Psychological Money Sense

Tax Day 2015 = over (for most).  Whew.  Ready for some ways to boost your buck?

Would it surprise you that your emotional well-being really doesn’t improve by becoming wealthy?  There’s been a host of research in recent years that look into happiness and money.  Possibly the most commonly known one is theNational Academy of Sciences study on well-being and money.

This study’s now famous $75,000 mark suggests that a person’s emotional well being (how they feel day-to-day) AND their evaluation of life (their overall perspective of how they are doing) improves up to the point of earning $75k per HOUSEHOLD in the United States.  Beyond this mark, emotional well-being doesn’t significantly improve, though a person will evaluate their life as better if they earn beyond this mark.  To quote their findings, “We conclude that high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being” (Kahneman, et al. 2010).

So what do “happy money” spenders do?  Research by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton in Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending (2014) reveals how money is spent makes the crucial difference in happiness.

  1. Buy Experiences.
    • Connect with people; target experiences over stuff.
  2. Make It A Treat.
    • Making something special and novel increases its enjoyment.
  3. Buy Time.
    • Make time to slow down and pursue what’s valuable to you.
  4. Pay Now, Consume Later.
    • First, don’t consume with money you don’t have.  Second, enjoy at a later point- anticipate.
  5. Invest In Others.
    • An incredible thing happens when we give: happiness.  “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, The Bible, ESV).

Looking for ways to understand this deeper?  Check out the links below.  Are you making the most of what you have?  Are you caught up in materialism and consumerism?  Today is always a great day to do something different.  Money is one of the many areas covered in my holistic approach to counseling.  Feel free to reach me to find out how hope and change might occur through professional counseling.

Yours Truly,

Justin K. Hughes, MA, LPC


In Pursuit Of A Better Mood: When Psychology Misses the Point


Are you “addicted” to having a good mood?  The all-out fascination with having a good mood might be distracting you from living meaningfully.

What is your highest priority?  Relationships?  Money?  Status?  Fun?  God?  Adventure?  Let’s get honest- if pushed and prodded, what is your greatest care?  What do you spend the most time thinking about?

Too often, we are sold a shallow mantra: “As long as you’re happy.”  “Do whatever makes you feel good.”  Much of advertising, promotion, and sales center on these mantras (including counseling).  From landscaping to love, if we can feel better as a result, why not do it?

The problem is, the elusive search for the “holy grail” of our lives can often end bitterly.  Why?  People often don’t get happy by pursuing it alone.  Happiness doesn’t come as a result of selfish hoarding (just type in “research on happiness” in a search engine).  People who only care about their happiness have a name- they’re called narcissists and self-absorbed.  I have been- and can be- this type of person.  There is a better way.

Psychology, though I love it so, misses the point when it answers life’s biggest questions with: “Does it make you happy?”  How about, “Who am I?”  “What do I want to be known for?”  “What is God’s will?”  “What is my purpose?”

Don’t let yourself be reduced to a bottom-feeder by taking what comes your way.  Look deeper.  You are valuable and fascinating and unique and amazing.  YOU.  Created in God’s image.  Filled with purpose.  Now go get ’em.