The phrase “money can’t buy happiness” always comes to mind when I think about the topic of financial goals and values. This is because I think it’s stupid, or at least, partially stupid. My theory is that if you spend your money wisely you can indeed snag yourself a little joy. But have you noticed how some purchases tend to make you happier than others?
Studies have shown that when we feel the urge to throw down some cash, then spending in line with our personalities will make us happiest. For example an extrovert might feel great spending money at the pub, but an introvert would probably feel happier blowing it on books. Another theory that certainly rings true for a lot of is is that money spent on experiences rather than goods will bring joy that has a reverberating effect for years to come.
The idea that I find most helpful however is that we all have a unique set of financial values and ensuring that our spending is inline with these is the key to "buying happiness". It has also been proven that when it comes to reaching financial goals, those who choose goals that align with their values are more likely to succeed than those whose goals and values conflict.
Our financial values can be defined by what the idea of wealth means to us. For some wealth may mean freedom to travel, health, family, security, luxury or material goods. When we spend according to these values we will get more satisfaction from our purchases and thus be happier people.
Take a moment to consider your financial values and when you have done this, narrow them down to your top three. Then try to match some goals to these values. For example, if your financial value is Security then purchasing a home or funding a retirement account might be a goal. If it is Travel, then funding a savings account for a special trip might be the way to go.
Examine your current spending and make sure that it is inline with these values. If your goal is travel but all of your discretionary income is funneled into a huge car payment, then it might be time to rethink the way you allocate your money.
Once you have established how you want to apply money to enrich your life, then the key is to break those goals down into smaller steps. For example, if you estimate that your Europe trip will cost $5000 and you want to go next summer, divide $5000 by 18 months and set up a monthly direct deposit into your savings account for that figure.
If my calculations are correct you should be overflowing with joy as you ride around town, listening to Edith Piaf in your new, downgraded jalopy.