The budgeting trick that prioritizes happiness


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As a personal finance writer, I’ve read quite a few articles about how to limit your spending. A lot of people in the online personal finance community preach frugality to a level where it becomes somewhat of a challenge — the less you spend, the more impressive you are.

But to me, “money can’t buy happiness” is one of those mantras that gets thrown around a lot without much consideration. Sure, most people accept that having more material things doesn’t lead to being happier overall. But we also can’t deny that more money means more freedom.

A famous study from Princeton claimed that more money coincides with higher levels of happiness only up until one reaches a salary of $75,000, and after that, happiness levels taper off. While that specific number is often argued, the basic idea rings true for a lot of us: we find trouble shaking off the idea that having more money would solve all of our problems, when just some more money would suffice.

I can say that, in my own personal life, earning more money has correlated with more happiness. When I was working temp jobs in an expensive city for my first year out of college, I had to work more hours to try to make ends meet. While I still have yet to hit that magical $75K milestone, I’ve increased my income enough that more of my time feels like my own. It’s not that I’m simply spending more on stuff, but that the anxiety over money is diminished — I can work a regular amount without having to worry about making my rent or whether that extra Seamless order will push my credit card bill over the edge.

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