Can money buy happiness?

I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, and she puts forth that money can buy happiness, to a degree. I really do agree with this (I would!), because there are some things that I’ve been able to do or enjoy, and without some expendable income, this wouldn’t be possible. Lack of money generally makes people worried and, therefore, less happy. Having a bit of fun money allows us to enjoy those happy benefits.

The first happy benefit of money is the same as Gretchen’s first investment early in her project, and that’s a gym membership. I don’t know why it took me so long to get off the couch and into the YMCA, but when my husband and I finally joined, I discovered just how stress-relieving exercise can be, among other things. I’ve also vastly improved my posture, which means less achy neck/shoulders after a long day, which has definitely increased my happiness.

The second is visiting my sister or having my sister visit home while she’s going to graduate school in Pittsburgh. I spent Thanksgiving with her there, and she came home at Christmas and during her mini-pre-summer-term break in early May, and will be back in August for a month. Without my own ‘fun money,’ and my parents’ generous attitude about flying her home for visits, I wouldn’t get to see her for the length of her 2-year program. I’m very thankful for these visits.

The third is something little that doesn’t take a lot of money, but definitely makes me feel more connected to friends, and that’s going out. Whether it’s to a coffee shop, movie, or restaurant, spending time with friends makes me happy. Now, fun can be had without spending money, but since I currently live in a 1-bedroom apartment (which saves money), it’s hard to entertain a group of friends. Also, since I live in a moderate-sized city, if we go ‘out,’ odds are we’ll run into other friends and that will add to the enjoyment.

What do you think? Can money buy happiness? Why or why not?

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