In 2010, Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest men, announced he’d leave 99% of his wealth to charity. He also met with fellow billionaires and got similar public pledges from them, including Bill Gates and Larry Ellison. Stanford research reports Buffett stating he “couldn’t be happier” with giving away 99% of his funds.

Buy happiness like a billionaire

Clearly most of us can’t afford to give away 99% of our wealth like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. However, if the world’s richest men “couldn’t be happier” giving away (and persuading their peers to give away) 99% of their fortunes, what does this tell us about money? It tells us, money does buy happiness.

Avoid the pitfalls

Buying happiness is hard, even for the very rich. Notoriously, big lottery winners usually find “their friends bug them for money…and it ruins their social relationships… so they have more debt and worse friendships than they had before”.  The lesson for those of us who haven’t won the jackpot: invest time in your friendships, and you’re already happier than the instant millionaires!

Who knew money could lead to unhappiness as well?

Get the best of both worlds with every dollar

A good trick is to combine spending on happiness for others, with “spending time” both literally and metaphorically, on your loved ones. “Helping others” doesn’t have to mean giving charity to strangers: For the most happiness, buy someone you care about an experience. And why not “tag along with them”, says Harvard happiness expert Dr. Mike Norton, “not only does spending our money on others make us happier than spending on ourselves, but buying experiences makes us much happier than buying stuff. And spending time with loved ones is a huge happiness booster”.

Not buying = happiness

Mike Norton has one more tip, so obvious it’s genius: “one of the best ways to use your money to get happy is simply to stop using it to buy stuff.”

Spend time, instead of money – and if necessary, spend money to get time: set up Bill Butler to manage your payments and outgoings, and spend the time with family or friends instead of managing bills and budgets. Or follow Mike’s lead, give up your online shopping habit and use your computer time to tweak your financial plan into optimum health!

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Jay Stephens
Lead Thought Provoker
Jay began his career in London with Rabobank, CLS bank and a Lloyd’s of London syndicate. Jay’s work has spanned corporate communications, content editing, newspaper articles, courseware, blogging, policy drafting, technical writing, and a regular crossword. He is passionate about 8-bit tunes, self-improvement, and the Oxford comma.