It makes the world go round, it’s all about it, it can’t buy happiness or love, is the root of all evil, it often costs too much, it’s how we keep score. A fool is soon parted with it, you should work like you don’t need it, some are so poor that it is all they have and according to the Russians, when it speaks, the truth is silent.
What am I going on about? Well, it’s all about the money this month. Money and happiness.
Voltaire said that when it comes to money, everybody is of the same religion. The saying goes that money can’t buy happiness, but I’m sure a lot of people will disagree, and mostly the ones who don’t have it.
One thing is certain, we need money. It satisfies our most basic material needs. For other people it is a symbol of their status, success and power. We all think differently- it does have it benefits. In countries where people have enough money and don’t have to struggle to survive every day, people seem happier. When you are prosperous or even when your basic needs are covered you can give attention and time to other things: family, balance, culture, spirituality.
When I think about it, it’s almost like our water crises of the past few years. Water is something most of us take for granted, when you open the tap, it just comes out. Here unfortunately, you can wake up one morning and there would just be no water. With no warning and no indication how long it will last, there will be a drought in town and it once lasted a week! If you have it, you don’t even think about it, but when it’s gone, it can surely make your life miserable.
Unfortunately, enough is not always enough and that is how money becomes your master. We compare ourselves with others, work so hard to earn a living that we sometimes forget to live.
Can money buy happiness? I don’t know, but it can sure help to buy the things that add to it. In fact, like Gretchen Rubin said it in her book, The Happiness Project: “Money, spent wisely, can support happiness goals of strengthening relationships, promoting health, having fun and all the rest.” I can in fact see money as an asset in every month of my Happiness Project: It can help me become organised and be a domestic goddess, I can use it to fly out to celebrate a milestone birthday, see my family, go to weddings and invite friends over and spoil them. I can travel, buy things we love to make our home pretty. It allows me the freedom to study further, maybe start a family and enjoy my hobbies.
After some introspection and of course with the help of Gretchen Rubin’s book (which I bought with money on the airport in Hong Kong), I came up with the following money resolutions for the month of June:
1. Indulge in a modest splurge (and enjoy it!)- I don’t like spending a lot of money and decided at the beginning of the year that I didn’t want to buy things this year before we move unless it is absolutely necessary, but this made me think again. Indulging in a splurge from time to time can make me feel quite happy and gives me the opportunity to enjoy the money I’m working so hard for. Luckily to really get a kick from those “feel-good hormones”, it only works if not done too often otherwise it only is an instant gratification. How much happiness can come out of wishing, dreaming, planning, saving and finally buying that item on your wish list. To really enjoy and appreciate what you bought can make the happiness linger and like the water, really make you thankful for the money that you do have (instead of making you wish for more).
2. Buy needful things- I used to buy the everyday things like soap and shampoo and washing powder in bulk, when I saw a special, I would go overboard. It helps in the long run if you want to save money (and have the cupboard space), but I now realised I like trying new things and buying less groceries at a time (it’s a heavy load to tackle bulk bought purchases all the way to the 8th floor!) more than saving money. This also made me think about how our values change. When I first started earning money, I used to buy so much and mostly things I didn’t need, when I got over that phase, I became so organised that I only bought the things on my list and only that which I need and got such a kick out of an American Reality TV program on extreme couponing. These days I’m still proud of myself if I got something on “sale” but am much more relaxed when it comes to buying things. Now it’s more about the item being useful but still pretty and of good quality and preventing waste.
3. Spend out and use my things- Things are just that, things. What are we saving them for? If I don’t use my beautiful bowls, it is just as wasteful as throwing them away. I’m going to stop hoarding my things, this month I’m either going to use it, give it away or throw it out (especially if it’s worn out, old, blunt or ugly). Trust in abundance, be grateful by using the things we are blessed with- give more, do more, spend out.
4. Be honest with my money. This month I will have to take a hard look at my money matters, bank statements and especially tackle the things I know so little about. I have to take my head out of the sand and look the numbers in the eye. This must be the year where, since I’ve started earning, I’ve earned the least, the most and spent the most. I will also need to stay up to date and save up so that tax isn’t a nightmare next year.
5. Give something up and give something out. I still have to work on this point- I haven’t been such a big spender on any particular area so I’d rather be more savvy with my money and have enough to also give something extra (will need to go and look at my spending before I can work on this).
A few wise men’s views on money…
Albert Einstein: “ The most precious things in life are not those you get for money.”
Benjamin Franklin: “ Money has never made a man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has, the more one wants.”
He also said : “Early to bed, early to rise, keeps you healthy, wealthy and wise.”
I don’t know who said this but they must have been wise: “ Money, attitude and ego are like “underwear”- you should not show it, unless you become superman.
My favourite though, must have come from a woman: “ Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy shoes and that’s kind of the same thing, right?”