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Can money buy you happiness? Well, it’s a hotly debated topic. The thing is, I think a lot of people confuse money and happiness with the well-known phrase, “money is the root of all evil”. Personally, I think you can have both money and happiness, and here’s why.
Can You Have Money AND Be Happy?
I saw a post on social media where someone said she would rather see happy female role models than wealthy female role models, and many people agreed with her. Personally, I disagree, because I think we need to see both wealthy AND happy female role models. I don’t believe they should be mutually exclusive; I think you can have both.
However, if someone is suffering from depression and anxiety, no amount of money can heal the hurt. The emotional wounds must be dealt with first. You only need to look at the number of celebrities who have ended their own lives because they were suffering from depression, despite having all the money in the world. It’s something that must start from the inside out.
How Do You Know if You Have Enough Money?
In 2018 I attended a financial conference called Fincon, featuring Mr Money Mustache. He talked about the financial independence movement — in fact, he’s one of its most famous proponents. At the conference, he said that having more money is just like drinking water. Essentially, there’s a point when you’ve got enough — and drinking more water gets boring. It’s the same with having money; there’s a point where more of it makes absolutely no difference to how you feel.
So, I looked at lottery winners to see if there was a connection between lottery wins and depression. And guess what? It turns out there is a problem with winning huge amounts of money in one go.
If you haven’t resolved the internal struggle, you’re more likely to fritter away, or give away that money because you don’t feel comfortable having it. Or you end up having arguments with family members. There’s a lot of jealousy around money for some people.
You only need to think about last minute changes to wills and how they cause a lot of upset with families. It’s interesting to see that despite having lots of money, it doesn’t appear to make people happy.
How Much Money is Enough for a Living?
Some research was carried out in America to find out at what point having money would cause happiness. According to their findings, up to around $75,000 (or £54,000) will provide an element of emotional wellbeing. This level of income provides the opportunity to buy nice things, go on holidays, etc. And if a problem arises it tends to be viewed as an inconvenience, rather than a catastrophic event.
Below that level of income, you’re more likely to suffer ill health and low emotional wellbeing. Not having enough money can make coping with life’s stresses harder. And yet above that level, it doesn’t make any significant difference to our lives or our mental or emotional wellbeing. What the research shows is that there’s a cap on where the average annual income would lead to happiness. (Or not.)
How Much Money is Enough for a Living in the UK?
According to the research I looked at for UK citizens, the ‘average cost of happiness’ is about £33,000, though it varies depending on where you are in the country. The happiest place for income/lifestyle was Winchester, with the average salary needed to meet practical and emotional demands being just over £35,000.
The most unhappy was Lancaster, with an average salary of just under £28k. It’s interesting to see how the average salaries for bringing happiness are different depending on the geographical location. The top 20 UK cities where money can lead to happiness will vary, because of the various factors involved like housing, environment, and employment prospects.
The Global Average Salary for Living Comfortably
Next, I checked the stats globally to see if it was the same across the entire world. The average salary needed across the world for people to live well and be happy is about £64,000. Luxembourg is No. 1, and Italy is No. 20. By comparison, the UK is at No. 17. I find it really interesting that this research has determined a supposed average income limit to bring comfort and happiness.
Ultimately, these findings demonstrate that a specific monetary amount is required to meet the needs of life and withstand financial stresses. It’s not having money itself that brings happiness, but what that money can do.
Money Freedom and Health Benefits
Earlier in the post, I mentioned that having money can help turn major problems into minor inconveniences. Essentially, it allows you a sense of freedom — something I frequently talk about.
It’s not necessarily ‘financial independence’, but rather freedom from financial stress. Having money in savings, getting the right insurances in place and looking after your future all help to remove potential stress around your finances.
Having money can also help with improving your health. It’s been shown that money stress can lead to major health problems. Like heart attacks, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, muscle tension, back pain, severe anxiety, major depression, headaches, migraines and insomnia. Basically, if you have money and can remove the financial stress factor, you are less likely to suffer from those types of problems.
It also means you can buy better quality food/vitamins, pay for private health care, or see a psychologist or physiotherapist without having to queue for an appointment.
Money Can Help You Plan for Your Future
Having enough money allows you to be cared for in old age, in a nursing home of your choice, without worrying about how it’s going to be paid for. There are many benefits to having money and security around your finances. Money can help to ensure you have the retirement you really want.
You can cover yourself for emergencies. If you need to leave a relationship or a job, you have the capacity to do that. You can pay to get to your workplace, keep a roof over your head, and pay to heat and light your home.
You can leave a legacy for your family, secure a good future for your children and their children, too. Having money on its own isn’t going to buy happiness but what you do with that money absolutely can. It can make the difference between feeling stressed and feeling content, calm and in control.
Money Can Be an Insurance Against Illness
I recently watched an interesting TV series called Money Talks, with Kathy Burke. She talked about a time when she was admitted to hospital and almost died from an infection.
Having money was one of the biggest factors in aiding her recovery, because she didn’t have to worry about how she was going to pay her bills. It was a far cry from her childhood where they’d sometimes go to bed hungry and cold, with no food or heating.
It just goes to show you what a difference having money can make to your circumstances. Like when people are going through cancer treatment. I remember when my dad was ill. Simple things, like having to pay for hospital car parking, or taking taxis to make sure he got to hospital. It all added up, but it didn’t matter because I had the money there to do it.
But what if you didn’t have the money for those things? Or you can’t take time off work because you can’t afford to? How can you possibly be expected to get well quickly and recover if you can’t afford to take time off work?
Does Money Really Make People Happy?
Money can absolutely help us in so many ways, and whether you want to equate that to happiness or not is up to you. I honestly can’t imagine a scenario where not having money is a good thing. Even Mother Theresa had money to fund a lifestyle that meant she could travel and help people.
There’s nothing noble about being poor, and I think we have a responsibility to build wealth, support our society and help other people to get out of poverty.
One of the biggest things I took away from Kathy Burke’s series was the suffering caused by lack of money for people living below the poverty line. I just think there’s more responsibility on those of us who CAN do something about it to help those people who can’t.
Your Thoughts on Money and Happiness
What are your thoughts on this? I really think that having lots of money doesn’t necessarily guarantee your happiness — that has to start from within. No amount of money will make you feel happy if you don’t feel happy inside yourself. Happiness is an inside job, it’s not down to money. But having money certainly helps to grease the wheels of life. Please let me know what you think in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!
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