5 Important Ways To Make Sure That Your Money Can Buy You Happiness

Joanne Poh



The fact that rich and miserable people exist shows that money doesn’t always buy you too much happiness. That’s bad news for all of us regular folks, who have even less money than the scowling tycoons up there.

However, the good news is that there are ways to use your money more efficiently in order to obtain a higher degree of happiness. Don’t believe me? Take $500 and spend it on a weekend in Bali. Then take another $500 and spend it on three new outfits. Which one makes you feel better? Here are five ways to get the most happiness out of your money.


Be generous

Studies have shown that spending even small amounts on others helps to boost the happiness of the spender. That doesn’t mean you need to start opening bottles of Martell every night for your bros. But it does mean that doing nice little things for people instead of spending all your money on yourself can actually end up boosting your feelings of wellbeing.

So the next time you’re about to head out for lunch, invite a friend along for a treat instead. If you’re shopping and you see a pair of inexpensive earrings your friend would like, pick those up as a small gift.


Spend on experiences, not stuff

This is one of the most cliched sayings when it comes to spending money to buy happiness, but it’s not untrue. The general principle is that when you spend money to buy stuff, you do get a boost in happiness, but this boost is extremely short-lived as humans tend to adapt very quickly. Hence, that brand new handbag might make your heart thump when you walk out of the shop, but after a few days the novelty wears off and when you use it you feel just as you do when you use any of your other bags.

Experiences, on the other hand, tend to have a more lasting effect as you get to replay good memories of the time spent. These experiences don’t have to be expensive, either. The longer you spend planning for an experience and actually enjoying it, the longer the duration of the happiness. How do you determine whether or not it’s worth it? Here’s our breakdown on how to decide whether or not to spend on that experience you’ve been looking at.


Buy time

Singaporeans always complain about not having enough money, but really, what they don’t have enough of is time. Long working hours and a fast paced society have led to a population that’s extremely time-starved.

And if you can save yourself from spending what little time you have in an unpleasant or tedious way by spending a little money, you might actually be increasing the number of positive experiences in your life and making yourself happier overall.

One great example of buying time is spending a little more to live closer to your workplace or to cut your commute. Back when I had to commute to the office every day I bought a motorcycle that enabled me to cut my one-way commute from an hour and fifteen minutes to just half an hour, effectively saving me 1.5 hours every day. I’d say that was money well spent.


Get social

No matter how introverted you think you might be, every human being needs meaningful relationships in their lives in order to be happy. You don’t necessarily need to be Mr Popularity to feel fulfilled, but hypothetically, if you have zero friends you’re highly likely to miserable.

While you shouldn’t try to buy friendship by showing off your wealth, spending a bit of money can improve your social life and help you feel more connected to others. If you are too cheap to even have an occasional drink or coffee with a friend, good luck trying to conduct all your relationships on WhatsApp.


Communicate with your loved ones about money

Money can be a source of frustration when it is the cause of conflict at home or with your partner. Many guys I know are personally stressed out about how much their wives and girlfriends spend, whether on expensive holidays or at Orchard Road. But because money and earning power are sensitive topics, few end up communicating directly about the problem, and the tension can go on for years.

If you feel resentment brewing or misunderstandings keep occurring, it may be time to put more effort into communicating about money. You might want to draw up a budget together with your partner or family members and make each party’s spending more transparent to eliminate trust issues from simmering. While you might strictly speaking not be buying happiness in this case, you’ll be nonetheless managing it in a way that keeps your household happy.

What are the things you spend on that make you happiest? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.