Money and happiness, two things that many of us often think about: how to reach them or have more and more of them.
Do you notice?
The same sentence always comes back: from religion to self-help books, from family to boss, the sentence is that money does not buy happiness.
Let’s start with the basic rule: it doesn’t.
But…some people think the opposite!
How do you spend your money
If you are convinced that it is true that money does not make you happy, it maybe you are not spending your money well.
You have to go to work there: that’s where the mistake is.
If I told you that if instead of spending money as you usually do, you spent it in a different way, would you believe me?
And before I tell you how we spend it to make you happier, let’s consider the ways we usually spend it and which, in reality, do not make us happier. On the contrary.
The lottery dream
Take for example the widely studied and verified cases of people who are lucky enough to win the lottery.
The common denominator is that people think that by winning the lottery life will be wonderful.
What happens to people who win the lottery is:
They spend all their money and get into debt, all their friends, family or anyone they have ever known finds them, wears them out with demands for money, effectively ruining all social relationships.
So what they have earned are more debts and worse friendships than they had before they won the lottery.
What is interesting about this topic, even at the various seminars and courses, is how people start to comment.
That is, instead of exclaiming when they realise that money alone does not bring happiness, everyone starts saying: “Do you know what I would do if I won the lottery…?” and fantasizing about that utopia.
And these are just a couple of interesting things to think about.
Some people say: “If I won, I would buy a little mountain and build my little house on top of it.” Someone else: “I’d fill a bathtub with money, I’d dive in the tub and smoke a huge cigar and drink a glass of champagne.”
Maybe the reason why worthless money doesn’t make us happy is that we always spend it on the wrong things, and in particular, that we always spend it on ourselves.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if we pushed people to spend more money on others?
Instead of being antisocial, what would happen if you were a little bit more pro-social with your money?
Someone thought it, did it and saw what happens.
This experiment took place in Vancouver, on a campus at the University of British Columbia. People were approached asking them to take part in an experiment, they accepted and so it happened.
First they asked how happy they were, then they gave them an envelope.
One type of envelope contained a message saying: “You have until 5pm today, spend this money on yourself”. We gave some suggestions on how to spend it.
Others received a note saying: “You have until 5pm today, spend this money on someone else.” The envelope also contained the money.
The amount of money you gave them was not left to chance.
Some received a note and five dollars. Some received a note and $20. They were left free all day and did what they wanted.
They then discovered that they had spent the money as requested.
When they called them back in the evening they asked, “How did you spend it, and how happy do you feel now?”.
How did they spend it? Since they were university students a lot was spent on themselves in items such as earrings and make-up.
One girl said she bought a soft toy for her niece. Some gave money to the homeless…
Some people took coffee for themselves, as they would normally do, others said they bought coffee for someone else.
So the same shopping, addressed to themselves or addressed to someone else.
What was discovered at the end?
Those who had spent money on others were happier.
For those who had spent money on themselves, nothing happened.
It didn’t make them any less happy, but it didn’t do any good.
And the other thing that was relevant to the experiment was that the figure didn’t matter.
People thought that $20 was much better than $5.
Let’s make some people do what they usually do by spending money on themselves, while others give the money away, measure their happiness and see if they are really happier. It doesn’t really matter how much money they spend.
What really matters is that it is spent on someone else instead of on themselves.
We see this all the time when we give people money to spend on others instead of themselves.
You can really do a lot of experiments of this kind by applying them to different contexts.
But in all the different contexts, be it personal life, work life, even stupid situations like team sports, we see that spending on others has more return than spending on oneself.
I can confirm that if you think that money does not buy happiness you are not spending it well.
This does not mean that you should buy one product rather than another to make you happy.
In fact, you should stop thinking about which product to buy for yourself and try to give something to others.
This does not mean giving up the things you like, but rather because you have the money and you are buying something, make this a moment to be a better person.
Another way to spend money well is training: the more you learn, the more you will earn. That’s for sure.
They are greedy
Then, finally, stop believing that those who have money are greedy: they may be but they are certainly not because of the money.
But a common point of all poor people is that it is difficult to be generous without money!
Demonizing money is the greatest form of selfishness!
Saving and investing are the key to getting rid of the weight of the money problem.
Putting aside a fixed amount every month and always trying to find the best investment is the most sensible thing to do at twenty years old.
Once you have acquired the minimum necessary knowledge of investment instruments and the basics of the power of saving the road is all downhill.