Could you squeeze more happiness from your dollars? Here are 10 questions to ask yourself:
1. Which expenditures from the past year do you remember with a smile? Which prompt a shrug of the shoulders and maybe even a twinge of regret? Use those insights to guide your spending in the year ahead.
2. Could you commute less? Research tells us that commuting is terrible for happiness. You might move closer to the office or try to work at home a few days each week.
3. When during your life do you recall being happiest? Try to figure out what made it a happy time and what role money played. Could this help you to use your money more wisely in future?
4. Are there chores you dislike, such as mowing the lawn, cleaning the house or making dinner? Paying others to do these chores could be a good use of your money—and deliver a big boost to your happiness.
5. Should you make more time for friends and family? Many activities, such as exercising, eating lunch and going to the movies, are far more fun when you do them with others.
6. Which activities are you most passionate about and find most absorbing? Could you rearrange your life, so you devote more time to these activities?
7. Are you making yourself feel poor? If you live in a town where most of your neighbors are richer, shop at stores you can barely afford or eat at restaurants where the bill is always a nasty shock, you’re likely hurting your happiness.
8. What career would you pursue if money weren’t an issue? In middle age, many folks grow weary of their current jobs and think of changing careers. What would it take financially to make such a big change?
9. Which major expenditures would you like to make in the years ahead? Whether it’s a major home remodeling project, a special vacation or a new car, you’ll get more happiness from the dollars you spend if you plan ahead, so you have a long period of eager anticipation.
10. What are you grateful for? You may be able to squeeze a little more happiness from your latest pay raise or last year’s family reunion if you pause for a moment and think how lucky you are.
This column was published with the permission of HumbleDollar.com.
Jonathan Clements is the editor of HumbleDollar.com and author of “How to Think About Money”. Jonathan spent almost 20 years at The Wall Street Journal, where he was the personal finance columnist.