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Money Can’t Buy Happiness…or Can It? Thumbnail

Money Can’t Buy Happiness…or Can It?

We’ve all heard the saying, "Money can’t buy happiness." But is that really true? Sure, you can have all the money in the world and still be miserable. Money alone doesn’t make people happier. However, having money certainly doesn’t hurt. For example, money is essential for meeting basic needs such as food, shelter, and healthcare. When people struggle to cover these necessities, their happiness tends to suffer. However, once basic needs are met, the impact of additional income on happiness becomes more nuanced.

Growing up, I used to play the game MASH. For those of you who weren’t a pre-teen girl in the early 90’s, MASH stands for Mansion, Apartment, Shack, and House. It is a game of prediction where you create categories for your future—where you’ll live, who you’ll marry, what your job will be—and give yourself four options for each. The goal was to have a dream scenario (mansion), a nightmare scenario (shack), and a couple of okay scenarios (apartment/house) for each category. A number is chosen, and your friend would count and cross out options until your future is determined.

During the game, imagining living in large mansions, driving fancy cars, marrying my crush, and having my dream job made me so happy. Now that I’m older and have accumulated some money, I am happier for the most part. But it’s not the house or the stuff that brings happiness. So the question becomes, what factors create happiness? The answer, not surprisingly, is complicated and complex. There are many factors that influence happiness including genetics and perception. However, one of the most interesting factors is freedom and autonomy.

According to The Sense of Wellbeing in America, “Having a strong sense of controlling one’s life is a more dependable predictor of positive feelings of wellbeing than any of the objective conditions of life we have considered”1. Being able to make choices without constraints contributes significantly to happiness. If you can control your time and independence, you will be happier.

How does money fit into this equation? 

1. Financial Security - When you have enough money saved or invested, you’re not reliant on a paycheck to cover your daily expenses. This financial cushion allows you to make choices that aren’t driven solely by financial necessity.

2. Career Flexibility - With financial stability, you can pursue career opportunities that truly interest you rather than those that simply pay the bills. This might mean starting your own business, switching careers, or even taking a sabbatical to explore your interests.

3. Time Freedom - Money can buy you time. By outsourcing tasks like cleaning, cooking, or even certain work tasks, you free up time to spend on what you love—whether that’s hobbies, travel, or quality time with loved ones.

4. Health and Well-being - Financial resources can give you access to better healthcare, nutritious food, and wellness activities like gym memberships or yoga classes. This can lead to a healthier, longer life, filled with more opportunities to enjoy your freedom.

5. Personal Development - With adequate funds, you can invest in your education and personal growth. This might include attending workshops, taking courses, or even traveling to gain new perspectives and experiences.

6. Freedom of Choice - Having money allows you to make choices based on your values and desires rather than financial constraints. This could mean choosing where you live, the kind of car you drive, or the causes you support.

7. Ability to Take Risks - Financial autonomy provides a safety net that allows you to take risks without the fear of financial ruin. This could mean investing in a new business venture, changing careers, or pursuing a passion project.

8. Enhanced Relationships - Money can reduce stress in relationships by eliminating financial strain and disagreements about money. This allows for healthier, more focused relationships where you can invest time and resources into building strong connections.

9. Philanthropy and Giving - When you have financial freedom, you have the ability to support causes and charities that matter to you. This can create a sense of purpose and fulfillment, knowing that you are making a difference in the world.

10. Emergency Preparedness - Having money set aside for emergencies provides peace of mind. Whether it’s a medical emergency, a job loss, or an unexpected expense, having financial resources allows you to handle these situations with less stress.

In essence, money is a tool that, when managed well, can provide the freedom to live life on your own terms. It’s not just about accumulating wealth but using it to create a life that aligns with your values and aspirations.

If you have any questions or if you’d like to learn more, please reach out to me to schedule a consultation – jennifer.jenkins@bluestonewp.com.


1 Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., & Rodgers, W. L. (1976). The Sense of Wellbeing in America: Recent Patterns and Trends. McGraw-Hill.