Elizabeth Dunn is a Psychology Professor at the University of British Columbia, and Co-Author of Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending (Amazon Link). The focus of her research is on the link between wealth, spending, and happiness and how changes in behaviour may help enrich our lives without necessarily having to make more money. I first discovered her in this interview on The Unmistakable Creative Podcast. I highly, HIGHLY suggest you check it out. It’s about 45 minutes, and full of golden knowledge to help you tweak your perspective on money and spending. I’m definitely going to be reading her book very soon.
I’m the kind of person who loves Christmas and buying gifts for people, but also loathes the question: “Are you done your shopping yet?” Especially with Christmas just around the corner and the retail machine warming up for Black Friday (…and Monday, Tuesday, and basically any day marketers can justify to launch huge mega sales) I think it’s very important to consider what it is we are going to be spending on and what we are going to give the people that we love.
In the podcast Elizabeth touches on 5 principles, one of which is that spending on experiences goes A LOT farther towards happiness and fulfillment than spending on material items, which is something to consider even if money isn’t tight. For example, spending money to go to play or a music show with a friend or family member may be far more fun and meaningful than a DVD or an iPhone. Novel experiences are especially powerful, and if you’re clever it doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, Professor Dunn says the cost of an experience is far less related to the happiness it creates than is so with material items
In terms of photography, I’m applying these principals to future purchases on gear and other investments in the business. I could buy that new lens that seems cool and so necessary (even though it isn’t) or I could spend the money to travel to a new place (especially in the dead of cold winter!) and meet a ton of new and interesting people and make new and interesting photographs. I’ve always thought this to some extent, but listening to Elizabeth’s research just brought it into more clarity. In the podcast Elizabeth also talks about how important it is to well-being to spend on things that lead to socializing, and I’m going to be focusing on that in the future, too.
Happy Sunday, and happy smarter spending!