Monday, March 09, 2009

Money Can Buy Happiness

Gretchen Rubin has been writing a series of posts that outline 10 happiness myths. Today's is Money Can't Buy Happiness. She argues that it can. As people are losing their jobs or seeing salary cuts and experiencing depression as a result, it seems obvious that money does buy some happiness. I agree. When we were young and poor, one or both of us in grad school, we were constantly running into situations involving money that made us unhappy. It was not fun to juggle bills, to put off much-needed car repairs, or eat meals made up of whatever canned goods are left in the cabinet. I can remember days of going to the mall just to have something to do and being thoroughly depressed because I couldn't buy so much as a cup of coffee.

We're way past that now, and boy, am I glad. Having enough money to buy the essentials and pay the bills on time is a blessing. But, we have taken steps backwards financially over the years. Moving here was one such step, and my recent decision to quit was another. Both decisions, despite the financial setbacks, were made to make one of us happier. And I'd say that both decisions were good ones. We may have to think a bit more about purchases, budget a little more carefully, plan longer into the future for even small things, but all in all, the stress of having to do that is minor compared to the stress of working in a job that no longer appealed and that took me away from my family more than I wanted it to.

As Gretchen suggests, even though money may be a bit tighter than usual, I still spend money on little things that improve my life. I'm not a regular coffee shop patron, but every once in a while, I like to sit down with a latte and a muffin. I like bubble bath and magazines and books. Those are all things I could give up if I had to, but they're also things that make me pretty happy with just a small investment of cash. And, of course, there are things that don't cost money that make me pretty happy, too. But sometimes, a few bucks will buy a little joy.