Only The Poor or Super Rich Say “Money Can’t Buy Happiness”

Whoever said, “money can't buy happiness” is either poor or wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. The incessant amount of studies by researchers trying to prove money can't buy happiness is simply a result of the researcher's own poverty or unhappiness.

Because they are financially mediocre, it seems researchers are trying to console themselves that it's OK not being wealthy. Sounds harsh, I know. But we can only truly know how rich we can feel until we actually make a lot of money. Otherwise, we're just pontificating.

Generally, researchers have a higher sense of self because they have more educational training. Hence, it tears them up when they see other “lesser beings” make more than them. Meanwhile, those who continue to highlight research stating that money can't buy happiness are trying to justify their own financially unspectacular selves as well!

The Poor And Financially Mediocre Are In Cahoots

You see, the financially mediocre are all in cahoots with each other. They've banded together to proclaim that being middle class regular people is good enough. It probably is good enough for most people, but not for these unsatisfied folks who think they are smarter and better than everyone else! 

If being middle class or amongst the poor was good enough, then they'd leave well enough alone and be happy with their financial mediocrity. It's a hard pill to swallow, but swallow they must. 

Not everybody can make multiple six figures, live in million dollar houses, and pay cash for luxury automobiles. That's just life and they are trying to bring you down. Don't let them!

The Tricky Rich

On the flip side, you have the super rich who also say, “money can't buy happiness.”  They've got all the luxury in the world, with not an ounce of financial worry. Even millionaires can't resist free. But, it must be nice to figure out what to splurge on. And never having to budget during Christmas season. Meanwhile, the poor are just trying to get food on the table.

It must be nice going to $1,000/head charity galas and paying $200 for front row seats to watch the great Itzhak Perelman play violin. These types of people need to fight for the poor. Otherwise, they'll be deemed as greedy bastards.

The guilt factor the super rich have is enough to say statements such as, “The rich aren't paying their fair share of taxes!” Even if you slapped a 99% marginal income tax rate on Warren Buffet, he still will make more than 99% of the world. 

Of course it's OK to raise taxes when you have so much wealth! The super rich will lecture us to stop focusing so much on money and just following our dreams. Don't listen to them for one bit! They're just trying to win you over and pretend to be like one of you.

Definitely Happier With More Money

I don't know about you, but I'm very happy making more than I did 20 years ago. 20 years ago, I was worried whether I could afford getting desert for two on a date. Now, the cost of a seven layer chocolate cake for $8.99 doesn't even cross my mind, only the 5 miles I'll have to run tomorrow instead.

20 years ago, I used to stress more at work because if I ever got fired, my safety net was as think as sheets of wet Kleenex! 10 years later, I was focused on all the good things at work and didn't worry about face time issues and work place politics.

Today, as a fake retiree who hasn't had a job since 2012, I don't worry too much about money at all. The bull market since I left work in 2012 has been so good, my passive investment income now generates enough to take care of a family of five.

20 years ago, I would never be able to consciously buy two round-trip tickets the day before to celebrate Valentines week in Hawaii. Now, I'm excited to go on more last minute adventures because experiences are what matter most!

In fact, I just purchased two round-trip first-class tickets for my parents to come visit us this Thanksgiving. They haven't visited for almost three years due to COVID. Having more money has definitely made me happier because I can afford more conveniences.

Related: Much Poorer But Also Much Richer Too

Those With Money Don't Worry About Money B/c They Have It

The reason why money does buy happiness is because once you have money, you don't worry about money anymore. All the stress that comes with a lack of money melts away.

You're not pissed at your friends for short-changing the pot during a group meal outing. You don't care if you get a flat tire and have to spend $350 to replace just one. You're just not worried anymore, and that feels fantastic!

Money also allows you to buy fantastic memories. Most would agree that your happiest moments are spent with friends and loved ones. If you have money to travel and be with those you care about, is that not happiness production? It absolutely is.

What about all the fun times you had taking salsa lessons or playing tennis at the club? Not a cheap endeavor, but so fun, and made possible by money.

I got a stupid $110 parking ticket the other day as I was dropping my family off at the science museum. I was gone for just 5 minutes. In the past, I would have been pissed. Now, I think to my self, whatever.

On November 10, 2018, I had to take my son to the ER because he was vomiting due to some virus. The ER visit cost a $100 co-pay. I was glad to easily pay it to get access to treatment. Another example of how money reduces stress in an already stressful situation.

Related: 5 Money Habits I Learned That Will Never Make Me Rich

Money Does Buy Happiness, Especially If You Are Poor

When people start telling you money can't buy happiness, take a good hard look at their finances. They are likely telling you this because they don't have much money themselves.

They haven't tasted the freedom money buys. And if they so happen to be research PhD's, well you can forget about their advice right there. If they are super rich, then you know they are just trying to blend in and not look selfish.

If you want to make more and be happier, I encourage you at least follow my average net worth by age guide. This way, you can outperform the average person and use your money to buy more experiences, things, and happiness.

At the end of the day, money is relative. And the more money you can earn and accumulate, the happier you will likely be.

Related posts:

The Unhealthy Desire For Money And Prestige Is Ruining Your Life

Solving The Happiness Conundrum In Five Moves Or Less

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209 thoughts on “Only The Poor or Super Rich Say “Money Can’t Buy Happiness””

  1. Artie Whitefox

    Money gives people peace that the world gives. Jesus wants to be in us giving each other peace, that the world cannot give. People being each others money. You want that? I will make one for you. I will ask people to send materials that are be needed to make what you requested. Jesus lets people be people. Each person regulating themselves. That is how it will be in God’s kingdom. God’s unseen kingdom needs to be in us, now.

  2. Artie Whitefox

    Ecclesiastes 1:2“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”
    King James Version (KJV)
    Solomon said that. Rich in earthly wealth are seeing what Solomon saw. The rich have an abundance of a thing that Satan wants to gather unto that being’s vain self. It is money.

  3. Been poor, very poor. Now I don’t need to sweat it. Car needs new brakes, refrigerator and washing machine both just gave up their last, it doesn’t matter. Put it on plastic and pay the plastic off on the next bill. It might not make me happy but it doesn’t make me unhappy either; it simply is.

    Kids ask me for a lift to the airport, I hire them an uber rather than spend several hours going back and forth. Eating out (or getting delivery) is strictly a matter of time and calories, money never enters into it. This comes closer to happiness, but it’s not quite there, either.

    Money can’t buy happiness? Technically, I think that is a true statement. If you could, the rich would always be happy. You can be unhappy even with money. You certainly can’t pay to avoid untimely deaths, serious injury, or mental problems for you and your loved ones. But if you think you can be happy without money, there is something missing in the area of your personal sense of responsibility and independence, or someone with money is taking care of you (perhaps you are a child?).

    Money is a prerequisite for long term happiness.

    Sidenote: An awful lot of tv and cinema revolves around people gaining wealth, discovering they don’t like it, and being happy to return to a life of less certain financial security. You see the same thing with old people being made young again, or at least given the opportunity, then choosing being old over rejuvenation because they want to “grow old gracefully.” As if there were anything graceful or dignified about the afflictions of old age. These are entertainments made by wealthy people and their message is for the masses saying: “Be content with your lot, little ones.” Reject these themes as the propaganda they are.

  4. I might have a bit of contradiction here. Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy a
    few things that can bring happiness – like getting a spa massage, eating one’s favorite food and traveling the world all of which require money. But when it comes to genuine relationships, that’s what money can never buy.

    1. if it cannot buy happiness then what is it buying when you”re getting a spa massage, eating a favorite food, or traveling the world? depression?

  5. Shahinaz El Ramly

    Why people comment on poverty or richness as a state of happiness, material is something it is financial science and the state of happiness is psychology another science, the two states are not correlated, but it is human ignorance.

  6. “an emotionally unintelligent elitest”

    Why the name calling?

    I continue to think about this issue, and see the responses on this post.

    My wife took our daughter’s car in for an inspection sticker. The neighbor’s nanny was with her at the time. The car failed inspection, and while my wife just took the report and planned the visit to a neighborhood mechanic, the nanny looked like she was about to puke. She lives check to check, and any unplanned expense is an issue. For my wife, it was an appointment, planning around getting my kid back to college (with my car), fixing the kid’s car, and arranging a swap after the repair. A bit of annoyance, but not the reaction the neighbor’s nanny had to this.

    There is a level that many live at, check to check, where money is a concern that keeps one up at night. When a broken central A/C means sleeping in a puddle for the hot summer days instead of getting it repaired. Where a broken transmission means $XXX added to the credit card you spend 3 years paying down to near zero. Am I happy that I don’t have those minor things to derail my life? Of course. Does all the money in the world cure my mother in law’s dementia? No. But it buys a level a care so when we visit, daily, she’s clean, kept busy, fed, and maintains her dignity. (I can’t be the only guy that loves his mother in law, right?)

    Someone growing up in a wealthy household doesn’t know what it’s like to have parents stress over money needed for simple purchases. I agree, it can’t buy you love. But it changes the simple expenses we all hit for “Where to I get $XXX for this” to “another bill to pay”. Don’t underestimate that.

  7. Jeanna Storey

    Whoever wrote this is an emotionally unintelligent elitest. I grew up in a wealthy household. I could have any material experience I wanted. But something that I cherished far beyond any of these things were the rare times I had the undivided attention of my hardworking parents. As Paul McCartney said, “I don’t care too much for money. Money can’t buy me love”. And that’s the truth, brother.

    1. This is a crock of bull lol you kidding me right. Money buys you PLEASURE not happiness let’s get that OVERstood please. Im so sick of the masses talking about money when in reality currency holds no true value. People are killing themselves and other people for it and why. Because the government ties a knoose around your neck and let you roam slightly with just a little in your pocket to manage. Money doesn’t even buy you loyalty. You pay for partial loyalty like you do a lawyer or a litagator. As long as the case is swaying in their favor, money right they got your back. You go bellyup, welp sorry can’t no longer bless you with my services lol yall bug me out about this topic. If money bought happiness over privileged children would not talk back to nor harm there parents right or wrong. They would show gratitude for all they have been afforded and blessed with. The congregation and I need for you to go back to the drawing board with this one because fam you ARE the weakest link on this topic if you can equate happiness to something that when you parish you cant take it with you

    2. LMFAO you missed the point As usual idiot. Your parents weren’t wealthy. They had golden handcuffs. That’s not freedom. REAL money is freedom. REAL money works for you. Then those hardworking parents could live off the passive income and do whatever they wanted, had more balance, spent more time with you. Plenty of poor people work hard too and that still sucks. Fake rich. Next.

  8. Financial Sumurai,

    Your article is well presented but reveals (to me) precisely what your values are, and what they are not.

    Money is apparently your God. Yes, it’s nice to have and alleviates a lot of problems in life, but if you really think about it, overwhelming debt comes from living beyond one’s means: Greed. Remove the issues that lead to debt, and the unhappy elements of life go away. Grateful people don’t think about money being their “Savior” because they have their priorities/values in place.

    Furthermore, I have plenty of money. Have had it for a very long time. While it contributes to paying the bills and taking vacations, etc., it also creates problems. Social problems. You mentioned in this article that wealthy people often donate to charities to alleviate guilt, or to avoid appearing as greedy. Are you freaking kidding me? Who are you to deduce what they are thinking? Has the thought occurred to you that wealthy people are human beings too? Did you ever consider that people money have no empathy, or an inability to recognize that not everyone is capable of amassing fortunes? If you will pay attention to your own words, even you are not exempt from creating the very social friction that often comes with being wealthy. Do you think happiness is living within a resentful society? Yes, that is some happiness there/S. It really comes down to values and what makes people happy. If you are ok with simply having money and not worrying about parking tickets, for example, then fine. But that is a very small part of the equation, imo. As so many others have said, happiness is a relative term. What you define as happiness may not be happiness to myself or the next person.

    Despite an ad infinitum, philosophical approach to this topic, I shall ask you an objective question: If money makes you happy, then why aren’t you more frugal? Why do not you not value the thing that makes you so happy and free? Money does not grow on trees. I question why you so freely pay tickets and toss your money around without reservation. You claim that you no longer have to worry, but it sounds to me like you are not being very smart with your money. Sounds like a Nouveau Riche approach to me. Easy come, easy go, I suppose, which is something else that money can buy: Ignorance. Sorry for speaking so bluntly or sounding rude, but I am calling it the way I see it.

    1. I was having the same thought while reading this. I did agree that money takes away stress. But overall, I too kept thinking okay he and I have different values.

      My financial situation improved after getting married. And I kept thinking wow now I can do this and that but I realized after like 8 months of this sort of lifestyle that you know what, it isn’t making me happy. I value being present, and healthy (as much as I can from whatever is within my control), and creative.
      While money helps me buy my grocery so I can try different recipes. The joy does not come from buying the items, it comes from being engaged in an activity.

      It comes from when I especially do it for others, help others out etc.

      I still believe that having a bit more money will definitely take away stress, but I do not expect happiness from it. I still have to practice my own values and count what counts to be happy.

  9. I was having this discussion with a friend of mine and I will have to disagree with you. Money does not buy happiness but it can enhance or increase happiness. There is a difference between the two. I would define happiness as an intrinsic quality. If you are not inherently a person incapable of feeling happy no amount of money in the world will change that. If you are capable of happiness then sure money and resources can enhance that happiness but happiness and the ability to find joy is an internal quality. I get what you mean about the saying that money doesn’t buy happiness does get used to justify not having much money or to assauge guilt but there is some truth to it.

  10. Money doesn’t buy happiness, trust me I’m depressed as ever and my money is not doing anything for me. There are numerous people that are going through tough mental illnesses stop trying to say money buys happiness because it doesn’t, does it relieve stress? Yess it does. Other than that I’m not happy. Money doesn’t buy happiness, a family does

    1. Money frees you that’s It. Are you staring at the money expecting happiness to pop out?

      You still need to get help from others and figure out what’s going on. Money just gave you a clean slate. Don’t forget what it’s like to get screwed paycheck to paycheck at a job you hate that takes over half your time.

  11. I completely agree with that. The period in my life where I have been most unhappy was a long stretch of unemployment. I had enough in savings for it not to affect my lifestyle too badly, but it was the feeling of insecurity and being a total outsider that made the experience so rotten. Obviously, unemployment and being poor are closely related, but I believe the social status this confers on one are much more important in determining how one feels about it than the lack of money in itself.

  12. William Moore

    To be honest.
    I call bullshit… Only for one reason.
    I grew up dirt floor poor.
    And I’ll slap the shit out of anyone who tells me money can’t buy happiness.
    Money can buy security. And its really hard to be happy when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from.

  13. As the slogan says, all I ask is the chance to *prove* that money can’t make me happy!

    As the Beatles sang, ‘money isn’t everything, it’s true, but what it can’t buy, I can’t use”

    And as Sam says, one needs a certain level of income to thrive in a large city …. but after that amount (he says $200,000 a year, which is way more than most people even dream of), it’s all gravy, or a distraction.

    And without health, the money is less relevant – but better to be sick and rich than sick and poor.

    Some people have a talent for unhappiness whatever their income, and some the opposite. But freedom from worry has a value – and people have ‘worry points’ at different places.

    In sum: good column! I doubt that researchers deliberately skew results of surveys to make themselves feel better, but otherwise, lots of valid points here.

  14. Dan@Budgetnerds

    Well… Having lived in areas throughout the world of extreme poverty, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some incredible people that are extremely happy even though they live in shacks.

    Of course, happiness is subjective, and due to the amount of variable, can’t exactly be quantified through analysis. Here are my rules on happiness:

    – We choose to be happy, the world doesn’t choose for us.
    – The choices we make every day have a direct impact on our happiness.
    – Happiness is derived from spending time with those we love

    Can more money play a part? Absolutely! But it isn’t the end-all.

  15. Fun post! The comment I’d like to add is this one, which for me gets straight to the heart of the matter: having lived a life of tremendous highs and also tremendous lows, the famous American jazz singer Billie Holliday was once asked in an interview whether or not she believed that money could buy happiness. Her reply [and I paraphrase], was “I’ve been depressed rich, and I’ve been depressed poor. Let me tell you, depressed rich is better.”

  16. Someone finally have the courage to speak the truth. I find myself nodding my head and agreeing with each sentence you say. People naturally jump to the chance of saying “money doesn’t buy you happiness, because what if you’re sick” or they give examples of the proverty stricken people living in huts without food smiling because they’re surrounded with people they love. And then, there are people who of course say diamonds and fancy corvettes may only buy you temporary happiness, if any. First, let me tackle the last statement. I completely agree. As a male, diamonds don’t do a thing for me, but why do we AUTOMATICALLY assume money=diamonds + fancy cars= happiness?? For me, money makes me happy because of SECURITY. I don’t care for fancy cars or crappy diamonds, but I want to be carefree, worry-free and know that I don’t have to punch in on a time clock for my next paycheck and worry about what my boss thinks of me. I have the CHOICE to do what I want to do, not because I’m forced to secure some financial stability and know that I have money to pay rent or I’ll be out in the cold streets. Money allows me to wake up casually and any time I please travel to see my family and friends or that secret crush I’ve been chatting online with whom I get butterflies and now I can turn that to a reality. And no, I don’t need a freaking private jet, I can just take a normal airplane to go, but 1st class preferable and yes…..this cost money. How about money can’t buy you happiness if you’re sick?? I’m so tired of that saying. So you mean to tell me that you’d rather be sick and poor, because without money, you’re definitely getting little or no care. Nobody said money had the magic to raise you from the dead but why do people correlate money with illness, poor people get ill too, in fact much more so, so poor people with illness will experience more more unhappiness than a sick rich person. I can tell you clearly from my experience that having more money makes me happy. HOWEVER, I now believe there is a quantitative value. Say what? What I mean is if you say are you happier now that I give you a million dollars? My answer would be somewhat of course, but not for too long. Why, because a million dollars is not enough to buy you security for the rest of your life. It may get you through 10 years, but you’ll still be worried about not having enough for your later years. So everyone has a different “number”. So having money is NOT enough to make you “happy”, but having ENOUGH KNOWING that you’ll live a life that money will NEVER be an issue to do anything you want is what happiness is. Say if I had even 100 million, I’d be happy forever. I spend 1/3 of it to buy my absolute dream house, 1/3 invested in bonds, dividend stocks, REITS and real estate to collect rent to replenish my spending habits and 1/3 is cash just for spending and emergencies. So now, I can travel where I want, when I want, eat whatever I wish, date casually and spend time and money on the person I love and have the extra time to know her, meet with family and friends and do everything without a care in the world. Now, I’m truly happy.

    1. Jarek, totally agree with your point. In the US, however, health care is rationed by the ability to pay, so poor people get less healthcare of poorer quality, than the wealthy. It’s the one thing corporations do to scare you into doing what they want to retain your job – ration the healthcare. You’re never secure unless you have your healthcare resolved, and believe me, you can be young, vigorous and healthy one day, and have the sky fall on you the next.

      It’s the biggest threat to America and it’s not being addressed in a serious way by the elected `leadership’

    2. Jarek, totally agree with your point. In the US, however, health care is rationed by the ability to pay, so poor people get less healthcare and what they receive is of poorer quality, than the wealthy. It’s the one thing corporations do to scare you into doing what they want to retain your job – ration the healthcare. You’re never secure unless you have your healthcare resolved, and believe me, you can be young, vigorous and healthy one day, and have the sky fall on you the next.

      It’s the biggest threat to America and it’s not being addressed in a serious way by the elected `leadership’

  17. Trust me: money DOES make all the people on both sides of my family happier. I chose the arts so make a SHIT wage & the bankers in the family think I’m daft. Advice: do the arts in your spare time but choose a career or interests that is all about WEALTH. Wealth is better.

  18. I had a friend tell me “There are only 2 things worse than being poor and that is SICK and DEAD”. I agree.

  19. Money can’t buy happiness because there’s no such thing as happiness. It’s human nature to never be satisfied, always striving for bigger and better things. That, right there, is the meaning of life. The moment one becomes perfectly content, life becomes fundamentally pointless.

  20. this article disregards scientific studies on the subject but than makes its own conclusions or hypothesis? I live in Australia and have been in poor countries. I have seen the poor be very happy. This is because money really has nothing to do with happiness, what does however have to do with happiness is human relationships. In poor countries in Africa for example, many of the poor have very intimate relationships, large families, large support networks, because being poor is widespread, a part of life. In the US a homeless man may have no one. People look at this and think ‘wow i would hate to be him, that’s depressing’. But his unhappiness doesn’t stand from lack of material wealth but his social isolation and ostracism from his lack of material wealth. Hundreds walk past him every day not paying attention, in short people rather not identify with him. The rich can also feel isolated and lonely, take for instance Robin Williams who suffered depression. He was very wealthy but this impacted negatively on his relationships because most his relationships were superficial, and he was surrounded by people, but not ones who he felt were genuine, bit instead felt that they were there for personal gain.

    1. Don’t conflate homelessness with lack of money. in Australia, for example, the Aboriginals are marginalized and basically kept on poor-quality reservations with few opportunities to succeed – despite some amount of government support. They do strive to keep their family units intact and keep up their traditions, despite massive societal pressure to change.

      In the US, homelessness is often associated with mental illness and drug addiction, especially in the case of the ‘I would hate to be him’ that you describe. Giving more money to that person probably doesn’t get him off the street permanently. Giving him the right meds to control his mental illness, helping him get clean and sober can reduce the likelihood he’ll ever get on the street.

      As for the general question of money buying happiness – most lottery winners blow through the money they get and return to their pre-wealth lifestyles; fantasy-amounts of money don’t help them gain happiness. Happiness comes from within. Money only helps. Being poor isn’t just lack of money – it’s a lifestyle choice, perhaps unconscious, but nevertheless one you’ve got to struggle to change. Change is always hard.

  21. Socrates would agree with some of what you say Montana, he died poor yet considered himself rich not of material possessions but of things more valuable. At his trial, before he was to led to jail and the death penalty, he even asked his friends to look after his sons to make sure that they always put goodness above money or other earthly trappings.

    As a practical matter though, I have seen many poor people suffer for lack of money. They can’t send their kids to decent schools. They can’t participate in many different activities, or take up expensive hobbies. They can’t get the best healthcare. Money problems stress many marriages to the point of divorce. The woes of poverty are nearly endless.

    Can money buy happiness? It certainly eliminates the woes of poverty which are an evil, and the negation of an evil is a good. Money may create evils in one’s life, but when this happens it is the fault of the person and not the money. Therefore I have to conclude that money can indeed buy some measure of happiness simply from the elimination of the woes of poverty.

    1. “Rich or poor – it’s better to have money.” – My Dad. Not sure if it was original or not, doesn’t matter. Good words to live by.

  22. While your slant in this article crying conspirecy (it is at best a mass unconcious one anyway) is pretty sketchy, everything else is a good point. Speaking as someone who lives on very little a month, that also (willingly) practices minimalism and naturism and i live pretty lavishly and comfortably on my below poverty line income, coming into an extra $2000 (thats more than 2 months income) enables me to directly buy hapiness (from the experiences money enables one to buy): more delicious and highly scrutinized food(fresher, higher quality, more natural, organic, verified humane kills, hunting rights, what have you, etc); ability to afford to give money to those who need it more (by employig their service or thanking them well for it) than I that i personally encounter, experience, and interact with; not have to worry about if clothes will fit that i can’t return(i can just toss them if they don’t and not feel a loss); not stressed about bills or if keeping my house 1 degree cooler will break the bank, so i can be cool in the summer and thus happy (sleeping in heat directly makes me unhappy).

    Yes money is just “trust” in “imaginary value” between people (though the world econemy in general has been stated to have become its on concious entity seperate from human influence, that is directly influencing humans….it is still “trust” in the “value” this entity and ourselves place on things “money buys” even if its no longer between humans’ own kind/tribes) , but that alone means it buys hapines (if you are capable of attributing your own personal value to things, then money can enable you to have it).

    Perhaps what those poor and super wealthy mean to say is “The best things in life are free” (true, but realistically speaking EVERYTHING is absolutely free, if you have the strength of will, so the phrase is really a clever remark, meant to make people think) or “What specifically makes me happy I can’t buy with money”

    For instance an ultra wealthy person cannot buy a friend, and they do not know if the people that might be their friend really are or if they are just there for the money (as we all love to lavish our friends whenever we can!) unless they lose it all or some really unlikely event occurs to demonstrate it, but even then they will be unsure if the wealth was always present (though an obvious sign might be refusely to let you ever spend money in their presence regardless of their income level… But you’d not be being their friend if you listened to that request and wern’t trampling all over that line!).

    Conversely (self aware/by choice) Poor people are usually extremely happy as they understand all the pleasures of life are not blocked or prevented by not having money.

    For example: Food = Hapiness
    How much food? How much do you need to be happy? Will eating more than that amount add any additional hapiness?(the answer to that one is usually no)
    Can you be happy on less?(usually as ithe body is adaptable)
    Food can be attained without money entirely, and with knowledge and skill both of which do not cost money any dish or type of food can be made. But wih money you can obtain the former very easily (usually) or hirer said free liver with skill to make it for you.

    Money essentially makes obtaining hapiness “less stressful” as well (though certain minded people especially considerate people, neurotic people, and conservative people (or guilt/shame/useless feeling people) might or would find wealth extremely burdensome and stressful for various reasons, but all invariably did not earn it with their hard work). Hapiness is also little things and impacted by stress, money can buy many of these little things as well, and also directly reduce stress (calming affect/effect of physically touching money) as well as indirectlu reduce it. I know being in slightly less pain than usual just for a few hours brings a world of hapiness, and money can buy a massage or dip in a hot springs, etc directly buying he experience.

    Perhaps people think money can’t buy happiness because of this: The best things in life are free; but not everything that is free can be bought. And because money can’t directly buy certain specific things for a person they assume it can’t buy hapiness at all.

    I think maybe for some people it really can’t (because they already have it, and they have it for free), but most human temperments can directly buy hapiness with money if they know themselves well enough.

  23. Shane Turner

    I would like me and my brother to make $100,000-$150,000 per year between both of us. I feel like that would be a pretty comfortable living for two people. We live in Kansas.

  24. A large percentage of the money in the world contributes to the ecological collapse the world is now facing (resource depletion, species extinction, climate change, etc.). Our growth economy, consumerism, waste and desire for material wealth are all guilty contributors. Getting our basic needs met and having a special treat once in a while are great, but so many in this country keep wanting more. Let’s try to enjoy the simple, natural pleasures of life that don’t contribute to our extinction!

    1. Troy,

      You cannot change human nature. People want more money; always have and always will. As for myself, all I want is to enjoy the simple, natural pleasures that Al Gore enjoys!

      1. Actually you can change human nature(and technically it changes all the time!)! But it takes Power, and money is the currently the best route to power, unless you have the time to cultivate change in people on a person by person basis (which will still likely cost you some money in some cases as the catalyst is often not easy to come by). It takes a lot of money/power to mass change human nature however, and there is no real hapiness to be found in manipulating human nature in such a manner, so it is failing to buy hapiness at that point.

  25. Money does make you happy in this age where money is the currency of everything. Money is like energy, it can be used to do things or get things done. If you are in a place where money has no value then, money does not make you happy. It’s just a piece of paper. Ignorance and stupidity can also make you happy :)

  26. In general, I agree that more money and financial freedom makes life better. It seems so simple and self evident that one wonders why anyone would even try to disagree.

    I recently went back to school for an MBA and I was surprised to learn about all the supposed research about how money doesn’t motivate people and after 75K or so a year you don’t get any happier. I find it offensive when I’m told that money isn’t what I want, or isn’t going to make me any happier. My message to the egghead professors is, “Speak for yourselves eggheads!”. Money is and always will be the Primary motivator. There will be exceptions of course, there are always exceptions.

    But why does the research point in this direction if it isn’t true? My best guess is that the belief that anyone should only have so much, or needs so much or wants so much is the very foundation for socialism. It makes it ok to tax the rich beyond reason because you aren’t doing them any real harm if they are just as happy before the tax as after the tax. My next best guess is the university environment is so politically charged that trying to suggest anything other than what is deemed appropriate and acceptable is career suicide for professors who disagree.

    1. Just be a little careful of the viewpoints of MBA professors and financial journalists besides financial researchers.

      Every single one of them I’ve spoken to secretly wishes they could have become a great financial success, but they decided to stick with their professions.

      How did you find my article always curious to know. Thx

      1. Samurai,

        I found your article when I was trying to decide what car to buy and you’re 1/10th rule came up in a Google search. I’m still trying to decide on a car, but I’m leaning towards the cheap side with a 2003 to 2008 Honda Civic. I started reading some of your other articles because I tend to agree with what you say and I like to find out what other people are thinking in the comments.

  27. It seems that this article is based entirely on anecdotal evidence and unsupported claims. The author’s cynical view of researchers and belief that people who conduct scientific studies into this matter have shady personal agendas undermines the credibility of this article entirely.

    1. Ah, but the evidence is not anecdotal. Researcher salaries are under $100,000. And I have been poor and I have been rich, and I have said “money can’t buy happiness.” Now that I’m in the middle, I absolutely believe money can at least rent happiness.

      It’s been good to document happiness across the income spectrum on this site.

      Check out the posts:

      Definitions Of The Middle Class (


      The Top 1% Income By Age (

  28. I generally agree, money in itself does not bring happiness, the financial freedom that comes with it does.
    Or as a smart man once said: Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery much more comfortable.

  29. I believe it can to a extent. I remember the days when I was only making 1500 to 2000 dollars a month. I always stayed out of debt, paid bills on time, saved money, contributed to my IRA. I was doing all things right, but there was never enough to just go do what I want. I was being financially responsible and sure I could go out and eat at a nice place. Or go to the movies without breaking the bank. But I wanted to do bigger things!

    These days when making mid 6 figures finally. Whenever I have time to take a week or two off, I can book that trip out to the islands off thailand and go on that 5k scuba diving trip I always wanted to do without a second thought. What I like to say is, money has bought me some freedom to do what I want to do. It has created the ability to know that yes I have something for retirement, yes i can take that trip that I always wanted too without going into debt for it or stretching myself to thin financially.

    I have to say making more, I am happier. It was no fun dreaming about doing these things making only 15k or so a year. Dreams are good to have, but dreams that you can actually make into reality are that much better. Overall I am just more stress free too. I have a buffer. It can also buy me time and security, if tomorrow I loose my job, I don’t have to stress it for a while.

    By no means I am rich. I still consider myself middle class.

    1. I completely agree! Does making more money make the average person happy (if you aren’t a happy person it likely doesn’t matter much)…probably not. However, making more money does give you the options to do the things that make you most happy!

      My hobbies have stayed the same as my income has grown. However, I am happier now because I can do these things much more frequently (travel abroad, invest in real estate and snowboard).

  30. I can’t tell if you’re joking or not. I’ve seen the budgets of my local university and I can tell you a lot of those researchers are making a nice six figures! Very far from poverty. Also, it’s not like the researchers in the world have some mass conspiracy and just making up the data.

    I found your site recently from Mr. Money Mustache and I’ve been reading a few of your posts. Mostly some decent stuff but I notice you tend to take shots at various groups of people, like Democrats and now Researchers in this article. I’m neither a Democrat or Researcher myself but these cheap shots just come across as petty and bitter. Anyway, just some constructive criticism. Continue making generalizations if you wish! ;)

    From the research I’ve read, money DOES affect happiness, but only up to a point. Here’s one study:

    It’s not just about money, but how it is being earned. Making $200,000 annually would be fantastic, but not if you were working 90 hours a week at a job you hate to do it.

    I think when people say that “money can’t buy happiness”, they mean it in the sense that money ALONE can’t buy happiness. That’s why it is possible to be rich and miserable. Having financial security is just one part of the happiness equation, and it’s not even the most important part.

  31. I’m like Tails in that I live on 15K per year. I work and make more as does DW. and live in a small city.

    Experiences create happiness. Cultivate fun experiences and hobbies that don’t cost much, or better yet, pay for themselves. Make a determination to be optimistic, live a healthy lifestyle, and enjoy and be grateful for what riches that you have.

    I like to garden in a small way (grow fresh herbs), cook, hike, DIY projects, and read. A good day could include some shop time, a walk to the library and a home made pizza or Thai, spent with the partner that I love. I could wastefully spend more, but why? Think “Millionaire Next Door”, apply its lessons to your own circumstances and get rich!

  32. Hold on now, the research says that happiness maxes out at 75k; so happiness does decrease with a decrease in income from that level. I live on 15k (saving 22k) and am doing great so I think that sum is fairly luxurious.

      1. Living on 15k a year would be easy for a single guy with no kids. I lived on 1k/month in my college days. Mostly eat at home, rent a room in a house, drive a used car… Give someone like that a 50k salary and he can save 20k easily a year.

  33. as an old lady in NYC once told me: “I’ve been poor, I’ve been rich…and rich is better.”

  34. I have always been a believer of that old adage. After reading your post, it made me think twice.. and I think I will agree. Money CAN buy happiness. When we have the money to spend for good food, out-of-town trips, and see the smile from my children, I feel an indescribable happiness because I was able to provide for my family.

  35. I’m a lot happier than 10 years ago too and I think it’s both because I’m more financially secure and also bc I’m doing work that I love now. More money would be great but I don’t feel I need more to be happy now.

  36. Your silly did you just pull this article out of your tuat? Front row Pearlman tickets were the cheapest since a hall is an instrument and the beat sound is generated in the center of the hall. More money just means larger bills, and higher cost for gratification. Gratification becomes a costly thing to satisfy, ie a colored person gets the same amount of gratification from a bottle of shilz malt liquor that bill gates get from a three thousand dollar bottle of cognac. 1.50 = 3000.00 gratification remains the same. Money buys better things not better happiness. At times it can be a curse, food becomes bland, people get boring, ultra adult entertainment just hardly stimulates the glands. Guess it depends how you were raised, what excites the commoner even neuvo riche does nothing for older generations. I can imagine if a vagabond was given money after years squalor the concept of money not buying happiness would be absurd. There are groups of wealthy individuals that actually take vacations where they leave their Amex onyx at home and live as a hobo for a period of time even the late Howard hughs was a proud member.

    1. George russek

      Lol they CHOOSE to live that way “as a hobo” because it is a CHOICE. They don’t wake up with that reality each morning and have the FREEDOM to make that choice of how they would like to live. people that don’t even make enough to keep their everyday lives going and basic human needs satisfied would totally argue that money buys happiness. That only works up to a point, though. I person making 50k a year would see a huge improvement in quality of life if that amount doubled or tripled but the same effect would not happen from someone already making 100-200k having their income tripled. I think it all starts from having basic needs met which enjoying life and being able to buy presents and take family on vacation is part of basic needs for mental health. Seems like when you make more than 250k a year it doesn’t really matter anymore it just becomes a number on the ATM screen.

  37. I admit that i haven’t had time to read comments so maybe someone already addressed this. Anyway, the truth is : You wouldn’t think this if you did not have your health or had a sick kid (like I do). Money cannot buy health. I wish everyday that my child had good health.

    1. This is the core of it. Money is great… until money stops being useful. It might buy some of the things that contribute to happiness, but you can’t buy your way out of chronic depression. You can’t buy your father back. You can’t buy a guarantee that you’ll die peacefully. THAT’s the kind of thing people mean when they say money can’t buy happiness. A financially sound guy with terminal cancer isn’t automatically happy.

      Stand on the edge of death, say by watching someone die in front of you, and notice the things that help you recover. Money might get you access to a good psych, but it’s going to take mental muscle to not slip a pistol into your mouth when you realize the fragility of it all.

      Happiness is a deliberate choice, and doesn’t necessarily require money.

  38. I agree! money can buy security and things that would make people happy. The book “Rich dad, Poor Dad” tells us something… That money is not the root of evil, it is the lack of money. There are a lot of things you could do with money if used in a right way. Too much of something is bad that includes too much poverty and too much money. Thanks for this post.

  39. It might be a curse to be THAT wealthy like the Johnsons b/c the expectation is that you have to continue giving forever or else you will be perceived as greedy.

    They are in the 0.1%, not 1%!

  40. I’m going to agree with you. Money can provide things that can help with our happiness. I’ll admit though, there are times I wish I could get rid of 90% of the things I have and just travel and live wherever.

  41. Awesome post. I think it depends on the person and what motivates them to be financially successful. Personally, my happiness will come when I’m able to give back to the community and help others. To achieve this, I need to be financially fit. So therefore, money WILL buy happiness.

      1. Terry Pratt

        In my experience, poor people give to society by building wealth for their employers and landlords, and enabling the daily consumption taken for granted by the rich and middle class. (You wouldn’t be eating Big Macs or from the dollar menu if minimum wage workers did not prepare them for you.)

        As an underpaid convenience store worker, I contributed to my employer’s $3M annual net income – that’s $1M a year in taxes he pays and I helped make that happen.

        1. You work for an employer you do your job but you think you have a part in their success? You are the same as a tool just because you assemble a machine does not mean you made it, you assembled it.

  42. This is more complicated than the initial question of “Can money make you happy”? Some of my best experiences or memories have nothing to do with money! Certainly lack of money would make me very unhappy! Money in itself does not make me happier. More money would provide better experiences. For me, money is more of a score card. This is one of the ways, we measure success.

  43. Positive Brother

    Great post! Really liked this “The reason why money does buy happiness is because once you have money, you don’t worry about money anymore.”

    On the flip side, once you have that money, some people then turn their worries to elsewhere!

  44. Sunil from The Extra Money Blog

    most things in life have a price, even the stuff VISA claims is priceless. therefore, money can buy happiness…

  45. I believe true happiness comes from a sound philosophy, education and speculation of perception of what is actually going on around you and the way you deal with it. I think true good perpetuates true good in all areas of life and you shape the world around yourself. I believe fortune can be a consequence of true good and deep understanding. Not saying that money can’t buy you happiness, but I believe, and I think you do too, that it’s secondary to true happiness. Example> If you do something for someone for the sake of feeling good about yourself, then it only leaves you feeling empty. But, if you do something out of empathy for another or for a higher being (in my case “God and Christ” then you are purposeful) and that’s true happiness. I like the burden of my life. I enjoy intense heat, Freezing cold, mowing my grass, fixing my house, helping others, raising my son, eating chinese, going to movies, having the almost impossible chance of existing and actually being alive and so on and so on. I don’t know if I agree or disagree with anything you wrote, just wanted to add a little.

  46. I was reading some updated research on this in The Economist which is showing that if you look at it on a countrywide level, money does buy happiness.

    i.e. The richer countries of the world *are* happier than the poorer ones, on the whole. So much for the hippy trail!

    Perhaps it’s because they’ve all got TVs now and they know what they’re missing?

    The saddest place in the world relative to income? Bulgaria!

    1. The Economist is a magazine for the educated folk with wealth right in the middle… not poor, not filthy rich, although some are. Clearly, that researcher is doing pretty darn well for him/herself!

  47. I just wanted to add my $0.02. I am a musician, programmer, and tinkerer. Not professionally but these are my 3 main passions in life. While money it’s self would not by me happiness, the free time to dedicate more to the things in life I enjoy most and the means to afford the things that go along with them (working equipment, updated books, a complete toolkit) would bring a great deal of peace of mind and happiness to my life.

    What the things that are important in your life may differ but ultimately money can buy you more time with the interests or people that you value/love most in your life. And ultimately time is the one thing we never have enough of. so being able to spend more of that precious time doing the things and/or being with the people we love most would be the greatest reward of wealth.

    If you don’t know what makes you happy, then you will never be happy. Otherwise, money can most assuredly buy you more happiness.

  48. Ok my computer just freaked, but in response to the quote in my post….Yes spending time with loved ones are very happy moments, but if you love each other so much why do have to travel to them? Why aren’t you just near each other already?

    Ok I’m done

  49. I’m curious as to what the writer’s salary is. And I think there’s a misconception about the “money can’t buy happiness” phrase. Yes it can buy you different oppurtunities and fun experiences without a doubt, but if you look to money to buy you exemption from the human experience then no money will not buy you happiness.

    “Most would agree that your happiest moments are spent with friends and loved ones. If you have money to travel and be with those you care about, is that not happiness production?”

    Of course there’s always anti-deppressents :) but then you need a prescription and I think (I hope) the hypocratic oath says something about taking money for that.

    But I agree with what the writer says about the very poor or very rich saying what they say. Humans want to feel like they’re a part of something, anything. And if they’re a part of one of the financial extremes they may feel isolated and trapped but still desire to relate to more people outside of their financial realm.

      1. Money to buy your way out of something. To be exempt from something.
        Maybe I misspelled it?

        We all have days when we’re sad, maybe friends die, parents die, etc.
        Just things that all people have to deal with at some point in their lives that are
        unfortunate or tragic.

  50. With this phrase “Money Can’t Buy Happiness”
    , I would argue, as this eternal question depends on many factors and human consciousness. I believe that all the same availability of money in our society offers more opportunities to see the world, and Gross pens a man more pleased than the man who all his life spent at home in his neighborhood.

  51. Debating if the “group” should be happy with a certain amount of money is without point to me. It makes much more sense to devide “self” and others.
    Myself, I have decided to be wealthy, meaning financially independent…personal decision, really, and one that is rooted in realism of my future security. It seems most people here have similar mindset.
    However, it seems some must feel guilty about having money, or derive stress from the situation of accumulating money, especially when I see that the nominal savings rate is still only about 4-5%

    Also, “happiness” is funny. Some studies have shown that persons who are concerned about ozone depletion are much less happy than those concerned about species extinction.

    so maybe happiness from money is just a more abstract concept …. like ozone (O3), and not as cute as saving the Pandas

    However, there is some very good information from this type of study….
    1. Most Americans are happy, especially slightly above-average wage earners. Excellent news for the stability of our nation, and should encourage the Chinese to buy more T-Bills
    2. Most Americans seem to be bad at math. The phrase “hit the lotto” rich makes me sick, and I dont get why people dont understand that 1 million is not very much money from a cash flow perspective.
    3. In the future, I should have many propective tenants for the apartments I plan to buy. Many Americans do not want the added stress of managing cash, investments or tenants, and may therefore be happier to pass that money along to me (or any of you)


  52. Hey Sam,

    In reasonable limits I agree with what you have stated above, that money can buy happiness and only that poor or rich people tell you that money doesn’t bring happiness.
    But let’s just give an example of a average girl, that just lost her beloved sister in a car accident, do you think that money would bring a smile on that girl’s face? I’m not so sure about it. Also there are a lot of good and precious moments in one’s life that money can’t compete with.
    Even if we can sort the world by money, our thinkings will always be different.

    1. Hi Ary, of course not. The only thing that average girl would want is for her sister to be alive and well with her. And all things being equal, the average girl would sure appreciate the money to comfort her in her trying times.

  53. I’m going to agree with someone above who said it depends on how hard you have to work to make that extra money. I’ve you’re putting in reasonable hours and you enjoy what you do then sure, more money is nice. However I was working 90-100 hours/week as a physician which I did not enjoy. I hated it beyond explanation. I was putting away for retirement, but that’s down the road quite a bit and I want to enjoy my younger years doing things now. I quit and took a job making quite a bit less, allows me so much more time to pursue hobbies and interests and lets me travel the world now. In this scenario I am immeasurably more happy with less money, but it’s less about the money and more about the time and freedom.

    If I could have my current lifestyle but also get some incredible inheritence or something than yeah, that might make me happier. Otherwise I’m putting time and freedom above money. Of course part of the key to this is that I don’t really care about a bigger house or a fancier car to impress other people. I had enough impressing people as a doctor and honestly other people don’t care after 5 minutes. In fact the status and income often alienate you from other people who are intimidated out of no fault of your own, but simply by their own insecurities.

    1. Sounds good Dr. J. 90-100 hours a week is brutal, and is only sustainable imo if you’re doing something that’s absolutely your own.

      The good thing is, despite doing something else, you are still a Doctor!

  54. Total ad-hominem, but you always generate a lot of buzz Sam – you’ve definitely got a gift for that.

    Not sure the “conspiracy theory” is enough to convince me that these researchers want to keep others down to make themselves feel good, but let’s say they do – I guess I would say, “So what”

    Is that research really keeping people from pursuing more wealth, building their business or working hard to make more money? Doubtful.

    Personally I think most folks want to desperately believe money will make them happier because then it will justify all the time spent away from families killing themselves to build their own little kingdoms.

    I’m not naive that a certain level of money makes people happier. Beyond a certain level however it simply doesn’t work because we weren’t designed to be ultimatley fulfilled with joy by money.

    Great post!

    1. Just wanted to add one more point – There is a sense that money can make us happier when we are using it for others. In other words, the more we view our money as a tool to be used to help and serve others, the more satisfaction we get from it.

      1. Yes, the Researchers and their financial backers are trying to lull people to not shoot for the moon and accept their fate as average people so they don’t revolt against those who have more money and power.

        It’s all about revolution prevention.

  55. I agree with Valentina, Jacob, and vga. The marginal utility of increasing disposable income really diminishes quickly after a certainly threshold.

    I would argue that there is a second threshold, where you have too much money. I grew up in one of the richest cities in the nation and went to the best private high school, whose tuition per annum exceeds what most people spend on new cars. What I learned from living in my hometown and going to my school was that money really doesn’t make you happy. The rates of alcoholism and divorce in my area are staggering. Our divorce rate exceeds 50%. At my high school, at least 45% of our parents were alcoholics. You’d think that beautiful, rich people would be happy, but they aren’t. My school was also known as “The Pharmacy” for our drug habit. All of the best private schools had drug problems. Rich kids can afford the drugs. Some kids become alcoholics at age 9-11. Money gave them ephemeral happiness and lifetime addiction. There’s more than one thing at work in this town, but does money make the people in my area happy?

    1. Yikes Mneiae, that is a really sad phenomenon. I wonder what it is that really corrupts people. Can it simply be money that causes you to go drink and do drugs? There must be something else!

      1. My theory: It is something else – we all have a “happiness void” if you will that we desperately try to fill with money, sex or power (among other things). It could be different for all of us – but once we achieve that very thing we think will fill that happiness void and then find that it really doesn’t ultimately satisfy we turn to the next thing.

        So in this case that Mneiae mentions, folks thought that money would bring ultimate happiness – it doesn’t, so they turn to sex, drinking or drugs to help fill the void.

  56. harvestwages

    Hey Sam,
    This post reminds me of the old Chinese proverbs. I don’t think money can solve all problems. money can buy a bed, but not sleep. It can also buy a bottle of wine, but not satisfaction. Most rich people i know are very miserable. They lack happy moments. I think it’s best to be average. Poverty steals happiness.
    .-= harvestwages´s last blog ..Christian debt consolidation: Ideal way for Christians to get debt free =-.

    1. Harvest, the option is only to be rich or to be poor. I dont think you prefer to be poor, do you?

      I must agree with Sam that someone who saying being rich is like to be condemned is only comforting themselves for not being able to have freedom and more choices.

      Recently one of my friends saying something against being rich to me. He knows I’m ambitious and work very hard to achieve my goals. He ever said long time ago that how hard to drive for miles for work as he wish that he could buy a house in the city!

      I feel sorry for him and those who selling story that money can’t buy happiness. Do they know how to be happy, then? Coz I do know what makes me happy.

  57. I don’t think money can buy happiness, but it sure doesn’t hurt. Rather than buying happyness, it prevents depression, stress, and sadness.

    But, I can’t lie that money did buy my plane ticket for my upcoming vacation, and I am happy I am going.
    .-= Eric´s last blog ..Ask The Readers: Student Loan or Savings =-.

  58. Found this article by a PhD-type whose reasoning indicates that under the right conditions money can buy happiness:

  59. Mike @ Saving Money Today

    I’m with you Sam. Money = Freedom.

    The freedom to do what you want without having to worry about how you’re going to pay for it. And the freedom of not having to stress about how you’re going to pay for an unexpected expense.

    Of course, money doesn’t guarantee happiness. But it sure can help. :)
    .-= Mike @ Saving Money Today´s last blog ..Would You Buy A House Without Seeing It First? =-.

  60. I still believe money can’t buy happiness even I am not poor and I am not super rich. For example, If we have million dollars but our body is sick. Off course, we cannot enjoy our money.
    .-= red´s last blog ..Is Gold Inflation protector? =-.

    1. Wrong.
      If you have a million dollars, and your body is sick, you can afford health care and fix it. That goes a long way to improve happiness.

      I’ve been in situations where my body was sick, and I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor to get things fixed, because I didn’t have money (for either health insurance or for a doctor’s care). It SUCKS.

      I’d be a whole lot happier if I had a million dollars and I was sick, than if I was poor and sick. Because at least with the money you can buy either a cure, or at the very least, some drugs to help with comfort.

  61. Jon DeGroff

    I can tell you this: I’ve had some money, and I’ve NOT had some money. Money may not buy happiness, but it sure does make it a lot easier to actually BE happy!
    I love your post. I think you’re absolutely right. People DO make excuses to coddle themselves into thinking that they’re doing ok, and that their situation is “right where” they want to be. I would give anything to have a great income right now, but I’m building a business and sometimes it’s tough. However, I know what I’m building, and I know I’ll be successful. That part makes me happy. Once I have achieved a level of that success that will come with a nice income, I will be much more happy. And for those who don’t believe me, I invite you to come along for the ride and watch!
    Thanks for the post, Samurai! I enjoy the blog!

  62. The best way to approach the study data is that added money after 50-60K or so doesn’t provide as much of an increase in happiness per dollar. It’s the law of diminishing returns as applied to happiness.

    To put it another way:

    Going from 10K to 25K is a massive improvement. You can afford rent and food. You can get an old used car. You can move out from living with your parents.

    Going from 25K per year to 40K per year represents a big improvement in lifestyle. Now you can afford good clothes and an apartment that isn’t in the ghetto. You can even take a vacation without breaking the bank.

    Going from 40K to 55K (same size increase) provides much smaller improvements. Do you need a 3 bedroom apartment if you’re single?

    Going from 55K to 80K is yielding very small improvements. By this point you’re probably just dumping the extra money into retirement accounts.


    As for money directly being able to buy happiness. Based on the research I’ve read, the answer if a yes, sort of.

    If you buy a physical thing you get a boost of happiness that fades quickly.

    Spending money on experiences gets you a more long lasting boost. But again it fades over time.

    Oddly enough, the one thing that you can actually buy that will increase your baseline happiness for the long term is cosmetic surgery.


    Also, how much money you need to be happy depends on how much everyone around you has. If you make 60K and everyone you associate with makes 57K, you’re going to be feeling much happier than they are. But if they are making 63K, you’re not going to be as happy.


    There are also plenty of things that money will not buy you that contribute significantly to happiness. Relationships, family, and friends for example.

    Study after study has shown that people with better marriages, more strong friendships, and better social lives are happier than those who don’t have them.


    There is also significant happiness derived from having a career and hobbies that all you to enter a state of flow. But I fear that I’ve written small novel by now, so I’ll stop here.


    In conclusion, money is just one part of happiness. Having money will help you move along the road to being happy, but it will not get you there by itself.

  63. Wow, FS, another interesting and thought provoking blog entry that seems to have everyone talking (or arguing at least). Here’s a shocker for you: I’m going to agree with you. (At least, on the main point of money being able to buy happiness; as for researchers deliberately distorting the issue to make themselves feel better about earning low salaries (or keep the poor content with their poverty), I don’t think that’s the case. But more on that later.)

    Money is just a concept, a means we humans have devised to exchange goods and services more easily. The more you have of it, the more options you have available to you. Someone with ten thousand dollars has more options for what to do with that money than someone with one thousand dollars; more extravagant vacations, bigger and better gadgets, or (since we are largely personal finance bloggers here) investing a larger amount for the future. Similarly, someone with one hundred thousand dollars has more options (and can take advantage of more expensive options) than our ten thousandaire, someone with a million dollars has more options still, and so on. Whatever stress (or ‘unhappiness’) having to choose between those extra options causes, should be more than made up for by the fact that those options exist, rather than choices like ‘do we eat tonight, or keep the heat on for another week?’

    Why the abundance of studies saying that happiness and money aren’t linked, then? I think it’s in part because the researchers aren’t taking into account the source of the money, which for most people is that dreaded four-letter word: work. For many people, earning a higher salary goes hand in hand with working more, working harder, and/or working less desirable jobs. Unless you take the unhappiness caused by work out of the equation, you’re going to get skewed results.

    If you want to prove to me beyond any shadow of doubt that earning more money doesn’t increase happiness, show me a study that also takes hours worked into account. I’d bet that among people working the same amount of time (in equally stress inducing jobs), there’s a direct correlation between salary and happiness; once you remove any confounding factors, why would more money not increase happiness? (At least until we get to super rich levels, where the utility of an extra dollar earned is so low that yes, more money has lost virtually all meaning.) Or compare people earning the same annual income; the less time required to work in order earn that money, the happier people are, I’m sure.

    Perhaps I’m off the mark, and the researchers we keep discussing realized this potential problem and made sure that work hours and environment were considered as confounding factors. (I wouldn’t bet on it, though; from what I remember of my social science classes, it’s nearly impossible to control for all factors in your research, at least without a simply gigantic sample size, and correspondingly high expenses.) Until someone proves differently though, I’m sticking to my guns and saying that work is the confounding factor that these studies (and those who quote them) seem to ignore.
    .-= Roger, the Amateur Financier´s last blog ..Book Giveaway: Enjoy Your Money! =-.

  64. I inherited several million dollars when a parent passed away. Before this, I was on gov’t disability due to a temporary medical issue. The inheritance is enough money to live comfortably (My new expenses are about 1500-2000 a month) on the interest alone, and never have to work again (which I didn’t while medically disabled, which I am no longer). It has alleviated money stress, nothing more. I am still the same person, and have about the same amount of happiness I did prior to this. It simply has made life more convenient.

  65. The academic concept of money or wealth not equating to happiness was based on a peer reviewed study conducted in the 1950’s I can’t remember which. But recent research shoes that, while not being directly proportionate more money does make you happier.
    .-= Bankruptcy Ben´s last blog ..FFJ – Ways to Save Money =-.

  66. I believe that 60k a year (more or less) would make me very, very happy. I believe that Americans who make that much are happy too. In fact, here’s an article about people who made somewhere around 60k a year, and were obviously very happy to be living their dreams: good (expensive) educations, great jobs, nice houses, expensive consumer goods, three or four kids, and mostly a wife who stayed home and made it all look easy:

    These peoples’ losses illustrate the fly in the 60k Happy Ointment: When I actually made 60k a year, I was scared and unhappy when I thought about my finances, and, as this article shows, with good reason. I would be quite happy to make 60k *as long as it was guaranteed for the rest of my life.* I would happily spend everything beyond a reasonable level of savings, because I would have nothing to worry about.

    The once-happy people in this article didn’t have guaranteed incomes, but they pretended they did. Now that the puppet show has ended, they’re unhappy. A fifty-year-old welder is one back injury away from a crummy retirement on disability, and one inevitable housing cycle away from layoff. How on earth did he think four kids young enough to be living at home, a non-working spouse, a big house, a boat and an RV on credit were a good idea? He probably had 20 or more years left on his mortgage, based on the type of homes that Zillow shows for sale in Gardnerville, so he was obviously planning to…aw, I won’t bother. He obviously engaged in no planning at all. He lived for the minute, and his minutes have run out. Insert another sixty thousand dollars for another minute, please.

    Like all those who are happy to make 60k a year, he denied reality. In his mind, he’d be getting that 60k a year forever. He confused being able to afford everything he wanted with being able to afford the payments on everything he wanted. Savings, schmavings. Savings are for sissies. He walks the iron! When his job went south, *as jobs always do,* he lost everything within about a year. If I was him, I would have skipped the boat and the RV and the fancy house and instead put all my spare income into a modest, paid-off home, but I’m obviously not him. Apparently the amount of material goods you can actually, realistically afford on 60k isn’t enough to make him happy, and he had to buy on credit instead.

    This article is a compendium of all the sweet lies that were eagerly swallowed by those who wanted what they wanted when they wanted it, and were therefore quite happy to engage in Wishful Thinking so that they could have everything on a pittance like 60k a year. It’s a litany of denials. There is the manager who believed that he was too valuable to let go. What made him think that? Being promised a promotion and having his hours cut instead? There’s the advertising copy writer who thought a college degree that took 16 years and three colleges would guarantee a rich life. What made him think that? Couldn’t he do the junior high arithmetic and add up his student debt, lost earnings and los…aw, I won’t bother. Of course he can’t do math. Whattya think he is, a college graduate or something? Lucky for him that his father the plumber holds the mortgage on his house.
    So why do people who earn 60k a year claim such happiness? Because they’re lying, lying, lying. They’re lying to everyone else by presenting a picture of affluence they don’t actually possess. They’re lying to themselves that living paycheck to paycheck is grand, as long as you have lots of stuff. Why wouldn’t they be lying to the researchers too?

    1. Dosewife – You have made a brilliant observation! It’s like tax cuts.. behavior doesn’t change unless people think it’s permanent.

      The delusion of guaranteed income is so dangerous. We are all dispensable whether we like it or lot. I love your conclusion. What a comment!!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..An Extra Seven Hours A Week =-.

  67. Aury (Thunderdrake)

    a lot of people have some pretty off perceptions of money. It’s a very stock phrase, ‘Money cannot buy happiness.’ Which kind of makes me want to bark back ‘Neither can poverty!’

    Though there is some truth to the statement. It’s great to have enough wealth that surpasses your necessities, for example. That’s an extremely incredible bliss! But I think it’s important not to make it one’s primary aspect in life. Even though I’m absolutely mad capitalist, to me, money is ultimately a means to an end. My real happiness is accomplishing something through writing. <3

  68. Money sure helps things, no question. I completely believe that wealth, health, and relationships are all interrelated. To the extent that one is impacted – positively or negatively – the others are impacted in the same direction as well. For example, if one obtains $100 million, the stress of working for a living to survive is essentially over. This allows for more time to focus on health and relationships. Sure, stresses don’t go away, and other, new ones can emerge that are specific to this type of situation – but come on, it has to help to have money like that.

    Health, Wealth, Relationships feed off each other, and impact total quality of life. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it puts us in a position to do things that improve the quality of our lives – which, one would think, would make us happier.
    .-= Squirrelers´s last blog ..Squirreling Gone Wild #8 – Doubling Down =-.

  69. It’s all a bunch of hogwash – all of it!

    As T. Harv Eker (Secrets of the Millionaire Mind) says when someone tells him that money does not bring happiness “You’re broke!”

    I’ve had money and I’ve had none and I can tell you that having is a lot “happier” than having none for all the reasons that Sam points out in the post.

    I’d like to address the rest of my comment to those who say that once a certain level of income and comfort is realized additional money does little to bring more happiness.

    I think that happiness, like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, also has a hierarchy and how high you go up that hierarchy depends on your beliefs and mindset about money. The notion that income beyond a certain amount ($60K per year! … gosh, if you live in San Francisco or Vancouver as I do that would definitely not put you into a cushy position in life) does not add happiness is in my view short sighted and even self serving, it signals to me that it is only all about you.

    Not everyone can make money – whether here or anywhere else. The reasons are varied and not necessarily of their own making. What if as your income grows you do more good with the increased cash flow?

    Here is my completely unresearched hierarchy of happiness (any PHDs out there are welcome to take on the research :-)

    – satisfaction of basic needs: euphoria, no need to worry about food, clothing and shelter.
    – fun (holidays, dinners out, entertaining): feeling of well being.
    – education (of yourself, your children & grandchildren): freedom born from the feeling of being beholden to no one.
    – charity: pride in being able to step up financially when/where others are unable
    – funding foundations: peace of mind and and contentment of soul that you are using your money for the betterment of humanity.

    In my view if you are one of the few who are able to make money and stop at a certain point because hey, its not going to make you any happier then you are not living up to your full potential to be the best that you can be for yourself, those around you and those who need you.
    .-= Valentina´s last blog ..Sunday Morn Musings: Parting of Ways =-.

    1. I think you hit the nail on the head Valentina when you say people are self-serving when they just talk about “money doesn’t buy happiness” b/c they failed at making their own.

      Beautiful happiness is achieved by giving to others. Why people who say “money doesn’t buy happiness” doesn’t understand this, i don’t know. But, one of my big champions in life is to make money for others. In fact, this is a big part of the existence of this site as revenue proceeds are all given away to someone who hopefully needs the money more than me.

      I am very impressed with your comment and your wisdom. I hope EVERYBODY reads your comment!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..An Extra Seven Hours A Week =-.

  70. JoeTaxpayer

    “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six,
    result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure
    twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”
    -Wilkins Micawber in Charles Dickens’ novel David Copperfield

    I’m thinking this quote, 160 years old, is no less true today. I think that emotions occur at the margin. Elsewhere a blogger referenced the joy of a million dollars, this happened to be right around S&P 700 after the crash. I replied to him “not when one had nearly $2M less than a year ago.” Someone with a net worth of $5M whose spouse is blowing through it like a hot knife through butter is less happy than the millionaire next door whose spouse is happy with their lifestyle.
    My wife and I both work, she averages a bit more than I make. When she bought an expensive car (with cash) a coworker of ours asked me in a joking way about the purchase knowing I claim to be frugal. “Jane will probably drive that car 10 years, the extra $8K spent on it was worth her incremental happiness.”
    Back to the point. I think one can study this and find there’s absolutely truth to what you suggest. But it’s more about the change to one’s income to maintain that happiness than the absolute numbers.

  71. I just love the way you challenge the so called established thoughts! Regarding more money, there is no doubt that i get more happier with more money but it could be the law of diminishing marginal utility at work which explains the level of happiness with extra dollar earned. But surely, money makes happy with increased freedom.

  72. Whaaa? All the poor people I know, including myself, know DARN WELL money buys happiness. It buys stability, a roof over your head and food. Being able to survive comfortably without a lot of worry really helps in happiness.

    In my experience, it’s usually those comfortably well-off, who sit in their nice homes with their family, surrounded by possessions who offer wishy-washy sayings such as “well, money can’t buy happiness” while folks like me who are struggling to keep a roof over our heads know damn well that is NOT the truth.

    Money can buy happiness all day long. It just can’t buy spiritual Joy. And too many people confuse joy with happiness.

  73. I haven’t read the other comments, but regarding this post, I would have to disagree to some extent. I say “some extent”, because I do agree that having the freedom to spend without worry is one fewer thing to be sad about. However, I think the happiness itself isn’t directly related to the money, but is possibly more related to achieving goals. I think I’d have to read the studies you’re talking about to understand what exactly the researchers are trying to prove, though. I think when people say, “Money can’t buy happiness,” they’re telling people who are less wealthy that the happiness part is personal and that money is not the answer to all of their problems (although it would, perhaps, alleviate many of them). I suspect that people who are comfortably off tend to assume they would be miserable if they were “poor”, but I don’t think people who are actually “poor” consider themselves to be as unhappy as everyone else believes them to be.

  74. Tackling the age old question of whether money buys happiness, huh? =)

    I am going to be diplomatic and sound very “Deepak Chopra” and say that people can create happiness within themselves. Whether you have money or not, you have a conscious choice to choose to be happy or not, to choose to envy people’s nice homes and fancy cars.

    I think what’s most important is that people are healthy =) and money can’t necessarily buy health.
    .-= youngandthrifty´s last blog ..Youngandthrifty Book Review and Giveaway: Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest It, and Give It =-.

    1. Hi Y&T – I’m actually not tackling the age old question of whether money buys happiness, b/c I believe it does for the reasons I stated in the post.

      The point of the post is to understand WHY there are so many studies who try to disprove that money doesn’t buy happiness, when I for one believe it does.

      It’s about understanding how society tries to repress the masses and make them zombies thinking it’s OK not to give life your best shot.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..The List of Jobs I’d Do For Free Baby! =-.

  75. How funny it is that those who are most opposed to the thesis of this topic are also some of the youngest and most financially unsuccessful people upon looking at their bios.

    What I’ve also noticed is that people who have commented with a friendly disposition, whether they agree or not, like Nunzio or MFO just seem to be nice people in general!

    Maybe it’s all about genetic disposition!

    Hell yes, I would be happy with $100 million, because I would give away like $80 million and make other people feel happy by taking care of their basic needs!

    1. More choices can mean more happiness or less happiness, depending on what choices you make. If I was a factory worker in destitute Kabul, I’d like to have the choice to get out which would make me very happy.

      If I had the choice to buy this view condo or that pied de tierre, I’m not sad by any means.

  76. Forex autopilot

    Money definately can buy mental peace but money can be a stronger factor leading to mental peace. This Vitamin M (money) is must required for well being, and anything excess in life also comes with its own problems.
    .-= Forex autopilot´s last blog ..Forex market versus stock market =-.

  77. nice. I like your points at the end of the post. Yeah, it’s true that we can do more fun things, travel to see long distance family, and not stress about bills when we have a comfortable amount of money. That said, things don’t have to be expensive for them to be better but money definitely gives us more options. I’m also healthier than when I first started working b/c I’m able to buy good foods like fresh fruit and veggies at the farmers market instead of ten pack of instant ramen noodles!

  78. Money Reasons

    I think when you come from a background of very little money, and through luck, hard work and opportunity, become rich, you enjoy it more and therefore are more happy than someone born into a rich family. If you have had money since you were born, you are use to having anything at a whim, so it’s no longer special.

    IMHO, I guess we human beings live for the struggle, and feel happiness with accomplishment…
    .-= Money Reasons´s last blog ..A Perfect Frugal Drive, Maximizing Your Driving Return! =-.

  79. Maybe they try to prove money can’t buy happiness because from a values standpoint, they don’t want society obsessing over money.

    I don’t think they’d necessarily have “poor” finances, but maybe they’re just “average”.

    I won’t lie, I’d be super happy to inherit $100 million. But I don’t think the happiness from the money will last forever. I’d also feel a sense of responsibility to use it wisely.
    .-= Darren´s last blog ..Use Math To Alleviate Fear Of Stock Market Volatility =-.

  80. Rappers used to claim, “more money more problems”. As in, “Hmmm, should I take the Rolls or the Bentley to the club tonight?” Those are the problems that I’d like to have.

    Money gives one more choices. What they do with it is their choice, but I think Sam knocked it out on this post.
    .-= chubbuni13´s last blog ..The Bride of Frankenstein is Our Gardener =-.

  81. I believe that happiness comes from being intellectual and having a philosophical way of looking at the world. I would estimate that the vast, vast majority of people are incapable of happiness because they don’t have the intellect or the philosophical mindset required to do so. Things that make me happy include travel and learning new things – and while money is required to do both of those things, if you’re not smart and curious, you won’t be happy even if you do have the money to do them.
    .-= Honey´s last blog ..How Likely Are You To Get Divorced? =-.

  82. You’ve got a point. It’s much EASIER to say money doesn’t buy happiness and use it as an excuse why you don’t have any money, than to go out and make your own money.

    Once again, saying money doesn’t buy happiness is the easy, weak person’s route. Kind of parallel to your “The Dark Side Of Early Retirement” post, where you postulate those who retire early, would rather NOT have to deal with their career failures anymore.

    You sir, are onto something.

  83. I agree with Everydaytips 100%. I don’t think that having a lot of money is insurance for happiness but it does certainly lead to an easier life. If you have the time to travel with loved ones and work on projects that are fulfilling and bring meaning to your life then who the heck wouldn’t want to be rich?? I know plenty of people who make a lot of money, don’t know how to use it and are generally miserable. I think it depends on the maturity and outlook of the individual regardless of income.

  84. I don’t get this post and its conclusion. Are you suggesting it is ok to refute and ignore scientific studies, if they do not agree with our world view or beliefs? Why should we ignore inconvenient evidence?
    .-= ctreit´s last blog ..How to Trick Yourself Big Time with Home Appraisal =-.

        1. admini: “It’s actually perfectly rational and exactly right.”

          No, it’s not. Academic research in any discipline is rarely expected to be air-tight or definitive. Studies often raise questions as much as they answer them. But if a “bagillion” studies all arrive at similar results, then it’s far more logical to presume that they’re all stating plauslible points-of-view; otherwise, there would be plenty of studies pointing out the “flawed” evidence you assume. And as far as your position goes, I have seen nothing in your original post or any of your replies other than ad hominem attacks on the character and motives of the researchers themselves, and not a shred of hard evidence to prove them wrong.

      1. Let’s think about another reason why there are supposedly so many studies out that all tell the same story. (And let’s just go with your point of view that none of these studies that say the same thing are conclusive.) How about there are enough researchers or people out there who think like you do and do not accept the results? They commission or do another study just to prove the same thing. Then another one shows up and another study gets done; again with the same result. Ad finitum….Possible?
        .-= ctreit´s last blog ..A Thank You to Our Hosts =-.

        1. I think that not understanding the methodology is what leads one to question the reults, Sam. The Bush administration did not accept climate change as a theory, either :-) You mention elsewhere in these comments that you wish people didn’t confuse joy with happiness. Well, you’re confusing a lack of stress and happiness. Weddings and raising children are two of the most stressful activities in which we can participate, yet according to most they are the two most happy times of peoples lives. A reduction in stress does NOT necessarily mean an increase in happiness. I personally find the results of social science research very credible, even in cases where I happen to be the outlier.
          .-= Honey´s last blog ..How Likely Are You To Get Divorced? =-.

  85. Single Mom Rich Mom

    I agree with others that there is a marginal utility of “more money”, but I can also look back at some of the happiest times of my life and I had WAAAAYYY less money then than I do now.

    In fact had to scramble to find cover charge at the bar, didn’t have enough to buy a drink once we got in, etc. But all my friends were in the same boat so there were no comparisons either. Cripes, travel to some of the Caribbean islands, Fiji, Greece, Mexico, S.A…. loads of happy people there who think we’re all insane for busting our humps for a few more bucks.
    .-= Single Mom Rich Mom´s last blog ..Catfight of the Personal Finance Blogger Chicks =-.

  86. Hi Sam. You’re right that being poor is miserable. As far as I’m aware nobody is disputing that fact.

    The issue is whether there is a continuation of happiness with a continuation of salary. And while you may be a black lab rat in a maze of white rats, study after study has proven it does not. Generally, after you reach a level of reasonable lower middle class satisfaction (around £40K in the UK, so I guess $60K in the US, depending on the city?) you don’t really get much happier when you get more money.

    If there was a correlation then people would be 1% (or 0.1% or whatever) happier with every 1% extra wealth. And that doesn’t happen.

    Also, I’m sure you were miserable when you didn’t earn much. All your posts show you’re very dedicated to your job, and to earning money. Not only would not earning much have annoyed you, but it was surely also a reflection that you weren’t where you wanted to be yet in work.

    I think your post is right when it applies to those not earning much (I relate to the chocolate cake example!) but it misses the bigger picture.

    But you know that, you old controversy stoking rogue. ;)
    .-= Monevator´s last blog ..Are BP shares a buy? =-.

    1. The 60K / year limit of happiness is hogwash. There is no 1 to 1 correlation, but there is def a positive correlation.

      Choco cake example baby! I’m being for real in that one. $9 for desert a person after tax and tip is like $22 bucks at a restaurant for a couple when we can just eat 25 cent cookies at home!

      You’ve made me think about how I was when I didn’t earn much money. I was more miserable b/c I had to work so damn long and hard and worry about what everybody thought since I was young and new. But, on the money scale, I was happy b/c relatively I was doing fine.

      .-= admin´s last blog ..“The Happy Loser” Archetype By Clotaire Rapaille =-.

  87. Financial Uproar

    It’s very simple really. The people who say money can’t buy happiness are people who aren’t motivated by money. Typically, those people don’t rise to the ranks of the wealthy.

    The people who are motivated by money tend to disagree with the statement. Because they are motivated by money, having more of it is a good thing. That makes them happy.

    It’s the same thing with the super rich. Why would money motivate them when they have so much of it? At one point it clearly motivated them, although I would argue that most super rich people were motivated by running their business the best way they could. Money was just the by-product of running a great business.

    Us people who read/write finance blogs need to remember that not everyone is as interested in money like we are. Researchers are fueled by a burning curiosity about how the world works. They’re not doing research into the topic of money vs. happiness because they’re secretly jealous of the wealthy, they’re doing it because they want to know.

    Sam, you are clearly not a researcher. You throw out ideas that are controversial (and frankly, borderline ridiculous sometimes) because you like being the devil’s advocate. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s your blog and you can do whatever the heck you want. I just think that you shouldn’t pretend to understand the mindset of people who are so much different than you are, and you certainly shouldn’t assert they are secretly jealous of the wealthy.

    1. “Sam, you are clearly not a researcher. You throw out ideas that are controversial (and frankly, borderline ridiculous sometimes) because you like being the devil’s advocate. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s your blog and you can do whatever the heck you want. I just think that you shouldn’t pretend to understand the mindset of people who are so much different than you are, and you certainly shouldn’t assert they are secretly jealous of the wealthy.”

      Without necessarily agreeing with everything in the above comment, I certainly support this paragraph. Personally, while I like having enough money to live comfortably, I have never had an all-consuming drive to accumulate great wealth. (I confess freely to pride, lust, gluttony, envy, wrath, and sloth in varying degrees, but avarice has never been a biggie for me.)

    2. “The people who say money can’t buy happiness are people who aren’t motivated by money. Typically, those people don’t rise to the ranks of the wealthy. ”

      Good point and probably very true for many people. For those who’ve been defeated to think this way, because they feel they cannot make money, I’m here to tell them that you can and don’t give up.

      Regarding your last point about being a researcher, yes, Financial Samurai isn’t “Scientific America” or “Time” magazine. It’s a blog. And given it’s my blog, it’s such fun to write whatever I want. Ain’t freedom great?

      Good luck with your businesses. Would like to read more about what you’ll be doing with your life. Don’t let defeat keep you down.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..The List of Jobs I’d Do For Free Baby! =-.

  88. MyFinancialObjectives

    I don’t feel that it buys happiness. Just look at half of the reggae music I listen to..They all sign about being happy! :)

    No but seriously, having money can allow you to avoid certain headaches that many people have to deal with as a result of not having enough money. Though once you let your money control you, you run the risk of living an unfulfilled life.
    .-= MyFinancialObjectives´s last blog ..Entrepreneur! =-.

    1. The reason why they sing about not worrying and being happy is because there is an enormous amount of poverty on those islands. Trust me, the Haiti quake is really devasting and has open a poverty sore for the world to witness!

      If try were happy, they wouldn’t have to sing about the topic so much!

  89. Nunzio Bruno

    I’m a financial professional and if I had $100 Mil I can definitely tell you I would be a lot happier. I have to agree with you in your sentiments here, that feeling of not being happy is totally based on the way you are perceived and your financial stress. When you are financially secure you’re right, you don’t have to worry regardless of you’re perceived social class. If you are comfortable where you are then everything on top of that is gravy. The problems come when you are trying to live a few pay grades above what you actually make and the stresses that come along with the chase. Nice approach to money and utility!
    .-= Nunzio Bruno´s last blog ..Must Read For New Traders And Give Away! =-.

  90. Kim | Money and Risk

    I think scientists just need to have topics that trigger attention because they need to justify grant money to pay their living expenses. (I’ve been there writing grants and competing. You try to give the sexiest spin you can on super dry topic such as brain chemistry and neurons speed. The people who approve grants aren’t scientists and they pass out from boredom if you don’t sex it up.)

    Money itself does not buy happiness but the things money buys such as comfort, security, reduction of fear and stress bring happiness. However, after a certain level of money, anymore is rather meaningless and you start looking for ways to use money to influence the world around you.
    .-= Kim | Money and Risk´s last blog ..Your Home is not an Investment or Retirement Asset Pt 1 =-.

  91. Another polarizing post, my friend. I think you revel in making people really think about many issues that no one else will touch with a ten-foot pole (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    There are SO many variables for this one — personality, how you were raised, who you surround yourself with, etc. But the first thing that strikes me is that I think it’s not that money can make you happy, but that it can make you less STRESSED (at least as far as paying the bills and having a safety net).

    But having money (say, upper or middle classes) may solve a few issues while creating a host of other problems. Sure, you have financial stability, but you still have to worry about your investments disappearing in the next Ponzi scheme or stock market crash, friends and family who want to suck you dry, and making yourself a target for thieves who want to rob you of your expensive material possessions.
    .-= Rainy-Day Saver´s last blog ..Marriage and Managing Finances =-.

    1. Hi Nicole – So many variables indeed, but all else being equal, people are lying to themselves when they try and proclaim having more money does not bring more happiness than having less money, simply by all the more wonderful things you can do with your life.

      The peculiar is people with no money, who never made a lot of money telling us that money doesn’t bring more happiness! Love it!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Oops! The World Is Coming To An End! =-.

  92. I think when my hubby and I made like $32,000 a year combined we were much happier than we are now and we make a lot more than that. It seems like when we have more money, it’s harder to figure out what to do with it and we worry if we’re doing the “right” thing.
    .-= Mrs. Money´s last blog ..Run to the Doctor, or Tough it Out? =-.

  93. Oh, I thought it was the high income people who had higher sense of self because they had more money and that it tore them up to see lesser beings, such as the higher educated or the less stressed people be happier than they are :-D So they banded together to proclaim that spending money is good enough, indeed the final arbiter of what is great about life and so they go on vacations on mega yachts they don’t know how to drive, drink fine wine even though they can only tell that it is expensive and therefore good by the label, and first row seats to games they don’t know how to play themselves,… but I digress :-D

    Seriously though, sure money can buy some happiness, the kind of happiness that has money as a limiting factor, but money can’t buy all happiness, say, the kind of happiness that has time, good friends, skills, achievements, good looks, etc. as a limiting factor.

    In short … money has decreasing marginal utility like everything else.
    .-= Early Retirement Extreme´s last blog ..The ant and the grasshopper =-.

    1. Great point Jacob! Never thought about it that way as all the research we see tries to bombard us into thinking it’s OK to not have much money. It’s like a constant soothing of band aides, trying to tell the masses it’s OK.

      Decreasing marginal utility indeed, and I’m here to say that the after $60,000/yr level is a lie.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..An Extra Seven Hours A Week =-.

  94. I don’t think Money and Happiness have 1 to 1 correlation, especially once you get beyond a basic level of existence. For example, is money going to make you happier if you’re living in poverty? Sure, because it would allow you to get beyond existing and trying to survive, to a point where you can truly live. Now did the money create the happiness – or the sense of well being and security? Once you get beyond a certain level I don’t think money can make you happy – it comes from an internal sense of self worth, of believing in something bigger than yourself and from giving and doing things for others.

    So yes, i think money can help people to improve their situations and reduce stress and create a better living environment, but happiness comes from elsewhere.

    That’s my 2 cents!
    .-= Money Smarts´s last blog ..Don’t Fall Prey To A Victim Mentality. Be Responsible For Your Actions And Live Free =-.

  95. Awesome post Sam. I believe that we want want money buys us. Just like you said…Exciting vacations, good dessert, having the peace of mind of not worrying about costs. Our upbringing may have ingrained those “money doesn’t grow on trees” mentality or that “it’s evil to want too much money”…where we feel bad if we want to be rich! It’s about time to break free of those “it’s good to be poor” mindsets and strive to be, do, and have as much as we can! :)

    1. Kristine, thanks for reading the post in its entirety! You’ve got the gist of it.

      It’s so silly society continues to try and tell us that it’s a bad mentality to want more money. It is a bad bad thing to think it’s bad to be rich.

      Break free I say, and don’t let society keep people down from wanting to make more!
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Oops! The World Is Coming To An End! =-.

  96. Sam,

    You do bring up a good point- I just went out for drinks and some snacks with some friends and picked up the bill for everyone- it was $150. A minor splurge but just a blip on the radar. 15 years ago that would be a hardship.

    It would be unwise to do this everyday but once in a while it is nice.


  97. Roshawn @ Watson Inc

    Sam, wait a second. I certainly don’t think all Ph.Ds feel that money can’t buy happiness nor are all of us (finishing mine later this year & my wife has one as well) broke. You are defining happiness as spending time with your friends and love ones who live far away, doing salsa lessons, not stressing over restaurant bills etc. Money does afford you more resources to do all of these things. However, money in itself is not buying you happiness. It’s the freedom to do what you love without financial concerns that gives you the happiness. In other words, a mere increase in money would not necessarily equate to a proportional increase in happiness, especially if you have less time to do what you enjoy.

    In other words, I think your justification agrees with (not disproves) the broke researchers that you are discrediting. BTW, I’m not trying to be adversarial, but I do want to challenge the thought that the researcher’s bias is invalidating their results.
    .-= Roshawn @ Watson Inc´s last blog ..Yakezie Round Up and Uncommon Money News (Vol. 96) =-.

    1. Fun In The Sun

      Don’t think he’s challenging people with PhDs. I think he’s challenging research who are against money and wealth, who most likely have their PhDs because they are researchers.

    2. Fun In The Sun is right. I don’t mean ALL PhDs, I just mean the researchers who are trying to prove this silly point, who all happen to have PhDs, b/c that’s what researchers do.

      Research bias often is prevalent, and in this case does invalidate results. They go in with an assumption that money does not buy happiness, and go to all ends to prove it doesn’t. If they were all rich, they’d know there is an increase level of happiness, and would try and prove it does.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..The List of Jobs I’d Do For Free Baby! =-.

      1. No, I think Roshawn is on to a fatal flaw in your argument:

        “The incessant amount of studies by researchers trying to prove money can’t buy happiness is simply a result of the researcher’s own poverty. Because they are financially mediocre, researchers are trying to console themselves that it’s OK not being wealthy. Generally, researchers have a higher sense of self because they have more educational training. Hence, it tears them up when they see other ‘lesser beings’ make more than them.”

        This is a classic ad-hominem argument, trying to disprove a position by making assumptions about the character or motivations of your opponent. You have presented no evidence to justify any of the above comments. It would one thing if you examined some of this “research” you’re talking about and showed flaws with its methodology or conclusions. But how much the researcher is earning doesn’t matter in the slightest if their studies are well-constructed and properly documented. (In other words, supposing the researcher was a multi-millionaire and came up with the same conclusions you are so dismissing?)

  98. I don’t believe that money can buy happiness.

    There are lots of happy poor people. There are lots of unhappy rich people.

    I see money as a plus. It can help you achieve happiness. That’s not nothing but that’s about all you can say for money, in my view.

    Does gasoline make for a great vacation? It can help. But you can have a great vacation without any gasoline at all and you can have a horrible vacation with tanks and tanks of the stuff.

    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..Investing: The New Rules #5: The Great Karnac Knows (Not Quite) All =-.

    1. There’s a lot of a lot of things Rob. All else being equal, I’d rather have more money than less. I’m trying to tell people that it’s OK to want to improve your finances and make and have more. It’s not uncool to want financial wealth.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..An Extra Seven Hours A Week =-.

    1. Evan, I agree with you completely.

      My wife and I are looking to retire soon and we don’t need the stress of us outliving our money, or not being able to do some traveling and golf.

  99. Samer Forzley

    I think the worst case would be someone who instantly got rich, like someone who just won a big jackpot of a few million. You go from money cant make you happy, to I cant shake off all these people who want me to make them happy, to money cant make you happy at all
    .-= Samer Forzley´s last blog ..Secure Cash Payment Option Increase Online Retailer’s Conversion Rate and Average Order Value =-.

      1. Most folks that hit the Lotto, are back to their original wealth levels prior to hitting it,
        in short time. If you don’t have the habit of being frugal, you’ll spend it all.

        The single biggest impacter of overall happiness is overpopulation, in my opinion. It’s
        the root cause of much of the woes in the US and worldwide. Reduce population and
        happiness will increase. Stress will reduce, good jobs will come back, and we’ll stop
        being so afraid of Corporate America.

        1. I agree on the overpopulation part 100%, which is why I also appreciate your comment on “Don’t Have Children If You Can’t Take Care Of Yourself”.

          Less stress = more happiness. I don’t understand why more people don’t agree with this.

  100. I think you’re confusing “buy happiness” with “reducing stress.” The scientists say that there’s no correlation between money and happiness, or at least not like we think.

    I wholeheartedly agree that when you have money, you don’t worry about little things. And I can’t wait until I’m all the way there (if there is such a thing).

    My goal is to be stress-free, financially speaking. I don’t want to have to worry about an emergency fund, buying a candybar, or paying extra for awesome experiences. And I think money can help me do all of that.
    .-= Daniel´s last blog ..Bank of America Responds…Far Too Late =-.

      1. Stress reduces our quality of life, while happiness improves it. Eliminating the stress part doesn’t automatically make us happy. It just means you’re not worrying about the little things anymore. The big things are still there.
        .-= Daniel´s last blog ..Surviving the Rags to Get to the Riches =-.

  101. It’s like Hilary Clinton saying “The rich aren’t paying their fair share of taxes.” in a recent video. Of course she has to say that, she’s a multi millionaire and it’s cool to say so b/c she is a democrat!

    I’m certainly happier now than when I was only making $60,000 a year. Not 500% happier, but much happier indeed! I don’t worry about the little things anymore, and that’s great!

  102. Well, I guess it depends on if you can actually enjoy your money. If you work 100 hours a week and have all the money you want, are you really going to be happy? Maybe not.

    I think some of it is just a mind-set. I think back to my grandma that lived through the Depression. She had plenty of money into her retirement years, but just never felt like it was enough. She was still generally a happy person, but I don’t think she ever realized how ‘free’ she really was.

    I also believe some of ‘happiness’ comes from maturity. You mentioned that you no longer feel like you have to kiss up like you did 10 years ago. I know as I have gotten older, some of the ‘little things’ don’t bother me like they did before either. (Be it work life, home life, wherever.)

    Anyway, you do raise some really good points. I think money can buy happiness if you realize you have the money, are mature enough to handle it and not blow it, and you have the time to enjoy it.
    .-= Everyday Tips´s last blog ..Opportunity Cost – Trading Financial Gain for Security =-.

    1. Yeah, not being able to enjoy your money is a prob if you’re working 100 hours a week.

      It really is the little things that no longer bother ie 50 cents more for gas, friend short changing the dinner bill by $20 bucks etc.

  103. It’s been said that people that get a raise from $40K to 50K are more happy, suppose to $50-60K. Once you have necessities and a few luxuries, money makes you feel no better
    .-= Moneymonk´s last blog ..You can’t tell who’s Rich anymore =-.

    1. This actually summarizes well what the research finds. Beyond meeting the basic needs satisfaction increases less than people think as income increases. There is also another aspect in terms of time series. GDP has doubled over the past 20 years and people are no happier! We drive bus sized vehicles, have amazing technology, live in McMansions, have 300 tv channels to choose from and we don’t feel any better off! I only feel better off if my income goes up and all of my neighbors stay the same (ha!ha!).
      .-= DIY Investor´s last blog ..Cool and informative =-.

  104. I’m going to have to debate this one with you. I think whether you’re happy or not has very little to do with money. I’ve known some very happy people who live pay check to pay check. I have to say I don’t know very many wealthy people, but the media sure has a heyday whenever one overdoses on drugs. This leads me to believe they weren’t happy.

    And what about your friend Lyndon? He sure doesn’t seem very happy to me based on your article you posted a while back. He’d be much happier pursuing his dream of photographing wildlife for National Geographic.

    So does money buy happiness? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on if the person was happy to begin with.
    .-= Little House´s last blog ..Finally Took the Plunge… =-.

    1. Everybody knows someone who is happy who is poor, and unhappy who has money. All else being equal, I sincerely believe having more money makes you happier b/c it allows you to experience more wonderous things and not have to stress out as much about money.

      Lyndon doesn’t seem happy, yet he chose not to leave in the end. He is “happy enough” making $300k/yr or more now I suppose.

      If you believe a person is happy or not to begin with, then you are giving up control of one’s own ability to improve and become a happier person. I don’t believe that. We all have the power to become more happy, or happy in genera.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..The List of Jobs I’d Do For Free Baby! =-.

  105. Hi Sam,
    While I agree that many miserable people snipe about what others have and outwardly state they don’t envy them while they really do, there are some interesting factors at work.

    We’re moderately well off (I’m guessing top 10%) and I feel our income/wealth certainly helps, but I honestly don’t think we’d be much happier, say, when my wife goes back to work and we’re making more. I also don’t think inheriting a few hundred K would make us much happier. We’re happy now. Sure, maybe a nicer house or some trips to Europe would bring some temporary benefit, but there’s more to it than than – being content in your career, your marriage, your family, etc. I’m kind of in the middle on this.

    Here’s an interesting study (attached link to another blog since the data is far into the video) outlining that after about 60K in the US, happiness pretty much stays steady and doesn’t increase. So, in effect (if you’re typical), you could be relatively happy as a school teacher or low level white collar employee living in a moderate cost of living area and still be just as happy as a high-powered attorney or highly compensated executive.

    It’s all about how people view themselves relative to others…and in the US, 60K is around top 20%, so it’s “good enough” for many it seems.
    .-= Darwin’s Money´s last blog ..Is Private School Worth It? It Depends… =-.

    1. Yep, I’ve read that $60,000 study, which I frankly don’t believe. Getting $150,000 a year in interest income will make a happiness difference than $60k/yr in interest income. Thanks for highlighting it btw, as I was too lazy to find it myself.

      The study is a nice way to keep people DOWN, and coddle people’s fragile egos for only making around $60,000/yr, which is “coincidentally” is close the the median per capita income of the states. These studies are very socialistic in nature, and they are very dangerous. Don’t believe em.
      .-= admin´s last blog ..Who Needs A Job When You Have A Private School Degree =-.

  106. Sam,

    If you have $1 million in the bank, how much happiness will the 2nd million bring you?

    I would argue not much, really. Losing 15 lbs would bring me more happiness.


    1. yes but you dont know sam’s definition of happiness so you can’t argue…not really anyway.

    2. JoeTaxpayer

      Mike –
      Yours is an interesting view. Many of us (personal finance bloggers) see $1M not as you might, but as “$40K/yr withdrawal.” At any age, there’s a world of difference between $40K/yr and $80K/yr.
      So, the fellow who has his eye on an $80K retirement views that extra $1M as the difference between retirement and years of work ahead. I’d say that correlates to some level of happiness, as it charges his day to day life or has the potential to.

      On the other hand, the guy who pre-crash had $1.8M and finds he now has $1M, is pretty upset, as not too long prior he was within a year or two of retiring, and now may be a decade away.

      1. Yes, good point from a draw and retirement perspective. 80k vs 40k is a very big difference per year in terms of being able to do a lot of activities and see the world. Now that interest rates are even lower now thanks to the Fed, you’ll need $2 million more to generate that extra $40,000/yr in retirement and not $1 million!

        Thanks Bernanke!

  107. This is so true. I went from being raised poor to “not being worried about the cost of changing the tyre” like you say (or fantastic holidays, or restaurant meals) and feel much happier. Thus said, family, love and relationships are the primary source of happiness. If you’re not successful in this part of your life, no amount of money will make you happy. But once you have a loving family and great friends, money is the next thing that makes all the difference.

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