We’ve all heard that “money can’t buy happiness,” and by now many of us are aware of a recent study that showed that, when you earn more than $75,000 a year your levels of happiness don’t increase very much.
While you probably won’t find lasting happiness based entirely on how much money you manage to amass, the way you spend your money can contribute a great deal to the amount of happiness and enjoyment you get out of life.
Here are 4 ways you can use your money to get a little more out of life:
1. Spend it on what YOU like best.
So many of us spend money to get things meant to impress others. The neighbors have a 55″ TV, so you figure you ought to have one as well — even though you don’t watch a lot of TV. A lot of dissatisfaction in life comes from spending on things that you don’t really feel are important. Instead, examine your values and financial priorities, and then spend money on what YOU like. Forget about what others will think of that trashy novel. If it’s your guilty pleasure, and you really enjoy it for a relaxing escape from every day life, it’s not a waste of money.
2. Give it away.
Interestingly, a study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that people who spend money on others are happier than those who only spend money on themselves. Giving to charity, helping friends and family, and other spending that helps you feel as though you are making a positive contribution actually triggers activity in areas of your brain associated with receiving rewards. So, you can use your money for good — and enjoy a little more happiness in your life.
3. Focus on experiences.
While this isn’t always true, many people find that they are happier in their spending if they can use their money to enjoy experiences. This really resonates with me, since I am an “experience” person. While buying things can give you a thrill because it’s something new, pretty soon that object becomes a regular part of life, fading into the background. An experience, though, is always extraordinary. You can look back on your three-day getaway to the mountains and feel a little jolt of happiness — even years later. This is because you went outside your day-to-day experience. A trip to a Yankees game rarely becomes commonplace for most of us. Being able to spend your money to create these great memories gives you something to look back on, and creates a little bit of happiness each time.