Head to Head: Can Money Buy Happiness?

March 22, 2023

In high school, many students are opened up to job opportunities that introduce them to the ways of the adult world. They get their first paycheck with real adult money and get to go out and spend that real adult money. In fact, a study published by the National Consumer League found that teens spend an average of $104 a week. Many are raised with the mindset that a job is necessary when pursuing happiness and satisfaction in life, something especially nurtured in adolescence.

Staff writers Yesenia Rosario and Ariana Smith go head to head on whether or not money can buy one’s happiness.

If “Money Can’t Buy Happiness,” You’re Not Spending It Right


Photo Ariana Smith

A graphic developed on Canva depicting the happiness money can bring.

We have all heard the saying, “Money can’t buy happiness.” However, we all spend money and for the majority of us, it is a limited resource that, if we had more, would make us happy. Society is naturally bent toward money since it is a structure that enables us to fulfill our desires. Therefore, it is not shocking that happiness can be bought. With money, life is more straightforward and pleasurable. Money can ease stress, buy experiences and even benefit others.

Money, or a lack thereof, can be extremely stressful. Everything is influenced by money, including housing, food, transportation and quality of life. Every part of an individual’s life would be impacted by feeling as though they lack enough. Stress over money makes individuals worry themselves out of experiencing life. This stress is a mix of tension over spending money because there isn’t much of it, as well as being overwhelmed with feeling stuck. It should come as no surprise that having more money, at least enough to get out of the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck can lower stress. People can concentrate on the things that make them happy when there is less stress in their lives.

Our sense of happiness can be prolonged by spending money on experiences, especially memorable and delightful ones. If you have extra money, you can spend it on experiences like vacations, concerts, festivals and more. However, some may argue that money can only buy temporary happiness. While this may be true in the materialistic sense, as most people only feel good for a short while after making a purchase, experiences are remembered long after the purchase has been made. A planned trip or a dinner with friends can make us feel good for hours, days or even weeks as we reminisce about how happy those experiences were. Although they may not stay as long as material possessions, memories of these occasions do last much longer and serve to better the happiness in our lives.

Giving becomes more possible when people have more money to spare. You can feel happy while giving to the causes that are most important to you. People get a certain sense of satisfaction knowing that they have helped someone. The Harvard Gazette notes that “…those who reported spending more on others, what the team called “prosocial” spending, also reported a greater level of happiness…” Spending money on others can be as simple as making a charitable donation or as spontaneous as putting money towards a stranger’s dinner. People can feel happy if they donate to a cause or are simply aware that their actions can make someone smile. Plus, people will be helping to improve the world a little bit, which in turn can create a happier person.

The truth is that money can buy a whole lot of things. Both these significant and minor events can raise a person’s level of happiness in general. Our lives are insured by money. It is extremely taxing to deal with money problems and over time that can break people’s spirits. In today’s society, having money gives you power, and with that power is the path to happiness. Therefore, without it, the world shrinks and becomes more stressful. While it’s true that money can’t technically “buy” happiness, I’m 100% certain that if I had a little extra cash, I’d be a lot closer to happiness.

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Money Can Only Buy A Mask, Not True Happiness


Photo Yesenia Rosario

Digital image of woman masking her happiness. Graphic designed in Canva.

One of the most controversial things I’ve ever heard is that money can buy happiness. Though there are a lot of things money can buy, happiness isn’t one of them.

I believe money can’t buy happiness, only comfort. There’s nothing money can do for you, that you can’t do yourself. Many live without loads of money and are perfectly happy, myself included.

A few reasons that money can’t buy are relationships, time, health or real friends.

Money cannot buy happiness or true friendships. If you want true friends that’ll be there for you, money won’t be of use. Money is used as bribery for some to buy friendships by purchasing items for others and sometimes throwing it back in their faces to make them feel bad and stay. Money can’t be there to console a friend, you can. Money can’t be there or do anything, it’s an inanimate object that can’t do your “dirty work” for you. In the end, if you want true, happy friendships; be genuine, truthful and don’t rely on money.

Money won’t buy you more time than someone else. In the end, we all go out the same way by dying whether it be naturally or something else. You can’t buy your way through life and expect to live forever happily.

On the topic of health, mental illnesses also can’t be magically healed with any large amount of money. Mental illness is an illness that affects your well-being emotionally and sometimes physically. Attempting to throw money at any illness won’t do it any good and won’t magically make you happier or healthier. If it somehow does make you happier it’s fake and unhealthy. Unless you’re using the money for therapy and medications, throwing money at mental illness and expecting it to be “cured” won’t work.

Having loads of money creates many disingenuous people in today’s world. So many people are so far from reality it’s crazy. Throwing money at anything really won’t make you truly happy because happiness comes from within you and the people you surround yourself with. If you live every day of your life surrounded by pure, genuinely happy people, that can make you feel the same.

Money’s not the answer to everything, even though it may seem like it. Though money can be used to benefit others’ lives like donating, it’s not the answer to your own happiness. You need to find that true happiness within yourself and stop having a negative mindset that you need money to do so because you don’t.

I’m truly happy with the people I surround myself around every day and make do with what I can. I’m very fortunate and while others aren’t, even they are happy.

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