Startup Idea How to Buy happiness


**Updates at the bottom of this as I work through the minimal viable product and see if it helps me day to day.

**Update 2: 7/15 at the bottom of this

I’m on vacation, but I’m not good at vacation. I’m not good at spending money on vacations. I sleep in hostels to save money, I don’t use rental cars, and I use the flying time to ponder over how I might otherwise be spending my money. That’s where and when this idea came from and here’s the goal of “WANTS” and how it works. WANTS will be turned into an website so you can update your wants list as new items come up that you want.

Do you find yourself buying something thinking it will make you happy? Then it fails to make you happy? Or you are happy for a minute, but within a days time the smile has worn and you realize you made a mistake? I do it all the time. Items on my wants list that are low in happiness seemingly jump the items I know will provide me months of happiness and memories. Trying to find the item with the lowest cost of purchase that will provide the biggest increase in happiness? That’s where WANTS really shines.

WANTS uses a scoring system from 1-10. A score of one being an item you want, but you know won’t bring you much in terms of an increase in happiness. A 10, being the score of an item you absolutely know will increase your happiness and put a smile on your face multiple times over the coming 30 days. Scoring a 10 is a purchase you know you will never regret. For me that would be a new road bike IF my previous road bike was broken.

Here’s an example of a few items I currently want and scored during my flight.

Seat cushions for Patio chairs - $150

Uuni Pro Outdoor Pizza Oven - $600

Carbon road bike wheels,tires, casset - $900

New Mountain bike - $4,000

Crested Butte Vacation week - $2000

Shimano XC9 cycling shoes - $400

Wasatch Front Vacation - $1000

Adidas Trail running shoes - $150

Salomon trail running pack - $180

Gravel King 700x35c bike tires - $100

Sram etap AXS gravel upgrade - $1250

Cargo bike for kids - $1,200

That’s the list of items I came up with on my plane flight that I want. I could go about purchasing those items one by one in random order or spur of the moment whenever I saw them in a store, but which would provide me the most happiness? Which would provide me with the most motivation to work and save towards?

Let’s take that same list and apply WANTS scoring to it. I’ll also add notes as to why the item received the score it did.

Score 3: Seat cushions for Patio chairs - $150 (I don’t sit on those chairs often, the cushions would be for friends and only 1-2 friends per month come to my house. Otherwise the cushions are for visual completion of my patio with little in the way providing a smile on my face.)

Score 4: Uuni Pro Outdoor Pizza Oven - $600 (Pizza is my favorite food. Great pizza costs $20 per pizza at a restaurant and then you end up having to tip, etc..If I cook it at home, the avg cost comes closer to $8-10 per pizza depending on ingredients. This pizza oven could also be entertaining for friends in the future. I could see it providing some happiness, but also kind of a mess and more work to maintain.)

Score 4: Carbon road bike wheels,tires, casset - $900 (I keep having issues with my current wheels. If I got a dedicated set of road wheels I can picture myself easily on 3-5 big road rides from my current home.

Score 3: New Mountain bike - $4,000 (I already have a bike capable of everything I need. I don’t have space in my house for another bike. I can imagine this being really fun to own and I live in a spot famous for mountain biking with tons of riding nearby. )

Score 6: Crested Butte Vacation week - $2000 (I’ve booked two races in CB this summer, so this has already been purchased, but I need to budget for it…or cancel the trip all together if it’s not going to put a smile on my face. I love CB and the trail system. Having a race there is clearly going to make me super happy and a memory that will last for years.)

Score 4: Shimano XC9 cycling shoes - $400 (My current cycling shoes require thick socks. I’m riding more mountain biking trails and want a new pair of shoes. I don’t need them and I don’t see how they will make me smile more every ride, but I do want a more comfy pair.)

Wasatch Front Vacation - $1000 - (I’ve already booked the race week and this is definitely going to be a big memory and smile on my face)

Score 8: Adidas Trail running shoes - $150 - (I want to test their new trail running shoe. I need a new shoe anyways and I could see this providing daily smiles on my run for at least 60-90 days worth of training miles)

Score 6: Salomon trail running pack - $180 (I already have a pack, but the zippers are corroding. My running mileage is increasing, so I have an increase need for a new pack, but I could always clean and sew my old pack)

Score 3: Gravel King 700x35c bike tires - $100 (The riding in my area is better suited for these tires, but I don’t need these tires. I already have a set of wheels and tires that ride great around where I live)

Score 2: Sram etap AXS gravel upgrade - $1250 (I’m pretty fed up with the gear changes on my mountain bike. I want to move to electronic shifting and know it will make every ride a slight amount more enjoyable. )

Score 10: Cargo bike for kids - $1,200 (I hate driving cars. If I can get my kids to school and grocery shop with a cargo bike, this is guaranteed to put a smile on my face and my kids face as we go exploring on the weekends. I also see this bike as a memory maker as I encourage my kids to explore ever further as they grow and get them fresh air, which I believe increases happiness and decreases stress)

Wrap-up. What I noticed after going through the WANTS scoring system is that I have few things I desire an incredible amount other than a cargo bike for me and my kids. After that it’s a pair of test shoes. Everything else on my list scores below a 6 and most score below a 4! It seems if I work towards purchasing my Cargo bike and getting the shoes for $1,400 total I would provide myself with a solid 3-4 months of new experiences and smiles.

The bad spending: If I were to buy any item under a score of 5, I can already feel the regret. For that reason, those items will stay on the list until something increases their score. Maybe a race gets put on my schedule that requires new tires and wheels. In that case, the want score would increase so that I would be capable of entering the race and having that experience. Maybe my current shifting breaks and I have to buy a new shifting set, then the Etap purchase for $1,250 suddenly jumps the list to a 10 as cycling is an important part of what makes me happy.

**UPDATE 7/10/2019

I’m testing out the spreadsheet method first to determine what data points I need to determine when I’ve made a successful purchase. Here is my current spreadsheet:

Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 1.52.02 PM.png

I’ll breakdown the columns and data points I’ve added:

Want - This is where you list the item you want

Cost - How much does the item cost? Not the stripped down cost, but what will it really cost you to purchase, ship, and make the item function as you desire? Example - the pizza oven is $300, but it requires a propane bottle add-on $50 and it requires the propane bottle $50 before my first pizza can even be cooked?

Desire Score - How bad do you want it? How many smiles do you envision yourself having? How heavy has the marketing hit you?

Why - Why do you think you will be happy after you own it? Why do you want?

How often used? - How often are you going to use the item?

Date Added - When did you first add this to your want list? This would be automated in the future, but I want a timestamp to track how long items stay on the list.

Date Bought - Used for reflecting on the purchase in the future.

Happiness Score - How happy are you now that you own the item? Complete this after owning the item for about 30 days to get a full happiness review

**Idea - Wouldn't it be interesting if you made your want list public and WANTS tracked the price of the items? If an item went on sale, WANTS would send you a tickle email that the item is on discount and you might be encouraged to purchase the item. Preferably via an affiliate link and that’s how WANTS would make a profit.

You could have a column that listed the price of the want when it was first added to the list and next to it the current price, so over time you could see if your item was increasing in price you might need to buy it sooner

**Update #2

I've been working through my Wants score sheet to see if it works. It's been surprisingly useful. As long as I can force myself to reflect on the sheet before purchasing something It really works. It has forced me for example, to make pizza in my home oven to see if it's enjoyable enough to increase my perceived “wants” score. I've made so much pizza in the last 7 days, that I think an outdoor oven I would grow bored with after a month. I’m frankly running out of pizza topping ideas and not getting enough vegetables. Unless I had people to entertain and that's where I'm realizing all my purchases are centered on an idea that I entertain or make enough food that I require a specialized tool, such as an espresso maker that can brew and steam milk at the same time. I’m a single guy, I have nobody to cook for or make espresso for, but myself so a specialized machine designed to make multiple shots at one time is wasted.

The espresso machine, I want - after reflection I've found a bialette brikka would likely solve my needs for 1/3 the cost, which even then I'm borderline ifI want the trouble or if I enjoy the act of walking to the coffee shop, because at $5 per high end coffee, that’s still 42 coffees worth to pay off a $200 grinder and brikka, then add in the biweekly purchase of fresh coffee beans and the payoff isn’t as attractive as the “Latte Factor” sounds.

Some type of interruption process needs to occur when making a purchase. For example - on my phone I saw the Brikka would solve my problem for only $55 and I went to purchase it without reflecting on my list or giving it a score. The discount from $550 to $55 to solve my problem was enough to trigger the impulse urge. Luckily it won't ship until July 26th so I canceled the order. I had time to put it on my Wants list, which made me realize all-in I would have to buy a grinder, fresh beans all the time to enjoy it and that total all-in cost was $210, not cheap enough to make it worth impulse buying.

A recommendation engine is a must - "WANTS" for "suggested items" where we group all the items our users have purchased in order to "recommend" items that have successfully brought happiness to users and also call out items that DID NOT increase our users happiness could be flagged.

Happiness based reviews of products. Instead of talking about the features of a product - we talk about how happy the product made us. No need to talk about 5 of the same types of products. Variety of products ranked on how much happiness increase in life they provided or at least how much of a spark in happiness they provided even it happiness returned to normal levels.