Monday, June 29, 2009

Happiness is not only free, it can save you money

We all know how we can save a few extra dollars if we really want to do so.

There's no shortage of money-saving tips around, including simply from what we can pick up by talking with our neighbours, family and friends and work colleagues.

For example, we know that it makes sense to buy groceries in bulk, and fresh produce when it is in season. It's cheap (not to mention better for the planet) to grow some of your own food and cook at home from scratch (I took the picture above of our lemon tree today, and that heavy, glowing lemon is destined for a pudding soon!). It's also a good idea to hunt around for the best deals on phone and internet, electricity etc. as well as selling stuff you don't use or want in a garage sale or online.
Buying season tickets with friends or family for access to attractions, entertainment venues and sports games is good value for money - my list goes on and on!

But there's one interesting thing I've noticed about my own spending habits. Emergencies aside, such as the fridge dying suddenly, or the car needing an unanticipated major service, my husband and I tend to spend more money when we are stressed or unhappy.

We consume more takeaway food when we're feeling too blah to organise ourselves to cook, and more beer and wine, and we visit cafes to buy more coffee and more cake. A little more chocolate and brie will sneak its way into the grocery shopping trolley than usual. And we're more likely to buy books or cds (the husband), earrings or makeup or visit the hairdresser's (me) in an effort to cheer ourselves up or out of a feeling that we deserve it because of recent bad breaks.

Disorganisation and stress go hand-in-hand in our home, and so we start to get late fines and other penalties because bills have been misplaced and library books go missing. I feel less optimistic about canvasing for freelance work, which results in an overall lower income at the end of the year.

Looking longer term, stress, which I'm thinking of here as a physical manifestation of unhappiness, impacts our wellbeing over weeks and months. So, if we were to remain unhappy we could expect to have more doctor's bills to pay and medicines to buy because we're more suseptible to colds and flu, aches and pains.

Even longer term than that, stress is linked to heart disease and other illnesses which means more expenses.

What do you think? Is it possible that getting happy will help you cut expenses?

If so, then what? Does having more money make you even more happy?

What is happiness anyway and how do you 'get it'?

I hope to explore happiness and money further with you in future posts.

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1 comment:

  1. Some very good tips here Marilyn.
    I don't know what happiness really is ...
    It is so easy to spend money as therapy for a whole host of things going wrong in our lives.
    Happiness is hard to attain if you just acquire possessions and a huge bank balance and not love the people you are with or if you don't feel loved.
    Though I wouldn't say no to enough money for a house cleaner ...I don't think more money would make me happy.
    Maybe a little less anxious , because I would worry less about paying for schools, swimming lessons , medical treatments and other things for my boys but not to the money to buy them expensive toys. That they don't need.


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