Every once in a while, I find myself turning on the Xbox, going to YouTube and watching a TED Talk or two. This morning, was one of those mornings. All of the talks I’ve seen have been interesting to say the least, but today’s talk, WOW! What a way to think of things. If you want to watch it, it’s the YouTube video to the left or click here. Anyway, inspired by this video, I started to think…”I’ll bet our happiness financially works the same way. Do we build synthetic happiness around our finances?”
Testing The Synthetic Financial Happiness Theory
OK, so I’m not going to go to random people and ask them detailed information about their financial positions. Instead, I’ll think back to my first checking account. When I got my first checking account, I was incredibly happy. I didn’t earn interest, I didn’t have the option to get pretty checks without paying for them, but I was ecstatic to have a checking account. I didn’t have any choice, I was stuck with one option, and I was happy!
Now, let’s fast forward to today. When it comes to personal banking accounts, I’ve got all the options in the world. There’s no reason I’d be turned down for anything I wanted. Today, I have a checking account that earns interest. I also have my own personal bank checks with a design that I picked out. Here’s the funny part. At least once a month, I find myself looking for bigger and better checking account options. As a matter of fact, today I found myself looking at EverBank personal banking rates because I heard of a guarantee to be in the top 5% of earned interest on money market accounts.
The Theory Goes Beyond Checking Accounts
Let’s think of this in other ways. Let’s think of how much extra money we have to spend on a monthly basis. For me personally, I burn through a few hundred bucks a month on things like eating out, beer, outdoor activities, and more. And you know what, I’m happy. Then again, if I think of people who are less fortunate, I generally think that they are less happy. However, if the synthetic happiness theory is correct, they are just as happy as I am, even if they can’t afford to go eat at Applebee’s twice a month.
So, I started To Think…Can I Turn Synthetic Happiness On?
Wouldn’t it be cool if I could flip a switch and turn synthetic happiness on, even while I have choices? If so, wouldn’t that be an amazing financial tool? What if I could grin and bear not having as much monthly play money? Instead of spending the money, I could save it and create a better future for my family…and still be happy!
Let The Trials Begin
I’m going to perform another test. As a result of this test, we’re going to find out if you can flip a switch and be synthetically happy, or if you actually have to be unhappy to build synthetic happiness. Well, at least on a financial level. Here’s how my test is going to work.
- Monthly Play Spending Limit – On average I spend anywhere from $350 to $400 on fun a month. Instead, I’m going to limit my spending capabilities to $200 per month.
- Test Duration – The test is going to last 3 months. This is because after 2 months, having less money will become habitual. The 3rd month will show how happy I really am having less to spend.
- Where The Extra Money Goes – Instead of spending the extra $200 I have available, I’m going to invest it into my Scottrade account.
- Monthly Reports – Every month, I’ll share my level of happiness with you. I’ll be crucially honest so that we don’t disrupt the test.
This Month’s Report
This month I spent like I normally do. As normal, I’m a pretty happy guy! I’ve got nothing to complain about at the moment, I’ll check in with you next month to see how I feel after forcing myself to spend less!
Take Part In The Challenge!
I’d love to have a few strong-willed people take up the challenge with me. Who knows, maybe you can even share your experiences in monthly updates on my blog! Are you with me, if so, let me know in the comments below!
A Big Thanks To These Resources
Unrelated Fun Reads
I’ve decided to add a new section to each of my posts. I love reading personal finance blogs, and if you’re here, you probably do to. So, from now on, I’ll be including a couple posts that were great to read the on other blogs at the end of each of my posts. If you know of a great read that you’d like me to share in this section, let me know by emailing CNAFinanceHelp@gmail.com.
The Crew At Modest Money Is Teaching Us A Big Lesson – In this post at Luke1428, Brian explains how Jeremy at ModestMoney.com is teaching us all a lesson about being a part of the blogging community. If you’re a PF blogger, this is a great post for you!
Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Me – If you’re a fan of personal finance blogs, you know about Frugal Rules. In this post, John shares a few details you probably didn’t know about him.