Can money buy you happiness?

By Staff Writer

By Angelique Ruzicka, editor,

According to an old truism: Money can’t buy you happiness. But there are a couple of studies that beg to differ with this statement. We’ve rounded up 10 facts about money and happiness for your interest:

1.    Find a way to earn more money: There is a relationship between what you earn and happiness. It’s been found that people who earn well are often happier than those living in poverty.

2.    Earn enough to be comfortable, not rich: However, earning more money will not mean you get an extra dose of happiness. Some researchers say you reach happiness once you are able to afford a ‘comfortable standard’ (what you need to function and be content). Or course the ‘comfortable standard’ can vary from place to place and person to person. However, according some studies, that standard is around $75,000 (R850, 000).

3.    Don’t enrich yourself assets: Harvard Professor Michael Norton found in his research that spending your money on luxuries such as a fancier house and car won’t guarantee happiness. However, spending your money on life experiences, such as holidays, could bring some joy.

4.    Choose your holiday or ‘life experience wisely’. A 2009 study of Dutch holidaymakers found that the length of a trip doesn't affect happiness. Instead, the key factor in a lasting good feeling was stress. Those who had a relaxed trip were much happier afterwards than those who reported stressful or neutral trips.

5.    Be generous with others: Norton also found that spending money on others instead of yourself is one of the few ways to ‘buy happiness’.

6.    Get the basics right: A survey of pensioners in the UK found that the recipe for a happy life equals food, shelter, a seaside holiday, time with the grandchildren and friends coupled with a few dinner outings, which cost £11,000 (R193,000) a year.

7.    Don’t spend it all at once: If you’ve suddenly come into a bit of money consider delaying buying that extravagant purchase. According to research by Norton and fellow professor Elizabeth Dunn indulging a little less than you normally do could lead to more happiness. The theory is that if you deny yourself you will ultimately desire something more and then savour the moment when you actually do get that desired object.

8.    Buy yourself more time: Constantly stressed and running from one job or chore to the other? Then hire someone to help you out. Get someone to clean your home or find ways of cutting down the commuting time to work so you can have more time to yourself.

9.    Get peace of mind: Are you worried about the cost of medical bills or your home being broken into? Then make sure you are properly insured against those possibilities and you should sleep better at night.

10.    Know that being rich isn’t everything: Spare a thought for our high paid politicians, sports people and celebrities because they may not be as happy with their life as you think. According to British magazine ‘The Week’ there are numerous studies that show that once you earn above $60,000 (R643,964) a year, more money doesn’t tend to make you happier. The reason is that being rich can be isolating as generally rich people feel they can only hang out with those as rich as they are. You can bring out the tissues now...

So what’s the key to ultimate happiness? Yes it appears that money has something to do with it but it all depends on how you spend it and whether you have a generous spirit.

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