Personal Finance

Money can buy happiness

A while back I wrote an article wondering if money can buy you happiness.  Here’s one theory on money and happiness:

Money can buy a house but not a home
Money can buy a bed but not sleep
Money can buy a clock but not time
Money can buy a book but not knowledge
Money can buy blood but not life
Money can buy sex but not love
Money can cause a lot of pain and suffering so to help you with that pain send me all your money and I will suffer for you. (Ha Ha)

So, what’s the point of this joke?  Money is not everything and the common belief is that money can’t buy happiness.

Maybe money can buy happiness

When you don’t have money it adds to your unhappiness.  Once you have money it does not add as much to your happiness as you might think. – Gretchen Rubin

Let’s face it, lack of money can be a real downer.  You need a certain amount of money just to cover the basics of life – food, shelter, clothing.  But having more money does not necessarily make you happier.  It really depends on what you do with your money that creates happiness.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on this topic and I have come to believe that money CAN, in fact, buy happiness – you just have to spend it on the right things.


Spending is fun.  Spending makes us feel rich.  Unfortunately, it’s a short term high that does not usually last.

Think back to a great trip or a memorable experience and how does it make you feel?  Spending money on experiences can create everlasting happiness because those memories can last a long time.


People have a strong influence on your happiness. Making others happy can make you happier.  Being around happy people often makes it easier to be happy.  I know my relationships are very important to my happiness.

I’m not in any way suggesting that you buy friendships but investing in friendships and relationships can go a long way.  Couple this with the first thing about experiences and you can have a very powerful combination.

I had a friend that was not interested in buying and XBOX and video games for his kids.  Instead, he felt better investing that money into a trip to the mountains for a family hike.  That not only brought him more happiness but also brought more memories and bonding time for the family.


One of the key elements to happiness is to have financial security and control.  Paying down debts and saving money adds to happiness.  Spending money on stuff is like a drug.  It can give you a quick high but it’s often not sustainable.


Many studies have shown that people love their pets and pets can be a tremendous contributor to happiness.  I don’t have pets today but I grew up with dogs and loved the unconditional love and happiness they brought into my life and my mother’s life.


Good health has many benefits including the potential for more happiness.  Good health creates an opportunity for experience, relationship, activities, confidence, energy, and accomplishments.


Again, developing fun hobbies and trying new things can be a wonderful boost of happiness.  Make sure that your calendar reflects some activities that you are doing just for FUN. And again . . . for happiness, you’re better off using your money to have a great experience than to gain possession.


One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make someone else happy. Think about ways you could spend the money that would make a big difference to someone else — whether someone you know or a cause you support.

Does donating money to a good cause make you feel like a better person?  Does it make you happier?  I know I get a lot of joy in my charitable giving strategies.

Have you ever been the recipient of random acts of kindness?  If so, how did it make you feel?  How do you think it made the person giving the random act of kindness feel?  Try it first hand and see what you think?

So maybe some of the best things in life are not free.  What do you think?


  1. Rick Coyle

    Nice post Jim. I would say know and understand what makes you authentically happy and then direct your money in that direction. Sometimes that can take a process to uncover.

  2. Daniel - Best Money Saving Blog

    Only problem is – if you’re spending on all these things all the time, you’re either a millionaire or you’ll be broke very soon

    • Jim Yih

      Thanks for commenting. Remember it’s not an all or none type of list. Pick and choose a few things that make you happy and focus on those things.

  3. Frugal Guy with Balance

    I have found that not only giving money to worthy causes but some of my time is also rewarding.

    I feel I have a responsibility to give back to my community.

    When I give from the heart without expecting anything in return that is when I am happy.

  4. Rick Coyle

    Finding what makes you happy or what is authentically important to you is the key in my opinion. Frugal Guy with Balance seems to have nailed it down pretty good for him. I think this stuff is the significance underlying your financial/life planning.

  5. Gregory Brown

    Great piece. Bang on. Money is not the end goal, but rather a means to an end. Focusing on matters of personal importance first provides better balance and perspective. Money help facilitates the experiences, but the experiences are much richer and rewarding.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*