Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Can Money Buy You Happiness?

A couple of days ago I read this article on Blue Print for Financial Prosperity. The title says it all: can money buy you happiness? I have three answers to this question. Two are smart-alecky and one is serious:

1. They say that money can't buy you happiness, but at least you can choose your own kind of misery. I can't remember exactly who said this, but I agree.

2. My uncle used to say: "it is better to be rich and healthy, than to be poor and sick". Can't argue with that one. Unfortunately, my uncle passed away last year. Guess he knew what he was talking about.

3. Personally, I subscribe to the following notion: money buys you freedom. Freedom is happiness. Well, at least to me it is. I agree that there are a few things that money cannot buy you, and without those it is often very hard to be happy. Health and family are two examples that come to mind. However, even for these two your prospects are much better if you have money. Just ask any one of the 46 million or so Americans without health insurance.

One of the things that I enjoy most in life is travel. Surprisingly, travel costs much less than most people think, especially if you are willing to rough it and spend your nights in a youth-hostel or even camping in someone's back yard. I spent two separate six month periods traveling around the world in this manner, and those were the happiest days of my life. The true cost of travel is the opportunity cost: money unearned, career opportunities missed and so forth. If and when I have enough money to bear these costs indefinitely without financial pain, from my perspective I will have achieved freedom, and will be well on my way to happiness.

So my answer is: no, money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you freedom. For me, freedom to do what I love is the road to happiness.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Bravo! Well put!

I agree with you heartily (which isn't surprising sine my blog is called "HealthyWealthyHappyWise"). Money is an important element in being able to live our values -- whether those are freedom, health, security, or any of a dozen other possibilities. Money makes them all easier to achieve, so we'd better make sure we pay attention to it if we want to have the lives of which we dream.