The Scientific Fact About Money That Makes You Happier

Toddlers aren’t exactly known for their sharing skills. They’re better known for their two favorite words: no and mine.

Maybe that’s why psychologists at the University of British Columbia decided to put their pint-size generosity to the test. During the experiment, toddlers received a pile of snacks and the opportunity to share with a puppet who “loved treats.” Time after time, they shared with the puppet.

In fact, they were actually happier sharing the treats than receiving them!

Another study by researchers at Harvard, UBC and Simon Fraser University tried this theory out on adults. Participants were given either $5 or $20 and asked to spend it by the end of the day. Half had to spend the money on themselves while the other half had to spend it on someone else.  

Guess who was happier at the end of the experiment?

Yep—the givers. The amount of money ($5 or $20) didn’t affect their happiness at all. It was the act of giving itself.

Several more studies confirm that people who give of their time and money exhibit less stress, depression and hopelessness and more longevity and physical health. In a nutshell, generous people look and feel better!

As much as we like to think we’re satisfied spending all our money on ourselves, the opposite is actually true. We’re much happier sharing what we have with those around us. It must be that warm, fuzzy feeling we experience afterward.

So how can you make more giving (and more happiness) a regular part of your life? It all starts with a budget.

1. Evaluate your budget. Look at your monthly take-home pay. Then put 10% of that amount into your Giving budget. If you can’t start at 10%, don’t worry. Start wherever you can—whether that’s 3% or 5%—and make it a point to increase your giving by 1% each year until you hit your goal!

2. Find a place to give. If you attend a local church, give of your money and talents each month. Or find something you’re passionate about like breast cancer research or a wilderness camp for youth then make a regular donation. Need some ideas? Explore great nonprofits at

3. Take the challenge. For the month of November, we’re challenging EveryDollar users to find new ways to give. If you’re already giving 10%, try upping your donation for one month. Or if your budget is maxed out, try helping a neighbor rake leaves or volunteering at a food pantry. Challenge yourself to give more this month—no matter what that looks like.

4. Repeat each month! Giving is awesomely addicting. Once you start, you won’t want to stop. The best way to maintain your generosity is to give off the top of your budget. That means budgeting 10% before anything else. This makes it automatic and easy to repeat. Plus, you won’t be tempted to spend every penny on yourself.

Because the more you give, the more happiness you receive. It’s a scientific fact.

Create your giving budget in less than 10 minutes with a free EveryDollar account!