Can Money Buy Happiness?

Can money buy happiness?  This is a question that is debated frequently, and can be answered with both yes and no.  Although money can buy things that will bring happiness, when people continues to want extensive amounts of money, it becomes harmful to them.  For starters, the following two videos explain the research that has been done on why money has limitations on giving people happiness.

“If you think money can’t buy happiness, you’re not spending it right”. -Michael Norton

“Money can buy happiness, if spent in the right way”. -Mitchell Moffit

If money can buy happiness, it has its limitations.  Those who always spend money on themselves fall into a cycle of wanting more and more, never being satisfied with what they already have.  When they earn a raise, they will quickly adapt to the new amount of money they are receiving, and the raise will cease to bring them happiness over time.

However, in the case in which a person is in great poverty, money can certainly help them reach happiness.  For those who are extremely poor, money is all that they have, and without it they would not be able to survive.  In Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, money is required to reach one’s physiological needs.  Without reaching this first step, they would be unable to reach their security needs, love and belong needs, esteem need, and the need for self-actualization as well.


“Money can’t buy happiness, but neither can poverty”. -Leo Rosten

People who work harder to earn what they have may be happier, because they are more likely to appreciate all the little things in life that other people tend to undermine.  For example, those who can’t afford to go on vacation will be more thankful when they are able to spend time with their family than those who are able to go to luxurious places frequently.  Also, those who put more effort into what they do will be more pleased with their results, knowing that they worked for what they reached.  If a person is unable to appreciate what they have, their money spent won’t mean as much to them.

Studies have shown that if people spend money on others, this act of giving will make them a happier person at the end of the day.  It does not matter how much is spent, but the fact that they did something to make someone’s day better.  If coworkers are more generous to each other, it will result in a closer bond between teammates, resulting in an increase of sales.  If someone donates to a charity, it will make them happier, knowing that they helped another person reach their physiological needs so they could reach happiness as well.

“Money will buy a bed but not sleep; books but not brains; food but not appetite; finery but not beauty; a house but not a home; medicine but not health; luxuries but not culture; amusements but not happiness; religion but not salvation; a passport to everywhere but heaven”. -Anonymous

One of the biggest factors that affect the correspondence between a person’s money spent and their happiness has to do with the way in which their money was spent.  A study shows that when people spend money on themselves, they will receive more joy from putting money towards an experience than a material object.  Those who spend $100 to buy a Disneyland ticket for a day with their friends or family will make happy memories, compared to a person who would spend the same amount of money for an expensive, materialistic object.  A day spent with a loved person will stick out in a person’s memory more than another day spent with their gaming consul or laptop.  One of the major problems today is that most teenagers rather stay at home and play with their expensive technology than spend time with the people important to them.


It is often said that the best things in life are free.  This goes along with the fact that in the long run, experiences will be more important to people than all of the other things they buy during their lifetime.  Not all experiences cost money to make, and they will most likely be the things that keep people excited in life; not the amount of money they have.  If a person were to have all of the money they wanted but no family or friends, they would most likely be dissatisfied with life, because they would have no one to share their experiences with.  However, a person with a minimum amount of money and a close companion may find happiness when that becomes the most important thing in their life, instead of money.

When people are truly happy with their lives, they are more likely to stop paying attention to the amount of money they have, and more on things like the people, their hobbies, and the experiences that make them happy.

3 thoughts on “Can Money Buy Happiness?

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