Can money facilitate happiness?

stacks of coins growing

nattanan23 on Pixabay

We’ve all heard that money can’t buy happiness.  But is there some sort of relationship between money and happiness?  And if so, what does that look like?

Clearly it takes money to meet our most basic needs like food and shelter.  When those basic needs are on the line, it’s not surprising that this could be a potential trigger for mental illness.  According to the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, people with problem financial debt are twice as likely to experience depression than people not experiencing financial difficulties.  Problem debt is also a risk factor for suicide.

Mental illness, particularly more chronic illness that affects the ability to work, can have a significant detrimental effect on finances.  Income may be erratic, and qualifying for disability can be a difficult and drawn out process.  Paying for medications and health services can be a huge drain.  The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute says that a quarter of British adults experiencing mental health problems also report problem debt.

I think at the low end of the income spectrum, it’s not about money increasing happiness; instead, it come down to having enough money for a sense of security rather than the constant stress of being uncertain about meeting those basic needs.  In terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, having sufficient income security to meet physiological needs is essential, and being able to meet safety needs is also extremely important.  That being said, money alone is not necessarily enough to ensure those basic needs are met.

What happens at the higher end of the income scale?  A study published in the journal Nature in 2018 concluded that globally a yearly income of $95,000 was on average the point at which life evaluation in relation to income topped out, and the satiation point was $60,000 to $75,000 per year for emotional well-being.  Income above those levels was not associated with any further improvements.  The exact amounts varied from region to region; in North America, $105,000 was optimal for life satisfaction.

I don’t believe that there’s a direct relationship between money and happiness, and while figures like these can give some indication of where money stops having a positive influence, someone’s income alone certainly can’t predict their level of happiness.  Once the basic needs are met, I think our attitude towards money and the way we choose to use it can grease the wheels a bit on the journey towards happiness.

We live in a world with a strong consumer culture, and I have strong doubts about whether buying stuff can help to contribute towards happiness.  Yet I can see how people might turn to consumerism for a quick hit of temporary happiness to try to compensate for a lack of happiness at a deeper level.

One thing that money can potentially do is open doors for amazing experiences  Whether it’s travelling the world or putting your kid in the ski camp they’re super excited about, money can facilitate happiness by allowing us to do things we wouldn’t be able to do if we were stressed about meeting the basics.  Of course this isn’t the only way to be happy, and there are many wonderful things to do that cost nothing at all, but in this sense money can open up possibilities.

So, to answer my question in the title, can money facilitate happiness?  Well, I chose that wording specifically because I would give a qualified yes, I think that in some cases money can facilitate (but not directly lead to or produce) happiness when the right mindset is already in place.  What are your thoughts?

 

Have you checked out my book Psych Meds Made Simple?  It’s available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.

 

32 thoughts on “Can money facilitate happiness?

  1. Johnzelle says:

    I wrote on this topic back when I started my blog. I definitely agree that it stabilizes the sense of security. I live with anxiety and I’ve learned that maintaining stability through income and having my needs met, I am not in the survival mindset that I spent much of my life stuck in. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. BeckiesMentalMess.wordpress.com says:

    Interesting post & question.
    My answer is simple. I’m on disability, one income. Set bills, set expenses that I must stick to. If I get a little break in the action, I do gift myself something in order to maintain my happiness (OR- at least stabilize my mood).
    The last “Big” purchase was my new quilt set and curtains for my bedroom. Before that, was my trip to visit my mom in Florida back in November.
    What frightens me is when my bipolar flares up, I tend to spend money that I shouldn’t.
    In order to avoid this – I keep a list on my desk directly in front of me at all times to remind me not to spend. Priorities must come first.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Liz says:

    I have always got back. But since this year, as you know, it has been a struggle and I don’t feel I have any stability at the minute and so with that feeling, it has affected my moods because I am worrying about paying bills. Part of these bills my savings have to cover. My savings are only going to last so long if all I am doing is taking out instead of putting in. Once I am in a position to be like before where I am getting by or better, then so will my mood, as until then, I feel I am on survival mode. If it wasn’t for my savings, I wouldn’t have a roof over my head now, or if still the roof, then no heating or hot water.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Meg says:

    Here I am! I think I fell asleep earlier and forgot to read your blog post due to this touch of flu I have.

    I can totally relate to the problem of getting a buying “high”. I’ve never struggled with basic money needs, but I do struggle with monetary responsibility. I love spending money on creative projects. That’s a big one, like the playpen I’m going to build Sammy Samson. Likewise, I love spending money promoting my books. (This is why I need to get an agent!!)

    I think, quite honestly, if I couldn’t spend any money for fun, I’d be miserable. HA HA! Yeah, I might have a money problem!! Yikes!! 😀 I’m not sure what it’s compensating for, but money makes me very happy!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Luftmentsch says:

    Basically agree with everything you wrote. People need a basic level of income to be happy and secure, but beyond that, things that money can’t buy (love, friendship, meaning) become much more important.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Saba Hoda says:

    I believe happiness is not simply lack of sadness and misery. Money, to a certain extent, removes misery and gives security, but this is not equal to happiness. So we can say a certain amount of money may be necessary for happiness, but it is never enough. In my weblog : https://cherishbeing.com I have a post about the biggest research of Harvard university on happiness and a good life: https://cherishbeing.com/2018/11/04/what-makes-a-good-life/

    Like

  7. Invisibly Me says:

    I think you’ve taken a good approach to this. Research does suggest that there’s a peak and a cut-off point to which money improves mental health and happiness levels. I think you can see the impact more with less money and the opposite effect happens (as you say with illness it can impact ability to work and finances and stress/depression/symptoms overall can worsen). I don’t think money would make me happy, partly because I know all the things that money can’t change or fix, but heck it would make me less stressy and worried all the time, and I’m sure many people would agree. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. aguycalledbloke says:

    An excellent post once again Ashley – with an excellent age old question. Can money buy me love?

    Okay, l know that wasn’t the question, as it was can money buy me happiness? No of course it can’t, but money can get you out of the shit and helps with the mobility and efficiency of convenience. it’s a hell of a stress if you are inches away from bankrupcy or debt or debt collectors, whilst money affords you to be in the black and not have to worry about ‘if’ you have enough for not just the roof over your head and food in your stomach, but if you have enough to ‘open the doors’ to new experiences or maybe a potential business venture which may stabilise your income, or to take on board training to further enable you ro increase your ability to keep your mind, body and soul busy.

    When you are working, the confidence rises and of course depression steers clear, BUt having said that l have been in many a time over my years in a very comfortable career and not been totally happy irrelevant to the money. If l am working a job l am passionate about and love, l am not depressed anyway.

    Money does facilitate happiness, but not directly, it’s an indirectness that can make you happier, but with no guarantee you will be forver happy. it just means you don’t have to stress so much, and the money awards you the comfort to improve your life, should you wish to take advantage of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. seaofwordsx says:

    I agree with you and everything you said. Very well said 💗. I would love to be able to get a job I love and then have money enough to travel and do the things I want. Of course, feeling good in ourselves is the most important thing but it sometimes can contribute to happiness but you have to feel good about yourself too.

    Liked by 1 person

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