new camera can preserve one. So buy experiences, especially with other people, but also think about buying material things that allow you to have experiences or enhance them.
Also known as “throw money at the problem” or “buy back time”. “One thing that makes people happier is to feel they have control over their time and they’re not doing boring chores,” Rubin says. So that could mean paying someone else to do your gardening if you hate it or using a full-service laundry from time to time. It’s the balancing act of money versus time- really consider if it’s worth paying the extra to get someone else to do a job for you.
Buy around your interests
Spending money on an activity you love is always going to bring you joy. If you love to dance but the class costs £15 so you are hesitant to book, think about how easily you would fetter £15 over the course of a day without even noticing! Or it could be items that help improve your hobby, e.g treating yourself to a new set of kitchen knives if you love to cook.
Buy stress relief
Is there a simple fix for recurring arguments or sources of stress, especially with a significant other? If you argue constantly about who’s turn it is to clean the house, could you afford a cleaner? “The question is always, ‘Is it cheaper than marriage counseling?'” Rubin quips.
Buy financial peace of mind
“One of the greatest luxuries money can buy is the freedom not to think about money,” Rubin says. “Financial security is something that really contributes to people’s happiness.” Okay so this isn’t really about spending money, but paying off debt is a good idea, and building an emergency fund is an especially good one. It provides cash for not only real emergencies, like a car repair, but all those emergencies in our heads that never happen but keep us up at night because they might. The freedom from worry is a big boost to happiness.
Buy a do-gooder high
Be charitable. “Contributing to others is a great way to support the causes you believe in and put your values into the world,” Rubin says. You’ll get a boost from knowing you’ve helped out those less fortunate than you, and they’ll get a boost from your kindness.
If you add a few of these purchases to your life’s shopping cart, chances are you’ll be happier when you check out.