I recently read an article which got me thinking. The article was titled “5 Ways Money Makes You Happy”, and turns the old adage, money can’t buy happiness, on its head. To be clear, the article does not extol the virtues of capitalism nor is it a superficial take on how to get more bang for your buck. Rather, it discusses, based on research findings, how money can be best utilised for maximum happiness.

The five ways are: 1) Buy experiences; 2) Make it a treat; 3) Buy time; 4) Pay now, consume later; and 5) Invest in others.

The first, third and fourth are of particular interest to me. The first is self-explanatory – instead of buying material things, buy experiences. According to the article, “[w]hile things may wear out their welcome, experiences can provide increasing benefits over time“. I have increasingly come to agree with this. I’ve always been a very things-centered spender. I spend on clothes, bags, makeup, soap – basically tangible things which I can collect and see. I have not been spending much on experiences – learning new things, hobbies, movies, concerts, musicals and the like. I’ve always considered spending on experiences kind of a waste – I’d enjoy it today but by tomorrow I’d have ‘used up’ the enjoyment and have nothing to show for it. In contrast, if I spent that money on a new dress, I could enjoy that dress for years and years. Recently, though, I’ve sort of hit a brick wall with this sort of thinking: first, I was accumulating too much stuff and second, I wasn’t feeling happy despite all my possessions. Getting to know a friend who travels extensively and eats incredibly good meals but takes public transport and saves on daily expenses has opened my eyes to the possibility of spending differently. It’s all about prioritising. Given a certain income, it’s all about deciding what it is you want to spend on and what it is you want to save on. You can’t have your cake and eat it. So I’ve decided to try to spend a little less on material things and more on travelling, meals with family and friends and such. (However, I think spending on soaps is still considered spending on experiences because they really make a difference to daily life, in my opinion.)

The third way, buying time, is also self-explanatory. One thing I always used to scrimp on was transport – I’d take a bus, walk, take a train – I would not spend on a taxi. My boyfriend spends very freely on taxis, which used to irk me to no end (although I’d get the benefit of it) because I felt it was a waste of money. Nowadays, however, given how busy we are and how little free time we have, I’m beginning to see how spending on taxis can be a worthwhile expenditure in the interests of time and convenience. On my own, I’d probably still take public transport where possible, but I won’t begrudge him this anymore.

The fourth way, paying now and consuming later, is about prolonging your enjoyment by anticipating a future pleasure. For example, booking a holiday – your enjoyment lasts not just during your holiday but in the whole period leading up to it. This is something I’ve definitely noticed, and ties in nicely with my plan of spending more on experiences.

Can’t wait to try these things out – it will be a total lifestyle change but hopefully it’ll be worth it!

The Yahoo article can be found here: http://sg.finance.yahoo.com/news/5-ways-money-buy-happiness-131502088.html

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