Have you ever heard of the saying “money can’t buy happiness”? While it’s a lovely sentiment, it’s also a little incorrect (at least for most of us). If you’re saying that someone giving you a load of cash wouldn’t take a load of stress off your mind for paying this month’s rent and utility bills, then something is wrong. Of course, you might just be worried that there are strings attached to that money. In that case, you’re right to be cautious. Taking out a loan is basically having someone give you money, but you also need to pay it back with interest at some point, so it can get us a little depressed. However, what if there was a way to get money, be happy, and not have the worry of a loan creeping up on us?
The answer is in budgeting. Budgeting is essentially a “free” way of getting money; you look at your expenditure and income and you cut down on spending in order to use that money on other things that will make you even happier. Most of us already spend a lot of money on things like entertainment, but many of us also overspend on things we don’t need. For example, do you really need to have several on-demand video subscriptions, or could you do with just one? Do you really need a music subscription if you don’t use it very often? Could you save money by switching utility providers? These are the sorts of questions you need to ask yourself when budgeting.
So if budgeting can give you extra money to play with and money makes us happy, it creates an obvious link: budgeting increases happiness. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most effective ways to manage your budget without stressing out over the finer details.
Give your money a purpose
One of the first steps to take in order to let your money make you happy is to give it a purpose. Money is just money, after all. It doesn’t serve much purpose on its own, and unless you put a value on your money and give it a purpose, you’re not going to get much happiness out of it. Think of it this way; if you save up for a month to purchase something flashy and new, such as a new television or a computer, then you’re going to be far happier about your purchase than if you bought a bottle of water on your way to work. Not only was the bottle of water an unplanned purchase, it’s also something necessary and you’re expected to give up that money. It’s why spending money on paying our bills feels so bad—because it’s a necessary expense that everyone has to pay. If you give your money an intended purpose for the sake of your own enjoyment, then spending that money is going to feel fantastic when the time comes. Don’t neglect the importance of giving yourself something to look forward to when using your money—it will become one of your main sources of motivation when budgeting.
Cutting unnecessary things
There are plenty of unnecessary expenses in your budget that are probably eating away at your happiness. Let’s first take a look at some of the more unavoidable expenses and how you can cut them down. You probably pay a set amount of rent each month, and there’s probably no way to lower this much unless you manage to re-negotiate with your landlord. Fortunately, if you pay the bills then there are a couple of ways to lower them. For starters, make sure you’re looking at alternate providers for your utilities. Whether it’s electricity providers, internet providers, gas companies or even your water provider, make sure you look for alternatives that cost less or provide a better service. There are many comparison websites out there that you can use to compare the prices of two different services, but keep in mind that you might need to pay additional fees, such as cancellation costs or service charges. If you do plan to switch, then make sure it positively affects your budget instead of costing too much to be worth the trouble.
Enjoying simpler pleasures
It goes without saying that you need to learn how to stretch your pennies. Whether it’s cooking up some quick and easy recipes instead of going out to eat or deciding to cut down on luxury foods for a while, you can save a lot of money by just enjoying some of the simpler pleasures in life. You don’t need to buy expensive brand named bread to use for your sandwiches, just get the cheaper stuff. It’s still edible and, as long as they don’t contain extra additives that you don’t want, they have the same nutritional value. You could also save money on entertainment. Having a good time usually eats up our budget like nothing. A night out could quickly turn into an expensive outing because you decided to buy a round of drinks for your friends or if you decide to go for desserts after a meal. These things are fine once in awhile and it could be the reason you want to save money, but if you aren’t particularly having fun or enjoying yourself when you splash all that money on expensive nights out, then you might want to consider staying in occasionally. You could put that on-demand video subscription to use by inviting a few friends over and watching a film instead. You could buy your own ingredients and cook up some snacks, and drinks are arguably cheaper when bought from the store instead of a bar.
So let’s wrap it up. Budgeting for happiness essentially means budgeting with the intention to spend your money on things that really matter in life. Give every single penny you earn a purpose and live a little more frugally so you learn how to enjoy the simpler and cheaper pleasures in life. Learn how to cut down on necessary expenses like your bills and rent, and live a fuller life with the power of budgeting.