(Post contains affiliate links. More info here.) One of the most important, life-changing books I’ve read is Playing with Fire: (Financial Independence Retire Early). There’s a simple exercise in the book, where you’re challenged to answer this question:
What are the top 10 things that make you happiest on a weekly basis?
Pretty simple. 10 things that make you happy. And that you do on a weekly basis.
Why weekly? Laura Vanderkam explains it well in her book Tranquility by Tuesday. “A week is the “unit of repeat” as mathematicians put it, in the pattern of our schedules… A week is long enough to encompass actions beyond immediate crises, but also short enough for you to have a good sense of the landscape…”.
Answering the question is life changing.
It will give you clarity into your values, lead to more happiness, improve your finances and maybe even your relationships.
The authors also have a documentary on Netflix. You can see a clip and the “10 things that make you happy” question in action here. While reading the book, I immediately wrote out my list. Similar to Taylor’s in the video, nearly everything I loved most was free or cost very little.
How can the “10 things that make you happy” exercise help your finances?
One, it reminds us that the best things in life usually are free. It costs nothing to take a walk with a friend, spend time in nature, cuddle your child, or have couch time with your significant other.
Two, thinking about happiness helps us spend money wisely.
When I do the 10 things exercise, I ask myself if my finances and weekly routines are reflecting what’s truly important to me. Am I spending time doing the things that make me truly happy? When I do my monthly budget, I ponder on this again. Did my spending last month reflect my values? If not, where do I need to make changes?
I’ve written about dumb reasons I spend money. One example would be buying fast food. While I do budget for a meal out with the kids once a month, that spending makes me happy. It nurtures my relationship with my children and feels like an experience (I value experiences far above things). I treasure my relationships more than anything else, so this spending makes me happy. Running through the drive-thru because of poor meal planning? Ehhhh not so much. It doesn’t make memories or cultivate my relationships.
Research shows that spending money in line with our values makes us happy.
I wrote about this when I reviewed the book All the Money in the World (also by Laura Vanderkam, luv her!)
Another example of spending in alignment with values? Travel. I spent less than $90 on a flight to visit a blogging friend I’ve “known” for ages online, but had never met in person.
Remembering happiness and values also helps take the sting out of monthly bills.
Paying the mortgage makes me feel happy because my property protects and houses nine people. Buying groceries makes me feel proud because I value my health and that of my children. Etc.
I recommend doing the 10 things exercise annually. Sometimes, a few of my answers change. But mostly, they don’t. It’s also fun to do the exercise with someone you love. If you’re in a relationship, it can spark interesting conversation about your core values.
Have you ever made a “10 things that make you happy on a weekly basis” list? I’d love to hear what made your list!
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