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Finding happiness: Money is great, but there’s more to life

By Nancy Nzalambi | January 31st 2021

Young African American woman holding bank notes.

Having money can certainly help you live better, sort your bills and afford the fine things in life. But does merely having stuff or money in the bank guarantee fulfillment? It is natural for a struggling individual to assume that wealthy people are happier than others.

Sacrificing your free time to make extra cash is something that many of us contend with every now and then. How do you feel afterwards? Do all sacrifices give you happiness?

According to research, giving money more priority as compared to time actually undermines happiness.

I am in no way advising anyone to ditch the next pay raise your manager offers. Wealthy people are also happy. Their wealth allows them to have the luxury of options.

What matters is how you think, spend and save money. These parameters shape how much joy you will get to experience where money is concerned.

Once you learn how to find fulfillment, it will be easier to stay in control of your finances. Things like fighting with your spouse over money or working a job you really hate will become a thing of the past.

When savings are low

There is anxiety associated with staying in charge of expenditure, sticking to a budget and compromising certain wants.

When you want to make purchases, and your savings are low, ask yourself if what you want to buy is essential for your survival.

Will you be guaranteed of happiness once you have such items or will you beat yourself up? Practising conscious spending which entails intentional rather than impulsive spending is essential.

On the other hand, objectively examine if a salary raise can drastically change your life. It may actually make you more miserable when your spending habits increase with it.

It is inevitable for some of us that our lifestyles become more expensive when our income increases. We therefore have to keep working even harder to maintain and upgrade again.

Experiences vs material things

Having that new gadget in your possession is exciting. However, gadgets break and wear out. In time, you will have to look for an upgrade. It is easy to compare what you have and what’s trending. There is always something better out there.

To some extent, material things are oddly unsatisfying to buy due to the fact that we unconsciously wait for the next upgrade to step up. You just need to buy what you need and what is affordable.

Experiences on the other hand have a long lasting impact on happiness and psychological wellbeing. If you spare some money to spend quality time and bond with your family, take your parents for that trip they always wanted to go, the joy that the experience will bring can never wear out.

Creating time

Even though we are juggling demanding responsibilities, we get more satisfaction by making time saving purchases. You will feel less time pressure when you purchase commodities and services nearby as compared to making a trip to acquire them, unless quality and price are compromised.

Choose to invest in others

There is power in numbers. Pooling resources with like-minded individuals eventually makes difficult to achieve goals possible within a shorter period of time.

The advantage of this is that you will part with less finances for investment as compared to when everything is dependent on you.

This is one way to build social capital. Others also derive happiness from and find it fulfilling to make donations to charity.

It is important to note that donations have to be given freely. At no point should donations be coerced or forced.

“Look for giving opportunities that will enable you to see how your generosity is making a difference for a person or a cause you genuinely care about,” advises Elizabeth Dunn, a professor of psychology.

Toss out clutter

Some people find the life of voluntary simplicity so liberating and fulfilling that they do their best to live with minimal stuff and even move to a much smaller home.

At this point in life, you just find freedom and happiness in pursuing your passions rather than chasing salary increments. No amount of influence can compel you to purchase unnecessary items. Do you have so much stuff that you cannot find space for in your house?

Are you too attached to material stuff that you keep hoarding unnecessary items in your home? Tossing some items away may seem difficult maybe due to sentimental value or they are worth some good money.

Hold a garage sale and get rid of them. You may opt to give them out to loved ones who will find use for them.  

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