Being financially solvent and spending in line with our own values leads to increased happiness. We live in a culture that spends and spends, many times impulsively, and in a way that actually leaves us feeling less abundant, not more. It leaves less money in our bank accounts, more stuff in the garage, more things to organize, and less time to do things we love.
Our culture pushes us to buy, to have the shiny and the new, and we can all fall for the illusion. I find that I always feel happiest when I am spending in line with my own values, on things that I actually care about. Spending this way creates a new awareness around our priorities and our time.
For example, if we eat out all the time, we realize it never really feels that special to go out with a friend or partner. Eating at home is usually much healthier, costs less, and grows skill and creativity. Then, when we do go out, it feels different, and we extract much more joy from the experience.
I listen to podcasts or videos that feature Mr. Money Mustache or Ramit Sethi when I need inspiration and want to re-commit to investing and saving:
Mr. Money Mustache retired before the age of 30, not because he was making millions of dollars or won the lotto, but because he decided to save, invest, and spend his money in a way that added to his happiness. He believes that as a society we avoid “hard work,” even when many of the things that may seem harder, like biking to work, not only save us money, but make us feel happier and healthier, (and additionally help the environment.) He wanted to be a “super dad,” and not tied to his work, so he saved and invested for early retirement. He believes that the purpose of money is freedom, not to buy stuff.
Ramit Sethi promotes spending on those things that you truly value and skimping on those things that really aren’t important to you. His book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, is a great place to start in anyone’s saving journey. He believes anyone can feel abundant, even while saving.
Try to get clear on what your values are, what truly adds to your happiness. Make a list and then think about actions that will support your happiness. I value time with friends and family, travel, experiences, learning, health, learning, creativity, and growth. If I spend and save according to these values, I never feel wasteful, I feel abundant and full. Re-think the way you save, get excited about putting money aside for a house, a trip, or early retirement! It’s not about deprivation, its about joy. The things you spend money on and save towards should spark joy in you!