Solomon, perhaps the wisest and wealthiest man who ever lived on this earth, said this long ago:
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25)
Those words are still as true today as they were the day they were penned. How you use your money really does matter. If you have ever purchased anything thinking it would make you happy, then join the club. However, when I think back over my life about my many purchases, there is one irrefutable reality—it did make me happier for a while, a very short while, but every new purchase eventually lost its luster, shine, sheen, gleam, polish or any other word you want to insert here.
The simple truth is this, regardless of cost, every new purchase eventually gets discarded. Just recently a lady traded her wedding ring for tickets to a Kansas City Chiefs game. She posted the trade offer on Craigslist and someone accepted. They met at a jewelry store to confirm the ring’s authenticity. The ring featured a round, brilliant cut .45 carats diamond, in a white gold setting with smaller diamonds equaling another .50 carats. A matching wedding band also featured 10 more small diamonds that added another .50 carats. The total appraisal was $3,100. So here’s the deal—someone got a wedding ring and matching band and someone else got tickets to the Chiefs-Chargers game on November 24 and to the Chiefs-Broncos game on December 1. My guess is that pretty soon both parties will regret the deal.
So, can the way we use our money really make us happier? Yes, it can if you use it wisely. In their book, Smart Money: The Science of Smarter Spending Michael Norton of the Harvard Business School and psychologist Elizabeth Dunn clearly spell out the correlation between money, spending and happiness.
The first thing they looked at in the book was the three biggest misconceptions people have about money. Misconception #1– people believe that “more income” is associated with a lot more happiness, i.e. twice the income equals twice the happiness. The truth spelled out in the book is that the link between income and happiness just is not there. Misconception #2-people believe that “how much money” they have leads to happiness. Again, the book says the correlation just isn’t there between the amount of money you have and your happiness. Misconception #3-people believe that buying new things will make them happier. Again, the correlation just does not exist. So if it is not your income, savings account or new purchases that make you happy, how can money make you happier?
According to the extensive research in the book there are a couple of things that you can do with your money that brings real happiness to people:
1) Save your money! According to their research, saving your money brings long-term happiness down the road. This is probably because when you spend out of savings you enjoy it more than putting it on the credit card.
2) Spend Wisely! Their research shows three clear ways to spend your money wisely that will bring your happiness now and later. Spending wisely, according to the book, is not just buying things; it is investing in others. The three places that this investing brings the most happiness are when people invest in their family, friends and worthy charities or non-profits. The greatest happiness gains were found to be when people invested in charities that were building up their families, friends and community.
So this December don’t just spend your money on a bunch of purchases that will lose their luster in a matter of weeks or months and provide no lasting happiness. Instead, invest your money in your friends, family and church. Not surprisingly, when all the research was completed and the book was finally published, the conclusion turned out to be this: “ A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25)
Remember- year-end giving…as you think through how you will spend your money this December, don’t just buy stuff, Invest!!! Invest in your family, your friends and your church—now that’s a real bang for your buck!!!