Can't Buy Happiness?

Money, personality, and well-being

You've Got to Face It to Erase It

Individuals who manage their money are more satisfied with their lives.

Recent research into the age-old question “Can Money Buy Happiness?” has resulted in some intriguing results. There is now empirical support linking several specific financial strategies to increased happiness and life satisfaction. These suggestions include delaying gratification, savoring positive purchase memories, making purchases that satisfy needs as opposed to desires, purchasing life experiences as opposed to material objects, and, ultimately, spending money in ways that increase psychological need satisfaction as well as in ways that are central to the self.  

Face it to Erase it!

You've got to Face it to Erase it!

Also, in today’s world, many consumers do not manage their money well and end up suffering from overwhelming levels of debt. Prominent financial counselor, Suze Orman suggests that "You've got to Face it to Erase it", referring to the need to start looking at and managing your debt.

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Students in my lab were interested in determining if how one manages their money can also influence happiness. To answer this question they examined people's responses to several money and happiness quizzes completed by members of the BeyondthePurchase.Org community.

Results indicated that how an individual handles their money (i.e., do they repay credit card debt on time, track their purchases, or save money regularly?) had a great influence on their feelings of security. Also, when people felt more secure, they experienced increased happiness and life satisfaction. Specifically, we determined that individuals who manage their money were happier, more satisfied with their lives, and experienced less negative emotion. 

"Our findings suggest that dealing with credit card debt and loans has the biggest impact on happiness," says Grant Donnelly.

Has your credit card or student loan debt gone unchecked? Developing a repayment plan might not only improve your financial situation, but might actually make you happier as well.  

To better understand the benefits of specific consumer choices, we continue to investigate the relationships between consumer preferences, psychological needs, happiness, and values at our website by allowing people to take tests on personality. To learn about what might be influencing how you think about and spend your money, register with Beyond The Purchase, then take a few of our personality quizzes:

How materialistic are you? Take the Material Values Scale and learn about your spending habits. We think you may learn a lot about what causes you to part with your hard-earned money.

Can money buy happiness? Take our experiential buying survey and on your feedback page you will learn how to spend your money to be happier.

Which spending decisions will make you happiest? Take our Spending Choices and Happiness survey and on your feedback page you will learn how to spend your money to be happier.

With these insights, people can better understand the ways in which their financial decisions affect their happiness. Responses to these surveys will also help researchers further understand the connection between money and happiness.

Ryan T. Howell, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University.


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