How to Balance Money and Happiness

By: Keith Wagstaff · June 03, 2024 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Happy Professor

Can money buy you happiness? The answer is complicated.

Arthur C. Brooks, a Harvard professor, columnist at The Atlantic, and co-author of Build the Life You Want with Oprah Winfrey, said he thinks there is nothing wrong with wanting or making money. But the more important question might be: Why do you want money?

The secret to happiness is not wanting more, he said, it’s “wanting less of the things that actually won’t bring real satisfaction,” he said, speaking with TheStreet.

Don’t Borrow For Stuff You Don’t Need

“The number one mistake that people make is that they borrow money for consumption,” Brooks said. “Never borrow money to consume.”

He’s not talking about paying for essentials like groceries and rent. Brooks means buying a car or clothes you can’t afford for a boost to your mood that won’t last.

How to Cut Spending

Sticking to the 30-day rule can help you save money. If you’re tempted to buy something, stop and leave the store or website where you found it. Then write down its name, price, and where it can be found. Mark your calendar 30 days ahead. When that date comes, you can reevaluate whether you really want to buy it.

Other strategies, such as mapping out a budget and thinking hard about what triggers your purchases, can also help you cut back on spending.

Spend Money on the People You Love

“People think that things are permanent and experiences are temporary,” Brooks said. “It’s exactly the reverse. Psychologically, experiences reside in your mind and heart forever. And it’s the things that kind of fade away.”

Spending money on experiences with people you love can bring you happiness, he said. So can giving to causes that are important to you.

If you’re going to spend money on traveling with loved ones, do it smartly.

Finding deals on hotels, airfares, and rental cars can help you experience the joy of travel while leaving you with money left over for your next adventure. And you don’t have to splurge on an island vacation to bond with family. A road trip gives you plenty of time to connect and build relationships.

Watch the entire interview with Arthur C. Brooks here .

Looking for more stories like this? Check out On the Money — SoFi’s one-stop-shop for news, trends, and tips!

Check it out

Please understand that this information provided is general in nature and shouldn’t be construed as a recommendation or solicitation of any products offered by SoFi’s affiliates and subsidiaries. In addition, this information is by no means meant to provide investment or financial advice, nor is it intended to serve as the basis for any investment decision or recommendation to buy or sell any asset. Keep in mind that investing involves risk, and past performance of an asset never guarantees future results or returns. It’s important for investors to consider their specific financial needs, goals, and risk profile before making an investment decision.

The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. These links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement. No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this content.

Communication of SoFi Wealth LLC an SEC Registered Investment Advisor

SoFi isn’t recommending and is not affiliated with the brands or companies displayed. Brands displayed neither endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks and service marks referenced are property of their respective owners.

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender