Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Smarter Spending Through Music Lessons

Priceless Moments
The full moon shone brightly through the upstairs bedroom window and illuminated the faces of my two sleeping children. Their soft, cherub faces with parted lips and closed eyes looked so peaceful and innocent. I snuggled between them, feeling the warmth of their little bodies, smelling their sweetness, and hearing their soft breaths. I should probably go into my own bed now, I thought, but I stayed a few minutes longer, cherishing the feelings of motherly love that filled me to the brim. Moments like these are priceless.

There's no need to purchase anything to experience many of the joys in life. Yet we all need money to survive and for so many things on a daily basis. What does the scientific research say about money and happiness? How can Let's Play Music classes help you and your family increase your happiness?

Happy Money
Inspired by the book, "Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending" by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, I will touch on the answers to these questions.

 "Happy Money" outlines 5 basic principles that relate to how we spend money and our happiness level:
  • Buy Experiences
  • Make it a treat
  • Buy time
  • Pay Now, Consume Later
  • Invest in Others
The wonderful Let's Play Music program allows you to utilize all these principles to increase your happiness. Here are some great quotes from the book along with some of my thoughts on how they relate to music class.
1. Buy Experiences:

"Think of purchases you've made with the goal of increasing your own happiness. Consider one purchase that was a material thing, a tangible object that you could keep, like a piece of jewelry of furniture, some clothing, or a gadget. Now think about a purchase you made that gave you a life experience -- perhaps a trip, a concert, or a special meal, If you're like most people, remembering the experience brings to mind friends and family, sights and smells. Which of these purchases made you happier? Faced with this question, some 57% of Americans reported that the experiential purchase made them happier than the material purchase, while only 34% reported the opposite."

Parents who spend money on Let's Play Music classes for their child are not only enriching their child's life with music, but also ensuring many unique and positive experiences. Children love coming to class because it's so fun.

Parents enjoy coming to class because it allows them to also experience the magic of Let's Play Music and create special bonding moments with their child. Parents pick up on ways to carry the experiences from class into their everyday lives.

"Research shows that experiences provide more happiness than material goods in part because experiences are more likely to make us feel connected to others. Experiential purchases not only provide us with entertaining anecdotes, but also add texture to our broader life stories."

2. Make It a Treat: 
"The more we're exposed to something, the more its impact diminishes."

So maybe it's a good thing we don't have music class every day! Several parents have told me about their child waking up every day and asking, "Is today music class?" I love their enthusiasm!

"In a study of working adults in Belgium, wealthier individuals reported a lower proclivity to savor life's little pleasures. They were less likely to say that they would pause to appreciate a beautiful waterfall on a hike or stay present in the moment during a romantic weekend getaway. This phenomenon helps explain why the relationship between income and happiness is weaker than many people expect. At the same time that money increases our happiness by giving us access to all kinds of wonderful things, knowing we have access to wonderful things undermines our happiness by reducing our tendency to appreciate life's small joys."

What a disturbing paradox! Here I thought having more money would make me happier. It turns out that's not true. We just need to appreciate all that we already have. Oprah Winfrey said, "The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have."

Research shows that just thinking about money can make you enjoy the pleasures of life less. So once your tuition is paid, forget about the money, and enjoy the special moments and fun times.

"Knowing that something won't last forever can make us appreciate it more. Recognizing that an end is near holds a key to happiness, helping us turn readily available comforts back into treats."

Sometimes it seems to take forever for our children to mature, but truly childhood is a fleeting experience. Children's minds only stay so malleable for a short while. Taking advantage of the music learning window makes such a difference in their lives. At the end of the three years of Let's Play Music (and possibly two years of Sound Beginnings before that), it will seem like the time has flown by!

3. Buy Time:

"What matters most for human well-being: social relationships. People experience the most positive moods of the day while spending time with family and friends. A recent study with a nationally representative sample of Americans revealed that playing with children produced more positive feelings than almost any other common daily activity."

How lucky I am to be able to spend time each week playing with and teaching children! I love that parents get to attend class with their children (twice-a-month during the 1st year, and once-a-month during the 2nd and 3rd years). I always make sure to include parents in the games and activities. I want them to experience as many positive feelings as their children!

Coming to music class and practicing the piano can mean less time in front of the television. "The average American spends the equivalent of two months per year watching television. In many countries, people spend almost as much time watching TV as they do working. If our choices reveal what we like best, TV must be pretty much the most super-terrific thing ever. And yet, study and study shows that people experience less pleasure while watching TV than while engaging in more active forms of leisure, including walking the dog. More than any other activity, television appears responsible for the failure of the U-index (a measure of happiness) to budge over the past four decades. Although people today spend less time doing unpleasant activities such as household chores, television has sucked up much of this newly available time while providing little emotional payoff. In a sample of over one hundred thousand people from thirty-two European counties, individuals who watched more than thirty minutes of television per day were less satisfied with their lives than people who watched TV for under half an hour. Watching the occasional TV show may be genuinely enjoyable, but devoting two months of the year to the tube is too much."

Let's trade TV time for music time! Coming to class, practicing, listening to the CDs, doing the games as a family are all ways to pack some happiness bang for your time and your buck.

"Time and money promote different mind-sets. We view our choices about how to spend time as being deeply connected to our sense of self. In contrast, choices about money often lead us to think in a relatively cold, rational manner. Focusing on time frees people to prioritize happiness and social relationships. For example, potential donors contribute more time and more money to charity when they're first asked about their willingness to donate time. By focusing less on money and more on time, it's easier to use both resources in happier ways."

Think about how spending money on Let's Play Music affects your time. Yes, it's something to add to your schedule, but what would you be doing with that time instead? Probably not something that will bring as much happiness or affect your life as profoundly as the wonders of a music education!

4. Pay Now, Consume Later:

Imagine you are going on a date with your spouse. You hire a babysitter, who gets paid by the hour. As the hours add up you are thinking about how much you will need to pay the babysitter and not really focusing on what you're doing. Then you need to take a taxi ride. Instead of enjoying the sights during the ride, you are thinking the whole time about how long this is taking and how much it will cost.

"Now imagine that you had prepaid for both the taxi and the babysitter the previous week. At the moment you paid, you will still experience the pain of paying. You have to suck it up at some point. But how might prepayment change your evening? When you pay for something, you experience the pain of paying. But how can prepaying for something change your experience?" If you already paid for it then you are free to enjoy the experience and not worry about the money.

"Paying now and consuming later can help us take the long view, turning us into better stewards of our own well-being." When I ask people to start registering for the next semester five months before it starts, I am helping them experience more pleasure later. It's already taken care of, so when they get their registration supplies, it feels free. Some parents pay for the entire semester at once. Not having to worry about it the rest of the semester may increase how much they can enjoy class and the whole Let's Play Music experience. It may seem like a big chunk of money, but once it's done, the peace of mind can be so worth it!

5. Invest in Others:

I will admit that I have been guilty of complaining how much my kids cost me. But did you know that the more we invest in others, the happier we are? "If you've been focusing on trying to make more money, remember that giving some of it away can be just as rewarding as getting more of it."

"The benefits of investing in others don't stop at just making you feel happier. Giving your money away can make you physically healthier, and even make you feel financially wealthier. In a study of more than a thousand older adults, individuals who provide money and other forms of support to both relatives and nonrelatives reported better overall health. This relationship held after taking into account income, mobility, and other variables."

Consider the money you spend on worthwhile activities for your children as money well-spent. Investing in your children benefits you as well as them. It's a win-win!

I hope you can see how buying the experience of music class, making class a treat, having fun with your children during class, paying for class in advance, and investing in your children can truly bring more joy and happiness into you and your family's lives! 

If you're ready to put your money to the best use, find a Let's Play Music teacher near you now!

-Kristi Ison 

Let's Play Music Teacher

1 comment:

  1. Wow Kristi, this is an excellent article. Thank you so much for writing and posting this!