Monday, 1 Apr 2013
If you want to be happier, spend money on experiences — say, dinner at the new Mario Batali joint or a trip to Vancouver — rather than on things. But memory-building activities can’t completely replace stuff. Objects can enable experiences, the way new outdoor furniture can inspire summer cookouts and camaraderie.
In the February/March issue of AARP The Magazine, AARP financial ambassador Jean Chatzky shares four smart ideas on how to “buy” happiness:
· Know what you treasure most: The things in life we value usually fall into one of four categories. If you’re a personal-values person, you’re happiest spending on yourself. A wardrobe boost might do the trick. If you’re a social-values person, buying gifts for friends and family improves your spirits. If you’re driven by physical values, you enjoy getting things that engage the senses (like a new bike or a luxuriously renovated bathroom). Finally, if you’re driven by financial values, you relish money in its purest sense, from saving and investing it to getting good deals. Figure out your desires and spend accordingly.
· Bigger isn’t better: Use your money for a variety of less expensive purchases, instead of one giant on. Sitting in the balcony of a great concert series eight times a year is better than one blowout evening where you sit in the front row.
· Don’t go overboard: Nothing kills happiness like bouncing a check. Overspend and you’ll be trading short-term pleasure for long-term anxiety. So take care of your needs (your monthly bills and retirement-savings obligations) before you spend on anything frivolous.
· Pay down your mortgage: If you’re still searching for joy, consider lightening what’s probably your biggest financial burden. Getting closer to kissing the bank good-bye offers tremendous psychological benefits.