What are things we can do to be thrifty and make ourselves happier at the same time?

We’d be happier (and richer) if we paid down debts, spent more time savoring positive experiences and recollecting good memories, renting instead of buying, and focusing on goals that we find personally rewarding vs. goals motivated by money and external factors:

The authors respond to Dunn, Gilbert, and Wilson (2011) and offer additional ideas about how to apply the virtue of thrift to obtain greater affective benefit from spending less. Materialism and over-consumption is damaging for the individual, the economy, and the environment. Over consumption is understandable in light of hedonic adaptation, where the happiness arising from a positive change erodes via two key pathways: diminishing positive emotions and rising aspirations. In the U.S., hedonic adaptation encourages overspending and indebtedness. The practice of thrift is the wise and efficient use of resources, and there are many thrifty proponents and adherents throughout history –including Socrates, King Solomon, Confucius, Benjamin Franklin, and today, Warren Buffett. Studies suggest that individuals would spend less and derive more hedonic benefit by eliminating distressing debts, stretching positive experiences through appreciation and savoring, recycling positive experiences via variety and reminiscing, renting instead of buying, and resolutely focusing on intrinsic goals over extrinsic ones. With a strong financial foundation and the skills to make the most of positive changes, more Americans would be able to thrive financially and emotionally in challenging economic times, while contributing less to the perilous circumstances that led to these challenging times in the first place.

Source: “Happiness and thrift: When (spending) less is (hedonically) more” from Journal of Consumer Psychology, Volume 21, Issue 2, April 2011, Pages 131-138

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