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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Corvisart

The Verdict: Money Does Indeed Buy Happiness



I receive the New York Times newsletter, "The Morning" in my inbox each day around 6:15am-ish. I know this because I am usually looking for it after I have showered from the gym and am waiting on coffee to steep in my French press. I enjoy sitting down with a cup to peruse the dumpster fire that is human activity on planet earth.


I like to start my days slow, broadly informed, and with a touch of nihilism.


We've all heard the line that"money does not buy happiness". Few of us believe it (not with this level of inflation), but many seem to buy into this rather feckless statement. We've all heard, "Well, it can't buy you love", or "Happiness isn't found in material things", but I've noticed two types of people who make such statements and both are typically directing their pompous paternalistic view at "the poors" because they already have money and probably we're happy to begin with, or lack imagination.


Money may not buy love but it damn sure will keep you and your partner from disemboweling each other every time there's stress about monthly expenses.


Happiness isn't necessarily found in material things (for some), but ever see a man with a boat or new jet skiis? That's fucking happiness!


Remember that body of research that established that happiness increases steadily until one reaches around $80,000 [1]? I do, and I remember how there was this social "buzz" around that number. It mostly came in the form of "anything over $100,000 creates financial stress and that will chip away at any happiness attained from earning more." In a socialist utopia, maybe, but in our American consumer capitalist society with runaway inflation and DIY healthcare, I think not!




Gladly, the debate can finally end. MORE MONEY DOES IN FACT BUY MORE HAPPINESS! Those of us who have fought hard to die on this hill can finally gloat. Confirmation comes thanks to the final work of Nobel Prizer winner, Daniel Kahneman [1,2].


This post is borne out of discussions had via text with friends and family members when I shared the NYT article (see links below). As my phone began to chime with increasing fury as the text debate picked up steam, I began to notice a pattern similar to what was found in the research. Out of the 20 people that I was having the discussion with, there were five that didn't think more money beyond $100,000 would add additional happiness to their lives despite them currently struggling. Everyone agreed that money does buy happiness, but this group was firmly in the "Mo' money, mo' problems" category who seemed to have a lot of anxiety about having more than a threshold amount. Myself and others found this interesting. No one was engaging in fantasy financials, we were talking ranges of $100K--$400K annually, yet it was pretty consistent. The same five people couldn't envision being any happier beyond the $100K personal benchmark.


What else would I buy or do beyond that number? I have a house and the car I want. Yeah, I could buy more stuff...but what?

I don't think this is true. I think some people just lack imagination due to living and multifaceted impoverished life. You think you don't want anything because you've never had the means available or exposure to want more than what you currently have. But also, that's the beauty of life, not everyone wants the same things or to lead the same lifestyle. I've said many times that I am not the glitz and glamorous lifestyle woman. If I had the money that could purchase a Birkin, I'd probably own just one because carrying a purse isn't my thing. For me, money buys experiences and it is through gaining access to such experiences (and experiencing with others) that I find increasing happiness.


 


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