Money isn’t bad or evil. It’s what you do with it that counts. In fact, according to recent research involving two studies, money can actually contribute to happiness.
That’s money that’s readily available, not funds locked away in pension or retirement accounts or tied up in real estate.
Not that you shouldn’t allocate some of what you earn for either of those. You definitely need to plan ahead and likely want to invest in a home for the comfort and well-being of your family.
The Wall Street Journal interviewed Joe Gladstone, a research associate at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and a co-author of both studies. The takeaway from the first study is that a bank balance may be more important to happiness than overall wealth. Meanwhile, the second study found that the things that you buy can result in you being happier, if they are a fit for your personality.
While this all sounds great, for those of us who’ve worked hard for our money and want to spend a little of it now, not 20 years in the future, here are 10 ways to feel good about the money you make:
- What you earn is a reward for your hard work. Think of the investment you’ve made in your career, in learning new skills, getting a degree or two, pushing past failures and disappointments. The resulting financial largesse – call it your spending cushion or dream account – is very much a product of your continued effort. You deserve it. You should feel good about making it and spending it the way you like.
- Money gives you freedom. When you have money, there are many things you can do with it. This freedom of choice also means you get to do something with it that makes you happy.
- It can’t buy love, but it can help you love what you do with it. If you are an ardent skier, having some extra cash on hand can mean you take that ski trip to the Rockies this winter instead of putting it off for another year. If you love music and play it well, the money you put toward that grand piano or guitar will be music to your ears and fill your heart with happiness.
- Since you can’t take it with you, it’s smart to spend some now. Your life insurance and named beneficiaries on pensions and other investments will ensure you take care of loved ones, but there’s no sense accumulating wealth and never doing anything with it while you’re alive. It’s no good to you after you die, so take some time and take some cash now to enjoy life.
- Money helps reduce stress. If you’ve struggled most of your life to have two dimes to rub together, you know the value of having some money in the bank. Knowing you have this safety net helps reduce the levels of stress that a bank balance of zero never can. You have the added benefit of knowing that some unexpected event won’t wipe you out, and you’re not living paycheck to paycheck. As stress goes down, you feel the freedom to pay more attention to what matters in life. And that might mean using some of the money you make.
- Having some makes you less needy and vulnerable. When you’re in deficit mode, having little or no money, there’s a tendency to be dependent on others, even to the point of being needy. You’re also vulnerable when you are penniless or strapped for cash. On the other side of the coin, having some extra cash – the result of your hard work – boosts your self-confidence and makes you feel more in control of your life. That’s a great reason to feel good about the money you earn.
- A good bank balance can help you sleep better. Tossing and turning over an inability to stay on top of financial obligations is not pleasant. Your slowly growing bank account can benefit your sleep quality and duration since that’s one less problem you have to worry about.
- Your intimate relationships may improve. Money problems and sex are two of the biggest conflict producers in intimate relationships. When money is not an issue because you have enough, that barrier can crumble. Besides, when you have some funds left over after paying the bills, think of the things the two of you can do to spend some quality time by spending some of that cash.
- The focus isn’t on acquiring, but enjoying. The money you make has yet another decidedly enticing aspect: It allows you to focus not on acquiring and holding onto it, but enjoying the fruits of your labor.
- You choose when and how to spend it. It’s your money. You worked for it. Outside of tending to your necessary obligations, what, when and how you spend your money is entirely up to you. At least it should be. There has to be some allocation, some mad money, some do-whatever-you-want-with money that’s yours.
After reading these ways to feel good about the money you make, aren’t you feeling better already?
I’m interested in hearing how you feel about the money you make. Do you give yourself permission to do something purely enjoyable with some of that cash?
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