Deriving More Happiness from Your Spending Habits

Not all purchases are created equal. No matter your tax bracket there is often the feeling that there isn't enough to do what you want, pay off what you need to, and sock enough away for down the line.

There's always some excuse for not getting on top of our finances, we are busy after all, and between work and families, there's little brainpower left to devote to balancing the books and making more mindful spending choices. But what if, with just a few tweaks, you could? In this article, we will walk you through a few techniques that can help you feel happier about your spending habits and your money management skills.

Technique One: Make Spending a Treat

Are you the type to grab coffee out every day? How about lunch? If so you may be spending thousands of dollars a year. By bringing a lunch and making your own coffee you could pay off a credit card bill, go on a great vacation, or have a nice chunk of change tucked into your savings. We nickel and dime ourselves all the time and retailers know this. Supermarkets and department stores are designed to make the things you need harder to find and encourage impulse buying along the way. Online retailers create urgency with sales, email campaigns, and coupon codes. On top of that, keeping a credit card on file makes it all the easier to make last-minute instantaneous purchases. The less we use cash, the less we feel these fast, impulsive purchases. A great place to start tweaking our relationship with money is making the little purchases more of a treat than a given. Paying in cash is a good way to see where your money goes, allotting yourself a certain amount of spending money a day, when your wallet is empty, then you've reached your max. By practicing mindful buying you can also fight the urge to just speed-spend. Pick up items, try on clothes, price comparison shop. Retailers are very savvy about the psychology of the shopper's brain and design your experiences to upsell you. So, step one is to talk a pause and really think before you buy. Do you need a $5 coffee (and the extra calories?) is it better to grab a $10 wilted salad or to brown bag it? The average family wastes over $2,000 a year throwing out leftovers alone.[i] You may find that by making your purchases more of a special treat and not just a blah exercise in consumerism, that the things you own start to mean more. That cappuccino becomes a treat and not a daily caloric indulgence.

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But are there any other differences between the two?

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