Byline: SOPHIE HERDMAN reports
IF YOU walk into a book shop and stroll over to the self-help section you're likely to spy a number of brightly covered books promising to make you mega rich. "Earn PS10,000 in an hour," they shout. "Become a millionaire in a week."
Yes, we're a society that's constantly led to believe more money instantly equals more happiness. However, in their new book, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, psychologists Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton argue a different case, stating that after a fairly low threshold, more money does not improve our contentment levels.
They claim that if we really want a life full of joy, we should change how we spend the money that we do have, instead of trying to make more of it.
Here are their five steps to help you spend more simply, more wisely, and more happily.
BUY EXPERIENCES "IT'S WELL documented that people get more happiness from buying experiences, like trips, concerts and special meals, than from buying material things, like dresses and houses," says Elizabeth.
There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, we tend to have experiences with other people, material purchases are more often enjoyed alone.
Secondly, we tend to compare our material possessions - homes, cars, outfits - to those of others, making us more likely to regret our purchase.
Experiences, however, are unique - it isn't as easy to compare a concert you saw with a film your friend saw.
Finally, the rush of happiness you feel when you buy a new material possession fades quicker than experiences.
"I've just bought a new skirt," says Elizabeth. "I was in a really good mood after I bought it, but soon it will just be another thing in my wardrobe. Whereas memories of experiences often become rosier over time, even if they didn't work out perfectly."
Put it into practice: If you have to choose between buying a new belt and going for a day out with friends, opt for the day out.
MAKE IT A TREAT "IT WOULD seem that the ideal route to happiness would be to have all the things we like best, all the time, but it turns out that's not true," says Elizabeth.
When we have something that we love all the time, it becomes the norm and we no longer get excited about having it.
That's why if we want something to stay a treat, we should limit how often we have it.
Put it into practice: Only have your favourite latte two mornings a week, opting for home-made coffee on the other days. Note how much more delicious your latte tastes when you're not drinking it so regularly.
BUY TIME "A FASCINATING finding from happiness research is that the big things in life, like getting married and having a good job matter - but not as much as people expect," says Elizabeth. …