Money can’t buy happiness but money problems can affect happiness. So here’s how to balance earning money, reaching your goals, and living a fulfilled life.

  • First, write down your goals - long and short-term and a time frame for achieving them. Studies show that setting and working toward goals makes people happy. Because as you measure your progress, you feel a sense of accomplishment. But here’s a word of caution: Don’t list money as your top goal. According to Dr. Tim Kasser of Knox College, putting money as your #1 priority makes you more likely to suffer from depression, high anxiety, and low self-esteem. Why? Because you’re letting money define who you are and whether or not you’re a successful, valuable person. On the flip side, if your goals include time with family and friends, education, fitness, travel, and charitable work, you’re twice as likely to be happy and content with your life.
  • The next tip: when it comes to money and happiness, don’t bother to keep up with the Joneses. According to the credit-counseling group Myvesta, men overspend to impress their friends. Women overspend in order to fit in with their peers. So you’ll tend to buy similar clothes, similar cars, and do the same activities as your friends. But you have no idea what your friends actually owe on their credit cards. Yes, Mrs. Jones may be driving a new Beemer, but the likelihood is that Mrs. Jones is in debt up to her eyeballs.
  • Finally, know what enough is. Yes, you should ask for a raise if you deserve one. But know this: The more people earn, the more they spend. The more stuff you have, the harder you have to work to afford that lifestyle. So think about what “enough” is to you. How do you ultimately want to spend your time? Where and how do you want to live? What people do you want in your life? Keep those answers in your head, because if you don’t, you could waste the next 50 years chasing a finishing line that keeps moving farther away.

Wanna know more? Check out the book Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.