How Living on a Budget Can Increase Your Happiness

It’s a strange concept to consider, as the only thing that most folks have ever heard is “money brings happiness” and that the more money we have, the fewer restrictions we’re given. While it’s no surprise that having a comfortable income creates less friction in our social lives, quite the opposite can be true if applied correctly. We all want more in life and the unfortunate reality is that many hard working individuals are earning much less than they deserve, but why focus on what we don’t have when we can create positivity from the gifts we so effortlessly receive? In lieu of the holidays rapidly approaching and the wish lists continuously growing, here is a list of reasons why budgeting brings happiness:

  • Budgeting builds a bond — When it comes to setting aside enough money for rent, insurance, etc., it’s very simple to point fingers at your significant other and argue over the nickels and dimes of bill paying, but creating a realistic financial guideline each month can be a wonderful bonding experience. Financial author Dave Ramsey once said “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went”. By outlining what you have available, you are creating endless possibilities for what that money will bring you. Drawing up a grocery list and getting creative with the items in your fridge can suddenly become a creative date night. I’ve also found that some of my boyfriend and my best, rawest conversations come from money discussions. Our goals and plans for the future all involve money, but we have learned to turn our talks into building blocks for our future and focus more on what we can set aside now rather than what we can’t yet obtain.
  • Less money, fewer attachments —  This may sound completely crazy, but living on less makes it easier to let go of the objects and material goods we desire but cannot afford. Of course this doesn’t stop me from online browsing through clothing, home goods, etc., but it allows me to put things into perspective and sift through what I actually need rather than what I just want in the moment. Some days I’ll add ten items to my shopping cart and one by one, delete the items that I realize I have no real use for. Usually the cart dwindles down to three or four items, and I usually end up letting those items dangle in virtual space until they are out of stock and I forget about them completely. Some may say this is a waste of time if I have no intention of buying anything, but I truly believe it helps me see goods for what they are — an accessory. If I needed something from any of these websites or retail stores, I would have already found a way to buy it.
  • The value of time over money — My boyfriend and I both have steady, full-time jobs. They pay well enough that we live comfortably and have had the freedom to travel and choose the area that we want to live in. We complain that we could do “so much more” if we had a bank account that never seemed to shrink, but over the course of the past 18 months, I’ve realized our time together has become much more precious because it’s something we both have to give and commit to in order for time to be spent together. Having regular date nights can be as expensive as candlelit dinners of rib eye steaks and good wine or as cheap as macaroni, store brand ice cream and Netflix, but either way we find the time and make it count while we have it. Plus, when we do decide to spend money for date nights, we know we are both giving up other purchases to make this one count. Having less in my pocket has made me richer in how I value my time and I find that to be as rewarding as any amount of money I may have in my wallet.
Emma and Zach Ziplining
Zach and I zip-lining in Alaska. We still speak about this trip and the amazing things we were able to experience….memory over money.

Would I give up a promotion or a winning lottery ticket to continue cutting pennies as I am now? Probably not. But as long as I’m living the lifestyle I currently maintain, I am confident that my happiness will only continue to grow as I see things for how they can contribute rather than what they cost.

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