Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, Or Does It?

You’ve heard it said many times that money doesn’t buy happiness. But is this really true?

What about the things that money can provide? Today, I’ll break down the issues behind money and happiness to find out what’s true.

You’ll learn about money and happiness, what we truly value in our lives and some findings from studies investigating this. Most people don’t think about whether or not they want to be rich.

Everyone just assumes it’s a good idea. But it’s important to know what you’ll face when you have money and when you don’t.

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What does “money doesn’t buy happiness” mean?

This saying usually refers to how money can buy us things but not lasting contentment or joy. People observe that though money can give us a fancy house, expensive vacations, and savings, it does not directly provide us with happiness.

People that think this way believe that money is only capable of dealing with the material side of things. They may think that the material world doesn’t really connect to how we feel, and so you can’t use a currency to create joy or peace. 

This might seem like it’s true, but sometimes things that we buy do seem to give the effect of happiness. You’ll learn about a few of those further in this article.

Who said money doesn’t buy happiness?

Many people have said phrases similar to this in the past. It’s become commonly accepted to believe that money doesn’t buy happiness.

What’s meant by this phrase is that money, though it can get you anything material that you want, may not be able to get you joy or a good life.

It might seem like an outdated statement, as well. Is this just something people used to say that was pretty naive? Or is it true?

Let’s see how this phrase sometimes works – and sometimes doesn’t.

What problems come with money?

While it’s easy to think that money solves everything, some say it doesn’t. A couple of problems the wealthy may face include people not being genuine around you and forgetting what life is like for regular people. 

Having problems like these to deal with may cause many to feel that being wealthy isn’t worth their time or effort. You might also think of it in the way that you will have problems regardless of whether you have money or not. 

Knowing that you’ll have to deal with difficulties no matter what can be helpful as you decide if you want to become rich or not. Many people would say they’d take the problems the rich face over the issues that come with being poor.

Related: Rich vs Poor Mindset – Which one are you?

Why can money not buy you happiness?

It’s important to remember that though we emphasize money around the world, it’s just a currency. There are some things that money isn’t capable of helping us with.

What we value is what money can bring us or how we feel because of it. This can be deceptive.

What are the things that money can’t buy?

Money can’t give you peace of mind

No matter how rich you are, you may still have feelings of anxiety or a lack of peace. This is because money buys us things, but it can’t purchase something like contentment.

Because of this, it’s asking a bit too much of money to give us peace of mind.

Many may feel insecure about whether the money they have is enough to last. Even those with a lot of money can struggle with this.

It doesn’t have very much to do with what we have but is sometimes more about greed and uncertainty about the future. Even when you have plenty of cash, it can’t give you peace of mind.

You may also experience a constant feeling or frustration that you need more money. This can cause you to live with some level of anxiousness or fear.

Money can’t buy love

It doesn’t matter how many dollars are in your bank account, or how much you spend on others, it can’t make them love you. You can’t buy love – it has to be given freely, which means it has little to do with being wealthy.

We can’t make anyone love us by buying them expensive gifts or trips around the world. Usually, love is recognized for what it is when we do what’s best for others, regardless of how it affects us personally.  

Money is just a currency, so it can’t buy love.

Sometimes people act like they are your allies if you have money, while really they are thinking of themselves. So, money can make us feel like people are our friends when they aren’t. 

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy ingredients

There’s a lot of argument to the contrary regarding what money can buy. For example, Gertrude Stein was famously quoted saying, “Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.” 

This could lead you to assume that while it’s possible money can’t buy actual happiness, it can probably manufacture something similar through what you can buy with it. 

What are some examples? Feeling bored and taking a trip around the world, or wanting new clothes and going on a shopping spree.

Perhaps not having debt and paying for a home in cash. These are all things that will bring us temporary happiness. But it usually fades.

Let’s look at some more serious examples. Imagine one of your loved ones needs medical care, and you have the money to pay for everything they need.

They’re healed because of what you were able to buy. That would probably bring lasting joy because it helped someone else.

What about if you can afford never to work again and instead spend time with your family? That would bring a lot of happiness.

As I go through these examples, you might see a pattern emerging. Buying material items for ourselves usually brings us only temporary happiness.

But suppose we can afford to buy something that helps our relationships or helps another person. In that case, you may find more lasting benefits.

Simply put, money spent on yourself may bring little happiness if it isn’t something very important. But, on the other hand, money spent for others can bring joy that lasts longer.

What can money buy?

Up to this point, you may be thinking that having money isn’t a good idea. But when you use it correctly, money can help a lot and make your life much better. 

Money can accomplish plenty of things for you. While these things don’t directly make you happy, not having them can definitely make you frustrated or sad.

So having access to them may make you feel better in your life.

Health

Money doesn’t automatically make you healthy. But it can buy you things that help you to be healthy – for example, organic foods, gym memberships, doctor’s appointments, and health advice.

While taking charge of your own health does require some discipline, it’s definitely worth it to invest in something that will help you in the long-term. Money can contribute to good health.

A good lifestyle

Money can help you afford a home you love, with plenty of space for your family.

It can help you buy land, businesses, nice clothes, and many other things that improve your lifestyle. Finally, money can help you to live in comfort.

Knowledge

Gaining knowledge is possible with money. You can pay for your family to get a good education without going into debt.

You can buy not only college classes but courses and books, as well as attend lectures on various subjects. In addition, you can afford tutors and teachers to help you to learn even more.

Of course, you will still have to work at it, but you can buy a lot of knowledge with money.

Quality time with your loved ones

Money doesn’t directly buy you time. It can give you the ability to spend your time differently, though.

If you have money, you may be able to afford to take time off to spend with your family. You can take them on long and expensive vacations.

It allows you to spend quality time with people you care about without overthinking about making ends meet.

A great location to live

In many cases, having money means you can choose an excellent location to live in. If you work in a big city, you can afford a home in a nice, safe neighborhood or suburb.

It could mean traveling or living anywhere in the world that you’d like if you work remotely. The Bahamas? California? London?

If you have enough cash, you can choose to live in whatever location you like best.

This is not to say that you can’t achieve some of these things without money, but it’s harder to do. When you have a lot of money you’re able to do all of this easily.

You can take care of your family and buy the things you need, as well as many items you want. 

Having the right attitude and how it affects you

Money will only make you more yourself. If you’re someone who is very positive, you will probably continue to be so with more money.

If you think negatively, the chances are good that you will continue with this, even if you become wealthy. This can also be true for people that are generous or greedy.

It’s essential to have a good attitude about wealth. Know that having confidence and a good outlook can go a long way towards how successful you are with money.

Train yourself to focus on the opportunities in every situation to excel with finances.

You shouldn’t be afraid of having money. The way you react to it is within your control. You can use it any way you like, so you can choose to use it for good.

Should you try to become wealthy?

Many people struggle with this. Is it greedy to try to become wealthy?

Will it truly make you happy? How much money should you have?

Having money is helpful to an extent. What this means is that you should absolutely work towards having enough money to cover your expenses and save cash for the future.

Related: Wealth Building Tips Anyone Can Do

It’s important always to have enough to take care of yourself and your family. Beyond this, it’s up to you how vital wealth is.

Of course, you might try to make more money, and this doesn’t make you greedy, so long as you are still kind to others and don’t depend on money for everything.

You may also get to a point in life where you feel that you make enough money, and you don’t try too hard to make more. And this is fine, too.

When you do eventually reach a place where you have all you need, it’s good to be content with that.

Can money buy happiness or not?

It’s a big question. Money doesn’t buy happiness – does it?

A recent study found that the more money one makes, the higher well-being levels one will have. 

According to that information, it would be hard to conclude that more money doesn’t contribute to greater happiness or a better life. While money can’t do everything, in most cases, it makes people’s lives better.

So yes, to an extent, money can buy happiness. Although it’s important to remember that each person is an individual, there’s no way to know precisely how the money will affect them.

Most people wouldn’t mind a higher salary, though, especially after hearing about this. It’s good to have goals throughout your life and even to try to earn more money.

While you do this, remember that family, friends, and life experiences, matter as well. Take time to evaluate how much time you give to making more money to see if it aligns with your values.

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Steffa Mantilla

Certified Financial Education Instructor

Steffa is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and the founder behind Money Tamer. Her 12-year background in operant conditioning and positive behavioral change training is used to help people find effective motivators to change their harmful money behaviors. Steffa explains the reasons “why” behind people’s financial behaviors and how to successfully change them. After paying off over $80,000 in debt through budgeting, she now teaches families how to get their own finances in order. You can learn more about her here.

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