Remember the song from Calloway…back in the late 80’s…
I want money lots and lots of money
I want the pie in the sky
I want money lots and lots of money
So don’t be asking me why
I wanna be rich oh
Most people think that if they had more money, their happiness would increase accordingly. Unfortunately, much like “Waiting for the future”, the illusion that more money will solve all your problems and make you happy is nothing more than just that, an illusion.
So many of us work long, hard hours to provide for our families and children-often long hours away from home, maybe taking on extra jobs at times or hoping to get a raise in an effort to make our lives richer financially – working harder at the expense of sleeping and taking good care of ourselves in order to have extra money. It seems so many of us just aren’t content with what we have now. But is there a point at which striving to earn or acquire extra money can be counterproductive? Or, in other words, when having extra money just doesn’t make us “happy” anymore?
In an article last year in Forbes Magazine, writer Robert Glatter, MD. talked about “How Much Money Do You Really Need To Be Happy?
But the irony is that earning additional income will actually not lead to extra happiness, once you have already attained a “comfortable standard” where you have what you need to function and be content. The “comfortable standard” can be quite variable based on the city, state or country you live in. Here in the US, according to Dunn and Norton, the standard falls around $75,000. Researchers at Princeton examined Gallup poll data from nearly 500,000 US households and found that higher family incomes were related to better moods on a day to day basis. However, the positive effects of money had no effect on people’s happiness and moods after a level of $ 75,000.00 was attained.
There is no question that money plays an important role in our lives. The fact is we spend a big portion of our waking hours working. But make no mistake: what people actually want is not the money itself; it’s the happiness that money can bring. Do the things that make you happy have a price tag tied to them?
There is a common misconception here: many people assume that the more money they make, the happier they will become. To an extent, that’s true. When you have no house to live in and no warm food on the table, making more money does increase your happiness. But beyond a certain point, studies find that additional income brings no increase in happiness.
If happiness is what you’re after, consider how you make your money rather than how much money you make.
There is nothing wrong with making more money. But to put a focus more on how you make money rather than on how much. What’s the use of making a lot of money if your work makes you stressful and unhappy? Isn’t it better to earn a decent income in a way that makes you happy?
Really this is the same as simplicity, but I wanted to show it from a financial angle. The reason we get into financial trouble, oftentimes, is that we buy more than we can afford. And the root of that buying is buying things we want instead of only things we need, and the root of that is not being content with what we already have.
From Zenhabits and The Incredible Power of Contentment:
Finding contentment with the stuff you have and with a simpler life can lead to buying less, to buying things we need instead of want, and to only spending what we can afford. I know this first-hand, as uncontrolled spending led to debt for me, and contentedness led to me getting out of debt.
Although it’s a fun song to sing (and walk) to…having this “life philosophy” isn’t going to make you happy in the long run.
This makes me think about Candy Spelling. She has been on TV recently talking about her new show entitled “Beyond Spelling Manor.” Now, there is a woman who apparently has had access to lots and lots of money. On one talk show, she explained that during her marriage to Aaron Spelling, they did not take vacations, so their home was designed to entertain them without ever having to leave it. Now the manor has been sold and she has “downsized” to a penthouse. It appears as though this new show is about the process that Candy has gone through eliminating possessions that “fit” in the manor but won’t make it to the penthouse. She had all of her stuff packed up and moved to a warehouse where she has had to go through the boxes to make decisions regarding what goes and what stays with her. I could be wrong, because I didn’t see the actual program, but it seems like she has been spending an inordinate amount of her precious life focused on “things.”
My point is that it seems to me that lots and lots of money can lead to lots and lots of things. Can we get to the point where our things “own” us (and our time) rather than the other way around?
This is not meant to be a criticism of the choices Candy has made (or anyone else, for that matter)…to each their own. I wonder if she has ever had the opportunity to do a “road trip” to see the amazing national parks scattered all over our big, beautiful country. Maybe that doesn’t/wouldn’t interest her…but I would be willing to bet that she would be astounded at how little money it takes to have a great time and “make a memory.”
Now…if I had lots and lots of money…I would travel our country and the world with my family (children and grandchildren)…and make memories. (That is my intention on the income I have anyway…rather than “things” my husband and I “gift” our family with “experiences.”)
I know what you mean, Sue! My husband and I really got caught up in building our home “estate” ….But we were forced to downsize and move out of state due to his job. We took a significant step. At first it was so painful and now I realize we are so fortunate to have been through that experience. We have no debt and possessions are just possessions. The freedom that came with this step was unimaginable!
Sue – Yes…I do think our things will tend to own US if we let them. Wanting more money is the step-sister to waiting for you life to start. I’ll be happy if/when…. Thank you for your observation on Candy Spelling. Very interesting….