After the supercharged spending spree so many Americans have been on these past few years, using your money to buy a happier, more satisfying way of life turns out to be the wisest move you could make.
Here's why: Countless studies have shown that most humans fail to realize what makes them happy. Typically, we spend on short-term glitz instead of long-term satisfaction. And that often leads to misery -- not to mention loads of debt.
Right now, we all need to make a giant U-turn. When money's tight, it's vital to spend in a way that yields the biggest payoff, emotionally as well as financially. Buying more stuff just won't do it.
What follows are seven ways you can use your wallet to turn around your life and your finances. (That's a big promise, but I wouldn't say it if I hadn't experienced it myself.)
Friends, Romans, countrymen, kids and spousal units: Studies indicate we're happiest when we feel connected to others. People with strong relationships tend to be happier and healthier, and live longer on average, according to psychologist Martin Seligman and many other researchers.
How can you invest more in these bonds of family and friendship? Splurge on a plane ticket to see your best friend. Get your buddies together and buy season tickets to your favorite team -- or the opera. Treat a friend to dinner.
After all, what would really make your month -- another pair of shoes from Piperlime or spending time with someone you love?
Would you trade some of the money you make to have more time? A survey by Fortune magazine indicated most people would. Time is one asset that always seems to be in short supply; a free hour or two (or an unexpected day off) can feel like a windfall.
To buy yourself some time:
- As part of a raise or promotion, ask for additional time off.
- Explore flex-time options. A surprising number of companies support flexible work programs.
- Consider paying others to do the chores you loathe because they eat up your time, from hiring a teen to do yardwork to paying a pro to do your taxes, paint the kitchen or organize the garage.
For a little bit of money, you can regain a chunk of your life.
Some good health can be chalked up to genetics, but a lot of the rest is lifestyle. And buying good health is a lot like investing in the stock market: Steady investments at regular intervals are the best way to see big gains.