As a faithful budgeter, who writes about money and priorities nearly every day, I have developed a lot of theories.
I hear many of the same stories and revelations and lessons, again and again and again. Of course, everyone’s circumstances are their own, but at the end of the day, there is a lot of common experience.
Which leads to my anecdotal, touchy-feely, heavily-inspired-by-my-own-experience theories.
So, I was pretty excited when the Wall Street Journal confirmed one such theory just a couple weeks ago: The More Cash People Have, the Happier They Are.
The gist is simply this—happiness isn’t defined by overall wealth, but rather how much cash you have available.
I don’t think I would have been able to articulate it quite like this, but seeing it in black and white, I know it to be so true.
When we first started really budgeting, one of the things that surprised me most was our checking account. There was kind of a lot of money in there.
We didn’t make any more money. We hadn’t cut out anything major. But we consistently had an increasingly large pile of money in the bank. And it was incredibly comforting.
Seeing that number, knowing it was there, all that cash, helped alleviate money stress I didn’t even know I had been carrying around.
Had you asked me what my biggest priorities were, I wouldn’t have said stockpiling cash, or saving aggressively. I wouldn’t have even said security or stability. I probably would have said taking our family to Disneyland or new wood floors.
But now I know differently. I know that it is really, really important to me to have a very, very comfortable buffer. I don’t want to have to think about it all. I want to have options. I want to feel like we are making progress and acting like real grown-ups.
Everyone is different, but for me—and apparently a majority of people in this study—cash on hand leads to happiness. And budgeting is a sure-fire way to get there.
See, budgeting is so fun! Why won’t anyone believe me!?