Can money buy happiness ?
Almost everyone I know has thought about this question to themselves to asked someone they know who is doing better economically than they are. While many say that — “yes, it does”, some would disagree with that and say that it doesn’t. The answer to this question actually depends on what stage in life are you at.
In the early stages of your career, the text message from your bank at the end of the month — “Salary credited” brings immense relief. That message implies that for the next month you will have a roof over your head, food to feed yourself, money to buy clothes or anything fancy that you want. You dream about the material things that you want even if you cannot afford them. At this stage, yes, money buys you happiness.
Once you have figured out what you want your career to look like and are on that trajectory, the number of materialistic things deemed important keep decreasing. For example, a glass vase of $50 wouldn’t be that important, but a convertible Ford Mustang would be. The things that you dreamt of in Discovery Stage are the only things that seem important. There is also a shift from spending on materialistic things to gaining experiences. You plan outdoor trips or invest in learning an art form, say, painting, dancing, cooking etc. There is no specific number of years that it takes for someone to reach here. For some it may take 2 years while some may not reach here even after 8 years. At this stage, yes, money buys you happiness.
Switching from Growth to Debt-free stage is more of a mental shift than an actual shift in economic conditions. Here, the term Debt-free does not mean free from any outstanding loans, but is also symbolic of having overcome desires towards materialistic acquisitions. In simple terms, buying a new cell phone, introduction of a new super car in the market, etc. won’t get you excited.
As long as you know how to spend X amount of money (even if you don’t have it right now), having that amount of money is going to make you happy. The moment you start getting more money than you know how to spend, it will stop affecting you.
At this stage, you have surplus amount of money to take care of your daily necessities, insurance for your health and financial investments that keep generating more wealth for you. You can buy anything you want and travel to anywhere you want. You don’t actually have to work everyday for any of the above. You work because you are passionate and you feel that your actions can make an impactful change to the society. A lot of people quit their day jobs and think about community service or philanthropy.
At this stage, no, money can’t buy you happiness.
The Debt-free Stage does not imply that the person is a millionaire. They are just rich enough for themselves. To be honest, a lot of millionaires haven’t reached the Debt-free stage. And there are a lot of people who are not millionaires, but are in this stage. It is about how you are able to set a line for yourself and mentally decide when you have crossed it.