Thursday, February 5, 2015

Money Can't Buy Happiness But.....

I read an interesting article a few days ago and I can't seem to get it out of my mind.

It's called "How to Buy Happiness:  The Purchases Most Likely to Bring You Joy" and the premise is that while money cannot actually buy you happiness, there are some purchases that might make you happier than others so it's wise to really think about how you're spending your hard-earned cash.

It suggests things like spending money on others, investing in your financial security by paying off debt, or spending money on experiences rather than material goods.

But here's the part of the article I keep coming back to - to be happy, buy the right kind of material goods.

I'm pretty sure we can all agree that buying a cute pair of new shoes makes a person way more happy than buying, say.... four new tires.

So what's the right kind of material goods?

Well, it's different for everyone and is based on this thing called "the comfort principle", which means  that we should try to spend our money where we spend our time. And if we do, those purchases could actually have the highest impact on our happiness.

Here's a handy little chart taken from the article that can get you thinking about where you might spend most of your time:

  • 8 hours: (Work) Office chair, computer, office desk, monitor
  • 2 hours: (Commute) Car, car stuff
  • 1 hour: (Cooking) Kitchen utensils
  • 3 hours: (Living room recreation) TV, video games, music
  • 1 hour: (Reading) Kindle/iPad
  • 1 hour: (Exercise) Running, treadmill, elliptical
So here's what I'm thinking....

I spend a whole lot of time in my kitchen, not always because I love cooking so much but because special diets tend to take quite a bit of prep time.

Based on the comfort principle, you know what purchase would have the highest impact on my happiness?

A really, really good set of knives. 

I don't even know the best kind to buy. Just no more cheapie ones that come in a set of 6 in a plastic blister case. The ones I tell myself I'll just pitch when they're dull and get new cheap ones again. Because I never pitch them and never get new cheap ones. I just keep sawing away at veggies and meat, not worrying about sawing my fingers off because the knives aren't sharp enough to do damage to human flesh. Pretty soon, my teeth will be just as effective as my current knives and I'll be youtubing videos of beavers taking down trees to perfect my kitchen cutting skills. 

So yep. Some good knives would make me pretty happy. 

Another thing? A crockpot that can be also used on the stovetop for browning meat, like this one: 

No more dirtying and hand washing my ceramic dutch oven just for the 5-10 minute step of searing a roast for the crockpot. 

And since sleeping, snuggling Bird in the bed, and showering are things I do every single day of my life, if I apply the comfort principle here, my "high-impact happiness" purchases would be a set of really nice sheets, a better pillow, and some big ol' soft, fluffy towels. 

Ryan and I have been married for 23 years and I seriously think we're still using towels that were wedding gifts. Our towels are so worn out that if I pull too hard when trying to dry my back, they will actually tear.  I'm not even embellishing to make this a better story like a good preacher would do. It is just the gosh-honest truth. 

So yeah... some nice, new towels would be a good investment in our happiness - and the key to getting a drier back.

We don't go out that much because we have to arrange a sitter for Lily but mostly, it's because Ryan and I are basically homebodies by nature. Once we tuck Bird in for the night, we often watch a show or two on the DVR. So when we moved to Katy, we unknowingly applied the comfort principle to our living room and got a great television since we spend time there every evening having a "home date". So we spent money where we spend our time and that makes us happy when we sit down to catch up on our shows.  

Now what about you? What would you spend money on if you had a little extra cash and allowed the comfort principle to help make your decisions?

PS - Thanks to Brenda Hughes for reminding me that we spend a lot of time eating so it would probably be smart to spend our money on bacon, which would make us very, very happy. :) 


  1. Great blog! And in regard to Brenda's comment about bacon (with which I totally agree), I've often joked that the entries in my checkbook say a lot about me . . . every other one seems to begin with word "La" - as in La Familia, La Pasada, etc. (can you tell I love Mexican food?). So, I'm already applying your "comfort" principle there (too much!). At home, my husband and I have invested in a nice TV (along with TiVo, Netflix, etc.) because we, like you and Ryan, enjoy "home dates" - and our time together in the evenings. By the way, I hope you print today's blog and place it in a prominent location in your home for Ryan to see . . . it would be a great shopping list for Valentine's Day, your upcoming birthday, etc. - as long as he throws in some chocolate and flowers, too!

    1. I'm pretty crazy about Mexican food, too. I never seem to get tired of it. :) And just between you and me, I think Ryan is already researching knives - yay!

  2. You absolutely need one of these!

    It's a slow cooker, stove top and oven all in one! My mom got my sister and I each one for Christmas, and I use mine almost every night. It's so versatile - and you don't even have to move the pot to the stove to brown your meat! The ONLY downside is handwashing the pot, but the nonstick surface actually makes it really easy - I'm just lazy... :)

    1. Oh my Breanna! I'm going to check this out! I'm not afraid of a little hand washing. :)


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