There are a lot of blogs and well-intentioned advice about saving, but very little information about how to spend your money.
How many times have you read or heard that you should avoid buying cafe lattes and invest the money instead?
But what if going to a cafe is one of the highlights of your day?
Why not talk about how to get the most enjoyment and happiness out of your income?
Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Why save and live frugally for decades in order to one day be able to afford the things you desire?
Why postpone the good life?
Here are five ways to get more happiness out of the money that you have right now.
1. Buy Experiences Instead of Things
Experiences can create far more happiness than material things.
Let me explain by comparing two different kinds of purchases in my own life.
I went to an amusement park called Tivoli Gardens with my boys. I took them individually, so I could give each of them a lot of attention and avoid the interest conflicts of a four-year-old and a seven-year-old. I actually did it twice with each kid. That’s four days in a fun park.
Compare that to the many presents they get around Christmas. They got what they wanted, for example:
- An electric keyboard – only used three times
- A guitar – used even less
- Plastic action figures – only played with for half an hour
The Christmas presents have become a nuisance that takes up space and collects dust in our apartment. It’s a reminder of money wasted.
However, the trips to the fun park remain in our memory, like an Island lit up in the night (I wrote this during a lockdown).
We often talk about it while tucking in at night.
We’ll go through all the rides, the lollipops, the cotton candy, the apples dipped in caramel.
We talk about being afraid and being brave.
We talk about being scared of the bumper cars, but being brave and taking a ride when no one else was on the track (it was a rainy weekday during the pandemic). Gradually driving faster and bumping into the walls and staying in the car when other people got into other cars and bumping into them too and feeling very brave.
We talk about how it tickles when you ride a roller coaster. We talk about how beautiful the city looks from the ferris wheel when the lights are turned on.
We relive those days again and again.
When you buy experiences like a day trip, a vacation or even just an evening in a restaurant, you strengthen bonds and gain an experience that can change who you are.
Plastic figurines can’t do that.
2. Purchase Knowledge
I never try to save money on books, newspapers, or education.
Knowledge creates a rich inner life.
As long as something exciting and enriching is taking place within you, you can manage getting through lockdowns and pandemics.
The pandemic might pass, but don’t fool yourself. There will be other times in life when you’ll be required to rely on your own company for various reasons.
Maybe you get stuck in an airport. Maybe you break a leg or get hospitalized.
3. Buy Presents for Others
The other day, I received a package.
It contained candy, chocolate, stickers, a Donald Duck magazine, and a PJ Masks sticker book.
I was very touched (tears were involved) and the boys were truly ecstatic.
When the magazine had been read, the stickers stuck and the candy eaten, we began planning what to send in return.
My kids handpicked the candy and the gifts (colored markers, a coloring book, and the alphabet in stickers).
They made drawings, figures of beads and modeling clay. They helped me write a letter and put dinosaur stickers on it.
We were excited as we waited for the package to arrive, and we had to restrain ourselves from calling them every five minutes.
Days later, I asked my seven-year-old what he liked better. To receive a package or to send a package?
“To send one,” he said.
That’s how it is.
It creates tremendous joy knowing that you’re surprising someone and making their day better – especially if you put some effort into it.
When you give, don’t expect anything in return.
If you expect something in return, it’s not a gift, but a trade, and that’s different.
Give with pure intentions of spreading joy.
4. Spoil Yourself
If you love the trip to the coffee shop to get your cafe latte, don’t let some grumpy financial planner talk you into making your coffee at home.
Buy it and enjoy it. Tell them to mind their own business.
I’m alone with my boys, and over the course of a weekend, I’m pretty busy cooking and tidying up.
So, I have an agreement with myself that Monday morning, when the kids are dropped off, it’s my turn. I go to a local cafe and I order breakfast and coffee.
Then it’s my turn to have someone serve me something and clean the table after me, and honestly… I love it.
I can look forward to that the whole weekend. It’s my reward.
I’ll sit all alone and read the newspaper or a book, while others wait on me – and no, making the coffee at home doesn’t do it. There’d be some laundry waiting, and it would feel different.
Whatever you love, buy it and enjoy it.
A little trick might be to plan your pampering for after you complete a task that was a little difficult.
Then it’s waiting for you at the end of your task like a carrot in front of a donkey.
5. Pay Upfront
Always pay up front (or as quickly as possible).
There is something about paying before you get the service or product – or just after you receive it – and avoiding credit card payments or installment payments.
You pay while the excitement is there, and you look forward knowing that you earned it.
If you pay afterward, you don’t really enjoy it that much, because first of all, it’s not really yours yet, and by the time you’ve paid it, the excitement is gone.
For example, if you pay for a phone in installments, you risk paying off the phone after the screen breaks or the phone gets stolen, and there’ll be some bitterness attached to the payments that seems to go on forever.
Besides, it’ll cost you more with installments. Do the math.
By the way, if you do have some recurring payments, like rent or school tuition, remember to set up an automatic payment so you don’t have to spend time on it and don’t risk missing a payment and getting reminders and fees.
Balance Between Consumption And Savings
Of course, you can’t just consume without being mindful about it.
There should be a certain balance between your income and expenses.
Your income should always exceed your expenses, and you should invest the difference. Try to save at least 10 percent of your income. If you can save more, that’s great, but without starving yourself financially.
If you can purchase what you enjoy, where should you cut down?
I’d look at cutting where it hurts the least.
Like going through the boring stuff like your insurances and make sure you aren’t double insured.
You can read one of my blog posts about saving money here, but before you do that, go get that latte.
Don’t forget to that e-book about making your money grow. You can get it here.