Spending Money on Your Apartment Could Be the Smartest Financial Move Right Now

published Jun 12, 2020
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In the middle of a global pandemic, it’s easy to think that you should be pinching pennies at every opportunity. While practicing some fiscal responsibility is helpful in the long run for a nest egg or rainy day fund, it’s also important to purposely spend money during this time on joy, experts say. As people around the country—particularly those living in cities and apartments—are quarantining and self isolating, finding new ways to spend money on their homes has never been more important. 

“Rainy day funds and savings are very important. However, life is not supposed to be pure misery,” says Dan Ariely, chief behavioral economist at finance app Qapital. “We’re supposed to balance different goals and needs. This balancing act is the main challenge of life. Happiness builds resilience. As people become more resilient, they are better able to sustain. It’s hard to give up things, but if we’re happy we can do all kinds of things.”

Those throw pillows you’ve had in your online cart for days? It’s not going to ruin all of your financial progress if you spring for them. Personalizing your space with new decor—and thus investing money in your happiness—can be a wise allocation of funds. 

Ariely points to the importance of reducing other lifestyle habits that maybe aren’t as important or render the same level of happiness during the pandemic. To better illustrate the theory, Ariely explains it in his own terms: “Maybe if I’m happy at home, I don’t need to shop as much or eat out. It’s not that people should spend all their money on improving their homes or doing things that provide them happiness, but the first point is we need a mix between saving and happiness,” says Ariely. “Happiness allows us to be able to make other tradeoffs down the line.”

Aside from simply cutting down on redundancies or other aspects of life to make financial room for joyful spending, it’s also important to consider the short and long-term effects of joyful spending. It’s not about flash in the pan happiness, but rather considered choices that have lasting potential in daily life. “Think about what would make us happy and what would make us not adapt to that happiness,” he says. “A bottle of wine for 50 dollars, or whiskey for 50 dollars? The whiskey might stay with you for longer. If I buy a coffee machine, every time I use it I see how wonderful it is. Buy things that you pay attention to so you enjoy it and that you don’t get used to it over time.”

Patience is also a virtue when spending for the sake of personal joy as well. While it sometimes feels like the rush of opening a package delivers instant gratification, the charge that comes from submitting the order and waiting for the prize at the end all contributes to the effect and gives the buyer something to look forward to. “I would recommend if you buy something online, don’t ship it quickly, ship it slowly. If you can pay to ship something extra slowly, I’d recommend it. Slowness actually gives you a chance for anticipation and that can be very helpful,” Ariely says.