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QOD: $$ edition

Could money bring you happiness? How much money would it take to make you happy?

And for all those that say "I have my family, I don't need anything else" I ask: wouldn't not having to worry about bills make you a happier person in general?

I ask this because I really do think that money CAN buy happiness and when people are asked this question, they don't separate money from the material things you can buy with money. The question is not "can a big screen tv and a fleet of Mercedes make you a happier person overall?" If I had enough money where I didn't have to live check to check, that would make me a much happier person than I am now. I'm not talking a mansion and a yacht. Just enough in the bank to pay the bills without having to lay in bed at night wondering how to stretch the budget this month.

That's my answer.

[this question void for people who are already rich]

Comments

Would it truly make you happy or would it merely give you less to worry about?

I think there's a fundemental difference.

I know people who aren't rich, but don't have to struggle with debt and bills. They live comfortably. But they're not happy. The fact that they don't have to look at the checkbook and work around due dates for bills, hasn't brought them happiness.

I know you have a cynical view of religion, but just bear with me here. I won't get all preachy. You say that having enough money where you didn't have to live check to check would make you happier. Perhaps. But from what I have seen (and I don't know you personally, so I can only go by what I've seen on this blog), you seem to be happy serving others.

The school supplies for the hurricane victims. The music and other items sent to troops in Iraq. I know there were more things you've been involved in as well, and in those times, you appeared, through your writing to be very happy doing that. Would you trade those moments or opportunities for not having to think about where to stretch the budget?

I struggle with the issue in the same way you do. But I also try and match it against something else. I see the pride and joy you project when writing about DJ and his guitar playing and when he plays baseball. Would you trade that for financial stability?

I'm not saying that you necessarily have to trade anything or that you'll be forced to. But I tend to try and put my desire for money up against some of things that money really cannot buy. And I try to envision whether or not that more money will truly bring happiness, or like I discussed at the beginning, just the elimination of a particular concern.

I think I could build a fortune off of probably $1 million. It would provide me with just enough money to hold onto a peice of really nice commercial realestate in an LLC for about ten years, and sell it for a couple million more than I paid for it. Hell, with $1 million, I probably wouldn't even have to do anything as labor intensive as commercial realestate. I'll bet I could really set myself off with about $350,000 - given some unextraodrinary but well informed investment decisions.

Money could buy me happiness. I don't know the exact dollar amount, but enough that I wouldn't have to worry about money and live comfortably, but I don't need a giant mansion and a Hummer with 6 TVs and Xboxes inside.

I'm not sure money buys happiness so much as it reduces stress associated with everything you listed.

All I want is $2B.

Then I can buy the NY Giants, a new stadium and my own island.

Money would definitely make me happier. I would want enough to be able to buy the following:

My childhood home

A small pied a terre in Manhattan
or
A small apartment in Boston

A decent (used) car

And still have some left over to invest.

I don't ask for much. I don't need a mansion or a private jet, or even a swimming pool. All I want is a place for my (eventual) kids to grow up with a backyard, and an opportunity for them to experience city life where they don't live out of a hotel room or a relative's apartment.

Yeah, that's what it comes down to. I want to be able to give my family what they need without having to worry about where the money is going to come from and do I have enough this month to cover everything.

I don't know if money could buy me happiness, but I know for damned sure it would remove most of the obstacles in my path.

I need specifically 12 times my ideal annual salary.

With a good portfolio of mutual funds returning between 12 - 17 percent I would be able to grow my income faster and with a greater guarentee on the investment than I could with any company I work for.

Yay capitalism!

If I had enough money where I didn't have to live check to check, that would make me a much happier person than I am now.

And the answer is YES!

I work two jobs with no benefits, no car and no savings account. I am so tired all the time that it is difficult to do enough of the job hunting that I need to do. Yes, enough money not to have to live like this would make me happy.

I think this is what Michele is referring to - enough money so that energy is spent on more than just trying to meet basic needs.

I think you can be a happy person without the coin, but having bank certainly takes the stress out of things. My hubby brings home what he can when he can from his own business and there are times when I lie awake at night and have no idea how we're going to get by. That said, our house is full of laughter and love.

Would we be happier with more bank? Hell yes! But if I were miserable to begin with would having money bring me happiness or would it only bring a semblance of such? I mean, getting a plasma TV and a new car would be nice, but what happens after the initial joy-buzz wears off?

I've known wealthy people who chew prozac like pez, go to therapy twice a week and wallow in misery most of the time. Money hasn't done squat for their happiness.

I'm thinking it springs from your mindset, not your wallet.

If I had enough money in the bank that the interest alone would equal (or exceed) my current salary (and my family, friends and community weren't all tipped off to the existence of said stash, which could kill some of the buzz), I think I'd be much more likely to pursue pasttimes more pleasurable (and likely-happiness-inducing) than my current employment [but maybe that's just me...]

Sadly, no. I've known more than a handful of very rich people who are profoundly unhappy. Even only at the level of having enough investment income to take the worry out of bills (which is a great stress reliever) it's not a cause of happiness. I'm one of those that thinks that accomplishing what you want to do can lead to happiness (and if laying up a pile of money is what you want to do, perhaps that could lead to happiness, but it would be the accomplishment, not the money.)

The five happiest countries in the world, according to a ten-year study completed in 2002, were Nigeria, Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador, and Puerto Rico. In that same survey, the US placed 46th yet we are uncontestably the wealthiest.

Conclusion: sell your shit and move to a Mexican hole-in-the-wall. Once you get over yourself and all the things that you thought you needed but really didn't, you'll be a better and more sane person.

michele,
Think back to when you were 20 or so. If you were like me, you thought that if you could ever make $xxxxxx, you'd be happy. And $xxxxxx is what you're making now.

That ought to answer your question.

The Powerball Jackpot is $340 million for tomorrow night.

After I win, I'll let you know.

Can money buy you happiness? I'd sure like to find out!!

Seriously, you could be rich and still have a world of problems that money couldn't fix (say, sick family members). But having been less financially stable in the past than I am today, it definitely sucks to be poor.

I am not sure if it's an urban legend or not, but I remember being a teenager and reading a snippet of a newspaper article, wherein the reporter came across the then-aging Nelson Rockefeller, and asked him 'How much money is enough money?'

Mr. Rockefeller thought for a moment and reportedly replied 'Just a little bit more.'

That's the wisdom I've followed... sure, I hope to hit the $240B PowerBall, but failing that I hope to make a little more money in the next 6 months, or at least next year. And generally, with the exceptions of 2 layoffs over the last 10 years, I've been on target.

Given that intelligence, health and family remain constant,

Money = Financial Security = Less Worry = Happiness

It would make me happier not living check to check too. It would take sooo much off my mind, I'm always calculating what is due next.

Someone recently told me that lottery winners have an exhorbitant rate of declaring bankruptcy. Seems like a big no to me. But as someone up above me said here, it could do a lot to relieve stress -- not the same thing as happiness, but sure feels good. Myself I wouldn't mind enough for a nice 3 bedroom apartment and an orange VW Beetle. Better get a lottery ticket!

I read, or saw on TV, recently that beyond $50,000 a year, the amount of money you make doesn't make much difference in your happiness. A similar comment said that if one isn't in poverty, money doesn't buy happiness.

In other words, if you can meet your basic needs (plus the need for a little luxury), how much luxury you have on top of that won't change your level of happiness.

You sound like you are in or near poverty and don't make over $50,000 a year. Neither do I. For instance, I just bought about $50 worth of Halloween candy and costume accesories because I love dressing up and giving away things at Halloween, but this may compromise my ability to purchase a $20 ad in a local theater bill, or to buy a Metrocard in a few days! (Metrocards are the mode of purchasing subway fare in New York City.)

I love my job, but it doesn't pay me enough--just a four-figure salary. Of course, I can't afford to live alone, though I'd love to. I think I could be happy with $30,000 a year if the rent weren't too high!

But I find things that make me happy: spirituality (I believe in Jesus), music, theater, writing, intellect, and so on.

You sound like a creative person, too! I'd entered "Chocolate Jesus" into the Yahoo! search engine and found your "Jesus Christ, SuperBar!" entry! What a wonderfully funny idea; I hope you do it again next Easter. You might like this website of mine:

God and Chocolate?
http://mnl_1221.tripod.com/chocolate.html

I don't have to worry about paying bills. I used to. I used to have to float checks and cross my fingers. Or stand in the grocery store and make the great decision of "Do we have meat this week? Or do I buy a broom? Dirt and meat, or clean and beans?"

I have to say, it's happier in the land of not worrying. The lack of stress is nice. Am I happy? Maybe, maybe not. But I'm probably more liekly to be, since stress can make everything worse.

So, money can't buy happiness -- I can be happy and poor, or rich and sad, or somewhere in the middle... but knowing I can pay the bills without thinking about it (literally -- the bank auto-pays most of them for me) certainly makes it easier to be in a happy non-worrying mood.

On the other hand, no matter how much money you have, you never have enough. You just want and expect more pricey toys. :P

BTW, Chocolate Deities now features the Sacred Heart and the Celtic Cross!
http://www.chocolatedeities.com/deities.php

Christian Experience in Chocolate
http://chocolates.tripod.com/christian.html

I don't think money can make you happy, but I think it can make you free to live the life you really want. If I had 5 million after taxes, I would buy a house on the beach and open a small store, and my husband would be able to starrt his own engineering company. Not having to worry about retirement, college costs, etc.. would be nice. The best part about having money though, is that my husband would not have to work in a job he hates.

well, that's my dream.

I've always like this saying...

money isn't everything unless you don't have any.

Money probably wouldn't make me as happy as not having to have a job. A big part of my Lotto winner fantasy (besides all the women, yachts, travel, and mansions) is giving lots of money to people who need it. That's part of the reason that I need to win a big jackpot. Anything less than $10 million would be blown in a year, passed out to strippers, lawyers, waitresses, bartenders, car dealers, and pretty much anyone I took a liking to. I'd be one of the bankrupt winners in no time, assuming that I lived through the year.

Money can't buy happiness. Nothing can buy happiness. Nothing external can force you to be happy. Happiness is manufactured internally, always has been, always will be. Money gives you opportunities, it, often, gives you more ability to make choices (about how to spend your time, for example), and that ability can give you more flexability in terms of hand-crafting your own happiness. But, on the other hand, more money often comes with other complications (stress inducing, happiness reducing complications), so it's not without it's difficulties.

In the interest of answering this question fully and completely, I'm williing to undertake an emprical study of the question.

Now... who's willing to fund it?

Here's how I see it:

The more money you have, the more you want, the more you realize you can't have.

You have to find the perfect balance between what you want (and not want more), and what you bring in. It's all about arranging your priorities and sticking to it.

Some lottery winner horror stories...

http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/advice/20041108a1.asp

International view : Doing my sums, in Sydney Australia it would take a minimum $5mil AUD, which is just over $3.7Mil US. Its gotten damn expensive around here.

I've known rich people that were miserable, but I have to be honest - I've known some rich people that were pretty darn happy. It's a mystery how it works, but I think you shouldn't tie the two together. I'm happy now. If I had money, I'd be - relieved? I certainly would be better traveled!

I suppose if pressed for a "magic amount," I'd angle for an amount that seems impossibly small, in the realm of fantasy: $45,000.

That would be sufficient to get out from under every current debt I have. I'm making a comfortable living, but I have considerable medical bills from urgent surgery while I was uninsured, and I have a couple vehicle notes that I'd love to make go away.

Just for those who have heard the same horror stories as I've heard, I only have about $1600 in credit card debt.

I suppose I don't really want to quit work just yet, but I don't like working incessantly just to keep up.

Of course if I stumbled across a couple million, that little beachfront home near the Matanzas inlet just south of St. Augustine is MINE!!!

This is easy... If you talking about enough money to make the bills or an unlimited amount of money the answer is the same; Money won't change your brain. If you're unhappy, you will always be unhappy, so lets get that out of the way. Stress comes from trying to make ends meet - its that simple. If you didn't need to make ends meet your stress would dramatically reduce... so unless stress makes you happy, you're gonna be better with the bills paid.

I dunno. I DO know I'll be buying a ticket for tomorrow's $390 M Powerball Drawing. Pray for me, girl. Pray for me.

25X your annual living expenses in the bank will set you up for life. You can safely pull 4% out each year, with 99% confidence that you will not run out money. There has never been a 25 year run when the overall market did not average 4% - which of couse is no guarantee blah blah blah.

The day I get there I will retire. At my current pace I will be dead first - but I'm not letting that little detail derail me :)

If I was on plan with my savings - I'd get there at 58ish - assuming an 8% average annual return. I think I can catch up on the savings next year and get back on track.

A person is the only one or thing that can allow themselves to be happy.

But yeah, money sure would buy a lot of cool shit. And what's not to love about that?

My number? About 15 million or so. The Ball will cost at least 10, I'm thinking.

Could money bring you happiness?

No. The more money, the different the challenges become. For example, you may wish to invest your spare change, but now, you have to be careful of stock brokers not trying to sell you on something you don't want.

How much money would it take to make you happy?

A gajillion-billion dollars...plus one.

I'm not talking a mansion and a yacht.

Repeat after me: My name is Elmer J. Fudd, Millionaire...

Yes, it could if I had enough to pay off all the bills and student loans. Then I would like to be able to travel or whatever without worrying about paying for it. I don't mean going 1st class everywhere (although that would be nice), but just being able to decide to go.

As a person who was just laid off from work yesterday, yes, money can make one happier.

I truly believe that money, or rather the security of money, can buy happiness. I always thought I was the only person I knew whose family lived paycheck to paycheck and juggling bills. I don't have to be rich in the real sense of the word, but rich in the IRS's sense of the word ($100K+) would make life much more liveable. Bills, mortgage, carpayments would get paid and I could stop raiding my 401K everytime an emergency came up.

Hi -

Money is only a medium in which we place value.

Can money buy you happiness? Depends on what you mean by happiness. If you're the kind of person who can't be happy because you're neurotic and disturbed, then no amount of money will buy you happiness. Proof: Trumpf and his bizarre collection of ex-wives.

There's an old German saying: Geld macht nicht glücklich, aber es berühigt die Nerven.

Money doesn't bring happiness, but it quiets the nerves.

And that's the point: money as a possession, as an object in itself, doesn't buy happiness unless you are a money fetishist that can't get off unless you're doing it in a bed of money (not speaking from personal experience).

Money can bring happiness if you can then use it to do what you want.

My kid brother always puts it this way: the more money you earn, the higher the level of poverty. In other words, you can earn a passle of money, but if your lifestyle changes to consume that pile, you're still left wondering how to pay those bills at the end of the month.

John

I read, or saw on TV, recently that beyond $50,000 a year, the amount of money you make doesn't make much difference in your happiness. A similar comment said that if one isn't in poverty, money doesn't buy happiness.

Assuming I accept the principle: How can only $50k make anyone 'happy' in NYC? I grew up there, and moved out because it was too expensive. In certain parts of the country, I can accept that amount (in principle), but clearly it is not a universal sum (especially for people living in Manhattan, for example).

Again, I'll state that having been down and out, having money is definitely more fun, enjoyable.

When Liza Minelli asked Arthur Bach (Dudley Moore in 'Arthur') what's it like to be rich, he replied It doesn't suck. If that's not a key ingredient in happiness, nothing is.

I suspect it's a bell-shaped curve.

I'm pretty damn happy right now with what I'm making (about $42K, plus some investment income not yielding more than 15% of my salary in any given year). If I had more money - like, lots more - I know I'd be constantly being hounded to part with a bigger proportion of that money than I currently part with for charities, etc.

I do remember when I was an undergrad and graduate student - when rice and beans was a luxury meal, when my main form of entertainment was sitting in my sixth floor apartment and watching the drunks weave home from the bar where I lived. I remember scrimping to be sure I'd have enough money to buy food at the end of the month (and a few times when I ate oatmeal or plain rice because I didn't).

So now, in my first "real" job, making what is a decent but not extravagant amount of dough, I'm happy. I don't currently have any debt. (I worked my way through grad. school and relied largely on scholarships in undergrad). I have enough money that if I see a book I want (and it's not more than, say, $30) I can buy it on a whim without thinking hard about whether it will mean I'm eating iceberg lettuce or oatmeal at the end of the month.

I don't think money necessarily buys happiness - I think happy/unhappy is largely related to your personal neurotransmitter makeup. But money DOES buy comfort. It buys the ability to get the furnace fixed on a cold day when it breaks, it buys not having to change your own oil or do your own car repairs, it buys the ability to turn on the a/c when the temperature hits 78* in the house instead of waiting for it to hit 85*

I think money does affect happiness inasmuch as comfort level affects happiness. I think I'd be a lot less happy if I had shivered through the broken furnace until I got paid at the end of that month, or if I was having to change my own oil, things like that.

I don't think having vast amounts of money would make me much happier, though. If I had, say, $500 more a month? Maybe. $5000 more a month? Probably not.

Being rich in no way guarantees being happy. But, in our society, being poor almost certainly leads to unhappiness. Just a thought.

Money does not buy happiness. Money simply allows you to address many of the problems that make you unhappy.

(I once ran across this article in a flyer from a financial group, and have never found truer words)

Your savings, believe it or not, affect the way you stand, the way you walk, the tone of your voice -- in short, your physical well-being and self-confidence. A man without savings is always running. He must. He must take the first job offered, or nearly so. He sits nervously on life’s chairs because any small emergency throws him into the hands of others.

Without savings, a man must be too grateful. Gratitude is a fine thing in its place. But a constant state of gratitude is a horrible place in which to live. A man with savings can walk tall. He may appraise opportunities in a relaxed way, have time for judicious estimates and not be rushed by economic necessity.

A man with savings can afford to resign from his job if his principles so dictate -- and for this reason he will never need to do so. A man who can afford to quit is much more useful to his company and therefore more readily promoted. He can afford to give his company the benefit of his most candid judgments.

A man with savings can afford the wonderful privilege of being generous in family or neighborhood emergencies. He can take the level stare of any man ... friend, stranger or enemy. That ability shapes his personality and character.

The ability to save has nothing to do with the size of income. Many high-income people spend it all. They are on a treadmill, darting through life like minnows.

The dean of American bankers, J.P. Morgan, once advised a young broker: "Take waste out of your spending; you’ll drive the haste out of your life."

If you do not need money for college, a home or retirement, then save for self-confidence. The state of your savings does have a lot to do with how tall you walk.

sure i would be happier if i had more money at this point in my life. a year ago probably not. i would have just had more means at my disposal to self-destruct.