“Money can’t buy happiness.” It is that cliche saying that many people tell you.
Why work so hard for money if it can’t buy you happiness? Truthfully, money alone cannot give you a sense of emotion. It can buy you stuff that can give you instant gratification, but that emotional feeling only lasts a short while.
In media, we see and hear how money can bring great happiness into people's lives as they spend. Those same people are often then left working all their lives to keep up with their spending. Some believe that the more money you spend, the more people will love you.
Listening to the Beatles, I am reminded of them singing the song “Can’t Buy Me, Love.” Here are a few of the lyrics:
“I don't care too much for money
Money can't buy me, love.”
The Beatles also knew that money could not buy the feelings of a person. It is a tool that can buy us things, but it cannot buy us happiness.
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What are Things That Money Can’t Buy?
Indeed, money can’t buy happiness. In this media advertisement world, we are sold many things that should bring us much pleasure, but they don’t. Here are some other things money can’t buy.
Money Can’t Buy Relationships
No matter what we may think from watching TV or seeing pictures through social media, money can’t buy relationships.
Relationships are built on trust. It takes time to cultivate relationships. It would help if you dedicated time, patience, and many other things to create a relationship with people.
It is not something that you can buy. If you spend all day working on earning money, you leave an essential part of life out. That is relationships. Money can inherently leave you out of certain relationships.
Money Only Provides Temporary Happiness
We think of money as something that could bring us some joy through buying things. If I purchase a new camera all, I am rushed with this feeling of happiness or joy. After a while, that feeling fades away.
This temporary feeling is that instant gratification feeling that we have when we buy things. A sudden rush from dopamine gives us elation, but as that feeling and the dopamine drops off, we must buy something else to create a new rush.
That is how compulsive gamblers, compulsive buyers, and people with addictions feel. They have the urge to get that dopamine high, and money is the way to procure that high by buying things.
That is just temporary happiness. It never lasts long, and it can bring on more problems than solutions. We are then stuck in the Hedonic treadmill wanting more and more. That is just a quick short burst of dopamine.
As we look at this temporary happiness, we need to find what true happiness feels like. We need to see what money can buy us. We have things that are more important than money in our lives.
What Can Money Buy Us?
Money may not be able to buy us happiness, but it can buy many things that give us items that will bring joy into our lives.
Money is something that can provide security in our lives. If you never had money problems or struggles to keep money, it will bring great stress into your life. The thought of not knowing where your next meal may come from. Even thoughts about healthcare, shelter, or even your job will cause unneeded stress.
The good thing about money is that it is a tool. This powerful tool can provide us with so much that it can relieve the stress in our lives. We can have security through healthcare. If something happens to our body, our healthcare can take care of this.
Healthcare is a huge issue in the United States. If you do not have money or a job, then healthcare can be pretty expensive, and it is a matter of should you pay for particular check-ups. It is a choice due to your monetary provisions.
Having a house and a job is another part of this secure feeling. Being able to have a place to live and sleep is huge. Plus having a job that provides money to take care of your basic needs.
During the pandemic, many people had lost jobs, income, and healthcare. These events have brought a loss of security and unnecessary stress. Money is a tool that can help bring back security into our lives.
One of the most incredible things that money can buy is our freedom. Financial freedom gives us choices within life. If we have hit financial freedom, we cannot have to work at the same job as we have been working for years.
We are given much more than freedom. We are provided security. That security lowers stress levels, and it will be a weight lifted off of our shoulders. This will be the time that you will have that FU money to say goodbye to a crappy job and do something else.
That is the point where you have the freedom to go wherever you may like, do what you will with your time, and enjoy life with the things you want to do. That is financial independence. Part of personal finance is teaching people how to create financial goals to hit financial freedom.
This is probably the greatest thing that money can buy. With this freedom, you can enjoy life and be happy through the freedom that life gives us.
With financial freedom, we can use our money to enjoy life through experiences. Experiences give us something that stuff and things cannot. We remember the things we experience. You can enjoy life and not have a life full of clutter.
Maybe it is a Millennial or Gen Z thing. Still, a study conducted “80% of people under 30 reported deriving more happiness from buying experiences” Experiences allow us to find happiness in the present moment. Spending money on material goods will not create these memories that will last a lifetime.
Traveling is by far one of my favorite things to spend money on. As I travel, I can experience new sights, new places, new food, and new cultures. The people you meet and see are part of this new adventure. These are the things you will remember. The pictures you take will remind you of those happy adventures you may have.
Money is used to help you enjoy your many hobbies that bring upon great experiences. Your hobbies are something that you will cherish and feel a great emotional feeling towards. Being able to love the things you do is something money can help you buy.
If you take anything away from what money can buy, one of the greatest things would be time. I talked about financial freedom and experiences. These things are a part of time. Money buys us time. Financial freedom gives us the time needed to do the things we like. We seek financial freedom to own more time.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the more money we strive to make while sacrificing our time, the less happy we are. The research found that students who prioritized money over time were less happy.
Attaining more time can be as easy as retiring early if we have the investments to make it happen. If you are close, you can also achieve Barista FIRE and work part-time to have more time.
Time is a commodity. As we age, our time becomes less and less, and if we sit at our desks at work and let that time slip away, our life will feel less and less joyful. With the money we earn to buy freedom, we can use it to have more free time. Then we can spend time with our loved ones, and do what we would like with our time.
With the addition of time and money, we can then focus on our health. With much more time, we will not have to worry about making more money, but we can spend that time on exercise and going to the gym.
With more money, we will be able to spend more on better food. Eating a healthy diet can really increase your life’s capacity. Food is huge when trying to have a healthy body. Our additional time can be spent cooking the food and enjoying our experiences with food.
Health is a much important thing. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can create in us a happy, healthy body.
When we think of what money can do, we sometimes may not think about what our money can do for others. Many people give away a lot of money to others.
Andrew Carnegie was the richest man in the world when he retired in 1901 at age 66. He made his retirement goal to give away his money. Through his donations, he built libraries all over the U.S.A. to give the ability for people to continue to learn and read. He ended up giving away 90% of his income.
When we are fortunate enough to have money work for us and have the abundance, we can give it to those in need. In Christianity, they teach about tithing and going to help the poor. We should do likewise.
Through gratitude and helping others, we are then able to live a more fulfilled life. It is not just about the material things we live for, but it is a state of happiness when we find joy in serving others.
Money may not buy happiness, but through gifts and generosity, we can help people strive for better lives. It is not about us. It is about using the tool of money to help others have a happier life.
What is Important in Our Life?
The importance of money is not about what money can bring to us through instant gratification, but what it can buy for us to create a better life for us. We are always striving to do better, work better, live better, and enhance our lives.
How much money do you need? You need enough money to buy your freedom. Money will not bring about happiness in our life. To live a happy life, we will need to stop buying stuff and start buying our time.
Money can’t buy happiness, but it can surely buy our freedom, creating a wonderful life. It gives us the ability to own our time, and use that time to work on our health, our experiences, and also helping out others.
Solely money really is not the key to happiness. It is more about the tool that we can use to make life better.
How has money made your life better?
This article originally appeared on Your Money Geek and has been republished with permission.
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I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.