Money isn’t evil. It’s what you do with it that counts. In fact, according to recent research involving two studies, money can contribute to happiness.
That’s readily available money, not a pension, retirement accounts, or real estate funds.
Not that you shouldn’t allocate some of what you earn for either of those. You need to plan and 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.
10 smart ways to value your hard-earned money
- What you earn is a reward for your hard work. Think of the investment you’ve made in your career, learning new skills, getting a degree or two, and pushing past failures and disappointments. The resulting financial largesse – your spending cushion or dream account – is a product of your continued effort. You deserve it. You should feel good about making it and spending it how 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 and play music 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 when you die, spending some of it now is smart. Your life insurance and named beneficiaries on pensions and other investments will ensure you care for loved ones. Still, there’s no sense in 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 to have two dimes to rub together most of your life, you know the value of having some money in the bank. Knowing you have this safety net helps reduce the stress levels that a zero-bank balance 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 can pay more attention to what matters. 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, you tend 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 hand, having some extra money – 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 unpleasant. Your slowly growing bank account can benefit your sleep quality and duration since that’s one less problem you must worry about.
- Your intimate relationships may improve. Money problems and sex are two of the most significant conflict producers in personal relationships. That barrier can crumble when money is not an issue because you have enough. Besides, when you have some funds left over after paying the bills, think of what you can do to spend quality time by spending some of that cash.
- The focus isn’t on acquiring but on enjoying. The money you make has yet another enticing aspect: It allows you to focus not on acquiring and holding onto it but on 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 obligations, what, when, and how you spend your money is entirely up to you. At least it should be. There must be some allocation, some mad money, some do-whatever-you-want-with money that’s yours.
After reading these 10 smart ways to value your hard-earned money, aren’t you feeling better already?
I’m interested in hearing how you feel about the money you make. Do you permit yourself to do something purely enjoyable with some of that cash? Do you have a bucket list you’ve earmarked to check off when you want to enjoy your hard-earned money?
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