• Dr. Jill Bakke

Finding Happiness with Money

Have you ever considered that money is a state of mind? Money is neutral, a simple tool for exchange of goods and services. It is our thoughts and practices about money that give it value for us. Last month’s article dealt with some feelings we have about money that create problems of debt and stress. This article offers a few solutions to those practices.

One of the most common and effective things we can do is to stop and ask (1) Do I need or simply want what I am contemplating purchasing? And the second is (2) Why am I considering buying it?

So often we see something online or in a store and quickly pull out our wallet or credit card and buy it.

Asking the questions of need versus want (and the why of our pending buy) doesn’t mean we can’t have an item because we simply want it for its extra convenience or beauty. But it does mean we probably won’t take home our eighth pair of brown shoes or our sixth pair of blue jeans.

Another aspect is to look at what you are exchanging for the purchase in question. How many hours of work? What else could you do if you didn’t use the money for this purchase

Considering how much money you could pay on current debt, the mortgage, or put away for your child’s education or a special vacation might change your mind about that purchase.

Becoming aware that an exchange occurs every time you buy something is a new awareness for many people. But the idea leads me to consider bartering as an medium to use. Everyone has skill(s) to barter. Consider the person growing fantastic vegetables or who is a talented seamstress. I would offer money for organic fresh vegetables or an alteration to a garment I loved and wanted to keep wearing, but I also might have a skill that they’d be willing to take in trade for their services and goods.

A third aspect of money management has several threads. When I shop online I load my basket and let it sit for a few days. Often, I dump it or pare it down when ordering. I compare prices on major items and do a bit of research on what would work best when it is a mechanical purchase. When possible, I stay out of malls and tempting tourist shops. Basically, these techniques give me breathing room, time to decide if I really do want to spend the money to buy the item.

I’m not saying I do all the right things. If you looked into my closet, you would definitely agree. But I am beginning to employ them more and more often. It isn’t the amount of stuff we have; it is how we utilize those things. More things than we need clutter our house and pack our storage spaces to the max. In some cases, it creates clutter which in turn creates clutter in our personal work and life. It fills our landfills to overflowing and is dumped into our seas to pollute the water.

Things don’t make us better or more important; that is an inside job. Things don’t even make us happier unless we choose wisely what those things are. Having health insurance and my home paid for make me happy, and fresh flowers in the living room make me happy. Having a little nest egg and no big debt makes me even happier.

I hope some of the ideas in this short article will help you find your happiness with money.

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