I have just finished reading this incredible book called “Happy Money,” which encourages healthy spending habits. Have you ever had that feeling where you go shopping and come back feeling deflated and guilty about your purchases? Well that’s because often the things we prioritise to spend our money on are not the things that make us happy. The book explores the science of spending and helps us to make better choices with our money to increase our happiness and inner wealth. Banish thoughts of fancy cars and big houses, and consider what you should really be buying. Here are 7 healthy spending habits to make you rich, no matter what your salary.
Would you be happier winning an exclusive long weekend to a top spa, or £200 in cash? Most people would choose to take the money but in reality would gain more fun and joy from the weekend experience. This is because if you were to take the money, it would just get sucked up and used for day-to-day household items, but in choosing a fancy weekend away you are picking to do something unique and exciting and the memories you would create would stay with you forever. Often it is not simply the experience that we love, but the time before the experience, in which we imagine how amazing the spa will be! The anticipation and joy we get from having something to look forward to is all part of the experience. So the first of my healthy spending habits is to spend more money on experiences: trips away, athletic events or a theatre trip with friends.
Along with our happiness in taking part in experiences, you cannot measure the increased buzz we get from sharing these moments with our friends. As humans it’s within our nature to enjoy social activity, so choosing to spend money on socialising with friends is really key to our happiness and contentment. So whether you choose to go out for dinner together or buy a train ticket to go and visit a distant relative – be wise and spend more money on social experiences rather than materialist things like clothes.
But I still like to buy clothes, I hear you say! Well that’s where treats come in. Rather than buying a fancy coffee every day, you will gain more enjoyment from having expensive coffee perhaps just once a week, thereby making coffee shop drinks a treat rather than just a typical habit. The same applies for clothes shopping and food shopping. Rather than buying lobster and champagne every weekend (joke), limit yourself to having these things just once a month. That way you can look forward to your favourite meal or takeaway and will take more pleasure from the experience.
Many of us choose lifestyles in which we spend a lot of time at work, and then a lot of time commuting to our jobs. I’m sure it won't surprise you that people who work shorter hours and commute less are happier. That’s because they get to spend more time with friends and family – doing what they love. Consider what choices you could make to free up more time. It may seem unwise to take a lower salary to get a job closer to home, or choose to have a smaller home so you can work fewer hours. But there is no point in having millions of dollars if you don’t have any time left to spend it with the people you love.
Imagine if someone gave you £20 and said you could spend it on yourself or treat a friend to a surprise. Well you would derive more happiness if you spent the money on a friend than on yourself. If you bought them a top, that would feel pretty good, but you could go one step further and treat them to a nice dinner out. This would have a double whammy happiness factor – 1) investing in others and 2) buying an experience. It is a simple fact that we take enjoyment from being able to help our neighbours out, and why, at Christmas, often choosing what presents you buy for others is more fulfilling than what you receive.
It’s miserable when you purchase something new, but in the back of your mind there is the nagging feeling that you will have to pay for it later. That large TV, car or mobile phone contract can mentally weigh you down. Get rid of your credit cards and instead live by a new motto that you won’t buy something until you can afford it. If you save for six months and then purchase a TV, you feel proud that you have saved the money, and it will feel like a treat and reward that you have worked hard for. This also applies to buying experiences – buy your spa weekend away now and wait a few months before you go. By the time you set off for the spa you will have long forgotten the cost of your trip away.
Imagine if you found £10 on the floor and are faced with two choices: you can pocket the money or you can sponsor a friend who is running the marathon to raise money for cancer research. In option one you will be richer in your wallet. But option 2 will create a positive memory that you can refer back to, it will make you glow and feel good that you are helping the fight against cancer and it will strengthen your social relationship with your friend. Simply put, it feels good to help others.
I really believe that changing your attitude toward how you spend your money and choosing healthy spending habits will make you feel happier and more positive in your outlook on life. We all go to work to make money, but what is that money really for? Choose to spend your money doing great activities with your friends and family, so that when you look back on life you will have an abundance of happy memories to turn to. I mean, that’s what’s life is all about, isn’t it – making great memories? Which of these healthy spending habits appeal to you?