Money can buy happiness! Who knew?

Yeah, that’s right.  I was shocked to hear such words myself.  Like you, I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told money cannot buy happiness.  I understood the sentiment but still felt it wasn’t entirely true.  I couldn’t place my finger on why, but I knew some element of that phrase wasn’t entirely accurate.  Then, the other day I was listening to a podcast, as I’m want to do, and the answer was revealed to me.  Brett McKay over at The Art of Manliness was interviewing Jonathan Clements, a personal finance columnist at The Wall Street Journal.  (If you want a different perspective on your relationship with greenbacks, go take a listen to How to Think About Money.)  My ah-ha moment came when Mr. Clements proclaimed that when we use money to buy experiences, instead of stuff, then money does buy happiness.  The joy of buying a new car is short lived.  After the new car smell wears off, the first dent or scratch appears or the trip to the mechanic to figure out that weird noise, the fun meter peters out and that new car isn’t making us so happy anymore.  The new outfit I couldn’t live without is now out of style.  Stuff gets old.  It wears out.  We lose interest.  Landfills are full of stuff folks spent their hard earned cash on only to throw it out later.  But let’s plan a trip somewhere and the game changes!   You don’t have to go far and you don’t have to be extravagant.  Low on funds?  Get on tripadvisor and see what’s on the top ten list of things to do in your town.  I was surprised to find out when we lived in Tampa, the very place I did most of my growing up, that I hadn’t been to 8 out of the 10 tourist hot spots in my hometown.  I like to call it “traveling where you are.”  You could plan something as simple as going for a picnic.  Take in a free music concert at the park.  Google your town and you might be surprised at what is going on around you this weekend.  We derive joy from the planning process.   We are happy when we have something happy to look forward to.  Sometimes, I go so far as to create a countdown calendar for some particularly exciting happenings.  We are happy during the experience and then we have happy memories to hold onto after.  Okay, sure there are those random vacations from hell, but you know where I’m going with this.  We all need something to look forward to.  As I write this, I’m in the middle of making plans for Saturday, plans for friends coming for a visit in October, and plans for our month off in December.  I’ve got 97 tabs open in my browser and I’m happy as a clam.

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