Can Money Buy Happiness?

For as long as I can remember I was told the quote “money can’t buy happiness” that happiness comes from other things such as nice friends, family and from having a big heart. But it does not make sense that something that could give you virtually anything doesn’t bring you happiness?


After looking into the topic I came across a study through Cambridge University in which 625 people took a personality test and there were 60 spending categories that matched up to 5 different personality traits on the test. The researchers noticed from the test that those who spent money in the categories related to their personality trait were happier meaning the people that spent money on things related to their personality type had a higher correlation to happiness. Like we discussed in class that correlation does not prove causation, this does not technically mean that buying things you like causes happiness, but they positively correlate with each other.

By having lots of money you have more choices of what to do with that money. Whether it be donating it to charities, buying clothes, puppies, or going on vacation that all brings joy to a person so how could money not buy happiness! There are some confounding variables to that statement being if a person is depressed nothing they buy could make them feel better, or if one is very lonely you can’t necessarily buy a person, but you can buy a dog.

Not having money can be a major stressor on a family. It is used in all aspects of a living environment like how the bills get paid, where the food comes from, how all the necessities such as toiletries are paid for. If there is not enough money in a household to pay for these things then there is definitely not enough for non necessities such as cable, wifi, going shopping, or going on vacation so it’s definitely hard to be in complete happiness without some of these things. Although if you are content in your life without materialistic things then it is definitely possible to be happy without having extra money.

Could there also be reverse causation in the statement that money can buy happiness? Technically yes, because if you are a very happy and joyful person this can give you more job opportunities allowing you to make more money than a person with little to no happiness in there personality.

It is hard to claim whether money does or does not buy happiness because it has a different value on each and every person. Some people strongly value money while others could just use it for the necessities then live without it. There are many families that have all the money they will ever need but are not content with their family life so they do not feel happy. Also there are people with barely enough money to survive but are surrounded by many people that love them so they don’t allow the amount of money they have to effect their happiness.

7 thoughts on “Can Money Buy Happiness?

  1. tmv5147

    This is a great topic; you can discuss so many different things. Of course money can buy happiness, depends what you’re buying, how much you’re buying, and who you’re buying it for. If you buy your 6-year-old daughter a new Barbie, she’s going to be the happiness 6-year-old on the block (until the new one comes out in 2 months). If you buy your 16-year-old a car for her birthday we all know how happy she’s going to be. Both things cost money and both things made people happy. In economics we learn about total utility and marginal utility, the total satisfaction received and the satisfaction gained. At a certain point your total utility may be a very high point after buying another pair of shoes but marginally it could be close to zero because you already have 20 pairs of shoes. You’re very happy to have all of them but the happiness you gained after buying the 19th pair may be low. That depends on how much you value what you are buying. I do think money can buy happiness but I don’t think money is the answer to every problem, money can’t fix everything. Drake is another example, he’s a millionaire but he has all of these feelings he’s always singing about that not even his millions can fix.

  2. Kateryna Okhrimchuk

    Really interesting topic! I’ve always believed that money could buy happiness – but only temporarily. Whenever I was really sad, my mom would take my shopping and the retail therapy would automatically make me happy. According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology,, retail therapy is strongly correlated to feelings of happiness. Long term, though, I don’t believe that money could cause happiness because of something that I learned in my psychology class. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs shows that a person’s higher level needs, things like happiness and content with their life can only be satisfied through praise and recognition, promotions, having responsibility, and by doing creative and challenging work. Although money is a motivator, it is not usually what genuinely makes people feel satisfied.

  3. Michael Robert Szawaluk


    Honestly, I have always thought that money can buy happiness, but I guess that is because I don’t have a lot of money and I want more stuff. I like your approach of the reverse causation and I found the study you referenced to be very logical. If you can buy things you want or at least the things that can make you comfortable, you have a sense of satisfaction, which usually makes you happy. This might seem like a philosophical topic relative to what happiness really is, but, when you get down to the truth about it, it can lead to a very serious discussion. Many people spend their lives pursuing careers or deals to make more money so they can change their lives, or so they think. They spend so much time in pursuit of money that they don’t have time for much else. Correlating a significant amount of money and happiness is something that is probably best determined by the people who have enough not to worry about any bills or the purchase of luxury items. While the topic of money buying happiness will always be debated, I think almost all people can agree that not having enough money to pay bills or living in poverty can be stressful. Stress can cause illness. If you want to read up on how money can affect your health, check this out:

  4. Samantha Liebensohn

    This was extremely interesting to read because I am sure we have all heard our parents lecture us with this concept. I personally have always found that when I use money to make others happy I make myself happy as well. I found a scientific study going into this here: and strongly encourage you to read it. This post was well written and hit an extremely relevant topic, good job!

  5. Margaret Marchok

    Justine- I really enjoyed reading this post. I too have wondered about the saying “money can’t buy you happiness.” I do agree with you in that I think this statement is false. While simply buying things can’t make you happy, being financially stable certainly takes a large burden off of people’s shoulders. However, I get what this saying is trying to get at. It is insinuating that people should take pleasure in the non-materialistic things in life and do what they love. Now, I enjoyed this post, but it didn’t really relate much to class. If you had done some analysis of the study you included, I feel as though that would have made your argument stronger. By imploring our analysis techniques and critiquing the study that would benefit this post. Over-all, excellent work.

  6. Darby Helen Smith

    This topic is something that my high school intro to finance class discussed last year. Personally, I came up with a conclusion that to an extent, money can buy happiness, but at a certain point it does not hold true anymore. I think that money can bring one happiness when it is used towards necessities like food, water, shelter, healthcare, clothing, education, ect. This is because these are the things that keep people healthy, sane and successful. However, I do not think that true happiness comes from buying a Hermes belt over a belt at the gap. My theory is based strictly off opinion and I think that is what you are going to find with most theories on this topic. It is difficult for people to express exactly how happy they are, and also, happiness has a different meaning for almost everyone.

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