Can money buy happiness? Maybe, but not like you may think …
The Social’s finance expert gives practical advice on how to spend, budget, invest, and feel good about money
With Happy Go Money, financial expert Melissa Leong cuts through the noise to show you how to get the most delight for your dollar.
Happy Go Money combines happiness psychology and personal finance and distills it into an indispensable starter guide. Each snappy chapter provides practical, easy-to-understand advice on topics such as spending, budgeting, investing, and mindfulness, while weaving in research, interactive exercises, and relatable anecdotes. Frank, funny, and empowering, this primer challenges everyone to revamp their relationship with their money so they can dial down their worries and supersize their joy.
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Read an Excerpt
The magic number
We all need a certain amount of money to be happy. But how much?
For those of us who are on the verge of losing our homes, who fret about feeding our children, who cringe when the phone rings because debt collectors may be calling, without question, more money will make us happier. But for the rest of us, before connecting cash with joy, we need to talk about what we mean by “happy.”
Scientists in neuroeconomics (the study of how we make economic decisions) break happiness into two types:
Life satisfaction: an evaluation of your well-being as a whole (the kind of happy where you’re pleased with life in general).
Day-to-day mood: the highs and lows, the joy, stress, sadness, anger and affection that you experience from one moment to the next how you feel today, how you felt yesterday (the kind of happy that most of us relate to the right now happiness).
With life satisfaction, the richer people got, the more satisfied they were with their lives. In worldwide studies, people in richer countries reported higher life satisfaction than those in poorer countries. (We should also consider that wealthier countries are more politically stable, more peaceful and less oppressive which affects well-being.) But according to a 2018 Purdue University study, there was a limit. That figure is $95,000 U.S. (pre-tax, per single-family household). After that, more money didn’t mean that you were more satisfied. With day-to-day happiness, the threshold is $60,000 to $75,000 per household, according to various studies.
The 2018 study showed that after these salaries are hit, life satisfaction and day-to-day happiness actually slightly decrease with more money.
What the what?
Well, apparently when all of our basic needs are met, we become driven by other desires such as chasing after more material stuff and comparing ourselves to others which makes us unhappy. Also, high incomes can come with high demands (more working hours, more stress and less time with family and for leisure).
This doesn’t mean that we should all go out and try to make exactly $75,000 US a year – our so-called feel-good financial sweet spot. The studies are averages and we all need different things to be happy. But ALL of us find joy in some simple things kisses, laughter, getting IDed after the age of 25.
Marketing professor Hal Hershfield once told me: “Even if I have an amazing car in my driveway, a huge house and a big fat income, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll be happier on a day-by-day basis because the types of things that influence happiness are who I interact with, how I spend my time and the things that I do.”
Think of some of your happiest times in the past week. Were you spending it with people? Were you taking time to enjoy an activity, going for a run or catching up with a good friend? Would a wad of cash have made those moments that much better?
Probably not. If you answered “yes” to the latter question, how much more then do you need to be happy? Read on.
Table of ContentsIntroduction
1: Banking on Happiness
2: F*ck the Joneses
3: More Stuff? Stuff It
4: Buying Happiness (For Real)
CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOUR WEALTH
5: Watch Your Friggin’ Language
6: Worries B-Gone
7: Your Default Settings
8: Sorry Not Sorry
FEEL LIKE A MILLION BUCKS (FOR FREE)
9: Train Your Happy Ninja
10: Invoke the Dollar Lama
11: Invest in Bonds
12: Eat Play Snooze
TAKE STOCK, MAKE GAINS
13: Balance the Bills and the Thrills
14: Check Your Worth
15: Goal Digger
HAPPINESS FOR LATER
16: Save Right
17: Make That Money Work
18: Make the Silver Fox Happy
19: Hooking Up with a Financial Advisor
MAKE IT RAIN
20: Show Me the Money
21: Happy Hustling
22: Couch Cushion Cash
23: Debt: The Big Killjoy
24: Bulletproof Your Happiness
THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF GIVING A BUCK
25: Give to Get