Spend More Money, Be Happier

Spend More Money, Be Happier

In the personal finance space and discussions of financial independence, so much of the conversation is about how to save money strategically.  Indeed, I've written quite a lot about smart saving, including, here, here, and here.  (Bonus video here.)  However, life is life.  And some things really do bring joy.  Sometimes you need to Spend More Money.

Spend Money On What You Care Deeply About

This post is meant to give you a reality check.  Are you swinging too far into the scrooge mentality?

Here's an example of my own life where I did a bit of a gut check to see if there were things I should have been buying that I wasn't--for one reason or the other.

The easiest place to locate such items is those things that float through your mind again and again that you might want to buy, but don't.  Here are the items I came up with.

  • A super nice water bottle.  I lost my last water bottle about a while back and was sort of grinding along using cheap plastic water bottles (the kind you buy with water in them already).  I kept thinking I should get another nice water bottle.  This actually does matter because I drink more water if I have a nice bottle always with me, filled to the brim.  So I bought this CamelBak Chute for about $13, and have been loving it ever since.
  • The charger for my computer is a little fritzy.  The link between the AC adapter and the cord that goes into my computer wasn't working properly.  This meant I had to often pick up the plug and jigger it around a bit until it started giving juice.  This resulted in me sometimes thinking I was charging when I wasn't.  Also, I take my computer all over the place and write from cafes and other locations.  If I had a backup plug (beyond the one that is on the fritz), I could just leave one plugged in at home all the time and have another in my daypack all the time.  This would save me minutes every single day not screwing around with unplugging and packing my one computer plug.  A few minutes research on Amazon, and I located a nice new plug for $15.
  • New Amazon Kindle.  I'd been thinking for a couple of years about getting a new Kindle--one that has a backlight and access to their fancy new Bookerly font and sharper resolution screens.  So I bought one.  The hilarious thing is that after I got the Kindle Paperwhite on sale for $89, I discovered that I prefer my older Kindle Touch.  My Touch looks way better, has better contrast between the native screen (without light) and ink, is slightly larger, and appears more durable.  So I sent back the Paperwhite, but I'm happy for having made the experiment.
  • I also bought a Dry Erase Marker Set for mind mapping on the white board at the local library.  I love mind mapping.  I prefer to do it at the library because it has become my dedicated mind mapping space.  But the markers at the library are always on their last legs.  It sucks.  So I bought my own set of markers.  Ahh.  The satisfaction mind mapping with fresh ink…..
  • Gifts.  I realized I really wanted to give a copy of this book to a dear friend of mine.  I have no idea if she will read it, but it was just one of those impulses.  I also gave some money to a charity focused on refugees.

Don't Let the Quest For Financial Independence Turn You Into a Scrooge

I recognized that the above examples might be a bit boring.  I'm sure what you would love to buy would be totally different.  These are just examples.  You know what?  The whole exercise cost me less than $100 (because I returned the Kindle Paperwhite), and I definitely upgraded the quality of my life.

The point is to make sure you aren't denying yourself items that would really bring joy to your life in some manic quest for financial independence.  Don't be such a scrooge that you drift through life living like you are a pauper.

BTW, I would definitely urge you to indeed deny yourself any of the above if you have any credit card debt.  And I would be slower to pull the trigger on optional stuff till you have your emergency fund going and maybe even a start on the broader financial buffer.

So where could YOU spend more money?  What little (or big) purchases would upgrade your life?