This Just In: Money Can Buy Happiness

...if you invest in the right things.

March 7, 2017

By Jennifer Van Evra

They say money can’t buy happiness, but Elizabeth Dunn, UBC psychology professor and co-author of Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending, has other ideas.

Q: How can spending money make you happier?

A: One way is to buy experiences. Indulging in a nice dinner out or a weekend away will provide more happiness than buying a high-definition TV or other shiny things. Another is to make things a treat…so don’t buy that expensive smoothie every day.

Buying time can also buy you happiness. Another pair of heels isn’t going to change the way you spend your time, but paying a cleaning service so you don’t spend your Saturdays cleaning your house will. Another trick is to pay now, consume later. Pay for that vacation right away—you get the financial pain out of the way, and you get the pleasure of anticipation, a valuable source of happiness.

Or you can invest in other people. If you have $5 in your pocket, use it to make somebody else’s day. You’ll give yourself an emotional boost as well.

Every time you are buying something that’s intended to make you happy, stop and ask yourself, how will this purchase affect the way I spend my time? If it’s not going to make any difference, just put your wallet away.


Check back for more from VanMag‘s 25 Ways to Live Forever package (our March 2017 cover story!) to learn about the myriad ways—blood transfusions, juice cleanses, IV drips—Vancouverites chase the dream of eternal youth.

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