Buying Happiness

I agree money can’t buy happiness” in that just because you have more money doesn’t mean you’re going to be happier. However, I wouldn’t completely disagree with the statement either. When you spend money on a vacation you’ve always dreamed of, or buy a gift for a close friend you just know they’ll love, or in my case buying a new toy for our dog, money can, in fact, bring you happiness.

When my husband and I were first married, our budget was simply “don’t spend money unless you have to”. This meant spending a dollar at a fast food restaurant would come with a sense of stress and added weight on our shoulders. Not a great way to live. Fast forward a year and we starting using a full fledged budget. We broke it out with specific dollar amounts allocated for specific line items.  After paying ourselves first (savings), we were able to build each line item including a little extra money for each of us to spend on whatever we wanted without worry or judgement from the other spouse. The stress dissipated and we could enjoy a few nights out here and there because they were already accounted for.

Fast forward even further and we purchased a home and adopted our sweet mutt, Archie (below with one of his favorite toys, Moosie).

All of the sudden we had a lot more things to pay for. Between the food, toys, vet visits, groomer, etc. we learned the hard way even Archie needed a separate line on the budget. Without one, it left us feeling burdened and stressed out. However, this was different than grabbing a quick bite to eat for sustenance. For us, spending the money on Archie puts a smile on our faces because we love him and know it makes him happy so in turn we feel happy. Every time we bring home a new toy, he sniffs at the bag, then sits patiently with his tail wagging uncontrollably until we hand it over to him. Archie is the perfect gentleman if he knows there is something in it for him – food or toy.

Sarah Gervais an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that while being rich doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness, “Doing makes us happier than having.” It’s not about purchasing the squeaky football or being able to buy him everything at the store. It’s about seeing Archie’s face light up seeing the toy for the first time and knowing he’ll have the same reaction every time we play catch after that.

If you’ve been a client of PDS for a while you might have seen our ad that says “The average cost of owning a dog is $18,805” and that was in 2013.

Take into account inflation over the last 7 years and we’re well over that number now. After having Archie for the last 3 years, I’m not surprised by this number at all. If I tell you we spend hundreds of dollars on our dog every year, you might think we’re crazy. But that’s okay! We’re all different. What I spend money on that brings me happiness is different than the next person.

The key is to recognize those things, people or experiences and account for them in our plan. For us, it meant adding an extra line item to your monthly budget to account for our dog. For others, it might mean making a special note or change to their financial plan. The sooner we are able to figure out what truly makes us happy, the better equipped we’ll be to do what makes us happy now and in the future.


Working with a Professional Advisor

We always try to remind our clients that it’s their money not ours, so we’re not going to tell you how to spend it.  And hopefully once we get to know you better we can start understanding what brings you happiness. Whether it’s spoiling your grandkids, taking a trip to Europe or creating your own backyard oasis (quarantine vacations), PDS will be there to help. When we spend money in ways that fit our personalities and values, that’s when it makes us happier. Since 1985, PDS Planning has worked with clients to eliminate the stress often associated with planning your financial future. Many of us have a list of places to go, but the problem is getting there. With over 30 years of experience helping clients plan their financial futures, we’re experts at optimizing an investment plan to each individual’s highly specific needs.  We’ll work to understand your vision for the short and long-term.  And we will provide objective guidance on the proper path to help reach your goals.

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that any specific investment, strategy, or product or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this newsletter, will be suitable for your individual situation, or prove successful. This material is distributed by PDS Planning, Inc. and is for information purposes only.  Although information has been obtained from and is based upon sources PDS Planning believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy.  It is provided with the understanding that no fiduciary relationship exists because of this report.  Opinions expressed in this report are not necessarily the opinions of PDS Planning and are subject to change without notice.  PDS Planning assumes no liability for the interpretation or use of this report. Consultation with a qualified investment advisor is recommended prior to executing any investment strategy. No portion of this publication should be construed as legal or accounting advice.  If you are a client of PDS Planning, please remember to contact PDS Planning, Inc., in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives.  All rights reserved.