Can money buy happiness? Yes AND no!

Can money buy happiness? Yes AND no!

Money can buy happiness…but only if you spend it the right way!

In two recent articles assessing whether or not money can buy happiness the authors came to two different conclusions. In one, they determined that money can't buy happiness but in another, they concluded it could!

Why the difference? 

Well, it all depends what you do with your money and how you spend it!

In the first article, for example, Neel Burton for Psychology Today writes…

In the past 50 or 60 years, real term incomes in countries such as the USA and the UK have increased dramatically, but happiness has not kept apace. In fact, people today are considerably less happy than back then: they have less time, they are more alone, and so many of their number are on antidepressants that trace quantities of a popular antidepressant have been found in the water supply.

Although economists focus on the absolute size of salaries, several sociological studies have found that the effect of money on happiness results less from the things that money can buy (absolute income effect) than from comparing one’s income to that of others, and in particular to that of one’s peers (relative income effect). This is an important part of the explanation as to why people today are no happier than people 50 or 60 years ago; despite being considerably richer and healthier, they have only barely managed to ‘keep up with the Joneses’.

You can read the full and original article HERE but don't forget also to read an alternative perspective…

Taking a different perspective, and one very much supported by a raft of research in recent years, the Emotion Machine writes…

…buying experiences leads to more happiness than buying stuff.

Often when we buy that new pair of shoes or new car, we get a feeling called “buyer’s remorse.” This is our tendency to regret our purchases because we feel we may have made the wrong choice, or that we have spent too extravagantly, or something better will be available in the future.

However, a 2012 study published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that we aren’t as likely to get buyer’s remorse when we buy experiences.

The reason for this is that when we buy objects they are easily interchangeable with other objects. We get a brand new car, but there’s a new model out within the next 6 months. Material things tend to eventually become out-dated or broken. We get an initial boost in mood when we first buy them, but it quickly dies off.

Experiences, on the other hand, aren’t as easily interchangeable. You can’t trade your first concert experience for someone else’s first concert experience. It’s deeply personal to you – and it’s valuable to you and you alone. When we focus on buying experiences that we can never replace, we build memories and good feelings that stay with us for a lifetime.

…now again, you can read the full & original article HERE

But here's the main point – buying stuff does little for our happiness; comparing salaries and wealth does little for our happiness and more often than not, increases unhappiness; buying experiences, however, boosts our happiness due to the accmulation NOT of things but of memories and connectedness with others. 

So money CAN buy happiness – you just need to spend it the right way : )