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Money (probably) can’t buy happiness

Who are we kidding?

“If you think money can’t buy happiness, it means you’re not spending it right”; Michael Norton, Harvard Business School. Albeit you can’t go to a shop and buy a slice of happiness, it seems apparent that a certain amount of money can indeed provide us with a sense of happiness.

So how much money do you need to be happy?

Enough to pay the bills comfortably seems to be the going consensus. People with a comfortable level of income are the happiest. Once you have a high level of disposable income there seem to be some other main factors in play such as finding meaning in your life. I’m sure many of us have met very wealthy people who are simply mean; this is because money can make people unhappy, selfish and antisocial. Often what these people lack is a pro-social behaviour with their spending.

Folk wisdom says spending money on others and providing them with a gesture of happiness makes you happy and strengthens social ties. Invest in people and charities; choose a cause close to your heart and make a difference. Kindness makes you happier as everyone’s well-being is connected. Although self-interest often seems a stronger emotion than generosity there is no doubt that friendships where generosity is practiced are stronger and more authentic.

A survey conducted by Deakin University Australian Centre on Quality of Life has come to the conclusion that young adults between 18 and 25 along with people over 66 are the happiest Australians. This would have to do with financial responsibilities. Often people between 18-25 are starting off in the workforce and have very little financial responsibility as far as mortgages and children. They have a high disposable income; living with parents gives young adults an opportunity to save for what they want. People over the age of 66 are at the other end of the scale where they may have their mortgage paid off and children are independent. Once again giving them less financial responsibilities and a higher disposable income.

There is also a clear link between someone’s financial wellbeing and happiness. Financial wellbeing can be viewed as the way someone manages their money on a daily basis. If you are a spendthrift and always accumulate debt it may be you are living beyond your means and this will create stress which will no doubt evolve into unhappiness. Whereas if you create financial goals that are manageable and have a savings plan that is healthy and secure this will put you in a confident position to reach your financial goals.

Successful people are happy. If you are successful in a marriage, friendship, work, income and health it is more likely you are happy. Happiness is found through living a meaningful life. Appreciate your family and friends, care for them, nurture them and develop close relationships. Recognise the value of the things around you, go for a walk and enjoy the scenery, enjoy eating a special meal that has taken some time and effort.

Invest in experiences that will make you happy, holidays rather than a new computer. You’ll remember the holiday in 10 years but it’s unlikely you will remember the computer.

Buy time – pay someone to do the ironing or mow the lawn. Freeing time up for yourself and family will help you achieve work-life balance as well as a feeling of happiness.

Happiness is subjective and a combination of a number of needs being met such as a mental capacity for inner peace, an emotional capacity for love and compassion, being physically healthy are optimal attributes to living a happy life above and beyond having monetary requirements for shelter, food and bills. Strive to be the healthiest and happiest you can be and give your life meaning and purpose. In the words of Will Pharrell’s famous song “Happy” from Despicable Me 2: “(Because I’m happy) Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do”. Be happy.

Secure your financial future today!