Does money equal happiness?

There are three fundamental questions that have been asked through the ages:

  • What came first – the chicken or the egg?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Does money equal happiness?

Though the first two questions are beyond our limits for the moment, we can certainly take a look at the third.

Can money really equate to a happier life?

Aristotle famously once said, “Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

However, throughout time, the exact meaning of ‘happiness’ has differed. Money has also shaped human interactions to the point where it is considered to be a key factor in happiness. Are we happy because we have money, or can we be happy without?

The answer is yes. To both.

According to NATSEM at the University of Canberra, Australia is ranked around third-equal in terms of happiest countries of the world. We are reportedly living a “satisfied and happy life.”

NATSEM and AMP performed a survey titled ‘The Pursuit of Happiness‘ a few years ago, and it showed some interesting results.

  • Those who are happiest: People most satisfied with their lives were employed in a full- or part-time capacity, and earned more than their peers. It was likely they also lived outside the capital cities and had children
  • Those who are least happy: People least satisfied with their lives were unemployed, often involuntarily, and/or earning less than their peers. They also lived without a partner

So … money does buy happiness?

From the results, it would seem likely that money does in fact buy happiness. To a degree, this is true. Though it’s also not.

The study found that there are definitely links to wealth and happiness. This wealth surrounds not just income, but also the quality of a person’s family home, superannuation fund and money in the bank.

You see:

  • Money equals freedom to spend: If you’re smart at spending, you have much less to worry about when you need to buy something new, such as a replacement washing machine or perhaps a gift for a child’s birthday. It also opens up a world of romantic spending, should you be in the process of wooing someone special (or re-wooing, if you didn’t do so well last Valentine’s Day). A financial foundation means you may be able to confidently wield a brand new credit card, such as those on offer at Virgin Money
  • Money equals freedom to explore: Stress can be a pretty big part of many Australians’ lives. In fact, the Australian Psychological Society’s 2013 wellbeing report showed that one in five Australians report moderate to severe stress. Travelling abroad, flying domestically or just going on a small road trip during the weekend can do wonders for mental health. Without the money to do so, however, this can be a bit tricky to organise
  • Money equals freedom to upgrade: Anyone who has lived in a student flat or affordable family home knows that there is always plenty of room to upgrade, repair and replace. Without the right income, however, bigger renovations – that could well be necessary – may seem both daunting and unachievable. When you can justify the expense, however, you can polish a house up nicely, possibly even increasing its value

The final answer

So, we need an answer: Does money equal happiness?

According to NATSEM, the happiest people they surveyed were those who spent intelligently. This was defined as house upgrades and holidays, rather than new TVs or take-away meals.

However, the Dalai Lama said, “Human happiness and human satisfaction must ultimately come from within oneself. It is wrong to expect some final satisfaction to come from money or from a computer.”

Even if you have a lower income, you can still be happy – despite all the findings. Happiness is what you want it to be: Be that taking your child to their first sports game, or making a loved one a gift with your own bare hands.

So does money equal happiness?

No, definitely not.

But let’s be honest, it can certainly help.