The Cost of Happiness

Everyone wants to be happy; even the crankiest person in the world yearns to be happy sometime, but how happiness is attained can, in some cases, cost money. That’s because when some people get sad or depressed or have a really bad day, they go shopping.

Shopping therapy produces immediate relief and happiness, but can have a long-term damaging effect on one’s mental state of being and credit health. We all know that a day at the mall using a credit card to purchase new clothes, sporting equipment, makeup or new electronics invigorates people – it makes them temporarily happy. They have the power to spend and it galvanizes them to face the world, but do they have the power to pay it back? That’s when credit card debt begins to increase and the cost of happiness overwhelms the person.

Shopping therapy is a dangerous cycle and leads people to debt problems they cannot recover from, which in turn ruins their credit and could negatively impact their financial future. Credit card debt is one form of debt that can be controlled if a person finds other things to make them happy. Just think of all the money that is being paid out each month — mortgage or rent, groceries, car payment, insurance, utility bills, health costs and others. Why add credit card debt to that formidable list?

Instead of spending money, the Miss Money Bee staff has helped me devise a helpful list of activities to create a happy mind-set without causing potential money problems.

  1. Spend time with family members, friends or pets.
  2. Go for walks with a spouse, child or a friend.  This activity is both good for the physic and mind.
  3. Take up a new hobby that doesn’t cost a lot of money like gardening, swimming, bicycling or learning a new language.
  4. Clean your house!
  5. Go for a picnic instead of charging up credit card debt for lunch at a restaurant.
  6. Ballroom dance with your loved one – this hobby is fun and inexpensive!
  7. Join a local church choir and work on your singing/entertainment skills.
  8. Go camping!  Get back in touch with the great outdoors and improve your mentality without costing yourself a dime.
  9. Go fishing!  You can enjoy quiet time with yourself on a fishing trip or make it a group activity and invite friends and family to your nearest lake or ocean.
  10. Write!  A poem, book, or just make daily journal entries to release your thoughts and feelings while spending NO MONEY.
  11. Learn a new sport – soccer, tennis, swimming, softball, etc.

People can find happiness within themselves, in the people around them and in their surroundings, and that doesn’t cost a thing. Shopping for new items that really aren’t needed are just coveted because they represent a social status, but in reality just invites more money management problems in the long-term. And when the bills come in the mail that only serves as a frustrating reminder that those new objects can’t be paid for in a timely manner and that brings frustration and anger – not happiness.

Kicking a bad habit like shopping therapy is never an easy habit to kick but some people have done it by writing down a realistic budget and keeping track of their spending. Others decide to only use cash, reserving their credit card for emergency use only, and become pleasantly surprised when they realize that they don’t need all the extra stuff. As long as individuals remember that material items do not represent who they are as a person, and rather their character, morals and manners represent them, it will be much easier to let go of the frequent shopping therapy trips.  Finding peace and happiness is about finding a positive attitude and perspective and it has nothing to do with shopping or using a credit card.  Happiness should never come with late fees or interest charges attached to a statement each month. It comes with peace of mind and the confidence to say “no” when the urge to splurge hits them.