I bought a book in Hallmark, called “The 100 Secrets of Happy People.” It’s a little 190 page book with a yellow smiley face on the cover. Originally priced at $12.95 it was on sale for only $2.50, a bargain too good to pass up. According to the author, the book is based on numerous studies that explore the characteristics and beliefs of happy people. The studies are translated by the author into simple, practical advice to create and maintain a happy life.
Most of the ‘secrets’ are simple things like ‘listen to music’, ‘reminisce’ and ‘don’t forget to have fun.’ Many of them truly are the goals to happiness like ‘share with others how important they are to you’, ‘don’t face your problems alone’, and ‘pay attention; you may have what you want.’
Only two of the 100 secrets, (#11 & #99), specifically mention money. In Secret #11, ‘Friendship beats money,’ the author notes that the primary components of happiness are number of friends, closeness of family, and relationships with co-workers and neighbors. He writes ‘if you want to know if people are happy, don’t ask them how much money they have in the bank. Don’t ask how large their take-home salary is. Ask them about their friends.’
Secret #99 is also about money. It mimics the famous saying, ‘money does not buy happiness.’ The author writes, ‘we spend so much time chasing dollars, worrying about dollars, and counting dollars. It may surprise you to learn that satisfaction with life is no more likely among the rich.‘ He goes on to say, ‘There is a new movement in the U.S. called the minimalists. These are people who have decided to live on less money. They buy less, spend less, make less, and have less stuff. They also spend less time at work and more time with their friends and family The minimalists have made a conscious conclusion that money did not buy them what they wanted most.” The advice, he says, is based on a study of life satisfaction that looked at 20 different factors that might contribute to happiness. 19 of the factors did matter and one did not, the one that did not was financial status.
I don’t entirely agree with secret #99. I think money can provide the freedom to spend less time at work and more time with friends and family. When you have money you can spend more time with the people you love doing the things you love. While it’s true that money may not make one happy, in this frugal girl’s opinion, the freedom it allows certainly does.
There was a great show on 20/20 tonight called “Cheap in America.” The show detailed a lot of facts about exactly who gives money to charity. The following is a list of my favorite facts:
- In 25 states where people give an above average percent of their income, 24 were red states in the last presidential election.
- Conservatives give about 30% more money despite the fact that they often make slightly less money.
- People who give one thing, tend to be the people who give everything. For example, those who give cash also give blood.
- People who believe it’s the government’s job to make incomes more equal are far less likely to give their money away.
- Philanthropy is more efficient than government spending, because when we spend our own money we stop spending when a project doesn’t work.
- People at the lower end of the income scale give 30% more of their income.
- The most charitable people in America are the working poor.
- Compared to the rich and the working poor the middle income Americans give the least.
- The biggest predictor of whether someone is charitable: Religious Participation
- Religious individuals are more likely to give, and more likely to give more money to both religious and non-religious charities.
- Americans give more and volunteer more than the citizens of any other country. 7x more money than those in Germany, 14X more than those in Italy.
- Americans are anything but cheap, contributions this year totalled 260 billion dollars.