April 11, 2019 - Article by Marcel LeBlanc for the Times & Transcript

Does money really make you any happier? Popular thinking is that there’s a direct positive correlation between money and happiness. But what if I told you there’s a way to be happier with less money?

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Most of us structure our lives around money and how it can best serve us. We do things like measure how much we can get out of life based on how much we earn even when this line of thinking doesn’t always serve us best. Alternatively, if we choose to structure our lives around the things that make us happiest, we might notice that this mindset can also help us improve our finances over time.

Although it’s true that some base amount of wealth and income can serve to stabilize our circumstances and erase certain worries, some evidence suggests that there is a limit to how much money can lead to real happiness. Far too many people delay happiness, thinking that life will be better when they earn more money, get a bigger house or buy a new car, etc.

The problem with thinking that money brings happiness is that that there’s no limit to how much we can want. The urge to get more out of life can be productive in many aspects of personal and professional growth but tying it directly to money and other material things can be counter-productive. Thinking money-first will always weigh on us because even as we improve our financial circumstances, we will likely always seek out more. It’s hard to be satisfied and happy with that mindset. There will always be bigger houses, better cars and we could always earn more money. There’s no ceiling!

So, what’s the solution? Instead of structuring your life around money to generate happiness, try structuring your life around happiness first and see how it impacts your money. People that are happiest don’t always have very much materialistically. They don’t depend on superficial things to make them happy. They spend time with loved ones and live in the moment. They move at their own pace and stop to appreciate the little things some of us may take for granted. These simple sources of happiness we often overlook don’t cost very much.

In contrast, when our focus is on always wanting more money to buy things, we can be hard on ourselves for not being able to afford them right now. Plus, when we finally buy the new & improved, we probably spend way more on it than we could have had we been more patient. That extra money could have been better spent doing things that make us happier without spending more than we intended.

It’s also entirely possible to see a negative correlation between the number of things we own and our overall happiness. The more things we own, the more focus, time and energy we spend on managing those things. It clutters up our life and steals these limited resources that could be better used elsewhere.

Liberate yourself from always wanting more and be grateful for what you have. Not only can it make you much happier, it can also help you financially. Needing less to be happy means spending less. Spending less means healthier bank accounts, less debt and more savings. If done right, this can allow you to maintain a happy lifestyle well into retirement.