Spending money on happiness: a quick guide

Do you think your salary is low for your expenses? Have you ever had a raise? Do you spend monthly more or less than what you earn? Have you ever thought about an amount that would be enough for you to live happily ever after?

When the talk is about money we are the greediest living creatures in the universe. That’s why I brought you some thoughts on, after how to always strive to be a better person, also being happy with what you have and what you can realistically achieve.
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“I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best” – Many scientists, psychologists and philosophers have been thinking and researching about the social and emotional relationship humans created with money along the years, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what Oscar Wilde had already pointed in the beginning of the twentieth century: that we are always adapting ourselves according to our wealth – meaning that the more we get, the more we spend. I have seen countless cases of close friends that, after receiving a raise or changing jobs for a better payment, end up having bigger expenses and, therefore, a bigger debt.

The act of getting a higher wealth status can be very exciting, but it is also very tricky: with more money comes the feeling that you have more freedom to spend on things you’ve wanted for some time but didn’t have conditions to purchase before, and the feeling of euphoria that a big amount of money sometimes masks the fact that some things are out of our reach in a long term. A good case of that are the expenses we have to deal with when we buy a new car – when you finally have saved or planned enough to buy you one, don’t forget that you have to add maintenance and gas on your monthly budget as well, and these expenses will be there even after you finish paying for the car itself, and they will only get bigger with time.

But then, how can we use money on our advantage, instead of letting it manipulate us into madness? – After traveling for a few years and learning to live with the bare essentials, I can suggest that the best way to spend money is to buy yourself enjoyable experiences rather than material goods: that is because some of these experiences give you a long lasting sense of spiritual fulfillment rather than being surrounded by things that will make you satisfied for a short period and just for the sake of having them.

A good example of that are clothes, and again I can explain through a personal case: when I was younger I used to buy a lot of clothes, and every night out demanded a new outfit, which meant a lot of spending; but nowadays I only buy 1) what I essentially need and 2) no more than what I can carry in my luggage. My clothes now last way longer than the ones before and I feel way more emotionally attached to them, in the sense of valuing them more and feeling more satisfied with the ones I have, rather than feeling the constant crave for having new ones. The feeling of pleasure I have with clothes I’ve worn for five or six years is way bigger comparing to several single occasions with clothes I’ve never used again.

The bottom-line in here is that no fancy coffee machine sitting in your apartment gives you more pleasure than an afternoon out having coffee with your dearest friends. Try giving priority to the things and experiences that will actually give you pleasure for having (instead of buying them out of pure vanity) because, as my mother always says, coffins aren’t made with drawers.

[Português]

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