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How Money CAN Buy Happiness

iamge by Pictures of Money via Flickr

 “Money can buy happiness sometimes”-Wanda@TheHappyBeacon

I was born and raised in a financially poor home.  Having very little money was terrible.  My whole family felt the heavy, stressful burden of financial insecurity.  Much of the fighting and worry revolved around our lack of money.  Our house was falling apart, the car was old and rusty, and my school clothes were worn-out hand-me-downs.

As a child, I really wanted more money in my future. So, I studied hard in school, obtained a university degree, and got a good job.  My husband and I are now financially secure for the most part.  And I must admit that having more money definitely makes me happier than having less money.

There is great relief and comfort knowing that I can pay the bills, have a lovely home, own a dependable car, and buy decent clothes for my kids.

I’m sure you’ve heard it many times before that money can’t buy happiness.  But I disagree.  I think money can buy happiness…sometimes.

Here are 3 ways money can buy happiness

  1. It Can Meet your Basic Needs

I know firsthand how it feels to live in a home where it’s a struggle to have your basic needs met.  It’s a primary human need to feel secure and have a sense of control.

With a lack of financial stability, worry sets in and there is no space for happiness to grow.  Only survival mode is in order.

Some studies have shown that having enough money to meet your basic needs correlates with higher levels of happiness.  So, in this respect, money can buy happiness.

  1. Through Experiences

A number of studies on happiness also show that spending your money on experiences rather than material possessions can bring happiness.

In today’s western culture, we are brainwashed to believe that happiness can be obtained by buying material things.  The internet, television, radio, magazines, and billboards are continually bombarding us with advertisements of the next best thing to buy.  They make you believe that you will feel happier if you have it.

It’s true that we can get excited about buying a new gadget or toy.  But it always results in a temporary thrill.  The excitement wears off quickly and we adapt to it.  We adapt to the point that we barely notice it anymore.

Therefore, there is no lasting happiness to be found in materialism.

However, when your money is spent on experiences, it can result in lasting happiness.  Such experiences may include family vacations, going to a concert, or having an evening out for dinner and a movie.

Experiences offer a way for people to connect and social connection is a key component to happiness.

As well, the anticipation of the experience can be just as exciting, if not more exciting, than the actual experience.

The memories and photos of the experience can last forever.  My family and I went on a trip a few months ago and my children (ages 7 & 4) are still talking about how much fun they had!

That said, happiness can be found in experiences and it can have lasting effects.

  1. When Shared with Others

Some studies show that people feel happier giving money to others or charity, rather than spending it on themselves.  These studies included people from different levels of economic status (i.e.  rich to relatively poor) and from various countries around the globe.

And it was not the amount of money that people gave that mattered.  What mattered was their knowing that they helped another in some capacity; that their giving made a difference in someone else’s life.

Sharing with others gets two thumbs up for making you happier!

Final Thoughts

There certainly appears to be a correlation between happiness and money up to a point.  But, once you reach a place of financial security, the correlation between your happiness level and money starts to peter out.  In other words, whether your income is $100,000/year or $200,000/year, the level of happiness isn’t that much different.

Once financial stability is attained and you have a good financial safety net, then it becomes more about strategically spending your money in order to move up the happiness scale.  This is when spending your money on experiences and sharing it with others can make you happier.

Photo Credit: Pictures of Money via Flickr

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