No matter what their income is, many Americans are guilty of spending money on the newest smartphone or a brand-new vehicle they don’t necessarily need. Forbes notes that Americans are constantly inundated with the message of "BUY, BUY, BUY your way to happiness!" The reality is, no one can buy enough things to make themselves truly happy. If you want to really achieve happiness, it’s time to start investing in experiences over stuff.
Focus on the Little Things
Big gifts and big purchases don’t always result in an equal return on happiness. Even a small experience can deliver great happiness and joy. Compare the purchase of a high-end automobile to an evening spent with your closest friends. That fancy luxury car will give you a buyer's high in the moment, but the (much lower) amount you spent on dinner with friends creates laughter and moments you will remember for weeks or months.
The Ultimate Fuzzy Feeling: Giving
There isn’t much you can buy for yourself that brings greater joy than when you do something good for others. The next time you are wandering around a mall or window shopping on Main Street, look for things that a friend might enjoy rather than what you could buy for a short-term bump in your own feelings. Surprising a friend or loved one with a gift could completely turn their day around because it is a sign that you are thinking of them. You will experience joy in return just by seeing their reaction.
Rent, don't Own
When it comes to vacations, consider renting over owning. Rather than owning one vacation home you could rent and enjoy several different locations. Many people dream of owning a beach home in Hawaii or one of the Caribbean islands. These dreams focus on the joy of being on the beach while the sun warms your body. But don’t forget the cost of upkeep and utilities. Instead of buying a beach home or new RV to travel the country, consider renting them instead. You can rent vacation homes, RVs, boats, and even luxury cars. You will pay upfront each time, but you are not responsible for it beyond the time you use it.
Invest in Your Education
Another way to maximize the happiness return on your money is to pick up a new skill or hobby. Learning a new skill is fun and rewarding, and can broaden your horizons and social circles. This gives you a new activity to pursue in your free time and enjoy fulfillment over the years. You may even be able to convince your spouse or friends to join in the fun, increasing your happiness return.
You may find that you forget about your material possessions when you are not using them every day. And even if you don’t forget, the novelty can wear off after a period of time. But The Atlantic points out that "even a bad experience becomes a good story." To achieve happiness, start investing money in experiences over stuff, and see if that doesn’t increase your joy.
Level Four Wealth Management can help you plan for vacation, retirement and many other investment needs. Contact us today for assistance.