Whoever said money can't buy happiness, obviously didn't know how to spend it well. While it might be true that happiness cannot be quantified by the amount of money in your bank account, studies published by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School have indicated that how people spend their money is more important than how much they earn. The mind experiences happiness through the acquisition and retention of new memories obtained from hobbies, travels, friends and spontaneity. The study affirms that spending money on material things won't grant you the same happiness as when the money is spent on experiences with people you love. So what better way to fuel and finance these experiences than with a big fat paycheck that you can use for a Safari in Central Africa or a Sail boat in the Mediterranean with your close group of friends. According to those studies, spending money on activities with friends and family is a more effective route to happiness than spending the money on personal things alone.
If you are like me, single, outgoing, excitement-seeker and earn an income significant enough to place you in the top 3% in the US, you will find that you will be struggling to keep your life entertaining, even in the most alive cities in the world. If you are like me, you watch an episode of Top Gear (the British version of course) where the three presenters get ridiculously fast and adrenaline-pumping cars while they zip across the most windy, narrow and scenic roads the world has to offer. You think to yourself, 'I can do this' as you open up the internet to book a flight and sports car to one of these exotic locations, only to stop yourself at the last moment. Parents, rightfully so, have drilled it into our heads that we need to save as much as we can, so that we can buy a nice house, and start a beautiful family. You might find yourself thinking that the good portion of your paycheck which you save up is going in for a noble cause, earning somewhere between 0.1% and 0.3% return on interest sitting in your lonely savings account or 401(k), not to be used until 40 years from now. While being financially secure is the smart and necessary thing to do, I am of the impression that you can and should sacrifice some extra perks of your 80s and 90s for a little more fun and excitement in your 20s and 30s.
One important thing to note, is that you should stay away from buying luxury for luxury's sake. If you must purchase luxury items, try linking them to an experience or memory. You could for example go fishing across the Mediterranean with her highness the Princess of Monaco, then courageously save her life when she falls overboard. As an act of gratitude, she bestows upon you an 80 year old Patek Philippe watch that has been in her family for generations. This could be a realistic example of how you could link luxury items to experiences.
There are many ways you spend that money, some on material things, others on experiences, some on charity, which will help give you that sense of excitement, satisfaction, and happiness.
Buy/Rent a Summer House:
City and work life can become cumbersome, hectic, and sometimes unbearable, which is why you need an escape every few weeks so that you can come back to work refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to take on the next few challenges. Depending on how much capital you are willing to spend, you can buy/rent a vacation home by yourself or with some equally-minded and equally-financially-secure friends, that you can jetset to every weekend if that is what you need. I would steer clear of the traditional Hamptons, New Jersey, Cancun getaways because you don't want to be around obnoxious spring breakers on their binge-drinking trips. If you wish to spend your jet setting getaways relaxing on the beach, I would recommend Croatia or the Italian Amalfi Coast. If you are not inclined to travel that far, then Cuba and St Barthelemy are two relatively untouched Caribbean hotspots. If you are the more outdoorsy type, then consider a cottage in Chamonix, France or Salzburg, Austria for a ski-filled vacation on the Alps; or Montana for a peaceful retreat on the Rockies.
Buy a Toy Vehicle:
Just to be clear, by Toy Vehicle I mean a weekend vacation vehicle that you can take for joyrides rather than a daily commute to work. This can take the form of an exotic or vintage car, motorcycle, or even a sailboat. The important thing to remember is that you are not buying these items just to buy them; but rather you are buying them to enjoy the experiences and memories they will offer you and your close ones. So make sure that you have friends, family members, or acquaintances that are willing to partake in these joyrides with you. I opted for buying a motorcycle (see
article) that I can use for weekend and weekday getaways in New York. If you prefer to go with the sailboat option, I would suggest parking it somewhere exotic so you would have a bigger excuse to travel to those locations. Again, I would suggest St Barths or British Virgin Islands for sailboat parking options.
Join an Exclusive Social Club:
The nice thing about this earth being populated by 7 billion other human beings, is that you won't be too hard pressed to find a few other fellas who share the same interests and hobbies as you. Although some exclusive social clubs might come off as snobbish, up-tight, and out of touch, finding the right one that fits your personality is key.
are the front-runners of clubs for the young and creative type. The application process might seem daunting, but getting in should be easy as long as you're interesting, artistic and know at least two people on the inside. If your interests lie somewhere else, say renting classic/super cars for a weekend, then look no further than the
, where, for a small fee of $8,000-$13,000 a year, you can take out some of the nicest and rarest cars around for a day or two or more.
Plan a Quarterly Trip with Friends:
Consider gathering your close group of jetsetter friends and committing to doing at least 4 adventurous trips together a year. If you are like me, you are probably not the type to give up your life and work to go on a backpacking tour of Europe, only to run out of money halfway through Slovenia (a place you don't want to run out of money in). You probably want to travel in comfort and style, willing to spend the extra money to experience some of the finer things in life. This could be sailing across the Dalmatian coast, going on a Safari in Botswana and Namibia, hiking Mt Everest, or just swimming in an infinity pool on the top of Singapore (
Take Up an Illegal-ish Hobby:
We've all seen and admired Steve McQueen in the Thomas Crown Affair, and applauded Pierce Brosnan for his above-par remake of the movie (all remakes should be this good!). Running an international conglomerate and outwitting your opponents at every turn, all the while bedding some of the most attractive and alluring women in the city, can be quite a dull and mundane profession. You can take over companies at massive profits to yourself only so many times before it becomes just another boring routine to toss on the auto-pilot
work practice. This lead Thomas Crown, the protagonist of the story, to develop a somewhat unorthodox hobby, elaborately stealing rare pieces of art, not for money's sake. Thomas Crown was stealing works of art to prove to himself that he can, to fill a void of excitement and adventure not offered by his lucrative job. If this is something that interests you, you can also be an international art or jewelry thief. All it takes is some affluent knowledge of the specific industry, a little common sense, a lot of street smarts, and a couple of big brass balls... of courage. There are introductory classes you can take which will teach you the basics of pick-pocketing and lock-picking, two essential skills you will need as an international thief. Sure it might not be the most legal of hobbies, but it sure will bring a level of avant-garde to your life your job won't be able to fulfill. (Dapper New York does not condone nor encourage illegal activities... much).
This might not give you the fast-acting reward as the other items on the list might, but the benefits are unique to it. You won't necessarily get the excitement as you would from jetsetting across to a different city every week. You won't get the same thrill as you would from driving a 1965 Jaguar E-Type on the windy streets of St Tropez. And you certainly won't get any material value for what you gave back, minus maybe your tax deduction. That being said, the personal sense of satisfaction and accomplishment you get from giving back, is something you won't get from any other experience, and the benefits are humbling to say the least. There's nothing like giving back to your family, community, or loved one, without asking for anything in return.