3 tips on how to spend your money in a way that actually makes you happy

Many of us are taught to avoid talking about money. As such, we struggle to understand the relationship we have with it. We can think about questions like:

  • “If money can’t buy happiness, why do I think I would be happier if I were richer?”
  • “My parents never allowed me to spend money on them. How do I tell them that having certain amenities is not the same as being addicted to luxury?”
  • “Are materialism and happiness mutually exclusive?”
  • “Does flaunting make me greedy and selfish?”

It is good to ponder these questions as they tell a deeper story about how you view money and its role in your life. Here I’m going to talk about three ways money can actually buy happiness, according to new scientific research.

#1. Spending money on your partner pays off

We often feel prompted to find creative ways to show our commitment to our partner. It could mean making an unexpected thoughtful gesture, making a handmade gift, or thinking of new ways to spend time together.

While all of these methods are great, there’s nothing wrong with buying your partner something they want or could use—or, even better, something they want but would never buy for themselves.

A recent study shows that partners who regularly spend money on each other are happier in their relationship. Spending on your partner increases the partner’s responsiveness, which contributes to the health of the relationship and the individual mental health of both members.

Additionally, buying something for your partner doesn’t mean you didn’t put time and effort into the gesture. Buying something nice is exhausting too — maybe you needed to save money, plan a sale, or make a reservation.

When it comes to investing in your relationship, both time and money make a difference.

#2. Spending money on a furry friend can be wonderful

Yes, pets are a big responsibility. Yes, they can wreak havoc. Yes, they sometimes leave bite marks on brand new furniture. Yes, vet visits can be expensive.

But pets are not money pits. On the contrary, research shows that spending on your pets — whether it’s for exercise, toys, or accessories — can significantly increase your happiness levels.

There are other positive aspects too. Petting a dog can have stress-relieving effects on the body and mind. Keeping your pet active forces you to stay active. Perhaps most importantly, pets also play an emotionally supportive role for you and your family.

People who own pets are known to be more sociable and tend to form thriving communities with other pet owners, which can be a powerful antidote to loneliness and isolation. It was no surprise that as the pandemic hit and the world went into hibernation, pet adoption and sales hit record highs.

#3. Spend your money on experiences, not things

While spending on others is a great way to increase your happiness, spending on yourself is not a crime. In fact, buying new and interesting experiences for yourself is a great way to achieve long-lasting happiness that isn’t rooted in materialism.

Investing in experiences like a solo trip, a concert, or even a music lesson can add significant milestones to your life story. Experiences increase in value over the years, and they always enrich you in different ways (which new clothes or jewelry rarely do).

Unconvinced? Think about your honeymoon, the time you took your kid or siblings to an amusement park, or the time you went to that book reading by your favorite author. Would you trade these experiences for anything else in the world?


Money is nothing more than a symbol of value. You may use it when you want to tell someone that you appreciate their love, work, and presence—even if that person is you.

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