"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”

Henry D. Thoreau



« Rethinking Resilience | Main | FYI - MHV Ladies' Auxiliary Presents: Seed to Seed Jan 10 2019 »

Does Spending Money make you Happy?

David Dawson

We recently had “Black Friday” followed by “Cyber Monday” when people queued up to buy stuff that in all probability in many cases they didn’t really need. Knowing that people love a bargain, stores take the opportunity to dispose of old stock, discontinued lines and outdated items. A recent article in this column noted that the average Canadian purchased around 70 items of clothing each year. It wasn’t made clear whether a pair of socks counted as two items or one, or whether the 70 included shoes and bed clothes/aka bed linens. However checking my wardrobe I have purchased only two items in 2018, namely a necessary winter coat and a pair of warm socks.


The question I ask is, does spending money make people happy? For some, maybe it does, but I bet that happiness is short lived. I recently read a quote by a famous author called Gertrude Stein who said that she found spending money dull and that it offended her sense of ingenuity and thrift. I fully agree. All my life I have been an avid do-it-yourselfer, originally out of necessity and later out of choice. When I go to a craft show and see something interesting my first reaction is, I could make that. A little while ago I had a bit of a challenge when my granddaughter asked me to make her a wooden spoon. This turned out to be quite tricky, particularly the bowl of the spoon as I didn’t have the right tool. Nevertheless it turned out very well. I carved her initials on the handle and she loves it. I could have bought a wooden spoon at Canadian Tire for example, and she wouldn’t have been any the wiser. But it gives me enormous satisfaction, not only in having made it myself, but also in having the thought that my granddaughter will treasure it for years to come as something made especially for her. I have realized that I am happiest when I am being creative, whether it be making wooden spoons, growing a garden, cooking or any of the other hobbies I am involved with. Even writing articles like this.


The other day I was in the dollar store buying a flashlight – something I cannot easily make myself. People where buying carts full of cheap Chinese plastic ‘stuff’ as Christmas decorations that would likely all be at the dump in the New Year. When I was young we made our own paper chains and cut bits of greenery from trees along the roads to decorate around the house. We always bought a Christmas tree with roots that my father planted in a pot and then later planted outside. We were able to dig up the same tree for several years before it grew too big. Our Christmases were wonderful happy occasions and I cannot imagine we could have been any happier buying Chinese ‘stuff’, though I bet the Chinese are happy!


This column is prepared by the South Eastman Transition Initiative. Go to setimanitoba.org.