Yes, it’s true. Money can equal happiness for your and your customers. Just maybe not the ways you initially thought…

Lately all of the books I am reading are about “happiness”. Perhaps it’s the fact that, in our crazy, busy lives, we all want to get more time and enjoyment to focus on the things that really matter. And that the summer gives us a great time of year to take inventory and do so!

First, there’s the “Happiness Project”, in which Author Gretchen Rubin spends a year of focusing each month on one thing that will make her happier.

And then there’s “Happy Money,” from Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, concentrating on the science of smarter spending. “Happy Money” indicates that whomever said money can’t buy happiness is wrong; it can make you happy, just not the way that you probably think…

“Happy Money” focuses on five insightful principles of human behavior and how money can lead to happiness, something we are no stranger to at Zenzi with our Social Values Project that identifies value-based differences in consumer behaviors, such as experiential buying to help brands better communicate with consumers. The book offers some great concepts to think about both from (a) the standpoint of being a consumer and making wise spending decisions, and (b) of marketers, to determine how to best reach out to consumers or other businesses to help them to capitalize on their experiences to make them happy.

Here are the five principles and recommendations. Which ring a bell and resonate the most with you?

• Buy Experiences – materials things (like homes, expensive clothes, etc.) often bring less happiness than purchasing experiences, like concerts, horseback riding lessons, a good meal, that can have a lasting impression

• Make it a Treat – after I read this one, it clicked: why that morning mocha I was buying every day before work (when I had the money and time in my 20s, before kids) wasn’t really making me happy, and why some of my colleagues were up to two per day and still not really “happy”. The authors point to the fact that “limiting our access to the things we like best may help to ‘reverginize’ us, renewing our capacity for pleasure.” I’m in!

• Buy Time – Hello, as a mom (heck, as anyone), wouldn’t I love to do this? Dunn and Norton suggest outsourcing your most dreaded tasks. This can help to transform the time you have to pursue your passions. My solution to this one is for groceries, when I can, versus bickering about every sugar coated concoction my kids try to sneak into the cart, and doing something fun, with the extra time, on the weekends instead.

• Pay Now, Consume Later – getting the dreaded credit card bill, or paying after the fact for goods or services, can zap some of the ‘happiness’ from your purchases. This is no surprise, considering the effects of the holiday hangover and incoming gift expenses, and everything else, in January. Pay upfront and delay consumption for greater happiness, the authors say.

• Invest in Others – spending money on your kids, coworkers, parents, coworkers, those less fortunate can make you happier than buying something for yourself. Working in a food kitchen, making a meal for a neighbor in need, donating money to a family in need so that they can enjoy the holidays—any of these gifts, also give back to the person making them.

Of course “Happy Money” backs up all five principles with interesting research and experiments that you can check out in the book. And not every consumer is universally the same in which of the five, and to what degree, will ultimately make him/her happy. We delve in even deeper, at Zenzi, to identify these value-based differences for brands to better understand and communicate with specific, key audiences.

Given the above five, how can you change your life for the better? And, how can you make your consumers’ lives even happier with something you just might excel at?

If you can successfully apply, and communicate the effects, of even one of these five to your business you will help to reach not only your consumers’ wallets but their minds. Building positive, lasting sentiment, and even possibly a little happiness, for your audience, and for your brand, in the meantime…now that’s money.