Can Money Buy Happiness? The Truth Most of Us Ignore

September 29, 2016
What's the point of having lots of money in the bank if you have nobody to share it with? Read on to discover why you can't but happiness.

All people at one point or another find themselves wondering if money can actually buy happiness. Yes, we need some kind of financial support in order to live, but is that really enough?

Believe it or not, many are well-off financially, yet they have few if any friends, a wanting emotional life, a nagging inner void they can’t seem to fill…

We know that this topic is controversial. Both experts and average Joes have been debating the psychological value of money for ages, and there are arguments that support all points of view. In today’s article we invite you to give this topic a bit of your time.

The Happiness Which Money Can Buy…

According to a study conducted between July 2011 and June 2012 by the National Institute of Statistics of the United Kingdom, good economic standing does influence a person’s level of happiness.

This shouldn’t surprise us. After all, everybody has bills to pay, and who doesn’t like knowing that they have some money saved up in the bank for a rainy day?

Experts also claim that the recent economic crises have amplified this need to be secure financially. Nowadays knowing that we’re “covered” should an emergency or problem arise offers us a greater sense of well-being.

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Furthermore, it’s hard to make your dreams come true if your budget is tight. Whether you want to launch your own business, travel the world, or start a family, you need resources.

On the other hand, the study mentioned above also states that happiness isn’t greatly influence by the number of possessions we have. Things like multiple houses, fancy cars, or priceless antiques won’t help you feel as fulfilled as you imagine.

Woman holding a bird and feeding a squirrel

…and That Which It Can’t

Nobody can deny that being able to provide for ourselves and our family is a necessity. But as with everything else in life, balance is also a must.

A study published by the University of British Columbia found that, while having money does lower a person’s level of sadness, it doesn’t increase happiness. In order for this to make sense, we must view “sad” and “happy” not as polar opposites but as distinct emotional states.

Here’s a concrete example: Imagine you’re seriously in debt, and suddenly a rich relative dies and leaves you a small inheritance. You can now pay off what you owe, and maybe the “high” provided by this unexpected boon lasts a couple of days.

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Eventually, though, life resumes its normal course. You go to work and deal with annoying coworkers, your kids keep acting out at school, your partner picks a fight with you again during dinner…

Money helps us avoid certain worries and headaches, but there will always be something that gets us down. By having it, we eliminate just one of myriad possible reasons to feel sad.

Woman who thinks that sometimes money can buy happiness

You Can’t Put a Price on Emotional Well-Being

Money allows you to feed and clothe yourself, provides distractions, and can buy us lots of awesome possessions. But unless you’re Scrooge McDuck, it isn’t a source of happiness in and of itself.

  • To be happy means to be content with who you are, to have healthy, meaningful relationships with other people.
  • You can’t put a price on affection, a child’s laughter, or those special moments shared with loved ones. Such joys are the result of kindness, love, and dedication.

Although nobody can minimize the importance of money, our worth isn’t determined by how many figures we see when we check our bank account. Learn to be humble, and keep your heart open to those around you.

  • Dittmar H, Bond R, Hurst M, Kasser T. The relationship between materialism and personal well-being: A meta-analysis. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2014;
  • Martos T, Kopp MS. Life Goals and Well-Being: Does Financial Status Matter? Evidence from a Representative Hungarian Sample. Soc Indic Res. 2012;
  • Haworth J, Lewis S. Work, leisure and well-being. Br J Guid Couns. 2005;
  • Kushlev K, Dunn EW, Lucas RE. Higher Income Is Associated With Less Daily Sadness but not More Daily Happiness. Soc Psychol Personal Sci. 2015;