People can often be described with characteristics of three different money personalities: those who want to hold onto money, those who want to spend it, and those who don’t want to have anything to do with money.
“Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending” by Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton, while including spending in the title, aspires to help us all regardless of money profile to better connect with how we spend money and perhaps ways we can attain more happiness out of the money we do spend. The authors break down ways to improve spending connections with chapters on buying experiences, redesigning our spending on treats, buying time, paying now—consuming later, and investing in others. In each chapter, they help readers have a greater appreciation for the science of why these kinds of spending adjustments often result in a better overall well-being.
When I reflect on each of these categories about my own personal experiences, it all makes a great deal of sense even if below the surface it wasn’t obvious to me. For example, many of us make our daily pilgrimages to the local coffee shops ordering fancy coffee drinks with all sorts of ingredients. From a financial outlay perspective, the costs add up over time and it can be frightening to look at the numbers. What "Happy Money" focuses on is the diminished impact these daily beverages provide to us compared to the way I approach these outings: that special coffee or even regular coffee while out and about is something I do only when I am not able to make my own coffee at home. Thus, when I do partake it really does feel like a treat and one I enjoy that much more.
Another reflection I noted is that the lead up to vacations is all too often more exciting that the actual time on vacation. This is particularly true if we pay for the trip in advance because by the time we are on vacation most of the trip feels “free." Experiences like travel are a featured chapter in "Happy Money" which makes total sense to me. When I look back on my life, I remember the trips and the people I met, and the overall experience much more so than the stuff I bought along the way. This is particularly true when I treated someone to a special trip. Recently I did this for the daughter and son-in-law of close college friends, choosing a wedding gift from their registry that would not only be an adventure, but an experience that would feed their souls and mine!
All in all, "Happy Money" does a really good job at connecting people with how they spend money with the end goal of sustaining happier people.