Money Won’t Bring Happiness Unless You’re Spending it Correctly

By Kathryn Katz

So you think a new car, a few pairs of new shoes or a top of the line flat screen will make you happy? Chances are they will, but not for very long. Most people receive that initial high when they purchase something expensive but it wears off and they soon find themselves shopping for that high again. This temporary happiness comes from material objects (jewelry, wardrobes, furniture, cars) and its roots are in conspicuous consumption or keeping up with the Joneses. We want to look the part.

But recent studies and surveys show that the inception of real happiness is now launched from an experience. More and more people, since the recession, have realized that spending money on luxury items or random merchandise really isn’t bringing them happiness. It’s the small things in life – walks in the park with family, a weekend canoe trip, a stay at home vacation barbecuing in the back yard rather than spending frivolously at restaurants.

So if you feel like you’re ready to stop buying goods that only bring temporary pleasure and join in on the new movement of practical spending then follow these tips – and you’ll not only be more happy, you’ll have a few extra dollars to bank.

The first tip is to separate wants and needs. Can you get by without that electronic device, without the $3 cup of coffee every morning – it adds up. You may want them, but in a few weeks your car may need service and that money would sure come in handy. The country’s economic woes have burdened nearly the entire population and they are forcing everyone to take an alternative look at how they are spending. Years ago when you saw a pair of shoes or a new electronic trinket you bought it, even if you didn’t have the money. Now it’s not so easy and it’s certainly not worth the credit card debt that results from such purchases. Learn to separate.

If you are going shopping for necessities, bring a list and stick to it. Also, leave your credit cards at home; shop with cash if possible. Without the credit cards you won’t be tempted to buy the unnecessary item that happens to catch your eye. Think long term. Stop purchasing the superfluous things – coffee every morning, lunch in the afternoon, the “in fashion” clothes, the latest and greatest of anything and everything. Save that money for a family vacation or perhaps a new hand bag or fishing pole. It’s okay to buy some things you want but have the cash, save the money because when you finally make the purchase you’ll realize it was worth the wait. You earned it; you just didn’t buy it off a whim and further stress your credit card.

The days of instant gratification spending are over for the majority of Americans. Taking its place is smart spending, being frugal, and enjoying the things we purchase that give us unforgettable experiences. Going out to restaurants a few times a week may have been fun, but saving that money for a long weekend with the family gives you a lifetime of memories.

About the Author

The following post is from Kathryn Katz, a Certified Personal Finance Counselor who works for Consolidated Credit Counseling Services in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Their non-profit agency helps families through financial crisis using credit counseling, debt consolidation and financial education.