Money & happiness: how to spend money the right Nordic way

Things have changed! Do you know how to spend money the right way?

Some time ago, they said that money can’t bring happiness. There is some truth in that. But new research shows that money can indeed bring happiness. You can’t disagree that money can facilitate things.

Yes, but to what extent? How much money is enough to facilitate things? Is there a line not to be crossed?

Nordic societies are wealthy. OK, data can prove that. Is there any link between the Nordic way of managing money and wealth and feeling happy?

Let’s find out!

Fact check

Various studies and research have been revealing more aspects of the relationship between money and happiness.

They have found that there is a threshold. Until you reach this level, your happiness is directly related to money (among other factors). After this level, the more money you earn does not guarantee you feel happier.

The reason for the former is that a low income can make you more vulnerable to stressful situations like health issues, divorce or other personal or professional problems.

The reason for the latter is that you need to spend money the right way in order for it (the money) to contribute to your happiness.

Don’t forget that there are two types of happiness: the short-term one (our everyday satisfaction with our life) and the long-term one (that has to do more with fulfilment and a deeper meaning in life).

The Nordic way to spend money

They claim that the generous welfare state of the Nordics is the foundation of the Nordic happiness (if there is such).

Well, yes! To a certain extent. These benefits can clearly facilitate life for the Nordic people.

But it is not just that. There is a social and cultural aspect too. The way the Nordic people spend their abundant money may be a factor that improves their overall well-being and happiness.

Here are three way of spending your money the “right” Nordic way:

1. experiences. The Nordic societies are somewhat materialistic. Because of their wealth and easy access to money and goods, they tend to appreciate other things too. For example, although the Nordic people would be among the first in the world to buy any new tech-savvy gadget or device, they also love to buy experiences. They love to meet new people and cultures, this is why they travel a lot. And they also try new things: from foreign languages to exotic cuisines and traditions. All these new experiences create beautiful memories to cherish during the (usually) idle winter months.

2. donations. Volunteering and giving money to donations and for good causes are extremely popular in the Nordics. It is their perception of how society and the world work (or should work). The ones who have something in abundance should give to the ones who don’t. It is a way of redistributing the income among the society members. And this generosity is also proven to improve your happiness. It is all about biology after all!

3. freedom. The more well-off you are, the more freedom you believe you have. But this may not be true after all! You may have money but you may not spend them on things that really matter to you. Like your passions. OK, our life is split between things we are obliged to do and things we are passionate about. The more you spend on the latter, the freer you become. The Nordic people invest in their passions as this investment always comes back.

Which one of these makes more sense to you?

Image: Lina Roos/