July Happiness Project: Can Money Buy Happiness?

This is one in a series of monthly articles from Gretchen Rubin’s book:   The Happiness Project.

July’s  Happiness Project is Can Money Buy Happiness?  An age-old question whose answer often evades all of us. Keep on reading to find some interesting thoughts and answers from Gretchen Rubin.

I just needed to figure out how happuness and money fit together.  So was I arguing that ‘Money can buy happiness?’ The July Happiness Project: Can Money Buy Happiness?answer: no.  That was clear.  Money alone can’t buy happiness,

But, as a follow-up, I asked myself, ‘Can money help buy happiness?’ The answer:  yes, used wisely, it can. Whether rich or poor, people make choices about how they spend money, and those choices can boost happiness or undermine it.

Gretchen picked some areas where she wanted to see if money could buy happiness.  I am paraphrasing them here:

  • Indulge in a modest splurge.  Buying something for yourself or a significant person in your life can be a fun and satisfying endeavor.  Too often we justify NOT indulging ourselves.  The trick is to be modest and infrequent with your splurging.
  • Buy needful things.  Gretchen described two different spending types:  Maximizers who tend to stock up on essential items and satisficers who buy when they are almost out an essential item.  Both groups can find happiness in their form of buying, but, according to studies, satisficers tend to be happier.
  • Spend out.  Interesting thought on how often we ‘save’ something for a special occasion, but that occasion never comes. Or when we hang on to something that no longer works, expecting to get it fixed, but never do! This pattern can also apply to the thinking process that makes you need a return on a good deed done.
  • Give something up. It is healthy to give up some spending habits.  Giving up cigarettes, expensive lattes, staying up late … are all good ways to give up something that will put more money in your pocket.

I found myself all over the map as I read this month’s chapter.

Indulging in a modest splurge did remind me of the ice cream maker we recently bought for my husband’s birthday/Father’s Day gift.  We both love ice cream, but do not indulge in it very much due to all the sugar and artificial ingredients in the typical grocery store variety.  So our (actually my husband) solution was to make our own!  The little ice cream maker was not cheap but did make the frozen treat in around 20 minutes.  I wish you could see the look in his eyes when he makes a batch of ice cream with just enough for me and him!

I am terrible about spending out!  For some reason, I feel the need to save things for special occasions or ??  We’ve been married 24 years now, but the beautiful set of towels that my brother (who has since passed away) and sister-in-law bought as a wedding present are still sitting unused in a cabinet outside the bathroom.  Why do I do that?  Of course, in this case, it is one of the few things I have kept in memory of my brother — oh, who am I kidding!!

Gretchen makes one closing statement on money that I felt was profound:  “Money.  It’s a good servant but a bad master.”

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