Do You Need a Happiness Budget?

Photo by Andreas Weiland on Unsplash.

How many of you have a separate budget line item for… well… happiness?

I don’t mean a vacation budget, which is more like a once-a-year thing. This is money that you budget in advance for the stuff that’ll make you happy — or, as Holly Trantham explains for NBC’s Better blog:

My “happiness budget” is money set aside for things that either a) make me feel the best in my day-to-day, or b) are things I simply enjoy the most.

She lists a few items that fall under the “happiness budget” category, including dinners at her favorite restaurant, yoga classes, and spontaneous theater tickets. I’m curious whether her budget also includes line items for “restaurants,” “health,” and “entertainment,” and, if that’s the case, why certain purchases come out of “happiness” while others don’t — but I also totally get that some restaurant meals are obligations while others are pleasurable, and maybe it makes sense to separate those expenses out.

So. Do we all need to set aside a chunk of cash for our own happiness? Is it another way of paying ourselves first, before that money gets thrown towards restaurants we don’t want to visit? For those of us who would argue that (for example) paying down our debt more quickly or adding money to our savings accounts does make us happy, would a separate happiness budget force us to spend a little of our money on ourselves and, by doing so, make us even happier?

(As a bit of a side note, the article suggests pending money on items that make us happy helps “create a lasting impact in the form of memories,” which… okay, I don’t know about you, but our culture’s current emphasis on making memories actually makes my skin crawl. There’s something that feels both forced and false about the idea, with its assumption that we’re going to sit around and review our happy memories the same way we look at old photos — when we all know that the majority of old photos disappear into our phones and iCloud drives.)

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