Does Money Equal Happiness?

shutterstock_74430817Ed’s note: We’ve all heard the old adage: money can’t buy happiness. But it can play a role. To take a look at how it may or may not contribute as DINKS Finance’s Kristina joins us to weigh in.

When is the last time that you were honestly and truly happy? Maybe it was today when you woke up with the love of your life by your side; maybe it was last Friday, when you got your pay check; or maybe it was yesterday, when you went shopping and got a great deal on the sweater you have been eyeing.

Did we hit your soft spot? Does money make you happy?

It’s absolutely OK if the answer is yes.

Money can be a part of happiness

As much as we may not want to admit it, money can have an affect on happiness. It doesn’t necessarily “buy” happiness, but it plays a big part in how happy we feel about our lives and that’s OK: money has a direct impact on our stress levels, our lifestyle, and the general happiness of our everyday lives.  (This doesn’t make us shallow– it just makes us human.)  But why does money play such a huge role in our lives?

It’s because it provides a resource for all of the necessities that we need in life such shelter, clothing and food –I think we can all admit that it’s nice to be warm, clean and have a full belly. Money also provides us with the little luxuries that we want to enjoy in life such as vacations, our preferred mode of transportation and other personal items.  I enjoy spending Sunday afternoons outside walking up and down streets window shopping and people watching.  Having a few extra dollars in my pocket makes the entire experience better because if I find a really great deal, I have the money to buy the item and buying new things always makes my day a little bit better – especially when they are on sale!

Or money can make you humble

Money supports the lifestyle we want to live, but how can we openly love money without feeling superficial? The answer is actually very easy: be grateful for what you have and if you want more than you can afford, you have to work hard to get it. We need to be happy with what they can afford because some people live on a lot less. You may have to take the bus to work when you wish that you could afford a car, but you should see the upside of the situation – at least you have a job to go to because some people don’t.

The amount of money that we have is not important; what’s important is that we have enough money to buy the things we want, do the things we love and save for our futures so that there comes a day when we don’t have to wake up and go to work.

How to not become totally obsessed with money

  • Find a job that you love.  If you wake up every day and go to a job that you love, money will become a secondary consideration — you aren’t doing it only for the pay check.  Not worrying about money is a huge stress-reliever when it comes to making it through the work day.
  • Learn to use money for fun the right way. If we let money control us, it’s the only thing that we will think about — not a good way to live. Make a list of all the awesome things you want to do in life and do them – just on a budget.  We shouldn’t deprive ourselves of the fun things in life because otherwise we will end up hating money.  I haven’t always been financially savvy. There were times when I didn’t even have $5 in my bank account to go and get some ice cream with friends. Now I live on a budget to make sure that I always have more money coming in than I do going out. I also leave a minimum balance in my checking account just in case I miscalculate one month and overspend.
  • Make sure you have a backup plan.  AKA an emergency savings fund.  If we have an emergency and we don’t have the money to pay for it, we may be forced to use credit. There can be nothing more stressful than thousands of dollars earning interest on our credit card that we can’t afford to pay off – Hello Stress! So save a little bit of your pay check each and every month to make sure that you have savings in case of an emergency.  A sure fire way to make sure that you always save is to set up automatic payments from your checking account to your savings account on pay day.  I like to do this because the money is transferred to my savings account before I even wake up; I never see it and therefore I don’t miss it.  I also avoid looking at the balance in my saving account – I pretend it doesn’t exist – because if I see it growing I may be tempted to spend some of the money.
  • Know where you’re spending.  It’s always a good idea to watch your spending by checking your bank account on a daily basis or by using a budget software to see where you are spending your money each month.  When you know where you are spending money, you can see where you need to make cuts in your monthly expenses.  Sometimes we pay bills but we don’t actually realize just how much money we are spending each month. I like to use my debit or credit card for all purchases because then I can see exactly where my money is being spent – if I take out cash from the ATM in the morning, I can easily spend $20 by lunch on snacks and coffee etc. and then wonder where all my money went.

That was my story – how do YOU use money to be happy?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,