As someone raised believing money doesn’t buy happiness, this month’s Happiness Project segment turned out to be the most informative and persuasive. Gretchen Rubin, the author of the novel, concludes that money itself does not yield happiness…but our conscious spending decisions may lead us in the right direction.
The author begins by identifying 3 factors which shape the significance of money to spenders: It depends on what kind of person you are, how you spend your money and how much money you have relative to the people around you. Rubin failed to detail why “how much money you have relative to the people around you” matters, so I didn’t focus on this point. Self-exploration became critical after reading this chapter, but I’ve always recognized my preference to spend money on experiences versus material items.
Reviewing Facebook photos proved the point…….from Bonnaroo to the beach, Denver to San Antonio… plus camping, sky-diving, zip-lining, the Mayor’s Mansion and Counterpoint….clearly I love to save towards vacations and adventures. If the excursion involves spending time outside, even better. So what type of person am I? One who loves to feel the sun on her skin while exploring new places and trying new things. The bulk of my spending leans towards outdoor equipment (such as camping gear), live music and adrenaline inducing activities.
Other than that, I love to garden and decorate our new place. Cooking has become a favorite hobby, because one could never run out of new recipes to create and replicate. This is how I demonstrate my love and generosity; after all, the way to a heart is through the belly, right? Michael Pollan discusses how cooking appeals to all the senses (watching food cook, listening to the water boil, preparing the food with touch, smelling the aroma and tasting the end result), which may explain why I enjoy spending money on kitchen accessories. Nevertheless, Gretchen provides 4 goals to stick with in July as follows:
Indulge in a Modest Splurge
The irony of this month’s challenges lie in the fact that I really need to save. As of August, I will only be paid once a month, so initially I cringed at the idea of indulging in something unnecessary. I decided to paint with Tika for her birthday and planned a trip to Nashville Shores this weekend with Caitlin and Stephanie. Nashville Shores has become a summer tradition for Caitlin and I which we very much look forward to.
For fans of the television show Parks N Rec, I also enjoyed a “treat yourself” day. This past Sunday, my boyfriend took me to zip-line, sipped on a Coconut Mocha Frap beforehand and painted my nails that morning. For dinner I feasted at Chef Wangs Chinese Buffet and stuffed myself with 3 plates of crab legs. Once I arrived home, I ate even more! Ben n Jerry’s Half Baked is the best ice cream ever
Buy Needful Things
This resolution proved to be easy as we transition into the new house. For example, the faulty $2.99 can opener fell apart last week. Unless you have tried to open a can with a bottle opener, never take for granted the convenience of a functioning can opener! With a heavy sigh I spent $7.99 on the newest kitchen gadget. In addition I purchased a new shower curtain, bath rug and towels after reading about the bacteria build up in old towels.
Gretchin points out the difference between satisficers versus maximizers. Satisficers tend to choose the first item they deem acceptable, pay for it and move on. Maximizers, like me on the other hand, must explore every option possible before concluding to check out. Unfortunately for maximizers, research suggests when an individual is faced with multiple options to pursue the consumer could feel more anxious and unsure of making the “correct” decision. I couldn’t agree more.
I stepped in 6 stores searching for the “perfect” shower curtain and 3 weeks later returned to the first destination, World Market. This taught me to trust my instinct and go for what I really want, versus what is cheap. Sure, it’s meaningful to shop thrifty, but allow yourself to splurge without the guilt!
In addition, Rubin discusses the differences between under-buyers and over-buyers and to my surprise, I am definitely an over-buyer. Yes me, the same girl whose “live with less” philosophy suddenly seems phony. Turns out, purchasing multiples of “necessary” items does not constitute living with less. Ever since reading Rubin’s advice, I have decided to save money this month by using up everything I have before buying more, which leads to the next point…..
“Spending out” does not require the reader to purchase anything; in fact, all you need to do is use what you already have. My father tends to whoard items. One look in his pantry, which is usually filled with at least 20 2 liters, several bags of chips and plenty of paper plates, leads one to believe he is preparing for the end of the world. I blame genetics and my upbringing for the excessive amount of groceries in our kitchen, but it’s not my father’s fault I rarely use my nail polish, makeup, and other beauty products.
Once I finished the chapter, I walked around our new place in search of items to use and felt astounded to discover so many things I’ve saved for years and for what? To use them in the future? What if tomorrow never comes? Like Rubin, I needed to use my fancy stationary once and for all, along with my makeup, nail polish, hair products and groceries. I’ve never been the type to mind leaving the house without makeup. What it boils down to is I am lazy and could care less if my face is painted on or not. But for the sake of getting rid of the cosmetics to clear space, I began to wear makeup more often (as of last week) and made a point to paint my nails.
Give Something Up
Rubin’s last piece of advice calls on readers to give up purchasing of some kind, so this chapter turned out well-balanced. What did I decide to give up? After yesterday, (and with the exception of new curtains for our kitchen window), no more house-hold items!!! I refuse to engage in guilt when it comes to investing in necessary components, but at some point one must draw the line on excessive spending. From the new (used) vintage rocking chair to the rugs, curtains, table, and decor items, we have plenty. The kitchen cost us the most but was well worth it with new cookware including “green friendly” pots and pans, plates, bowls, cups, utensils, pot-holders, tupaware, Pyrex, spactulas, serving spoons and a hoity toity cutlery set.
Has anyone else had to give up a certain type of spending? What sort of bugeting techniques have worked for you? Any advice related to finances is greatly appreciated.