Saturday, 13 July 2013

The dollar value of happiness

We spend a lot of our lives working hard to earn money. We spend it to live a comfortable existence, to keep a roof over our heads, to have food in our stomach and clothes on our back. We pay all the bills and then ideally we might save some money. After all that is accounted for, we make choices as to what we spend the rest of our money on.

Why do we feel the need to spend our disposable income? Essentially we want to enjoy life and therefore we seek out items and activities which we believe will make us happy.  When we go to make a purchase, we do so for a reason.  It might  be something we need, such as a new fridge. No one wants rotten food in the house!  Or it might be something we want, like a new bike. Different people are obviously going to “want” different things, because we all have varying interests, beliefs and values. These factors then give us our perspective on what we believe is going to bring us happiness.  

Say you buy the family a set of bikes. If this then leads to countless bike rides, riding on holidays and spending time together; then this is the ideal scenario of quality use of disposable income. The money you have spent has not only bought a physical, tangible object; it has also created an opportunity to create memories together, and keep active and healthy.  

If however you buy the bikes and they sit in the shed gathering dust,  you probably aren't going to feel all that fulfilled with your purchase. There may be the initial excitement of having something shiny and new; but this initial satisfaction soon fades.

We have all made these types of purchases, often made with the best of intentions that by purchasing that object somehow this will make us happier and more fulfilled with our lives. We don’t often part with our “leisure money” unless we think there will be some enjoyment to come out of it.

After having a look at the items I have purchased over the years, there are some I can identify as being more valuable to me than others.  I am by no means a spendthrift, but there are some items I look at and I think “why did I bother”, as they haven’t created the happiness I had hoped they would.

Happiness comes from dreaming, creating and achieving; not from having.  There are a plethora  of quotes on the topic. “Money doesn't buy happiness” is one such quote that obviously comes to mind.  If you use your money carefully, and spend it wisely, it can give you opportunities to create your own happiness. 

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