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Four Real Ways Money Can Buy Happiness

Four Real Ways Money Can Buy Happiness

We’ve all heard that money can’t buy happiness. The material things of the world can bring temporary feelings of excitement and joy, but if you don’t possess an internal attitude geared towards being happy, those feelings won’t last. Perhaps happiness itself is a personal decision that can generally be upheld regardless of external influence. But in my experience, money can definitely affect how you feel in the moment and over the long term. And while money is often seen as an enemy to happiness, here are four real ways money can make you happier.

1. You Can Give Money To Others

One of the best things you can do with money is give it away. Yes, it’s counterintuitive, but giving away money might actually bring more happiness than earning the money in the first place. You’ll have to decide for yourself what level of giving you want to participate in, but it could be as simple as paying for a friend’s lunch. Even little acts of service and kindness will go a long way towards building your personal happiness.

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Another benefit of giving money is the creation of a healthier attitude towards money in general. You can cultivate a habit of giving and an understanding that more money will come. Indeed, many books and thinkers speaking about the idea of the law of attraction[1] claim that giving away money will help you make more money since you are constantly projecting a feeling of abundance and wealth. An attitude of abundance and giving can prevent selfishness and the negative feelings that come with it.

2. You Can Provide For Your Basic Needs

There is a difference between buying a steak and buying a can of beans, just like there is a difference between buying a Ferrari and buying a beat-up Honda Civic. While luxury purchases might bring incremental happiness, your quality of life and happiness levels could fluctuate quite a bit in between the stages of welfare and buying your own food.

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There is something very empowering about providing for your own basic needs. Think of the transition between high school and college or adult life. For most people, they have the opportunity to spread their wings and leave the nest. Where parents once provided food and shelter, now the individual must fend for themselves. And while it can be frightening and stressful at times, there is a real feeling of accomplishment when you find your first apartment or buy your first car. These need not be extravagant, but taking care of your own basic needs cultivates confidence and self-worth. No one likes to feel like they can’t take care of themselves, and money can help you to avoid that feeling.

3. You Can Get Yourself Out of Debt

One of the most personally damaging things that can happen in a person’s life is getting stuck in debt. Credit cards, new cars, vacations, medical bills, unexpected life events, unemployment, shopping addictions, and more can all lead to crippling debt. And once you’re in debt, the interest starts to accumulate, leaving you in a terrible cycle that can be extremely difficult to stop.

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While the misuse of money can get you into debt, the opposite is also true. Using money wisely can free you from debt and help you to create a brighter financial future. Make it your year to get debt-free by using these tips for paying off debt in 2017. While it may be a long road to get out of debt, you can help maintain motivation by thinking what your life will be like when you don’t owe anyone anything and you have complete control over your own finances.

4. You Can Do Something Personally Meaningful

Finally, consider ways you can use money to do something very personally meaningful in your life. Think of a big goal that brings you joy and a feeling of fulfillment. For instance, how would you feel to be able to help pay for your kids to get through college? How would you feel to be able to start your own non-profit organization?[2] What would it be like to create your own business or to make your next anniversary extra special?

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Money has the power to help you achieve goals that can bring more meaning to your life. Try and switch your mindset from a materialistic attitude to an attitude of finding meaning through money. This will help the next time you are tempted with an impulse buy at the mall. When you keep your larger life goals in mind, it will become easier to avoid quick purchases that might actually diminish your happiness in the long run.

The next time you hear someone say that money can’t buy happiness, think of some of these ideas. When you have a healthy view of money focused on giving to others, providing for your own needs, staying free from debt, and achieving personally meaningful goals, you might find that money can in fact improve your happiness and increase your quality of life.

Reference

[1] The Law of Attraction: Discover How to Improve Your Life
[2] Grant Space: Starting a nonprofit

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Spencer Mecham

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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