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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 September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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