Money Won’t Make You Happy…But It Will Buy You Stuff!

“Money won’t make you happy

…but everybody wants to find out

for themselves.” – Zig Ziglar

Some people say that ‘MONEY is the root of all evil.’

The problem is that we all need money to live.

Money and happiness

Picture by tantek

There are bills to pay and food to put on the table.

A roof to put over your family’s head and some means of transportation that has to be paid for.

It’s even said that we’re supposed to put clothes on our back…I’m not sure about you but I’m pretty positive it’s nice not to have everybody walking around naked. Maybe that’s just me though.

But Beyond the Basics…When Is Enough, Enough?

Where do you draw the line?

Personally, I’ve struggled with this question. There is no denying that I love STUFF and comfort.

I have goals, dreams, and desires.

My wife and I constantly dream of going to Switzerland, a cruise to Alaska, having a 65″ LED TV, a new camera, and a new car.

I even have a CRAZY goal for future charitable contributions.

My desires and goals lead to constant effort and work…the effort and work that it takes to “succeed.”

It leads to a mind that constantly thinks and a tired person that executes a schedule designed for maximum productivity.

Having Priorities

While each person is different, I’ve found it helpful to have priorities.

I realize that some of the things I want to accomplish in my life may not come to fruition…and that’s fine by me.

I realize that some of the material possessions I want may not fit in my budget (ever)…and I’m good with that.

I know that there are places in this world that I may never be able to see…and I can live with that.

WHY?

Because I’ve learned to redefine what happiness looks like.

I realize that money and things aren’t what really make you happy (because I’ve been there and I was miserable).

I’ve learned that it’s more important to have the moments with my friends, family, and my wonderful wife.

It’s more important to enjoy the time sitting on my couch reading a book, reflecting on life, and enjoying the day.

Life is too short to work it all away…only for the sake of money and material things.

There will always be another business opportunity and another avenue to make money. There will always be another client to get or another sale to close.

There will be a nicer car than the one you have or a bigger/better house to live in.

There will always be something…but when is enough, enough?

A quote that has really helped me was from Jon Acuff’s book, Quitter:

“Success will tell you that your enough is not enough,
and it will keep you on a treadmill of your own design,
but a treadmill nonetheless…
Instead of chasing “enough,” you have to define it.
If you chase it, you’ll never catch it.
Enough is incredibly quick. Much like perfection,
it seems to remain out of reach.”

I won’t argue that money can afford you the luxury to take vacations and do things that create memories (and therefore brings about some happiness). However, I do think there is a fine line. Have you ever taken the time to define “ENOUGH?” What does that look like to you? Do you sometimes find yourself sacrificing true happiness for the pursuit of the always-moving “perfect life?”

About the Author

By , on Mar 8, 2012
Andy Tenton
Andy is a 30-something New Yorker who turned his financial life around. He took charge of his finances, got out of debt, and is now working his way toward financial success. He is the publisher of WorkSaveLive.com.

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{10 Comments}

  1. I love the philosophy you present here. What is happiness? It’s being able to spend your time with your loved ones without distraction. A lot of people ask me why I spend so much on treating my family to generous vacations, but it is for this very reason – to build some great memories. Money for me is not about buying things, but about having the means to create experiences with my family that we’ll cherish forever.

    • Andy says:

      MMD,

      I completely agree! If I see any value in spending money it would be for that exact reason. Money does allow for you to do fun things…and as long as you can afford it and you’re not going into debt, then it’s a great benefit money can provide.

  2. Michelle says:

    I love reading your blog, Andy! You seem like such a nice, happy person. Such a feel-good blogger :) I mean that. I love that you say “I realize that some of the material possessions I want may not fit in my budget (ever)…and I’m good with that.” The fact that you know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that time with your wife and your loved ones is more important than any possessions is a beautiful thing. Everyone wants to be secure. Everyone *thinks* they want all the stupid possessions they can’t afford, but at the end of the day, do any of those things really bring you happiness? I struggle with this a bit more than you do (unless you’re just really good at hiding it!), so I love to come to blogs like this and to be reminded of what really matters in life. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

    • Andy says:

      Michelle,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      There was once a day where I struggled with it as well! My struggle with it turned into a rough time in my life where I couldn’t pay bills because of the ridiculous amounts of money I was spending on “fun”/happiness.

      So, having gone through that and realizing what got me to that point helped me understand priorities. As I say often, the want for stuff will always be there…but it’s about making the right decision when that desire pops up. It’s also helped me to take time on a weekly/monthly basis and reflect on life.

      That alone has probably helped me the most out of anything. Just learning to appreciate what I have and be thankful. Once you realize all you have and maintain proper perspective of how fortunate we are compared to other people around the world, then many of those material desires go away.

  3. This reminds me of an article I read a few years ago titled “Honestly How Important is Money to You?”.

    Many people work all their lives to have the big house, fancy car and lots of trips and they justify their long hours by saying that I want to support my family, but then one day their child graduates from highschool and moves out and they realize that they barely spent any time with them while they were growing up because they were so focused on making more money.

    I completely agree with your article, esp this line:
    Life is too short to work it all away…only for the sake of money and material things

    Both my husband and I use to have very intense high pressure corporate jobs. Yes we made a very nice income and had a very nice house, but the stress definitely had a negative impact on our health and we needed to decide what was more important, good health or lots of income. We made a very difficult decision and quit our jobs because health was more important to us then money and all the money in the world can’t buy good health.

    • Andy says:

      I’m with you completely on that! Health is a major concern for my wife and I. I certainly don’t like to do it, but I get up 2-3x’s a week to work out and run.

      Then we’ve been eating ridiculously healthy lately. I’m pretty much a vegetarian now.

      I’m really concerned for our country’s health issues down the road and the financial implications of them. Medical insurance, medicare, and long-term care insurance are getting outrageously expensive. It will only continue to get worse as the majority of us continue to eat worse and exercise less.

      It’s good to see your priorities are in the right place. :)

  4. I love the marshmallow quote in the picture. I can convince my children to do just about anything for a marshmallow.

    I recently had to revamp my work goals as I was spending way too much time pounding the keys to earn extra money. I was working so much that I was not enjoying real life, my kids, my husband, cooking yummy food, and the joy of reading an actual book instead of words on a screen.

    Now, when I fill my work quota goal, I close the computer for the rest of the day.

    • Andy says:

      That is awesome Ashley! I had to learn this lesson the hard way and it is something I continually struggle with.

      It’s so important to find balance, but it isn’t bad to try to get out of debt and work like a crazy person for a short period of time. That whole fine line thing is still something I’m trying to figure out.

  5. Modest Money says:

    Really good quote Andy. That’s so true. Once you get obsessed chasing money, it is a never ending pursuit. If you chase too much, you don’t take time to really enjoy life.

    • Andy says:

      That’s exactly right. Jon’s book really helped me out in that regard. I never really had given it much though…I just worked and pursued and never had an end in mind.

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