For the month of July, author Gretchen Rubin focused her Happiness Project on “Money (buy some happiness).”
Specifically, her goals were:
- Indulge in a modest splurge
- Buy needful things
- Spend out
- Give something up
*Please note that this was one of twelve months devoted to an exploration of happiness, and in my mind not at all one of the most important. But it’s an interesting topic to reflect on, if only for a short period of time.*
Long story short, I think you can live on a very low income and be a happy person. I also think you can be a miserable millionaire. But I agree with Rubin that money can, to some degree, buy a bit of happiness.
Making charitable donations certainly gives me a high. Surprising a departing colleague with an item that she had been coveting definitely lifted my mood. Taking my parents to dinner for their 40th anniversary was very special. Spending on experiences (trips, concert tickets, restaurants) can not only bring some joy in the moment, but also some lasting memories. And, I will admit, some material purchases bring happiness too.
Recent example: my husband took me shopping on the weekend to pick out my birthday gifts (we both like this deal). First we stopped to purchase some accessories for the bathroom we’re renovating. Now that is a MAJOR expenditure, but it’s already bringing me happiness, and all I can see at the moment is the new paint colour. I know the novelty will fade away, but I will always be pleased to have a beautiful, updated bathroom.
Next was Chapters, where several of my students pre-purchased me some happiness with their end-of-year gift cards (I’m usually all about the library, so this was especially fun). I bought the books shown below, and have already finished Sharp Objects (great book!) Again, these books will be read and passed along within weeks, but I believe that the momentary happiness of reading by the pool is extended because those characters and stories remain with me.
I am not ashamed to admit that for my birthday, I also wanted some “stuff”. Two new tops, some accessories (all from cheap stores) and a brand new bag. While this is one of the few areas where I like to splurge (my Louis Vuitton and Coach bags, for example) I’ve been wanting something colourful for summer, and this Ricki’s purse (regularly $39.95 but with 40% off when we were there) fit the bill just fine. I’ve only been using it for two days (yes, it was supposed to be a birthday gift but I couldn’t wait) and I know I smile every time I go to pick it up.
Coincidentally, as I was writing this post on the treadmill (there’s no way to measure the health/happiness that big purchase has brought me) Frannie walked by and remarked “I love my iPod. I’m so glad I bought it.” That was the most expensive item she’s ever purchased, but already she’s had so much fun with it, and was also able to stay connected to her best friend after a surgery at Sick Kids and several weeks of recovery at home.
Money also buys happiness in the sense that it can buy me time. During the school year, we have a cleaning lady come for two hours a week to tackle the main jobs. Of course I still clean my house (if you know me, you know that once a week doesn’t really cut it) but unless there are any big spills, I don’t scrub my floors while I’m teaching. That’s happiness, not because I desperately hate floor scrubbing, but because it gives me more time for other to-do’s (or want to-do’s).
I totally believe experiences make people happy. Of course there are many things you can do that don’t cost a cent, but Jamaica (for example) is not one of them. I have a few great blog experiences happening this month – two for the family that aren’t costing us money, but usually would, and two that I’m doing on my own that don’t cost anything except gas for my vehicle. I fully expect that these events will be highlights of July…but along with celebrating my birthday with family and friends (I’m referring to the time together, not the gifts), hanging around the pool with my girls, and sleeping in just a little bit…all of which are free, and priceless.
Do you think money makes you happy? What expenditure has brought you the most happiness? (Comments make me very happy, and they’re free too!)