People who believe money can't buy
happiness might simply have too much of it to understand.
True, money won't guarantee happiness, and there are some things money can't buy. But happiness is not one of them, according to financial experts who tout the power of money when it comes to being financially able to live the life you love.
The key is understanding your core values in life and knowing what makes you happy, says Laura Rowley, author of "Money & Happiness: A Guide to Living the Good Life." Once you figure that out, she says, "Use money as a tool to maximize happiness."
For example, if it will make you happy
to see your children go to college, your money can buy
that happiness. Even if you're not wealthy you can achieve
happiness by opening a 529 college savings plan. Likewise,
if happiness for you is not worrying about feeding your
family in the event of a job loss, a six-month emergency
savings account will provide that peace of mind and
make you happy.
The correlation between money and happiness
has been studied for years. A Pew Research Center report
released in February found that the more family income
survey respondents had, the more likely they were to
say they were happy. For example, according to the study
titled "Are We Happy Yet?" 49 percent of survey
respondents with an annual family income of more than
$100,000 said they were happy, while only 24 percent
of respondents with an annual family income of less
than $30,000 reported that they were happy.
"There's a very strong relation between income and happiness," says Cary Funk, senior project director for the Pew Research Center and author of the happiness report. "People who make more money or have more money in their family from another source tend to be happier than those who don't."
However, Funk cautions, the survey doesn't
prove whether money causes people to be happy or whether
happy people tend to make more money. "We can't
say for sure that it's a causal relationship,"
Covering the basics
Nevertheless, most experts agree that a person who's unable to make ends meet is not going to have enough peace of mind to be happy.
"You have to be making enough to cover your basic needs," says Rowley. "You have to have decent housing in a safe neighborhood, you have to have schools that your kids can go to without getting assaulted, you have to have food, and you have to have enough to pay the utility bills. If you don't, the stress is going to outweigh the happiness."