What is your view on money being able to buy happiness? Are you for or against this argument?

Like me, you may have fallen in the trap of believing that material possessions, the dream home, marriage, children, a well-paid job or just a little bit more ‘play money’ will contribute to our levels of happiness. That somehow these objects or people will relieve us of our sadness (or at least temporarily).  I am not implying that we are all sad by the way, but given anti-depressants are the most consumed drug in the world, I am pretty comfortable in making this generalisation…

So can money make us happy?

Money only plays a small part in our happiness, once our basic needs (like food, water and shelter) are met. But how much money do you need to feel financially secure? A study in the US collected and analysed data from more than 1.7 million people in 164 different countries and found that once we have an income of around $100,000AUD we can achieve day-to-day happiness. Obviously this is much higher than the minimum wage in Australia!

Yet earning well above this figure can often lead to more stress. We know this because we have read or heard about a number of incredibly wealthy people at the top of their game, who have drug or alcohol addictions, depression or have taken their own lives. And you may have realised this yourself when your last bonus or pay increase didn’t result in a sustainable increase in your happiness.

However, there are some instances when money can be used to buy happiness.

Money enables you to buy time – time you can then use doing things that make you happy. As an example, you may hate cleaning so you can pay for someone to clean your home and use the time saved doing something you actually enjoy.

Money can also buy experiences – for yourself and for those around you. This has a far greater impact on your happiness than buying things. A great experience can stay in your memory for a long time, which means that every time it is recalled, you will experience positive emotions.

In addition, money can enable you to invest in yourself or others for education, growth or charitable purposes – this act can drive our connection to others and make us feel proud of our generosity. When you spend your money on someone else rather than yourself, this can have a great impact on your levels of happiness.

So if you think money can’t buy happiness, you are wrong. You might just have to check that you’re spending it right!