Your Result

Spend more wisely by making mindful choices about your purchases

To be happier, consider a habit that will help you make wiser decisions about your purchases.

Why this aim is likely to make you happier

We often hear that “Money can’t buy happiness,” and while it’s true that money can’t buy happiness, money can buy things that contribute mightily to happiness. We can use money to help others and to put our values out in the world, invest in experiences that enrich our lives, and buy possessions that make our lives easier or reflect our identity.

One-click shopping, credit cards, and other innovations make it ever easier to shop impulsively. Making mindful purchases helps us to stick to a budget, eliminate waste and clutter, feel a sense of control, and avoid regret.

Aims you might consider

Set aside time every month to review your purchases and budget for next month

Schedule regular conversations about money with your partner—most people only talk about money when there’s a problem, so frequent check-ins helps to create a more positive discussion

Review your automatic payments every month—are there any regular expenses you can automate? Any paid subscriptions that you no longer use?

To make it tougher to spend impulsively, remove your credit card information from the saved auto-fill fields on your computer and smartphone

Give yourself a cooling-off period before you make any purchases

Budget for and schedule routine maintenance to avoid bigger, unexpected expenses later for items such as your car, household appliances, and your health

Know Yourself Better

Self-knowledge is an essential aspect of happiness, because we can create a happy life only on the foundation of our own nature, our own values, and our own interests. 

As you consider ways to spend more wisely by making mindful choices about your purchases​​​, ask yourself:

  • When you look at your monthly spending, can you identify any purchases or regular expenses that don’t reflect your values or support your goals?
  • Identify the problem. If you keep going over-budget in certain areas, why? How else might you solve the problem? For example, if you tend to splurge on meal delivery on low-energy weeknights, you might prep and freeze ready-to-heat meals for the week.
  • Are there any areas where it might be more valuable to you to invest money in order to free up time or energy? Or vice versa?
  • Consider the items you use every day. Would upgrading any of these items improve your experience? Pay special attention to anything related to sleep and exercise—they’re very important for happiness, so worth the investment.

A few notes of caution…

  • Be aware of any unhelpful loopholes you may employ when thinking about money. The Tomorrow Loophole (“I’ll start investing later”) and the Fake Self-Actualization Loophole (“Life is too short for me to take the time to track how much money I spend on lattes each month”) are common examples.

  • There’s no one “right” way to achieve your aim. For instance, for some people, using cash makes it easier to spend mindfully, because handling actual currency makes the money seem real. For others, using a credit card makes it easier to spend mindfully, because there’s an automatic record of where the money went. Use the method that’s most useful to you.