• July 2015

July Happiness: Use Your Money Wisely + Buy Some Happiness

We continue the discussion of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, and this month we invite you to embark on her goal for July: Buy Some Happiness.

Why is it important to put your money where your heart is?

Rubin explains: “Money satisfies basic material needs. It’s a means and an end. It’s a way to keep score, win security, exercise generosity, and earn recognition.”

  • According to a Pew Research Center study, 49 percent of people with an annual family income of more than $100,000 said they were “very happy,” in contrast to 24 percent with an annual family income of $30,000.
  • But another study of workers in various industries showed that their job satisfaction was less tied to their salaries than to how their salaries compared to their coworkers’ salaries.

So, can money buy happiness? “No,” Rubin concludes. “Money alone can’t buy happiness.” Can money help you buy happiness? “Yes, used wisely, it can,” she believes.

Here’s how Rubin recommends that you use your money wisely to buy some happiness:

  • Indulge in a modest splurge. Rubin explains: “Studies show that people’s basic psychological needs include the need to feel secure, to feel good at what the do, to be loved, to feel connected to others, and to have a strong sense of control. Money doesn’t automatically fill these requirements, but it sure can help. People at every level of income can choose to direct their spending in ways that take them closer to happiness — or not.” Options for a modest splurge are personal, Rubin knows. Her choices include getting better exercise, giving a party for her sister’s wedding, and buying really nice pens. What are your modest splurges?
  • Buy needful things. “When I began paying attention to people’s relationships with money, I recognized two different approaches to buying: underbuying (delaying purchases, and buying as little as possible) and overbuying (purchasing lots of slow-use items such as tools and high-tech gadgets, and throwing things away). Then she realized the differentiator was being satisfied (taking action once criteria is met) or maximized (making the optimal decision). In fact, studies show satisfiers are happier than maximizers, who often are anxious about whether they made the best choice. Which one are you?
  • Spend out. If you reuse razor blades, keep your toothbrushes until they are yellow, and hold on to your college T-shirts, you may be hoarding. Happiness means trusting in abundance! Use things up, give things away, throw things away, and stop worrying so much about keeping score.
  • Give up something. That extra cigarette, cupcake, and late night out may make you more unhappy than it makes you happy. So consider letting go of what doesn’t serve you, Rubin suggests. But keep this in mind: “I find it easier to give something up entirely than to try to indulge moderately. Also, sometimes it feels good to say, ‘I’m going to stop.’ Indeed, happiness experts point out that merely making and sticking to a decision is a source of happiness, because it gives you a feeling of control, efficacy, and responsibility.”

Stay tuned for more tips in August on Eternity: “Contemplate the Heavens”

And don’t forget:

January’s resolution focuses on Vitality: Boost Your Energy

  • Go to sleep earlier
  • Exercise better
  • Toss, restore, and organize
  • Tackle a nagging task
  • Act more energetic

February’s advice regarding Marriage: Remember Love

  • Quit nagging
  • Don’t expect praise or appreciation
  • Hug
  • Fight right
  • No dumping
  • Give proofs of love

March’s goals about Work: Aim Higher

  • Launch a blog
  • Enjoy the fun of failure
  • Ask for help
  • Work smart
  • Enjoy now

April’s insights are on Parenting: Lighten Up

  • Sing in the morning
  • Acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings
  • Be a treasure-house of happy memories
  • Take time for projects

May is time to: Be Serious About Play

  • Find more fun
  • Take time to be silly
  • Go off the path
  • Start a collection

June was the perfect opportunity to: Make Time for Friends

  • Remember birthdays
  • Be generous
  • Show up
  • If you gossip, say something nice
  • Make three new friends

This month, we focus on the best thing we can use our money for: Buy Some Happiness

  • Indulge in a modest splurge.
  • Buy needful things.
  • Spend out.
  • Give up something.

Learn more about Gretchen Rubin and her Happiness Project in the December 2014 issue of Be Inkandescent magazine.