I stumbled across this book at the library a few weeks ago, and since I seem to have a problem whereas I can’t read enough financial books, I promptly checked it out and devoured it.
I wanted to talk about it a bit since I find the connection between money and happiness so interesting. Laura Vanderkam uses research on happiness to examine the question of, “can money buy happiness?” Quick answer – yes but only if you use it the right way.
The big take-a-way I had from this book was that money can indeed increase our happiness if we spend it on a lot of little pleasures rather than one time big ones. Which makes sense, right? If we are constantly indulging in little happy things then we are bound to be happier than if we spend a whole bunch of money once on a big thing. Sure, we will be happier for a bit but eventually that big thing just becomes something we are used to and ceases to bring us the same happiness as it did when we bought it.
This resonates with me deeply. Since I started to make my own coffee everyday at home, I feel deeply grateful and ridiculously happy when I indulge in a steaming cup of hazelnut latte. Not that I don’t love making my daily coffee myself, but it really isn’t the same as those $5 cups of deliciousness. There is a $3000 camera I have been eyeing that I will probably never buy. While that beautiful camera will make me extremely happy for a time (and probably happy – although less so – every time I use it) it won’t make me 600x happier than a latte. In other words, I could buy 600 lattes for price of that camera. I could have a latte every day for almost two years for the price of that camera.
As a rule, Adam and I don’t tend to spend a lot of money on things. Our “wedding” cost us all of $100 as we eloped to the beach with a few witnesses and ate pizza afterwards thus saving us $26000 (the average cost of a wedding is $26400)! That $26000 was used as a down payment on our first home. One day of happiness vs a roof over our head that we owned (kinda) for years. No contest! Plus, we didn’t even give up that one day of happiness. I LOVED my wedding day. It was perfect and low stress and I would do the same thing again in a heartbeat.
Which brings me to my personal philosophy of life. DO NOT GIVE UP WHAT YOU WANT – FIND IT FOR CHEAPER. Going back to my beautiful camera (because really I never stop thinking about it for too long), I can and certainly WILL buy that camera someday, but I will do so for a fraction of the cost of a new one. Craigslist, Ebay, Photography groups – all of these offer that very piece of equipment for less than half the retail cost. Now, being the frugal weirdo that I am, I will probably wait until I can get it for under $1000, but my point is that I will get it. If you are creative, you can get anything you want without paying full price.