According to a study by AARP, money can actually buy happiness. Their survey of 1,000 Americans aged 40-59 found that, "More financial security tops the list of changes that would increase one's happiness. Similarly, the top things people would have done differently in their lives pertain to finances."
To fully capitalize on the value of your money, it is often worth paying a premium for things that improve your health, workflow and productivity. Here are some tips for utilizing money to buy comfort, happiness and growth.
Splurge on time-savers
Updating your calendar and to-do list one last time before bed might seem like a tiny, innocent task. However, that last check could easily turn into an hour-long session of making sure all of your loose ends are tied up, increasing your stress levels and decreasing the amount of sleep you will get.
To save time and sanity, splurge on time-savers that will reduce the number of daily processes you are responsible for, leaving you free to attend to more important matters in your life. For example, hire a real-life or virtual assistant to schedule and maintain your appointments. Or, hire an accountant or bookkeeper to keep an eye on your investments and finances.
For more inspiration on how to leverage money to make your life easier, check out this list of apps offering ways to effortlessly boost productivity, accountability and success.
Perhaps choosing the regular, store-brand tomatoes over the organic, hydroponic tomatoes isn't that big of a deal sometimes, but don't substitute plain ramen noodles or greasy takeout for a nutritious meal with protein and vegetables every night.
To ensure that you are in tip-top shape to change the world, invest in food delivery services that make it easy to eat healthy, fresh food on a daily basis. HelloFresh, for example, delivers recipes and pre-measured ingredients to your doorstep weekly, while The Fresh 20 offers a similar service with an emphasis on simplicity and cutting out preservatives. By planning and budgeting for meals ahead of time, you are guaranteeing a more healthy lifestyle, which will affect both your everyday performance and your wallet.
Keep your mind sharp and your network large
While taking free online courses through Coursera can be effective, there's nothing more motivating than being in the same room as a group of peers or a teacher. To facilitate professional growth, stay up-to-date about developments in your field by allocating some of your budget towards taking courses at your local university, attending conferences and subscribing to journals and magazines relevant to your field. Or, perhaps embark on a completely different field of study.
Remember that at conferences or in classes, you also have an opportunity to network, thus adding a social dimension to your growth.
Invest in your health and comfort while at work
Today, the average office worker spends 5 hours and 41 minutes sitting at a desk, according to a study presented by the British Psychological Society. And more than a few of us are guilty of plopping down in front of the couch after dinner and not moving until bedtime, further contributing to a sedentary lifestyle.
Buy a standing desk for the office to combat the negative effects of sitting down all day, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other health concerns. However, standing all day isn't good for you either, so look for a model that can be adjusted to accommodate a chair, like those offered by Varidesk, and split your time evenly between standing and sitting while working.
In addition to having a comfortable desk, make sure you have ergonomically-designed accompaniments to your workspace, like a keyboard, mouse and chair. Spending an extra buck or two on top-of-the-line equipment will ensure that you will be both relaxed and productive.
Create the ideal work and home environments
After you've spruced your office up with the latest and greatest equipment, consider giving your whole work area a makeover. The default eggshell-white wall color and cubicle-based office layout from the '80s have never given anyone a sense of comfort or happiness. Instead, paint your walls to improve productivity, or rearrange the entire space to spur more interaction among employees.
While you're at it, take some time to take stock of what your home situation is like. Do you enter your space feeling exhausted instead of energized? Does your bedroom exude agitation and gloom instead of warmth and peace? Take a trip to your local home furnishings store, get into Feng Shui or even browse through Pinterest to get some ideas on how to improve your personal space. Having the ideal place to call home will improve your quality of life and happiness in the long-run, and those effects will positively influence all aspects of your life.
Make your bedroom a sanctuary
The CDC recommends getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night, but it's often hard to achieve that goal because of environmental restraints, like having too many lights and electronic stimuli in the room or getting backaches from your old, uncomfortable bed that you haven't had the time to replace.
Prioritize your sleep and ensure your health and happiness by removing computers, tablets and TVs from the bedroom and eliminating harsh, bright overhead lighting. Instead, use ambient lamp lighting or soft accent lighting in the bedroom. Then, purchase a luxurious, quality mattress that is also hypoallergenic, like those offered by my company Amerisleep. Consistently getting amazing sleep will allow you to perform better when you are awake and will ensure the utmost comfort and happiness while you are at rest.
What are your tips for utilizing your money to live a happy, healthy life?