Americans are among the most stressed people in the world, according to a recent Gallup poll. Conflicting demands between personal time and work, long commuting times, and lack of time to spend with family and friends make many wish they could retire early. Even non-work-related problems somehow seem like they could be weathered better with a little money in the bank. After all, it’s one thing to worry about a break-up while having to get up at 6am to get to work on time, and another altogether to feel a little blue while sailing on your luxury yacht with your group of friends. These considerations may sometimes lead you to ask yourself – does money really buy happiness?
What Does Science have to Say About Money Buying Happiness?
A recent study by researchers at Purdue University found that money does indeed buy some degree of happiness, but only up to a certain point. Researchers said, “We found that the ideal income point is $95,000 for life evaluation and $60,000 to $75,000 for (individual) emotional well-being.” Findings also showed that once a certain threshold was reached, further increases in income actually reduced life satisfaction and well-being. How much you actually need to be happy also seems to depend on where you live. Thus, people living in wealthier nations had a higher threshold than those living in poorer ones.
Money Management Boosts Happiness
Straining under the weight of debt is strongly linked to mental health issues, according to researchers at the University of Southampton. People with various sources of debt can easily feel stressed or depressed if they are unable to meet their monthly bills. However, most people have some form of debt, and ensuring they have enough funds are needed to stay afloat and maintain their current lifestyle is simply a matter of financial management. Small changes such as reducing their reliance on credit cards, or working freelance to boost their monthly income, can go a long way towards helping them sleep well at night.
Time is the Ultimate Luxury
Often, it isn’t money per se that makes you happy, but the free time it buys. Researchers from the Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia found that those wanting to enjoy greater life satisfaction should use their funds to buy time. For instance, they might pay staff for house chores and other tasks that are not as fulfilling as doing sport or simply engaging in their favorite hobby. Time allows you to pursue your passions, and as such, it is key to achieving balance in life.
Who Are You Spending Money On?
One guaranteed way to buy happiness is to spend money on others. Researchers from the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business Schools have found that “Regardless of how much income each person makes, those who spend money on others report greater happiness, while those who spent more on themselves do not.” To make a really big impact, try to go past the ‘wow’ factor and get your loved ones something they truly fancy – it might be a spa experience, gym membership, or sports equipment. It often takes plenty of research (social media is a good place to start) to decide upon the ultimate gift for each person.
Money per se does not make people happy, but it can buy a few things that do, one of the most important of which is time. Science has shown that material wealth can indeed improve life satisfaction, but only up to a certain point. Sharing the love and paying it forward are also key when it comes to squeezing the most happiness out of the money you have.