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This is Why Money “Can” Buy Happiness…Maybe

This is Why Money “Can” Buy Happiness…Maybe

“Love of money is the root of all evil.”

“The best things in life are free.”

“Money can’t buy happiness.”

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The list of goes on and on. But what if money actually could buy happiness? What if people started viewing money in a different light and began appreciating its purpose rather than fearing its lack? What if giving what you hope to get actually worked?  And what if maybe, just maybe, you bust out of your comfort zone, get a little radical and test-drive a few of these myth-busting slants for yourself? Do it. I triple dog dare you!

Notion #1: Spending money on someone else has the power to “turn that frown upside down.”

Try it if you don’t believe me. Next time you’re in line at your local coffee shop, for example, play philanthropist and pay for the person behind you. Their shock alone will be enough to bring a smile to your face. Not only that, your actions effectively set into motion the law of “what goes around comes around,” putting you next in line to be the receiver of a surprise gift. Even if it doesn’t come back to you in the form of a much-needed latte, you can always pull up that feeling of happiness you got from using your frown-reversal technique in the coffee shop.

Notion #2: Never underestimate the power of good hair.

Or nice clothes. Or a massage. Let’s face it, regardless of your gender, you know you want to put your best foot forward. Looking and feeling “fly” makes you confident, sexy and happy. Unless you’re getting the most amazing styles ever at the Great Clips, find a salon–or tailor or spa–that may cost a little more, but will make you look and feel your best. You are worth it, after all.

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Notion #3: Time is money, and spending money to have more time is a good use of both your time and money.

Look at it this way: you’ve been spending all of your after-work “free” time trying to paint the master bathroom, for example. You absolutely hate painting, and it’s pulling you away from your family, friends and fun.So hire a professional. Seriously. Think about the time, energy and, yes, even money, you’ll be saving by having someone who enjoys painting do your dirty work for you. Ahhh, yes, that’s the exhaling sound of money buying you peace and happiness.

Notion #4: Having money to pay your bills brings relief and makes room for a little more happiness in your day.

Dreading answering the phone, opening the mailbox or reading e-mails because you know there are at least two collectors waiting for you on the other end creates even more, well, dread.

Notion #5: Paying for–and using–a gym membership induces happiness.

It gets your endorphins endorphing, your clothes fitting looser and your mirror reflecting a more spunky you, yes? The trick here, of course, is the “using it” part. If you end up hitting the weights for only a few months and then fall off the proverbial treadmill, then by all means cancel your membership. Not spending on money on something is just as effective at bringing you joy as paying for something does.

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Notion #6: Healthy equals happy.

While running up your Visa to buy six pairs of shoes in every color may bring temporary happiness, opening the credit card statement will not.  When you guiltlessly spend your hard-earned money on things like taking your family to see Cats, going on the vacation you’ve been putting off or buying a big screen TV for your Friday Night Movie Night with your kids (or even Monday Night Football with the guys), you can rest assured that’s money well spent. After all, smiles are free and there will be many of those that come from the memories you made from using money to create them.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with allowing yourself to have a healthy relationship with spending money. Perhaps it’s time to let go of other people’s limiting thoughts and “wisdom” and start living in a way that brings happiness to you and everyone around you. Remember, it’s the love of money that steals your joy–not necessarily the use of it.

So to the person who said “money can’t buy happiness,” I say “Oh really?!”

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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