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How to really spend your weekend*

*According to science

Reckon there’s just one promotion/tax break/lottery win standing between you and true happiness? You’re probably wrong.

Years of research proves that once your basic needs are met, more money won’t make you happier. It’s what you do with your money and time that makes the difference. Your money and your time combine most elegantly (and regularly) in Your Weekend. And we bet you could spend it better.

Take our advice – based on reams of psychology and behavioural economic studies – and we’ll get you to Sunday evening more satisfied, less stressed, and without a shred of The Fear. All for the same modest amount of money.

Starting with Friday morning.


Friday is a day of juicy anticipation. Research found we prefer Friday to Sunday for this very reason, even though Sunday is part of the weekend and Friday means work or school. Anticipation is a huge source of happiness, so plan a treat-filled Friday that you can look forward to all week.

treat yourself to a real coffee

Kick off with a decadent morning coffee. Limit it to Fridays only, and you’ll enjoy that sweet frothy goodness more than if you had it every morning.

Cost: €3 in Bear Market

killer sandwich

Next, season your lunch with some hipster-flavour anticipation courtesy of Killer Sandwich. Tweet-order their gourmet sandwiches on Wednesday, then lick your lips until you pick it up on Friday lunchtime. It’ll cost the same as the chicken roll from the Spar under your office, but two days of drooling over tweets of Killer’s gourmet ham and relish will make the cash for a Killer Sandwich much better spent.

Cost: About €6


surprise cupcake

Another sure way to brighten your Friday is to brighten someone else’s. Buy a cupcake, donut or a coffee for an unsuspecting colleague or bystander and research shows you’ll get more pleasure than if you had bought it for yourself.

Cost: €2ish for a Johnnie Cupcake

theatre instead of netflix

Turn off those Friends re-runs and go meet some actual friends.

Spending more time with family and friends can give us the same boost as raise of up £85,000 a year. So when Friday evening rolls around, resist the urge to plop in front of the couch and stream House of Cards. Televisions, for all their shiny, flat-screen smarts, don’t make us happy because they usually lead to solitary activity.

This Friday night, drag a friend to a play. The dose of theatre will offer a richer experience than a TV show (more on that later), it’s social because you’re bringing/dragging the friend, and your ticket price will be supporting a new Irish writer. Win, win, win.

Cost: €12/ticket for Theatre Upstairs

How you don’t spend your weekend is just as important as how you do spent it.

Drawing on the U-Index of ‘undesirable’ activities, we have banned the following activities from your weekend for the sake of your happiness: shopping, commuting, working and housework. I strongly recommend you increase time spent on activities on the other end of the scale: exercising, socialising, walking the dog, reading books, and having sex.


avoid housework with a Roomba

So this weekend, buy back a precious chunk of your Saturday by getting a Roomba, the vacuuming cleaning robot. Or spring for a cleaner for two hours in the morning, and spend that windfall of time on reading, sex or exercise (activities that you don’t have to pay for… we hope).

Cost: Roomba from €330

(it’s an investment for a lifetime of hoover-free weekends)

€24 for 2 hour clean

Choose an experience over a purchase

Resist the shops on Saturday afternoon. Yes, even the hipster ones. Euro-for-euro, experiences make us happier than material goods.

A €20 arty print of Dublin’s skyline will be admired on your wall for the first day or two, and then it’ll fade into the surrounds of your daily life. Spend that €20 on the wind-whipping Skyline Tour of Croke Park, on the other hand, and you’ll have a laugh with a friend, made a vivid memory, and a wicked Snapchat story.

Cost: €20 for Skyline Tour (includes GAA Museum)

Be a tourist in your own city


I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.    – Oscar Wilde

Wilde was better at wit than wisdom, and so trust ours and walk straight past your local tonight and on to the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl. You’ll still get your drinks, served alongside peppy performances inspired by Ireland’s greatest writers.

Cost: €12

At first glance, a trip to IKEA seems like the perfect recipe for ruining a Sunday. But there are pockets of happiness to dig though here, even beyond the chocolate and butterscotch cake.

embrace ikea

The pleasure we get from making things with our hands actually stretches as far as furniture assembly. Researchers call it the “IKEA effect”.

Piecing together a chest of drawers makes you happy because it’s a labour of love, even if your visitors call it ‘Frankendrawer’. When the memories of missing screws, faulty bolts and salty tears fade, you’ll value those drawers more highly than if you’d bought them pre-assembled and spent the rest of the afternoon watching a match.

Cost: IKEA furniture from €20. Slice of Krokant cake €2.10

shop online to avoid supermarkets

Don’t drain delight from your Sunday by stepping foot in a supermarket. They are designed to make you spend more time and money than you intended to, leaving you tried and stressed by the check-out.

Claw back your Sunday afternoon by shopping for groceries online. It’s much quicker, less stressful, and you have a better chance of shopping within your budget.

Cost of home delivery: Tesco €4-7, Supervalu €3-7

eat a creme egg

As Sunday afternoon edges in, The Fear creeps ever closer. Monday, bosses and commutes are suddenly hours away. We have the antidote.

First, a Sunday treat. This is still the weekend, is it not? Cadbury’s Creme eggs are only available for a few months of the year, which qualifies them for an enticing ‘limited supply’ category of treats. Go for it.

Cost: €0.89

organise a gig

Give The Fear the finger and get onto Ticketmaster.

Plan something fun for the near future and you’ll stir up enough anticipation to get you past the Sunday night hump. A gig or festival is good, but Michael O’Leary could probably get you to Barcelona for the same price. It’s not practical, but your happiness loves holidays. So does Instagram.

Cost: Bell X1 @ Iveagh Gardens €38, Ryanair flights from €9.99 one way

On Monday morning, change your desktop background to a photo of the city you booked flights to, or the band you’ll see playing.

Then smile: how often we curl our lips is one of the strongest predictors of happiness, and it’s free 😁


So where did I come up with this stuff?

Read the top five tips from the scientists on how to get more happiness for your money.

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