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Does Money Make You Happy?

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This is something I thought about as a child, a lot.

Does Money Make You Happy?

I grew up in a pretty tough situation with my family; I was raised by a single parent, my dad. He was on a disability benefit due to severe injuries in his back. We always rented, moved around a lot and life was week-to-week with very little breathing room for anything that unexpected that cropped up.

It was pretty hard, but as a child I was very happy and content. It wasn’t until I became a teenager and spent more time with other friends and their families that I realised I had missed out on a lot.

As a child I’d write lists of what I’d do if I won the lottery: I’d buy a brand new  house, a nice new car, help my family out with bills and have spare money for all the “wants” I was missing out on.

I thought I’d be happy then.

At the moment I’m earning quite a lot of money, have a lot of deposable income and while my house is still rented, it’s pretty nice and I have a great car.

Am I the happiest I’ve ever been? Nope.

The happiest I’ve ever been is the period in time where I had the least money I’ve ever had and was spending the least I’ve ever spent.

…What? Well, let me explain:

I was volunteering in Cambodia at the beginning of 2011. My days would follow a rough routine of sleeping in, going down to the orphanage to help teach English classes for a few hours and play with the kids. In the evenings we’d go and sit around a large dinner table, talking with all the other volunteers from each corner of the world. Then we’d generally have a few drinks, play card games and go to karaoke.

I remember one day during this time that I noticed my cheeks were aching. They were so sore. It was a feeling I hadn’t felt before and I realised it was because I had smiled so much that my cheeks were aching.

That’s happiness.

Was I rich? Nope. I was spending about $10 per day, which is the least amount of money I’ve spent since I moved out of home. My bank account was pretty dismal and I was slowly eating away at my savings, but I was happy. Genuine, face sore from smiling, couldn’t be any more content, happiness.

So the question is:

Does money make you happy?

No. I don’t think so. That’s not why I am chasing money, or aiming to earn $20,000 for the month of May.

Money provides options, opportunities, freedom, health, wellbeing and security. 

Money allows me to feel more confident about my future, to allow my to help my family and to explore my passion: travel.

I’m not chasing money for happiness and I don’t suggest you should either.

What do you think? Do you think money buys happiness? Does money make you happy? Let me know in the comments below.