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Going Shopping? Here’s The Secret to Buying Stuff That Will Actually Make You Happier

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Joanne Poh

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Anyone who’s been reading MoneySmart for any amount of time knows how we feel about Chanel handbags. But well, we do understand that living in Singapore, most people have no choice but to participate in the ritual of visiting shopping malls and actually buying stuff from time to time because, well, you can’t avoid trees in a forest.

Still, no matter how much you enjoy shopping, buying a $5,000 handbag isn’t the most efficient use of your money. On the other hand, that $5 we spent on the battery-operated portable fan has been a life saver in Singapore.

Before you start flinging your money in sales assistants’ faces, here are three questions to ask yourself so you can make cost-efficient purchases that actually make you happier.

 

Spend your money on things you’ll spend the most time using

If you have to choose between spending $300 on a pair of jeans or the same amount on an exquisite ball gown, it might make more sense to do the former, even if it is just denim. Assuming you make sure you wear the jeans regularly, you’ll be seeing them a lot more than you will the gown, unless you’re Cinderella and go to balls every day.

However, just because you wear your watch 12 hours a day doesn’t mean you should immediately go out and buy a Rolex. Things you spend time engaging with and that significantly enhance the time you spend using them are more worthwhile than something that just hangs on your wrist.

For instance, spending $100 on a Kindle will probably bring you more pleasure (assuming you actually like to read) than a new bag for work, since during the time you spend actually engaged with it you’re deep in concentration and doing something you enjoy. For the same reason, it might be a better idea to spend $1,500 on a year’s worth of yoga classes than a designer bag.

 

Spend on stuff that improves the quality of your life

Here in Singapore, there’s no question we enjoy a high standard of living—we’ve got clean water, high literacy rates and all that.

But our quality of life is a little more questionable. Long hours at work, an extremely crowded land area and a lack of culture are some of the things that produce well-off but miserable people.

Using your money with intention in order to boost the quality of your life can be a pretty smart way to hack life in Singapore.

For instance, spending money on things that give you more free time is a great way to improve your work-life balance. Buying a motorcycle was one of the best decisions I made in my life as it saved me more than 20 hours a month of commuting and waiting frustratedly for feeder buses.

Generally, spending your money on improving your health, fitness and wellbeing, or investing in your hobbies, is money well-spent as these things make life much more meaningful and pleasurable.

So if you’re a board game junkie, splashing out on a few gaming sessions at a board game cafe or buying some new games can make you way happier than a new Pandora bracelet will. Indulging in a few massage sessions might do more to improve your life than spending it on clothes.

And of course, cultivating positive relationships is necessary in order to live a life that’s not completely miserable, so don’t hesitate to spend a little on socialising, meeting new people and hanging out with the people you care about.

After all, a guy with a Rolex on his wrist and a grand total of zero friends is still a miserable person.

What factors do you consider when you’re about to spend money on yourself? 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.

  • Jezebel Pang

    Good article on reminding us to spare a thought about what we going to buy and the value it going to bring into our lives.

    Personally after shopping in several places overseas, i concluded that its better to save my money for trips and overseas shopping than doing the shopping here. haha

    It is also a great idea to start planning for your future/ retirement earlier as we all know the impact of time horizon on saving/ investing. Visit this link to learn more about planning for your future – http://singaporefinancialfreedom.instapage.com/