I hope everyone is enjoying their summer (or winter if you’re down south)!
The month of July was a toughie for Gretchen, as it addresses money and its relation to happiness. Over and over she would encounter the common phrase, “Money can’t buy happiness,” yet she considered the fact that those who are more well-to-do are more able to overcome financial obstacles that could potentially block happiness – if that makes sense. Sure, money isn’t equivalent to how happy you are, but depending on how money is used, it certainly can help you to achieve your goals of happiness. I’ll give some examples of this in the next portion.
First, I wanted to share this quote from Gretchen drawing another correlation: “Both money and health contribute to happiness mostly in the negative; the lack of them brings much more unhappiness than possessing them brings happiness.”
Many of us take for granted our health and fortune, but we certainly notice it when we have trouble bending over to tie our shoes, or if we can’t afford that sundae from Dairy Queen. Be mindful of how blessed you are.
July’s focus: Buy Some Happiness
“Indulge in a Modest Splurge” – This follows the theme of giving yourself a treat every once and awhile – because, after all, you’ve worked hard for that money! The key here is making sure this “modest splurge” remains infrequent, otherwise it will lose its zest and pizzazz. For example, Gretchen used room service for the first time on her honeymoon, and thought it was amazing! However, if room service was utilized every time she stayed at a hotel, the excitement of it would wear off. It would almost become expected. Another example, Gretchen bought her daughter an optical illusion book; she loved it and stared at its pages for hours. Then one day Gretchen came across another optical illusion book and considered buying her daughter another one, but stopped herself. If she did buy it, then her daughter wouldn’t cherish her first book as much, knowing that there were more like it on the shelf. Her first book would lose that wow factor.
Excerpt from Gretchen: “It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that if you have something you love or there’s something you want, you’ll be happier with more.”
Let’s return back to the idea that money can help buy happiness, depending on how it’s used. Each person’s situation is unique, so how money can be used to achieve your happiness is up to you. Gretchen shared some varying examples: purchasing a plane ticket to reunite family, buying a pet to keep you company, ordering a special collector’s item, getting new pillows, hiring someone to cut the lawn.
I think for me, buying a new bookcase is thrilling because it opens up a whole new set of shelves ready to be filled with my ever growing library of books, movies, TV shows, and Pop! figurines. In fact, I glanced around my room and realized I enjoy filing systems very much – bookcases to file the aforementioned; a shoe rack to file my shoes; a crate to file my vinyl records; a drawer cabinet thing from Ikea to file school info, car receipts, newspaper articles, etc; another drawer unit to file my writing projects; my massive desk is compartmentalized into various cubbyholes, housing my music CDs, souvenirs, keychains, dictionaries, picture frames, medicines, memoirs from childhood (marbles, Pogs, Kinder Surprise toys from the ’90s), and more!
Yeah, I like organization. I know where to find things that way. 🙂
“Buy Needful Things” – Gretchen starts off by saying, “When I began to pay attention to people’s relationship to money, I recognized two different approaches to buying: ‘underbuying’ and ‘overbuying.’ I’m an underbuyer.”
Based on her description of an “underbuyer” I must admit I am, too. Underbuyers postpone shopping or buy the bare basics. Often times when I’m running around the store with a small shopping list, if a couple of those items aren’t on sale or it seems too expensive at that location, I’ll reconsider purchasing it and go home without it. Then when I absolutely need it, I’ll have to make an extra trip out to get it. Does that sound familiar to anyone?
On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have “overbuyers.” Their shelves seem stocked to last them for months, often resulting in food expiring before being able to eat through it all. Overbuyers also like to buy random gadgets and trinkets for potential future uses, even though they have no immediate need for it. Key word: potential, as they may never use that gadget ever, yet they bought it anyway.
The plus side, when I go to Teddy’s house, I know they will never run out of toilet paper; there is literally a shelf in the hallway closet full of toilet paper, maybe five rolls high, eight rolls wide, and five rolls deep. That’s like 200 rolls! Whereas with me, I would probably only have the one pack that houses twelve or sixteen rolls. When we get down to the last three I’ll go out and buy another pack.
So, are you an underbuyer or an overbuyer?!
The goal is to find a balance between the two. Gretchen is a writer and always found herself scrounging for pens, often settling for haphazard paraphernalia. So she decided to go out and buy a bunch of her favourite pens, albeit a little expensive, but necessary for her line of work. She decided that if she stocked up on things like diapers and Band-Aids, she’d end up making less trips to the store in the long run.
Another discovery she found was how people go about making decisions on purchases. On one hand, there were those who found the item that satisfied their need, bought it, and moved on. On the other hand, there were those who found the item, looked at more similar items, compared all the specs, checked for sales, looked up reviews, finally bought the preferred choice, then question if they made the right decision. I have a friend that does this all the time, and after the effort and time he puts in his decision, he ends up returning the item altogether. To me it seems like a waste of energy for him, for the sales associates, for the gas, for everything.
For the most part I settle on the item that will do what I need it to do. Occasionally Teddy and I will do some research and compare a couple of brands, but very rarely does it become a week-long research project before we make a decision on an item. Obviously something like buying a house takes more time than something like, “What blender shall I get?”
But I digress… The point is, you should recognize what kind of shopper you are so you can work on becoming more balanced. Buy what you need – don’t buy so little that you’re scrounging, and don’t buy so much that you’re swimming in abundance. I need to stop scrounging.
“Spend Out” – What Gretchen means is, stop saving your possessions for later; use them now. Why are you saving that good wine? For a special occasion? Why are you saving the good china? What about that nice outfit you haven’t worn yet? Are you saving that cologne for later? Gretchen’s point is to use whatever it is you are saving because there may never be a “later.” Enjoy life while you can and use your things up.
Spending out doesn’t only apply to things – it also applies to ideas and other areas of life. What are you saving that great blog idea for? Write it now!
Excerpt from Gretchen: “The most important meaning of ‘Spend out,’ however, is not to be a scorekeeper, not to stint on love and generosity.”
I’ll have to think on this one and take note of what I’m “saving for later” and purposely use it up!
“Give Something Up” – This one means just that – give something up. Anything, just pick one. “Sometimes something that makes you happy also makes you unhappy, like smoking cigarettes, having one more cupcake, staying up until 3:00 AM to watch The Godfather for the fifth time, and – surely one of the most popular happy/unhappy activities – shopping.” I agree with her completely; after I’ve gone and bought a bunch of things I didn’t really need, I realize I feel guilty for spending money I could have used for something else more worthwhile. Everyone does it.
But this goal doesn’t necessarily have to do with money. Here’s a bunch of examples of things to give up, money-related or otherwise: soda pop, eating out on weekdays, cable or satellite, sugar-based snacks, meat, sleeping in late, staying up late, Twitter, other social media platforms, tanning, gambling, smoking, online shopping or bidding, owning a car, bottled water, Bejeweled, etc. The list can go on and on.
What’s something that you think you could give up?
As I sit here thinking, Teddy jokingly says that I can give up nagging, but then I wouldn’t have anything to talk to him about. I know, right? He’s a charmer.
To be honest, I’m not sure what to give up. I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink weekly, I don’t watch TV on end, I don’t Twit, I barely buy lotto tickets. For the most part I try to use my time the best I can. I don’t have any habits that are harmful or excessive time wasters. One thing I could limit, which would affect Teddy, is how often we eat out. It does add up, especially when having to tip the servers all the time. Otherwise I’d be happy to give up my job!
That’s it for money month! I wish you all a great rest of the month! Happy health and great wealth to all! 😛
Rubin, Gretchen. The Happiness Project. 2011 ed. Toronto, Canada: HarperCollins, 2009. 301. Print.
Buy the book! ^.^