Credit: Heather Lee

The Happiness Dilemma: How to Use Money to Increase Joy

I spend a lot of time thinking about money. Specifically how money can be used to maximize happiness.

Although it’s said that, “Money can’t buy happiness,” I think that’s EXACTLY what it can do (indirectly.)

I constantly spend time gauging my own happiness: Identifying EXACTLY what makes me happy and WHY happy it makes me. 

It might seem like a strange pastime, but I think when you can identify the “Why,” you can easily replicate things that bring joy (and reduce things that don’t.) Why do I like certain songs, movies, activities…

I make lists in my mind…

Things that bring me the MOST happiness:

Helping animals in need/Giving my pets the best possible life.

Interacting with people/Playing music/Introducing people to music that makes them happy.

Things that bring me a quick burst of daily happiness:

Driving a convertible.

Drinking great coffee/tea.

As incredibly SIMPLE as that seems, it’s the KEY to almost EVERY choice I make in life. Specifically, choices that involve how I spend money (and time.)

If I’m considering a purchase or activity, I ask myself whether it falls into, or towards, a MAIN happiness goal.

If it doesn’t, often times, I don’t buy it/do it.

Super Silly Example: Trash Bags

I get a small amount of happiness from the convenience of those fancy stretchy trash bags with strong handles and captivating scents. I used to spend an extra dollar or 2 and buy them. I don’t anymore. Because the happiness I get from that dollar is minor compare to the happiness I get from “donating a dollar to help homeless pets,” at the PetSmart check out.

Major Purchase Example: Car Purchase

I don’t know how many people/dealers told me I could “afford” a much “nicer” car than the one I was looking to buy.

First, “Nicer,” is relative. We all construct our OWN definitions of the “American Dream.” My ideal car has nothing to do with sticker price and everything to do with whether that top comes off! 

Second, “Afford,” is an interesting concept. Would spending an additional 5k on a car (because someone will extend me the line of credit) make me happy? NOPE. Because the JOY I get from my car is secondary to the joy I receive from animal rescue and hanging with my own dogs. Managing funds for BOTH is the ideal equation (for me.)

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are PLENTY of times I don’t follow my own rules. We’re ALL human. BUT…I can tell you I had an awesome weekend because I brewed some coffee and spent $16 renting a row boat at Green Lake and floating for an hour with my boyfriend and pups.

A new pair of shoes wouldn’t have made me THAT happy 😉

BUT…maybe that’s where YOUR happiness lies?

I challenge you to think about WHAT makes YOU happy and WHY. Make a short list. Follow it and see what happens 🙂



About Heather

HI! I have a dog who sleeps in a cat tree and a cat who comes when he's called. I'm fueled by coffee, music & optimism. Things like yoga and gardening fill my warm weather weekends. I strongly believe that mini golf IS a sport, words are weapons and beauty exists in the spaces between definition. Ask me anything...Except regarding Fight Club...I won't talk about Fight Club.