Does Money Bring Happiness?

“Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort.” – Helen Gurley Brown

(Photo: RubyRan)

Does money bring happiness? That is the universal question. People who try to answer that question usually fall into two categories. There’s the “Yes” crowd; comprised of people who usually have something to sell you. These are the people on infomercials who stand in front of sports cars and yachts and try to convince you that if you buy their product you will be rich and happy.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the “No” crowd. This group is usually comprised of people who try to convince others, and themselves, that you do not need money to be happy. But unfortunately, most of these people are not rich now and will never be rich in the future. They can’t make a fair comparison which does not lend any credibility to their opinion.

So what is true answer?

I have been poor most of my life. I have slept in my car, lived in basements with nothing but a mattress on the floor. I lived on Ramen noodles and worried about every penny for many years. I have had a few successful businesses and I’m now financially comfortable and actually consider myself rich. I no longer have to work a regular day job. Having lived both lifestyles, I know I can answer this question honestly from experience. I am not trying to sell anything and I have no hidden agenda.

So does money bring happiness? The answer is “Yes” but not by as much as you would think. Or to put it more accurately, money does not make you happier it just makes you less unhappier.

In my experience, I found that money does not bring happiness but it simply removes a lot of the crap that makes you unhappy. If you were to write a list of the things in life that annoy and bother you, I can safely say than money would be able to solve a great deal of them.

The annoying problems that plague so many people are the same; the crappy job that you hate, worrying if your car is going to make it just a little longer, the inability to afford to take a real vacation, the constant worrying about expenses at the end of the month. The list goes on and on. All these problems add up and lower your standard of living and quality of life. Money does not necessarily bring happiness, but lack of it definitely brings unhappiness.

Money can help you solve and remove a great deal of those problems, but that is where its job ends. After you have taken care of the basic necessities and have the security of a financial safety net that is pretty much as good as it gets.

Having money also allows you to pursue things which can nudge you towards happiness such as hobbies, therapy or new experiences but overall having a yacht or a Ferrari will not make you any happier. I really wish this was not true. I wish that buying a new “toy” would make me happy, but it rarely did and when it did the happiness was fleeting.

This is not to discourage you to pursue riches and wealth, because your life will indeed be better with money than without it. But keep in mind that there is a plateau which you will reach where money will no longer be satisfactory in providing your “happiness fix”.

So the bad news is that being rich will not make you as happy as you imagined but the good news is that to reach the maximum happiness from money is a lot easier that you think. As you imagine your dream life of how happy you will be living in a mansion surrounded by fast cars, caviar and champagne the truth of the matter is that you will be just as happy as when you simply live a comfortable life with money put away for a rainy day. Having 10 million dollars in the bank will not make you 10 times happier than having 1 million.

The reason you pursue money is because you think it will make you happy, fortunately that happiness is a lot cheaper and closer than you imagined. 

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  1. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the article, it was very useful and in alignment with what I have experienced. Having money has given me the means to enjoy life more, but the money itself hasn’t made me any happier.

    Your post has definitely confirmed everything I thought to be true.



  2. Thanks pal, I am glad you enjoyed it.

    Michael Page

  3. Not sure what to say about this … if you take a course at a university these days, it cost some $3K-$5K. If you travel to another country, plane tickets run from $800-$1.8K plus lodging/transport/food could easily put you behind $2K-6K. Thus, there’s not a lot of wiggle room in terms of what money can or cannot provide. The key to happiness is to use one’s experiences to better oneself. And thus, if that’s your aim then sure, money does bring happiness. All this other stuff is a type of propaganda ministry, purported by those, who have no idea as to what they’re doing with their lives. In what circumstances, has buying a Porsche, added to one’s happiness vs renting one, for a weekend or two of having a wild time on the roads? That’s not an argument, I’d even say that it was a strawman of sorts. The university course, living/traveling to a foreign land, doing your own art/writing/music, independent of getting a paycheck from it, probably has far more rewards. Guess what? Money allows all that to happen.

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