If you are like me, every Mother’s Day you start thinking beginning in April “ What am I going get for Mom?” My Mom lives in Puerto Rico, so that makes it a little bit of a challenge to try to figure out exactly what to get. “Can I get it shipped? How much is it going to cost me to ship?” My Mom, like me, is a runner. We love being outdoors, exploring new running routes, and buying gear to help us fuel our passion.

For this year, I decided to apply the principles of happy spending. Not only did it make my decision easy, I also knew for sure that it was going to make me happier. Recently, I came across this book from Elizabeth Dunn called “Happy Money.” Dunn is a researcher who looked into what the best ways are that we can spend our money to increase our happiness. According to her, you can buy happiness – if you know how to use your money to maximize your wellbeing. Here my favorite principles:

  1. Buy Experiences 

Material things do not provide as much happiness as experiences. Buyer’s remorse is less likely to occur if you spend your money on an experience, even if it’s a little bit painful, and especially if you come out of it with a good story to tell your friends. Book a class, a trip, or enroll in a race.

  1. Pay Now, Consume Later

If you pay early and delay the consumption of what you buy, it allows you to savor the upcoming experience. We get just as much benefit out of that anticipation as out of the thing itself! Buy an experience one month ahead, and enjoy the anticipation of your future adventure.

  1. Invest in Others 

Social spending provides more happiness than spending money on yourself. Dunn proved it in a series of worldwide experiments. And it works whether you’re a college student, a Ugandan citizen, or a toddler. Spending on others gives people the biggest boost. Generosity is a choice, and satisfyingly connects us with others.

So what am I getting for my Mom this year? I am going to register both of us for an upcoming 10K charity race in June. She is planning to come  visit me at that time.  I will be buying an experience that I’ll pay for now and consume later. I’m anticipating a great experience together that will also be helping a non-profit charity. I will obtain extra satisfaction by helping others as well as giving a gift to my Mom.

Happy Money! And Happy Mother’s Day!