Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Convert Cash into Contentedness: Books

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Convert Cash into Contentedness: Books

Article excerpt

The platitude is right after all, says Steven Schwartz - it is better to give than receive.

Happy Money: The New Science of Smarter Spending By Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton Oneworld, 224pp, Pounds 10.99 ISBN 9781851689989 Published 7 June 2013

Money can't buy me love," the Beatles once told us. But how about happiness? According to Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, money can make you more satisfied with life; you just need to know how to spend it. In their book Happy Money, Dunn and Norton offer "five key principles" for happy spending.

Buy experiences. Don't bother with material things. A new Porsche may make you happy for a while, but the joy soon palls. Spend your money on experiences instead - go on holiday, see a show or dine out with friends. Such experiences will make you happier than owning stuff, and give you something to talk about at parties.

Make it a treat. Because human beings quickly habituate to the status quo, even enjoyable experiences eventually become boring. So try to dole out your pleasures. Make your morning coffee a special treat rather than a daily routine. Instead of staring at the TV for hours, save your viewing for special shows. Break out of a rut by rewarding yourself and your partner with the occasional date night.

Buy time. Time is too precious to waste shopping: it should be used for activities that produce lasting effects on happiness. Ignore those who say, "Time is money." You won't enjoy visiting a museum, or gardening or playing with your kids if you spend the time dwelling on the money you would be earning if you were working instead.

Pay now, consume later. Where possible, Dunn and Norton suggest exchanging "buy now, pay later" for "pay now, consume later". Not only are you less likely to get into debt, the pleasure of anticipation provides an extended source of happiness. If you book and pay for your winter ski holiday in the autumn, you can dream about the slopes for months before you depart. When you finally get around to going, it will be so long since you paid it will seem as if the holiday were free.

Invest in others. If happiness is your goal, then the single best thing you can do with your money is to spend it on someone other than yourself. Investing in others allows you to connect with other people and to make an impact on the world - and it is good for your health as well. …

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