When Purchases Can Make You Happy

My favorite blogger, Mr. Money Mustache, has been a major force in my life since 2011. He doesn’t post as often as he did in that first year, but MMM still appears from time to time and I always find it valuable. Most recently, he made a splash on the Tim Ferriss podcast.

In that episode he provided one of the most brilliant rules of thumb I’ve ever heard. In regards to what he thinks about when making a purchase:

And finally, I ask myself “Is this removing a negative in my life?” Because it’s pretty well studied that happiness is not very much affected by adding positives to your life. It’s mostly – especially in a rich world environment like we live – it’s mostly accomplished by removing things that are a strong negative to everyday.

You can hear this part of the discussion around [46:33] in the episode.

What a great bit of guidance! If you’re solving a problem, and buying a thing is the best way to solve that problem, that purchase has a much better chance of contributing to your happiness. If you’re purchasing something because you’re counting on the purchase to make you happier you’ll always be wanting.

MMM explains this principle more deeply here: A Lifetime of Riches – Is it as Simple as a Few Habits?

But that rule alone someone could add to every single purchase: am I removing a negative or adding a positive? How much spending could you avoid if you followed that as much as possible? You don’t even need to aspire to greater net worth to find value in that, only greater happiness.


Photo credit: cadencrawford on flickr

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