They say money can’t buy happiness, but research over the years shows that those better off financially do tend to have a better well-being…to an extent. Everything has a limit, of course, but if money does not cause us to be happier what does?
Those who are able to pay bills on time and not struggle financially do appear to be happier in general terms, but money being the cause to happiness seems to actually be more about what we buy, according to some research. It is suggested in recent studies that what we spend our money on does determine our happiness, and that actually, spending money on experiences has a longer lasting effect. Although, this is a thought that could have been assumed even without the study.
Conversely, a popular study by Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton expresses that a higher income does improve your life but not necessarily your emotional well-being. It goes on to say that those with an annual income of $75,000 seem to have the best of both worlds (looking fondly on their life and associating quality with everyday experiences).
There is a point where money begins to no longer provide your well-being and seemingly starts to cause more heartache due to losing satisfaction or desiring more, which becomes a never-ending cycle with needing more money in order to satisfy your urges or new financial demands. Of course, this does also partially depend upon what is important to us as individuals in life and our desires. Is it money that really makes us happier? Or would more of something else solve all our problems?
A study published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal found some interesting data to this question. The researchers at UCLA and Wharton School involved in this latest article (published May 25) found that roughly two-thirds of 4,400 people surveyed mentioned that they would prefer having more money over time. However, the one-third who chose more time were happier. This does come with gray areas, though, and raises a couple important questions.
Are people who want more time truly happier? Is it that not desiring more money makes them more content or is that they already have enough money so now they want more time to enjoy their income?
The researchers did use the $75,000 salary amount to evaluate questions such as these. When asking which was preferred, more time or money, to individuals with this base income, those who answered more time did appear to still have more happiness in their lives on average.
So, which is better? Time or money? Does one cause more happiness than the other? While still up for debate, it appears better to be in a situation where you have enough money to take care of all your needs and obligations in life while wanting more time rather than the other way around. Although, if you have minimal to no debt, money may be of little concern and, thus, more time may be better in those particular situations as experiences in life tend to fulfill us more, according to the study mentioned previously in this article.
There is definitely a difference between needing more money to better your financial situation and wanting more money for superficial reasons. At the end of the day, only you can determine what makes you happy. It’s all about creating balance, both with time and money.
What are your thoughts on the topic?
Jenn Clark is a writer, PR specialist, entrepreneur, blogger and coffee enthusiast. A lover of laughter, traveling and cheese, she’s written about her life experiences here at suburbanfinance while at the same time growing other young professionals. You can find more of her work at Jennblogs.co.