Best Practices

Top Things to Spend Money on For a Happier Life

by Ana-Maria Sanders   Date Modified: Jul 22, 2022

Everyone has their own personal financial philosophy. Some prioritize saving money and building wealth, while others are more inclined to spend on experiences and luxuries. Whatever your style, almost everyone agrees that spending money on the right things will make you happier. The key is knowing what those things are. That’s why we’ve taken the time to analyze what the experts think and compile a list of the top things you can spend money on to make your life happier.

Research Shows that Money Can’t Buy Happiness

First, a caveat; since the dawn of human civilization, there’s been a widespread belief that money can buy happiness — but science has proven this to be false. In fact, the American Psychological Association has found that while money can buy material things, it cannot buy a more fulfilling life.

So why do so many people continue to believe in the myth?

There are a few reasons. One is that we often associate money with happiness because we see so many advertisements and hear so much marketing in our daily lives. But ads are not reality, they are just symbols, and symbols can be manipulated to convey meaning in whatever way the person creating the ad wants. More other factors also impact our happiness level, and it’s easy for money to get lost in the mix. Unhappiness is often a product of many other factors, and money is not nearly as large a factor as most people believe.

That said, there are definitely wrong ways to spend your money. Avoiding those purchases and choosing the following options instead should make you a happier person. Just don’t think that we’re saying that money buys happiness. It doesn’t. But, if you spend your money wisely, you will likely be happier.

Help the Ones You Love

Some of the most meaningful things a person can spend money on are the small gestures of kindness we offer our loved ones. This can be as simple as bringing a cup of coffee for your partner in the morning or picking up a bouquet of flowers for your significant other. These simple things say a lot more than any words ever could. However, it’s also important to remember that helping your loved ones is not only about offering financial support. It can also include taking out the trash or helping them with everyday tasks.

Self-Care

Massage therapist giving client a massage One of the most important things you can do for your own happiness is to make time for yourself. This doesn’t mean you should completely isolate yourself from the rest of the world. It does, however, mean taking time to relax and unwind. This will allow you to recharge your batteries and re-focus on what really matters in your life. There are many ways to do this, from taking a bath to watching a movie. You can also engage in a hobby that you’ve been wanting to try, like taking cooking classes or crafting something with your hands.

If you enjoy taking some time for yourself, a self-care day is a wonderful idea. Find your local spa or massage center and make an appointment for yourself. Taking a day off work to refresh and treat yourself is another form of self-care. Catching up on a book you’ve put off, going on a weekend or day trip, or journaling are all ways to wind down and relax your mind.

Use Helper or Cleaner Services

Money can’t buy time, but you can use it to free up more of your time to do the things you like. For instance, hiring a maid service can make it so you don’t have to waste your precious time cleaning your house.

Also, hiring a professional cleaner gives you peace of mind knowing that your home is in pristine condition. Additionally, hiring a helper helps you keep track of your household tasks and make sure that everything stays on track. Finally, spending money on cleaning and maintenance services shows that you care about the state of your home.

Although there are many benefits to hiring a helper or cleaner, there are also some potential downsides. First, it can be hard to find trustworthy people who will work hard and treat your home with respect. Second, it can be expensive to pay for these services on a regular basis. However, if these concerns sound like they’re worth the trouble, then, by all means, go ahead and hire someone to help out around the house.

Buy Healthier Food

Healthy food is often more expensive than processed foods. But the cost of buying healthy food is worth it if you eat fewer calories and feel better overall. So, while it may not always be easy to spend money on healthier foods, it could be worth it in the long run!

When you buy healthy food, you’re adding more nutrients and fiber to your diet. You’re also making sure you aren’t eating too many calories — which can be important for weight control.

Foods that are high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, may help to protect against cell damage and age-related diseases. And when it comes to weight loss, it may be important to avoid foods that are high in sugar and saturated fat.

Invest in Things You Use Everyday

Everyday expenses could include gas, groceries, clothing, movies, or dinner and drinks. There are many ways to maximize your experiences and activities to fit the lifestyle you want. For example, if you are a movie buff, consider buying a monthly movie theatre subscription that allows you to see multiple movies each month. If cars are your passion, there are several magazines for the auto enthusiast that wants to stay informed about the latest trends and updates on the auto industry.

Mattress

Everyone deserves an excellent mattress. This is one of the more practical items on the list, and considering we spend one-third of our lives sleeping, it’s a rather important one. Sleep is an essential part of our daily lives, and getting good sleep starts with a good mattress. If you have some money to spare, replacing an old mattress should be your top priority. While at it, consider replacing your pillows and bed linens too for an even cozier night’s rest.

Consider investing in a waterbed mattress or a mattress that molds to the shape of your body. While these are more expensive purchases, they are for the mattress fanatic who enjoys restful sleep and a little bit of fun.

Shoes

It may sound simple, but if you’ve never owned a pair of nice shoes, you’ll be amazed at the difference a well-fitting, stylish pair of shoes can make. When looking at things that are worth money, shoes definitely make the cut. If you’re someone who works on your feet, likes to work out, or is just on the go a lot, having at least one pair of ultra-comfortable shoes is of the utmost importance.

Wearing shoes that are worn out, the wrong size, or that don’t properly support your feet’s arches can lead to problems later down the line, such as spinal issues, back pain, and damaged knees. Your spine, back, and knees are all things you can’t replace, so do yourself a favor and purchase new shoes that will prevent you from suffering later.

If you are into new trends and styles, consider looking into the latest brands of sneakers or heels. Net-a-porter and Neiman Marcus have several designer shoes and other apparel that may interest you.

Experiences

If you are uninterested in material possessions, consider spending your money on experiences. Actively participating in an experience makes it even more worthwhile and creates memories for years to come. There are several experiences to choose from: concerts, hikes, and cooking classes, to name a few. Find what interests you and make a day out of exploring it.

Home Improvement

Aerial view of landscaper working Improving your house isn’t just about finding stuff to spend money on. If your house is in pretty good working order and you’re not sure where to start, go with projects that will raise the value of your house. Upgrades that increase your home value include the following:

  • Touch-ups to the exterior. This includes anything that will increase your house’s curb appeal. Common touch-ups include landscaping, replacing the front and garage door, adding a stone veneer, and repainting.
  • Kitchen remodel — another popular home improvement project. A full remodel includes replacing the cabinets, appliances, counter, sink, and floors. If you’re even more ambitious, you might consider installing a kitchen island or secondary sink. A minor remodel of a 200-square-foot kitchen will cost you about $21,000 and net you a 77% return upon resale.
  • Hiring an interior designer to help with decor and styling your home can be a fun and fulfilling activity. It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint will do. If you want to play it safe, a neutral color palette looks good in most rooms and will appeal to the house’s future owners as well. Or, if you want to improve your home’s resale value along with its look, you can replace the carpet or refinish the wood flooring. Having a comfortable space catered to your taste is guaranteed to make you happy.

There’s no doubt that making significant home improvements is a big project and one that will cost a lot of money and time. Still, it’s an investment in your and your family’s future comfort and happiness. If you’re someone who spends a lot of time at home – maybe you’re a stay-at-home parent, or you work from home – or are planning to sell in the future, home improvement is almost always a worthwhile pursuit. Regardless of how much time you spend at home, though, your house is a place of peace and respite and deserves the extra love and care of a home improvement now and then.

Travel

Travelling is one of the best ways to spend your money on a happier life. Travelling allows you to visit fun, exciting, and new places that are far from home. This also allows you to immerse yourself in new cultures and ways of life that will broaden your own worldview. It can also be a great way to meet new people, learn new skills, and experience new things.

If you are looking to travel but don’t know where to begin, consider doing some research on the places you’d like to visit. Look into plane tickets, hotels, sightseeing options, and activities, so you know how to plan your itinerary.

Splurge on 4- or 5-star hotels, enjoy a fancy Michelin-star meal, and explore as much as possible. There are several sites dedicated to traveling luxuriously.

In general, it’s a good idea to budget when planning a trip, especially if you are traveling abroad. Each country has its own set of customs and norms that may be difficult to navigate if you are unfamiliar with them. Before you decide on a country, learn about the culture and its people. It will make your trip more meaningful and enjoyable in the long run.

Hobbies

The science is in – hobbies are vital to a person’s mental, physical, and even social health. This makes them one of the best investments to improve the quality of life. Hobbies are any purposeful activity you do for fun, fulfillment, or self-betterment.

Engaging in activities you enjoy sets the mind at ease, activates creativity, and creates the environment for a happier life. People who practice their hobbies regularly experience increased positive moods and decreased rates of stress and depression. Additionally, people with hobbies that provide an opportunity for social interaction, such as team sports or music, have better social skills and feel more socially fulfilled.

Consider spending money on one of your current hobbies, or, if you don’t have a hobby, take a class in something that seems interesting!

Car

Car salesperson handing keys to buyer and shaking handsIf you commute to work every day, you already know how much of a lifeline a reliable vehicle can be – and how frustrating it is to own a car that’s constantly breaking down or in the shop for repairs. If your car is showing its age, it may be time to buy a new one.

If you need emergency car care and don’t have the money available, then you may need to look into cash advances.

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You don’t need to go out and buy the latest luxury model (unless that’s what you want). Plenty of people buy used but consider putting your money towards a brand-new vehicle if you’re able to.

When purchasing a car, there are a few things you should take into consideration. Your number one concern, of course, should be safety. Buying a new vehicle ensures that, at the very least, your brakes aren’t likely to give out soon. It also allows you to buy a car with the latest gadgets and security features, such as backup cameras, lane departure warnings, and motion detectors. You can also look up a vehicle’s safety rating for a better understanding of how safe your new car is compared to others on the road.

Entertainment

As mentioned earlier, if you find yourself spending a great deal of money on entertainment sources, such as movies and drinks, consider entertainment at home. For example, plan a movie night with friends and family or a day where you concoct your own beverages together.

If you are not concerned about money, your options are endless. The theatre, opera, concerts, and various activities in your city are all great entertainment options when you need a nice break from work or a date night idea.

Conclusion

While the items on this list are practical, it’s important to remember that they don’t define happiness. The most important thing is to find what makes you happy and ensure that it doesn’t change. For example, it might be time to reexamine your goals if you find yourself constantly worrying or stressed out over little things. You may also want to take a step back and reevaluate your current situation. There’s a good chance that there is something you’ve been overlooking for a while. Once you identify the problem, you can work to make things better. It can be easy to forget how important it is to be happy. Taking a few minutes daily to appreciate how things are going in your life can make all the difference.

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Ana-Maria Sanders, author at OpenLoans
Financial Analyst
Ana-Maria Sanders writes about consumer and business finance. She has been featured on Business.com, CreditCards.com, FOX News, and FOX 29.
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