We’ve said before that money can’t buy happiness unless you use it to improve your emotional life. That means, skip the trendy new clothes and techno-gadgets. They’re only short-term mood-boosters, and the high you get from buying them often wears off before you get home from the mall. Instead, focus your spending on your well-being. Here’s how, courtesy of Rodale Publishing.

  • Get something for your bedroom, not your living room or kitchen. When people redecorate, they usually focus on the rooms guests spend time in, but researchers found that getting a good night’s sleep consistently is a great way to boost happiness. Since we spend one-third of our lives in bed, it makes sense to invest in a new mattress, 600-thread-count sheets, or heavy-duty window shades to help you sleep better.
  • Skip the expensive exercise equipment, and get a gym membership instead. A survey by Consumer Reports found that 47% of people rarely use their home exercise equipment. You buy it thinking “I can work out whenever I want,” but then it becomes a coat rack. On the flip side, when you work out with others, you’re more likely to stick with it. You’ll also get better results. After all, if you slack off on the treadmill in your basement, nobody will know, but your spin class instructor isn’t going to let you slide. People work out harder when they know someone is monitoring them.
  • Also, instead of splurging on spa treatments, take a vacation. Getting a massage may make you feel pampered, but it’s not enough time. A study in the Journal of Occupational Medicine found that vacations – even just a long weekend - reduce stress, boost short-term happiness, and improve long-term mental and physical well-being.
  • Don’t spend money on yourself – spend it on others. Researchers gave volunteers $20 bills and asked them to spend it on themselves, or give the money to someone else. The result: Those who gave the money away felt happier at the end of the day. So, send a few bucks to your favorite local charity once a month – like a food pantry, humane society, homeless shelter, museum or library. If you want to find a good cause, check the website CharityNavigator.org.