Robin Powell: There’s no point in accumulating wealth for the sake of it. What matters is what we do with our wealth.
An important question to ask, then, is how can we spend our money in a way that improves our general sense of wellbeing? Here’s Jason Butler, a writer, and speaker who specialises in personal finance.
Jason Butler: The link between money and happiness, and there’s been loads of research done on that, and money, obviously you need a certain amount of money to avoid you being in poverty, if you’ve got nothing then you are skint and you can be very unhappy. Beyond a certain point having more and more money and more things and more choices doesn’t necessarily make you happier, but there is a sort of a happy medium and that will be different for all of us. There will be a sweet spot, I think we all instinctively know it. And, it’s having that choice to choose. It’s having the ability to see people and build relationships with people that matter to us and that we care for. It’s having life experience as opposed to having lots more stuff, and it’s not worrying about stuff.
The one message I want to get across to people is that it’s not so much about getting rich, but it’s about avoiding being poor and having choice in life so that you don’t have worry, anxiety, and stress. And that you can look forward to the future of optimism but that you enjoy life today as well.
RP: Most of us at some stage or other have bought something physical — an expensive item of clothing, for example — which we thought would make us happier than it actually did. Jason says it’s better to spend money on experiences than on tangible possessions.
JB: All of the research tells us, that the biggest bang for your buck happiness wise is to buy experiences and to do those experiences with other people. So for instance, going to a pop concert with your friends is going to get you more happiness than buying the latest iPhone that you tell all your friends about because bragging is definitely not a good deal. But here’s the point. We’re all different. The most important thing you need to do is step back and say, “What does make me happy and am I using my money in a way that helps me get more of that and less of the unhappiness?"
RP: So experiences are likely to make us happier than simply having more stuff. But research in this area also shows the benefits of thinking about other people’s needs.
JB: Another thing that so all the research show us, is that giving to charity both time/money or both, gives us a great deal of happiness and increases our overall wellbeing. So, therefore, being really intentional about giving your time and money to causes that are important to you. And really thinking it through and doing it on a planned basis is probably better for you than just responding emotively to short-term campaigns, or people jangling buckets which obviously you can contribute to, but they don’t actually add a lot to your financial wellbeing, your general happiness.
RP: Thank you to Jason Butler, and to you for watching.
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