When Money can truly buy Happiness
When Money can truly buy Happiness
Iman Shakeel
Engineering graduate

Growing up, we all have heard it often from our elders that true happiness doesn’t lie in materialistic things and money however necessary and essential it is can never buy us all the happiness. As you read this, you may also be able to recall a Lexus ad from years back which was intriguing as well as infuriating at the same time,"Whoever said money can’t buy happiness isn’t spending it right.” What made the ad so exasperating was that they seemed to offer a very simple yet expensive solution to a rather common question: How can you transform your hard-earned money into something nearing a good life?

It won’t be wrong to say that money and happiness share a close knit connection. If they didn’t, it would be less likely that you would stay late at work (or even go in at all) or struggle to save money and invest it in a profitable business. But after all the savings, why aren’t your lucrative promotion, duplex house and a fat bank balance cheering you up?  It’s because the relationship between money and happiness is more complicated than you can possibly imagine.

The truth is a bitter pill to swallow but let’s all just gulp it in one go: We’re never satisfied. We always think if we had a little more money, we would be happier but when we get there, we aren’t happy despite having so much.

Once your basic human needs are met, a lot more money doesn’t mean it’s going to reward you with a lot more happiness,”

Money can help you find more happiness, so long as you know just what you want and what you can’t expect. And no, you don’t have to buy a Mercedes or own a villa to be happy. No wise man ever said that. You don’t need to pressurize yourself into spending so much for just a few materialistic things. The happiest people don’t have everything in life, they just try to make the best out of everything they have.

Perhaps happiness itself is a personal choice that can be upheld regardless of what’s happening around. But in my experience, money can definitely affect how you feel in the moment and your sense of well being.

Let’s see how we can spend our hard earned shillings in ways that will maximize our happiness:


1.     Being Rich doesn’t necessarily guarantee Happiness:

Yes, money is important to gain happiness. Ask anyone who doesn’t have it. Having a higher income, for example, can give us access to safer homes in clean neighborhoods, better healthcare facilities and nutrition, fulfilling work, and more recreation time. However, this works only up to a certain level. Once our income reaches a saturation level and our basic needs for food, shelter, healthcare and safety are met, the positive effects of money—such as buying your dream home—are often nullified by the negative effects—such as working for longer hours  in more stressful jobs in order to maintain that income or redeem a promotion.


2.   You can provide for yourself-

There is a visible difference between ordering a glass of mojito at a restaurant and buying a can of lemonade from a superstore, just like there is a difference between buying a BMW and buying a Honda Brio - difference in standard, price and quality is what makes them different from one another. While luxury spending might bring incremental happiness, your quality of life and happiness levels could fluctuate in between the stages of building your dreams or fulfilling your basic necessities. There is something very emancipating about providing for your own basic needs. Think for a moment of the transition between high school and college. For most people, they have the privilege to spread their wings at an early bird stage and leave their nests. Where parents once provided food and shelter, now the individual must tend to their own needs. And while it can be frightening and stressful at times, there is a real feeling of accomplishment when you purchase your first apartment. These need not be extravagant or opulent, but taking care of your own basic needs instills confidence and an essence of self-worth. No one likes to feel like they can’t take care of themselves and remains dependent on others, and money can help you to avoid that feeling.


3.   Invest in something meaningful-

Finally, consider ways to use your money in doing something very personally meaningful in your life. Think of a bigger goal that brings you a feeling of fulfillment and joy. For instance, how would you feel to be able to sponsor a non-profit organization? How would you feel if you spent your evening hours teaching the non privileged people in your locality? What would it be like to own a startup or to make your next vacation extra special?

Money has the power to help you achieve goals that can bring more meaning and peace to your life. Try and switch your mindset from a materialistic attitude to an attitude of helping the less privileged through money. When you keep broader perspectives in mind, it will become easier to avoid quick unnecessary purchases that might actually diminish your happiness in the long run.

So the next time, before you pull out your wallet at the counter table or click to make an online purchase, think twice about whether this purchase will really make you happy. If it will jeopardize your basic needs, think twice. If you have some disposable income, consider planning a trip or taking an online class to learn a new skill. This Thanksgiving, know that if you spend your money on others or donate it to good causes, you will find yourself at peace.

The next time you hear someone say that money can’t buy happiness, think of some of these creative ideas. When you have a healthy insight of money focused on giving to others, providing for your own needs, staying free from debt, and achieving personally meaningful goals, you might find that money can in fact reward you with happiness and increase your quality of life.