Does money buy happiness?

21 Jul

A lot of people have addressed this question, and according to many people’s school of thought…money is necessary in order to have happiness.  I’m not sure I agree, but I do know one thing.

Money is necessary to buy things we need, like electricity, internet access, telephones, motor vehicles, a place to live, clothes and food to eat.  We need money to buy insurance, licenses, pay our taxes, go to the doctor, or even to enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend.

Yes, I know, money doesn’t buy the simple things that make life great, but without it…well, we don’t have time to enjoy the simple things, we’re struggling too hard to just survive.

But at the same time, the more money we have, the more money we need to “survive” too.

Greg and I are getting by with far less money than we’re used to, and while we sometimes struggle to get by, I have to admit…we’re pretty darned happy.  We’re learning to sort priorities, so we can have a few things we want, and the things we absolutely must have.  We owe more than we like, we don’t have everything we want, and sometimes the needs are a struggle too.

Would we be happier if we had more money?  

I don’t think we would be happier, per se, but we’d probably worry less.  We occasionally “fuss” over money issues and a difference in priorities, not enough to call it an argument, but more like a flash in the pan.  That’s true of most couples with money issues, that they clash to varying degrees on occasion over them.

Do we need more money in our lives?  

I think so.  I hope our current situation is temporary and we’ll have an increase in income soon.  Our income now is roughly the same as one person making $12-13 per hour and working a normal 40 hour work week.  I realize that is nearly double minimum wage, and I have no idea how any couple survives with minimum wage jobs.  Then again, I survived on my own making minimum wage a few times in my life, but it was a temporary state of emergency, with slow increases in pay occurring over the months following that initial shock of a small paycheck.

What would change if we did have more money in our lives?

To start with, we’d have more money and less time!  But we’d be able to start saving money with the hopes of replacing our mini-van, which is getting up there in age and mileage now.  The depressing part is that we get 22-25 mpg on the highway with our Chevy Venture mini van, and none of the current models have mileage anywhere near that, coming in at 18-20 mpg.  To get such good mileage in a vehicle that can carry 7 passengers or an incredible amount of cargo is amazing, but apparently, something that isn’t going to be repeated in the newer vehicles.

We could also start looking for a place to really call home.  I’d love a place that was close to town, but would allow us to have a garden, keep some poultry, and maybe even a pony.  (We have a granddaughter we love to spoil, and I also do like the horses.)  Greg would enjoy a shop, as would I–a place to work on the messy and bulky projects involving wood, paint, metal, motors, gasoline, etc. while we’re out of the weather and where things can be secured out of sight of potential thieves too.  We’d have a  yard for our canine children to run and play in, which could be fenced for their own protection, and room for people space outdoors too.  I could have a “real” kitchen, and we could have actual desks to work at in a real home office, with plenty of room for books on the shelves, and room for dressers to hold our clothes in something resembling normal order.  We could have a king size bed again, so that the chihuahua didn’t seem more like a great dane at 3 a.m.  Okay, so I’d probably settle for a place that had all utilities, including cable internet, but we don’t have to admit that yet!

Doctors and dentists would be on the list.  That’s the one place that gets cut first when money is tight, and both of us could use more of their attention,  as well as new glasses.  That’s hardly glamour stuff there though.  That’s normal mundane stuff.

Just like the grocery budget.  With more money, we could eat a healthier diet with a bigger range of fresh fruits and vegetables.  We find that we don’t eat a lot of it, largely because of the expense.  So, we would spend the money for a healthier diet with more variety than our recent diet that features too many carbohydrates and too little fiber.

But basically, very little would change about our lives.  Even our wedding wouldn’t change much–if we had the funds, we’d probably pay for some people to come that can’t financially afford to be there that day, but we would still plan the same simple beach wedding with a hippy theme.  Maybe we’d go further for our honeymoon, but that’s about it.  I guess, all in all, we’re basically pretty simple people who enjoy a fairly simple life.

So, my conclusion is a not-so-simple answer.  We need money to have happiness, but more money does not indicate we’ll have more happiness.  Once our basic needs are achieved, whatever they may be, the luxuries are just that–luxuries.  Luxuries have nothing to do with the level of happiness one has.  So money only buys basic happiness, anything beyond that is entirely separated from our financial state.

Have a roof over your head?  Food to eat?  Clothing to wear, even if its out of date?  Have electricity and a phone? That’s all the happy that your money will buy.  That new car, prestigious address, fancy job title, trophy spouse, country club membership, fancy vacation, elegant wedding, and the latest fashions filling your closet…won’t buy you a single ounce of happiness.

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