Seems a questions as old as time, doesn’t it? The pursuit of happiness may be the most tiresome race of our generation and, well, the need for money hasn’t made it easier. Some would argue happiness comes without any outside influences, you are either a happy person or you are not. Others would say happiness is a choice you make everyday, as is the opposite. And there are those who believe that money do help maintain happiness and the lack of it can lead to relationship issues and more.
I say leave it to science to let us in on the truth and there have been studies that researched how having money influence our well being and happiness. First of all, there really is no correlation between the amount of money you have and how happy you are with your life. It’s not about how much money you make but about how you spend it.
A research from the University of Cambridge found 5 personality traits by examining people’s bank transaction data: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. Those who would spend money on things that matched their personality were much happier, their income being totally irrelevant. Buying things that lead to your enjoyment, based on things you like, does make you happy, whether it is doing your hair, giving to charity or going on a trip.
So a purchase that results in happiness may mean different things to different people. In addition to that, Leaf Van Boven found that there are two types of spending: experientialism, that focuses on life experiences (like a vacation, a hobby or a concert) and materialism, that refers to things which may produce little or less lasting pleasure.
In his study, he found that 57% of respondents were happier with their experiential purchase compared to 34% who would prefer a material purchase (noting that there are types of purchases that cannot easily be distinguished such as material things that can lead to life experiences, like a bicycle or cooking equipment). So spending money on making memories actually makes you happy for a long time.
Another principle is that frequency is better than abundance. If you enjoy travelling then going on city breaks every couple of months will make you happier then a 2 week trip once a year. The more you do the things you like, no matter the amount, the more content you will be with your life. Imagine eating a whole cake once a month, rather than eating a piece of cake every few days (you’ll probably get sick but you get my point beyond that). Any small amount of pleasure adds up to a whole.
So there you have it. These are just a few examples of how money buys happiness and the essential part it plays in our lives beyond purchasing our basic necessities like nourishment, health shelter and so on. If you want to make the most of your finances think twice before you spend and spend wisely. Buy things that make you happy in the long run, not those that have short term value.
This is just another way to look at yourself and know yourself better, learn about what makes you tick and what really brings joy to your life.