My 100th Post: If Money doesn’t buy Happiness, than you are spending it Wrong

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I wouldn’t have worked as a financial advisor or be writing a financial blog if I didn’t believe that most people have a happiness number.  Your happiness number will be adjusted over time based on changes in your lifestyle choices.

You don’t need a degree in psychology to recognize that happiness is a state of mind. I have to admit that after a modest level of income, there isn’t really any evidence to suggest that people’s happiness increases with their wealth.  Money is not going to turn an unhappy life into a happy one. Some people are unhappy no matter how much money they have. However, I have also seen where spending money that you don’t have can turn a happy life into an unhappy one. Whether you are loving life or hating it, I do believe that it could really depend opon how you are spending your money!

“I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.” This insightful bit of personal financial wisdom has been credited to entertainer Sophie Tucker, comedian Joe E. Lewis, comedienne Fanny Brice, actress Mae West and many others.

Some tips on buying some happiness:

Tip 1 – Buy experiences instead of things

Who we are as individuals is the sum of our experiences not the sum of our possessions. The joy of buying something new tends to deteriorate over time but creating memories last a lifetime. Sharing those experiences with family or friends can make you even happier.

Tip 2 – Many small pleasures might be better than a few big ones

Will you be happier saving money for a big-ticket item like a luxury car or indulging in small things like going to a spa or out to dinner with friends. You may be surprised at how many small pleasures can add up to a happier lifestyle.

Tip 3 – Spend on others and not yourself

There is a lot of merit to the saying “it is better to give than receive” The holiday season is just around the corner. Isn’t seeing the reaction of family & friends opening a gift that is thoughtful and unexpected, priceless?

Tip 4 – Rent a dose of happiness

You can enjoy something without having to own it. Rent a cabin hideaway if you enjoy the great outdoors. If you love the thrill of driving a luxury sports car, rent one occasionally or sign up for a weekend racing experience.

Tip 5 – Before you buy think about all the downsides

Often people buy with rosy colored glasses, they only see the good buying points and forget all the shortcomings. For example; some people think that owning a truck and a large trailer would be a great way to see the countryside. What they don’t see is having loud neighbours at camp sites, buzzing insects, traffic jams and vehicle breakdowns. Happiness is often in the small details.

 

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During my career as a financial advisor, I helped many clients find their happiness number. For some it was buying their first home, for others it was seeing their children graduate or get married will little or no debt. In my own case, my happiness number allowed me to retire early and spend more time with family & friends.

I am very fortunate to go south every November to play golf with my buds. We started 13 years ago with a total of 8 golfers, we now have 20 and there is a waiting list to join our group. We have so much fun that one of my house mates made a surprise comment. ” I would have to be on my death bed,  for me to miss this golfing trip” (Money well spent!!!)

When you think about it, money has no real value except that it can be exchanged for goods & services that we need and want. In my humble opinion, the whole purpose of having wealth is to use it as a tool to create a life you desire, enhance the lives of people you care about and hopefully leave a legacy that you are passionate about.

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Sometimes Being Frugal May Not Be Worth It?

Friends of mine invited us to join them on a four-day bus tour to New York City. I wasn’t very keen on accepting their offer; travelling ten hours by bus from Toronto to a hotel in New Jersey and back again wasn’t very appealing. After a little arm twisting from my wife, I decided to take the plunge to go on my first ever long distance bus tour.

Some Positive Points of Touring by Bus

  • Lots of stops to stretch our legs, get some food and use restrooms
  • We watched an interesting documentary on the Statue of Liberty & Elis Island on the trip down
  • Our route was very scenic  through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania and upper New York
  • Discount coupons for shopping in New York City, plus at an outlet mall on our return trip home
  • Really well-organized, lots of information on things to see, handouts on train & subway lines
  • Tour guide provided some fascinating facts at all the different stops (The Wall Street Bull isn’t on Wall St because of permit problems)

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Biggest Negative Was I needed More Time to See the NYC Sights

  • Traveling back & forth from New Jersey to Manhattan wasted 2 hours a day
  • Lots of time waiting for everyone to rejoin the group at the different stops plus getting on and off the bus
  • Spent too much time on sights that I wasn’t interested in and not enough time on other sights
  • 10 hours by bus verses 1.5 hours by plane
  • Great travelling weather but it was cloudy & raining during touring days     : (

There were too many highlights to share in one post so I will only mention two that really moved me. The first was visiting Elis Island because the ship that my mother and I took from Italy stopped there before we boarded a train from New York City to Toronto. Thousands of immigrants made the same journey under much worse conditions.

The second was the One Trade Center Memorial where the names of all the people who died during 9-11 are listed. The two reverse water fountains symbolizes tears. Memorial staff remember victims’ birthdays by placing a single white rose by their names.

Some Travel Tips for NYC

  • Admission tickets to popular sites have to be booked in advance (2 weeks or more)
  • Popular high-profile sites have airport like security checks, give yourself some extra time
  • Manhattan Streets run east-west and Avenues run north-south, impossible to get lost, or so they say
  • Trains & subway lines are relatively safe and easy to use
  • Expect carrying bags & backpacks to be checked even at low profile sites like at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Now I did save money taking this bus tour but in hindsight, there are so many things to see in New York City.  I think it would have been worth it to spend the extra to fly to New York and stay in a relatively cheap (for Manhattan) hotel. Either way, I highly recommend putting New York City on your bucket list.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers & followers!!!