Can money buy happiness, or are you just wasting money?
It’s a loaded question that we could debate endlessly. But, I think there’s a much more important question you should ask yourself.
Does the way you spend your money bring you happiness?
We all work so hard for our money, so it makes sense that we should spend it as consciously as possible in ways that nurture our unique needs, rather than wasting it on things that aren’t important to us.
But, is that what we really do?
Sometimes we are all guilty of wasting money.
I use what I call the Crap to Happiness Scale to help me identify the best ways to utilise my income to ensure I’m not wasting it. Here’s how you can do the same.
What Is The Crap To Happiness Scale?
There's a reason budgets are so hated. They feel restrictive and like you have to play by the financial rules all the time.
But sometimes, we need to splurge on things that we technically “shouldn’t” spend our money on. We do it and then we feel rubbish about wasting money and blowing the budget.
Rather than having a restrictive (and negative) mindset around your spending, abide by the Crap to Happiness Scale to control your finances.
Identify the things that bring happiness to your life and focus your discretionary spending on them. Ditch the spending on things that make you feel crap, or are simply wasting money on plain old crap!
Here’s how you can do it:
Review Your Non-Essential Spending
Obviously, we can’t dedicate 100 per cent of our budgets to only things that make us happy – if only! We have to take care of the essentials first. Even though, confusion surrounds what essentials actually are.
Food, electricity, water, your residence, internet, vehicle costs – these are non-negotiable for most people. But are there things you are labelling as essential that aren’t?
Is that gym membership really contributing to your happiness? If so – great. But if you just have it because you feel like you should go (but end up feeling guilty all the time because you don’t), then ditch it and save your money. There are plenty of ways to move your body outside of a gym.
How about the various TV streaming services, magazine subscriptions, or other ongoing costs? Remember – there’s no standard “right” or “wrong” answer. You aren’t necessarily wasting money if you subscribe to them all. If you get great enjoyment from winding down with Netflix after work, then it’s probably a valuable investment.
But be brutally honest when reviewing your budget about what can truly buy happiness for you and what just makes you feel like crap.
Have Back-Up Savings
A UK study revealed even a little bit of money squirrelled away in savings can make us happier. Regardless of income, if you open your internet banking and see $500 tucked away for an emergency, you will feel calmer and more optimistic than if the account is empty.
It might take you a year to save for your emergency fund or a month – either way, try to have some savings there and see how much it can boost your sense of satisfaction!
Invest In Time
It becomes all too apparent as we grow older that time is precious. We can never regain hours spent at work, at the grocery store, or stuck in traffic. Purchasing things that gift you your time back can increase your happiness enormously.
Supermarket home delivery, food boxes, or a weekly house cleaner saves hours every week. It also removes the stress of shopping, planning meals, and housework. Definitely, a worthy investment if you hate doing these things!
A study published in 2017 showed that people who used their money to buy time-saving initiatives experienced more positive moods and less stress than those who used the same amount of money to buy a material object.
Buy Happiness With Experiences
Plenty of research proves that most people derive more happiness from buying experiences than buying things. New things (a phone, TV, car) may give us a boost, but this is often temporary. Before long, we are looking for a newer, better version.
However using the money for a road trip, a romantic dinner, to jump out of a plane, or to see a concert definitely enriches your memories. There is no such thing as wasting money when making memories!
Do What Makes YOU Happy
The internet abounds with ways to cut your budget and stop you wasting money. Even though little thought goes into the crap to happiness scale. Sure, you can save yourself a few dollars every day by skipping your store-bought coffee on the way to work, but what if that coffee is one of the high points of your day and genuinely brings you joy?
Yes, money can buy happiness, but it works better when we are able to maximise our enjoyment of it mindfully. So, rather than thinking about all the things you are “wasting money” on, have a think about where your money goes and how much happiness comes from your spending habits.
It's surprising how making significant cuts increases happiness without guilt!