“Money can’t buy happiness.” That is a common phrase, but it’s not exactly true.
I say that, because- Yes, money cannot make you happy on its own. But money can help with the things that bring us joy in life.
Money can be used to purchase experiences and material goods that we enjoy – like traveling or owning a home – and these are all important aspects of living well.
Money can also provide security for ourselves and our loved ones. This gives us peace of mind as we face uncertainty about what lies ahead in this changing world.
This post explores the notion of money not buying happiness in its own right but how it can significantly aide us in reaching our optimal way of living and figuring out how to live like no one else.
What Does It Mean by Money Can’t Buy Happiness?
Money can’t buy happiness. Period. Let’s just get that out of the way upfront.
To the point: money doesn’t bring a person joy in and of itself.
When someone says, “Money can’t buy happiness,” they mean that money doesn’t cure all your ails and fill your life with everlasting happiness.
Not from a health perspective, but from a sense of fulfillment and general satisfaction with your life.
As an aside for the health sense, money can buy happiness if it means it pays for your health insurance and not having money meant you couldn’t get coverage.
The idea behind the phrase is that money only makes people happy when it’s used to buy things they enjoy (experiences, material goods) or provides security for themselves and their loved ones during difficult times.
The main point being made here is that money can’t make someone unconditionally happy on its own-but then again neither does anything else!
So, this should be seen as an observation rather than some sort of moral lesson about what we should do with our lives to work toward our goals.
If you earn $40,000 a year, $50,000 a year or even six figures a year, you can still find equal levels of happiness.
The type of work we do can also bring us differing levels of happiness. You might work in manual labor and come home smelling to the high heavens but have the biggest smile you can’t manage to wipe from your face.
Likewise, you might enjoy poring through spreadsheets to understand how a freelance finance content marketing writer side hustle has added to your bottom line.
Just the same, you might hate doing either or both of these and instead seek happiness in other lines of work. You should work in a field you like because you want to and not just for the pride that comes from having a big paycheck.
Working for bragging rights isn’t what should bring you happiness, even if some think success is the best revenge. You might think that no one can say money doesn’t buy happiness when you’re earning six figures per year.
But if your work isn’t bringing you any joy, it’s time to think about what might make you happy and do that instead. You’ll be surprised how much more fulfilling life can be when the things we love are aligned to the things we do.
Is it True Money Cannot Buy Happiness?
I won’t argue against the point of money not equaling happiness, at least not outright.
But money can be used to take care of the people and things that you love. It does change how you can live your life and experience happiness.
In fact, I’ll readily support the idea that money shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all in your life.
Though, that doesn’t mean you should ignore money altogether. Having enough to maintain financial security and peace of mind should be important financial goals to have for yourself.
Money is important for survival, security, and taking care of loved ones. And it’s hard not to conclude at least some happiness comes from having money in all those areas.
You’ll have peace of mind knowing your children are cared for if something were to happen unexpectedly.
By having things to save up for like your family’s financial security both now and in the long run, you can easily see how money can lead to at least some baseline level of happiness.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states you need your necessities met before ever proceeding to self-actualization at the top of the pyramid. This requires some money in today’s world to realize.
You can save up enough money and grow your nest egg over the long term. Until you get there, you’ll also want to purchase life insurance online where your family could go on without you supporting them.
In sum, money allows you freedom from worry about basic needs like food or a roof over your head which will make life more enjoyable overall.
Why Money Can’t Buy Happiness Directly
Now, let’s walk through some of the main reasons why money can’t buy happiness directly.
Each situation speaks to how money can’t meet some core need in your life and how non-monetary success or fulfillment is ultimately your goal.
Having More Stuff Doesn’t Make You Happy
Having more stuff won’t make you happy. Material possessions don’t meet our needs.
You need to achieve your own success and not directly tie it to money when measuring progress on your goals. Motivating yourself to be better, be grateful for what you’ve got and what you’ve accomplished are key.
In other words, buying new things is a temporary high that will wear off after the purchase wears out or becomes outdated. Retail therapy only gets you so far.
But this doesn’t mean we should never buy anything again! It’s just important not to get too caught up in materialism if happiness is truly the goal here.
What you should keep in mind is that if you look to material possessions to make you happy, their luster will eventually (often quickly) fade and you’ll look to replace that quick dopamine hit with something new.
This will also eventually fade and you’ll then move on to your next craving. It’s a self-defeating cycle that feels very Sisyphean.
Adding to this complication is that each purchase adds worry to your life, constantly being fearful that it might break, get lost or stolen.
Further, it also costs us more time and money through maintenance and protection. Save that time, money and mental headspace for things that matter.
You’re much better off focusing on what you can control and being grateful for what you’ve got.
It’s easier said than done, but a worthwhile goal if happiness is truly your end-game here.