A Myth Constructed by Society: More Money Will Make You Happier

By: Francesca Marshall

I grew up in a middle-class family.

I’ve never had to worry about having a full stomach before bed or a place to rest my head. I hatched from a golden egg in a well-feathered nest which prepared me for my first flight. I am and have always been a happy person. Is it because my family is financially secure? Or is it that I have learned that materialistic luxuries aren’t the key to happiness?

What makes you happy?

Many would claim happiness is dependent on an annual income. Others would declare that “the best things in life are free” and that pure happiness is found in love and generosity. The definition of “happiness” is different for everyone, an ISKL student may be wanting the newest iPhone X while a refugee may just need a couple of books. Living in a materialistic society, it is evident that money can, in fact, make you happier. Not only can money buy the dream dress, car, or even house, but it can also buy you memories and experiences that you will never forget. For instance, enjoying the beautiful architecture of Paris or crystal blue water of the Maledives is likely to make you happier. Psychologists have proven that “People’s happiness is correlated with an income, but only up to incomes of $60,000 and $120,000 (though the number was widely reported as $75,000). After that point, the relationship between happiness and income weakened.” I believe having a sufficient income that supports most of your needs and a few of your wants, as opposed to an excessive income is more likely to boost happiness.

Working endless, daunting, and painful hours for an excessive amount of money will not make you any happier than you currently are. Money is spent faster than made. In a study led by Andrew Tebb and the Fast Company, they found that “Increases in happiness tend to diminish as you make more money. A $20,000 increase from $30,000 to $50,000 is likely to bring more change to your life than if you make $20,000 on top of $150,000.” Constantly rewarding yourself with materialistic items will make you happier…in the moment.

Happiness is distinguished in two different ways, short and long term happiness. While wealthy people spend most of their money on short-term happiness, pleasure and luxury whenever they wish, individuals with little access to luxury find that the simpler things carry happiness too.

Money is often intertwined with power and freedom. “What we do with that freedom and power is all about our personal values. Our values are not nearly so selfish as the scolds might fear” said, Steve Maich. Investing in a breathtaking family vacation could be something to show off; however, one may be using that power and freedom to act on the value of family. Society should reflect on their personal values before splurging their income. Honestly, do you really care about keeping up with the Jones’s?

Prioritizing the basic necessities; nutritious food, stable housing, sanitation, healthcare, and education as opposed to luxuries is crucial as they will increase happiness levels throughout life. While it is always nice to indulge in something, going over the top by purchasing a new Chanel Bag or Cartier Watch is not going to make you happier in the future. Growing up my mum always told me, “money doesn’t grow on trees.” While I hated hearing this, I would roll my eyes and plead to my dad for some extra pocket money. Over the past couple of years, I have come to realize the importance of what my parents were trying to convey. Rationalizing and spending within your means will strongly support you for the future. Investing in what you need as opposed to what you want will make you happier in the long run. Putting money towards an education that will propel you forward is a more effective use of money. The key to happiness is not always found in money.

Having almost flown from the nest, still with a golden spoon in my mouth. Money has made me soar to unbelievable heights, however, doesn’t guarantee I will be happy forever.