Numerous studies have demonstrated weak correlations between happiness and wealth. (The sole exception are the truly impoverished, who are most likely to report being unhappy.) Still, once you are out of poverty, there is very little relationship between happiness and financial stature.
Before I had children, I learned the most from my parents, grandparents, and other mentors of my personal and professional life. Nearly all were at least several years older than me. Yet, since I had my first daughter in 2005, I have to come to appreciate just how much I can learn from both her and her sister (who was born nearly two years ago).
For example, did you realize:When you spend less, you get more value out of life or How Kids Save You Money? Did you know that, while Money doesn’t fall from trees, leaves do or How a Swing Set Can Keep You in Balance? These are some of the most important lessons in life. Far less important is Why the government is subsidizing golf carts. Still, the latter is among my most popular posts of late and was featured in this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance. While reading through many of the carnival’s, I discovered Enemy of Debt’s Enjoy Frugal Entertainment Without Breaking The Bank, an article after my own heart. The enemy provides a solid, though by no means exhaustive, list of family-oriented legitimately enjoyable activities available for little or no cost. It’s a good reminder of what’s really important.
In my own life, I continue to see this everyday from my two girls. The older one wants to play Chutes and Ladders almost every night. (In less than a year, I think we’ve amortized the cost of the game to under a dime per play – a rate that is sinking fast). Better yet, she’s getting better at counting and we’ve created a bit of a ritual, even a memory that will stay with us for years to come.
My youngest one’s joy comes from even simpler pleasures. While I was playing with her at the playground over the weekend on a vintage New England fall day, the wind suddenly picked up. Leaves were blowing everywhere and her face was beeming as she felt the breeze upon her little body and could see little things flying through the air. You could see she was experiencing a sensory overload but was thrilled by the moment. A few seconds later the wind calmed down. Immediately, she looked at me and asked “More?”
It’s too bad that I don’t have the power to make wind. On the other hand, I am glad no amount of money could change that – perhaps I would have been tempted.
Remember what really counts in life. If you ever forget, spend time with a child or a senior citizen, who often have very different perspectives. Recall this isn’t about being cheap. Rather, it’s about being fiscally responsible. Want more examples? Here are Five ways to be (or not to be) fiscally responsible.