We’ve all heard time and time again that money cannot buy happiness. As much as that notable statement has been made, do you believe it? A counter argument could be that money can buy stability and financial security, which can lead to happiness.
On the other hand, there are so many celebrities and rich but unhappy people in this world who are still unsatisfied with their lives no matter how large their bank account balance is. If you’re struggling with your financial situation, it’s easy to transfer the burden of your obstacles into a state of unhappiness.
Do you ever catch yourself saying I’ll be happy when ______? Statements like that don’t help and will only allow your ‘happiness’ to be short lived. I don’t know about you, but I want to feel great about my life all the time. Here are a few ways to find happiness no matter what your current financial situation is.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
The truest statement I’ve ever heard was: “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle”. The truth is, everyone had to start somewhere and whether you are just starting to improve your financial situation or if you’ve been working on it for few years already, there’s always going to be someone who seems to be doing better than you.
But when you compare yourself with someone else and envy their success, you are almost never comparing apples to apples. No one’s life is perfect and the same goes for their financial situation. Everyone has their own unique financial journey and once you realize that, comparing yourself to others will seem pointless; because it is.
Realize What You Have and What It Means
Do you have a place to call home? Do you talk to your family regularly? Do you have clean water to drink each day? Are you healthy? Are you alive? My guess is your answer is yes to at least one of these questions, especially the last one obviously. That means you have quite a bit to be grateful for and your situation isn’t as bad as it could be.
Instead of focusing on what you don’t have when it comes to money and savings, try to focus on what you do have. Even though I would like to lower my rent and living expenses at times so I can free up more of my income, I’m happy I have a place to call home and that I’m healthy. A ton of medical expenses could be weighing me down but they’re not.
Even if you don’t have anywhere to go on a Friday night because you paid all your bills and made extra debt payments or investment contributions, being in the presence of family and/or your significant other and getting to enjoy a movie with them should bring you happiness because there’s probably someone out there in the world who can’t spend time with their loved ones.
Take a Break and Enjoy the Present
The most common annoyance I feel during my debt payoff process is feeling like I’m not making any progress. When I see the principal balance for one of my student loans only decrease by $60, it almost makes me feel like the sacrifice that month wasn’t even worth it. These negative thoughts are only temporary though, as I quickly pick myself up and realize it’s time for a break.
‘Taking a break’ doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on your financial goals or going MIA and cleaning out your emergency fund to spend a few weeks in the Caribbean. But personal finance can be difficult and intense at times. It’s easy to get so caught up in earning money and saving so much that you can start to become obsessed with it and forget to enjoy the present. It’s no fun to obsess over your financial goals 24/7 and question a $1.50 purchase at the store (because trust me, I’ve done that).
To obtain happiness, you have to become content with where you are currently and accept the fact that you have a plan in place and it’s a work in progress. Taking a break could mean using some vacation hours at work to have a staycation and relax at home, making a little extra room in your budget for entertainment, or going out to eat for your cousins birthday even though you planned on avoiding restaurants for the next few weeks.
These little ‘breaks’ will allow you to enjoy more of the present and won’t really have a negative impact on your financial goals in the long run. Finding a balance and acting in moderation is everything.
Set Smaller, More Attainable Goals
It’s okay to shoot for the stars, but if your financial goals are so large that you start to feel overwhelmed and somewhat trapped, it’s time to break them up. Being realistic with yourself is the first step. For example, if your goal is to pay off $20,000 in debt this year and you only make $35,000 and live in an expensive area, it could be extremely hard to achieve this.
Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by setting unrealistic goals. Instead, break up your goals into smaller chunks and be honest with yourself about your capabilities. After one goal is met, give yourself a small reward and tackle the next. Recognizing small victories will make you feel so much better.
Do Something For Someone Else
Helping others not only makes you feel good and benefits the other person, it helps give you another perspective by taking care of someone else’s wants and needs instead of worrying about your own all the time.
I know for a fact that we all use the words I and my way too much because it’s just second nature to worry about ourselves first and foremost. But at the end of the day, achieving your goals will not be as fulfilling if you don’t have anyone to share the success with or if you don’t give back.
Pursue a Passion
What makes you excited or brings you joy? For some it’s helping others or using their hands to create things likes arts and crafts and for others it’s starting a business or writing a book. Find out what makes you ‘tick’ and pursue that passion to the fullest. This doesn’t have to involve spending a ton of money. If you have a hobby, make time in your schedule and commit to it. Pursuing your passion can be fulfilling whether you earn money from it or not.
How do you make the best of your financial situation?