There’s certainly no shortage of adages and aphorisms about money. These truisms are, well, assumed to be true by the vast majority of the general public, framing how they perceive and interact with the world around them. We’re told, for instance, that money is the root of all evil. Some people might clarify that the “pursuit” of money is the root of all evil. We’re also told, often enough, that money can’t buy happiness. But, is that actually true?
As with so many other things in life, we have to recognize that money is nothing more than a tool. It’s a means to an ends, so in that regard, money in and of itself cannot buy happiness. But, it can set the stage and pave the way for circumstances that can bring happiness and joy into your life. In fact, there are at least three ways this can happen.
A World of Possibility
This is probably the most typical and well-known vision of what money-fueled happiness looks like. When you have near limitless wealth, the money becomes your oyster. This is the dream that so many of us have “if we win the lottery.” We want to fly off to far-flung countries on a whim, indulging in the most exotic of meals as we stay at the most exquisite of hotels.
Money, in this way, represents opportunity. If you want to take a trip to the Bahamas, you can do that. Go ahead. Swim with the dolphins. This world of opportunity refers to both experiences and material goods. If you want to buy everything for the ultimate vlogging setup, you can do that.
Wanting something, and being unable to afford it, is a common source of grief and sadness. Having almost anything you want? That’s gotta make you happy, right?
A Sense of Security
That remarkable buying power, removing the limits of what is “reasonably affordable,” can be a great sense of joy for many people. And while money as possibility is a very common mindset, there’s another side to this that’s perhaps much more profound. When you lack something in your life, you can’t help but obsess about it. When you have something in your life, you’re probably going to take it for granted.
To this end, even if you may not think about it on a conscious or intentional level, money can also represent an incredible sense of safety and security. On Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety needs come second only to physiological needs (like food and shelter) in terms of priority. When you feel safe and secure, you can more readily address higher level needs, like a need for love or status.
Consider this very simple and very common example. When your credit card bill arrives in the mail, do you worry about your ability to pay it IN FULL right away? Do you have to wait until your next paycheck until you have enough cash to cover it? Do you just slip in the minimum payment and let that balance accrue compound interest month over month? Or, do you always have enough money around to pay for these types of expenses without really needing to bat an eye?
Remember that around 40% of Americans cannot afford an unexpected expense of just $400. They would not be able to come up with the money. If you don’t have to worry about that, because you have enough money to cover, that frees you from that burden and empowers you to seek happiness in other ways. You can lead a much more carefree existence.
If Time Is Money, Then…
I’m going to keep coming back to this, because it really cannot be stated enough. The biggest appeal to professional blogging or any other type of online business is not the potential upside of near limitless earning potential. I like money as much as the next guy, don’t get me wrong. The truth, though, is that the time freedom trumps everything.
Put another way, if time is money, then money is also time. Money can buy happiness indirectly insofar that money can buy time. And time is the most valuable of the non-renewable resources out there. “I don’t have time to clean the house,” you might say. So, hire a cleaning service. “I don’t have time to mow the lawn,” you might proclaim. Pay someone to do it. Heck, that’s partly why John pays me to write these blog posts too! He wants the time.
Sure, it’s cheaper to take the bus to the airport, but it’s probably faster if you pay for a cab (or Uber or limo or whatever). And if we take that to another level, it’s cheaper to fly on a regular commercial flight, but it’s probably faster and far more comfortable to fly in a private jet, right? (I wouldn’t know. I haven’t had that experience.)
Do What Makes You Happy
The point is that by buying time, you’re giving yourself more time and space to do the things that really make you happy and not just the things you have to do because you have to do them. No, money can’t buy happiness directly. But it can buy you that private jet, that you can roll on your Amex Black Card without breaking a sweat, as you fly off to Bali for the weekend.