Does money buy you happiness?

Our financial advisors work hard to ensure that clients’ hard earned money is invested appropriately and get decent returns. But now and again we should stand back and ask some of life’s bigger questions….

‘Does money buy you happiness?’ falls into a sub-group of the broader question ‘What makes us happy?’

Luckily some hard hitting academics at Oxford University have recently applied their minds to this topic. A book called Happiness Around the World: The Paradox of Happy Peasants and Miserable Millionaires by Carol Graham and published by Oxford University in 2010. The book was the first in-depth study of happiness across countries and regions, including developed and developing countries ranging from Peru and Russia to the U.S. and Afghanistan. It sought to unpick those difficult questions of why a poor person in a war torn country with no food security could possibly rate their personal happiness higher than a person in a peaceful country with a job and more than enough to eat.

The second book, the Oxford Handbook of Happiness first published in 2103 by Susan David, Ilona Boniwell noted that there was growing recognition that the goals governments usually focus on such as GDP, are only a means to an end; the end point is happiness. The authors noted that economist John Maynard Keynes and more recently UK Prime Minister David Cameron and former French President Sarkozy had all come to the same conclusion; that it is not enough to measure economic progress, we must consider social and environmental  progress and measure subjective well-being.

Both books delve into the theory and concepts of happiness as well as the psychological, philosophical, spiritual and organisational sources of happiness.

Happiness Around the World: The Paradox of Happy Peasants and Miserable Millionaires  attempts to understand the paradox posed by the title of this article. It explores the relationship between happiness and income, unpicking the relationship between income levels, health status and happiness. It also has a chapter entitled ‘Adapting to Good and Bad Fortune: How Friends, Freedom, Crime, and Corruption affect Happiness’

The conclusion of both books? Money may make some difference, but it is not everything. This is where we at Harbour Wealth come in. If you outsource the process of intelligent investing to those that are well equipped for this task, then you have more time to … be happy!

Many politicians, celebrities and philosophers have reflected the complicated love/ hate, bitter sweet relationship we have with money over the last 200 years or so. Some of the quotations below reflect our intuitive knowledge that large amounts of money can still leave us unhappy.

Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Science without humanity
Knowledge without character
Politics without principle
Commerce without morality
Worship without sacrifice.
― Mahatma Gandhi

While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.

― Groucho Marx

Too many people spend money they buy things they don’t impress people that they don’t like.

― Will Rogers

 Don’t think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money.

― Voltaire

Money may not buy happiness, but I’d rather cry in a Jaguar than on a bus.

― Françoise Sagan

You’d be surprised what people will do for money that they wouldn’t do for love.

― Rachel Caine, Bite Club

Money is a great servant but a bad master.
― Francis Bacon

No, not rich. I am a poor man with money, which is not the same thing.
― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to become the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men. Blood, whips and guns–or dollars. Take your choice–there is no other.
― Ayn RandAtlas Shrugged

I would rather carry around a plastic bag with five thousand Euro inside, than carry around a Louis Vuitton/Gucci/Prada bag with only one hundred Euro inside!

― C. JoyBell.

Money is like a sixth sense – and you can’t make use of the other five without it.

– William Somerset Maugham

It is pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and wealth have both failed.

– Kin Hubbard

The easiest way for your children to learn about money is for you not to have any.

– Katharine Whitehorn

It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.

– George Lorimer

Sources for quotes: