Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Monday, 14 January, 2002, 16:59 GMT
How much money buys happiness?
Research at the University of Warwick has shown that money can definitely buy you happiness.

Winning just 1,000 can be enough to change a person's outlook on life.

However, less than 1m is unlikely to have a lasting effect on personal happiness and experts found a strong marriage and good health were more likely to make people feel content than money.

The researchers looked at 9,000 families in Britain throughout the 1990s.

They observed the impact of windfalls on individuals using standard strain indicators to gauge their levels of happiness.

Can money buy happiness? Does it have a price limit?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

The wealthy people I know would be extremely unhappy if they lost their money. It is true that money cannot buy happiness the way it can buy food and shelter. However, money can cushion life's blows.
Fatimah Begum, UK

Money can't buy you happiness but it gets you a decent standard of misery
Brian, UK

I live about six months in the forest without any technology or even electricity and that is the happiest time in my life.

Ketan Patel, India
I am in India. I start my day with reading BBC news on the Internet when I am in the city or town otherwise I live about six month in the forest without any technology or even electricity and that is the happiest time in my life. There you cannot buy anything with your paper (money) everything you need to find or generate it. So I think money cannot buy everything.
Ketan Patel, India

Money cannot provide you a happy marriage, that's for sure, but being insufficient can certainly put at stake one's marriage, alas!
Albena, Bulgaria

If you took all the money you had, count it out into one big pile, then you would know that the amount of money needed to make you happy is more than you have in front of you. Its in our nature to want, so if suddenly we could pay off all our debts and afford that big house, we would still be thinking "oh if only I had just that bit more we could move into an even bigger one" Would 1 million make me happy? Yes, for about 2 minutes until I realise 2 million would have been better

You know true friendship when you've nothing but friendship yourself to offer.

Kenneth, Scotland
After my wife and I were badly let down by a business colleague a couple of years ago our financial situation is dire. However, I'm married to a stunningly beautiful wife, I have three great children, I have fantastic friends and I belong to a church, which practices the love that it preaches. I know many who are well off who do not have riches such as those and I know they are envious. You know true friendship when you've nothing but friendship yourself to offer.
Kenneth, Scotland

I think people look too deeply at happiness, there is a difference between happiness and contentment. My family and friends keep me contented and my wages keep me happy.
Lukr, UK

I don't believe money can buy happiness directly, but how you use it can bring happiness to yourself and to others. Money is a great responsibility because it enables us to do anything. Material possessions lose their gleam in the fullness of time, then beg to be replaced. By sharing the money, by helping others even perhaps saving lives, the joy that the money brings never fades.
aFj, UK

Obviously, having money relieves you of your financial worries. These may have previously been making you unhappy. In this sense, yes, the money has made you happy in the short term. After that, your longer term happiness rests with the kind of person you are, and depends on whether or not you are lucky enough to have the important things like GOOD friends, TRUE love, and health for yourself and all those you hold dear. Next to these things, which cannot be bought, all the money in the world pales into insignificance.
Tony Brooks, UK

As Woody Allen said, "Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons."
Ian Billing, Saudi Arabia

I have to disagree with all those who say money will not make us happy, because we have engineered it such that it will

Alan, USA
All of my worries and woes would be solved by having excess cash. Many people have suffered due to losses on the stock market in regards to even "safe" investments. Pensions are affected, savings have been demolished. My whole future seems to hinge on whether I will ultimately have enough money to pay off a huge mortgage and look after myself in old age. Society has gone this way of its own accord, where it is money that determines how well you can look after yourself in terms of health, education and day-to-day comforts. Thanks to some poor investments on my part, everything will now be more difficult. Everything we need to do has a cost, and everyone finds that they have to make do with second best or nothing because they don't have the extra cash. So I have to disagree with all those who say money will not make us happy, because we have engineered it such that it will.
Alan, USA

Money buys you freedom. It's what you decide to do with that most precious of commodities that will determine whether you will be happy or miserable.
Andrew Crane, USA - Atlanta

Even in my short life so far, I have noticed how money has become more and more important to people with each passing year. But I also see more and more miserable faces when I am London, as more people tie themselves down to narrow existences to pay for the things they are told will make them happy tomorrow, if only they could afford them. The "stress and spend" unhappiness that has utterly overtaken the South East makes it impossible to consider living there anymore - because if you do, you fall victim to the sickness as well. If you still live there - save yourself and get out.
Gabriel, Not in the South East UK

If you don't have enough money to buy the things that you desire you will be unhappy. Unless you can see through the continuous cycle of hardcore marketing you will never have enough money.
Adam, England

I currently have about two pounds in change and nothing in the bank after Christmas. I can't go to lunch with my work colleagues today but I don't feel at all poor or unhappy. Having no money and feeling poor is just a frame of mind. I have achieved things such as the country house and nice cars for myself and my wife on only an average salary, so much so that, from an outsiders point of view my lifestyle seems extremely dubious, however, hard work is the key to it all for wealth and prosperity and also a good state of mind.
Paul Roberts, England

Money does not buy or bring happiness, but if not squandered, it brings security and peace of mind. Then you will be happier, if only because you have no financial worries and you have the means to pursue what truly makes you happy.
S. Samii, New York, USA

Money buys you happiness? If so, people who have 10 millions are happier than those with just 9 millions. Money should be a tool to make one's life better and more practical, not an aim in itself. Once money moves from your "hand" to your "heart", it WILL not buy long-lasting happiness.

More money would certainly make one happy, but how much more depends on each persons need. Some one once said, the more you get the more you would want, and that's exactly how I feel about money. If I have enough to pay my mortgage, may be I would then start planning to buy a boat and so the list goes on and on. Happiness and money are inversely proportional to each other
Divya, Dallas, U.S.A

They say that money can't buy you happiness! I have never seen a sad millionaire! Money can buy you Power, Power buy's you freedom, freedom buy's you happiness, happiness means you can relax, travel the world, take advantage of new opportunities which create more money, which buys you more power, which gets you more freedom....
Andrew Sampson, England

In response to the message posted by Andrew Sampson, in which he claims to have "never seen a sad millionaire" - I have. Picture this, you are a millionaire and have been one for some years. Suddenly, your parents both die within 1 month. Would your money make a difference then? I think not. We need to put things in perspective and realise that money is not a "universal answer" to the unhappiness and depression in the world.
Will Faulkner, UK

Money can buy happiness. That is true, for a fact. But too much money can lead to misery, especially if you're not a wise spender. Too much money may lead to jealousy, rivalry, etc., and eventually to loads of trouble you wished you wouldn't have asked for. I totally agree with Malcom's comment: "Money may not buy you happiness but at least you can be miserable in comfort."
M.S., US

Money buys everything including health, good looks, love and happiness

Michelle, UK

Having won the lottery, I can honestly say I am far happier than I ever have been before in my life. I can afford to see family and friends whenever I like, go to foreign countries for months at a time and do lots of fun things like diving, sailing on my yacht and keeping fit in my own gym. I also enjoy giving gifts to friends like a fast car or new house occasionally. Money buys everything including health, good looks, love and happiness.
Michelle, UK

Money will buy you material wealth in the short term, but if you want happiness in the long term, you'll have to think bigger than anything money will buy you!
Leon, UK

We need a national lottery that pays out lots of smaller jackpots, say about 10K each. Windfalls of around this amount will make most people extremely happy, paying off bills, credit cards, going on holiday etc. Myself I'd be happy with 5k right now so I could whisk my girlfriend off to some far away exotic place and marry her, instead of having to put up with the constant arguing about the wedding and how much it is going to cost with her parents!
Mark R, UK

I'm sure money can't buy happiness, but I'm also certain it's easier to focus on your own happiness if you don't have that day-to-day worry about making ends meet. I've never expected any sudden windfalls and I don't believe in get-rich-quick schemes. But I do know that a big weight would be lifted off my mind if our mortgage and credit card balances suddenly vanished.
Christine, UK

Enough to be able to pay off my loans, put a deposit on a house, pay for my wedding and make my Mum financially secure after the death of my Dad. In other words about 50,000, not millions. That would make me ecstatically happy.
Jo, UK

If you don't have enough money to send your children to school, or can't provide for your elderly parents, or can't afford an expensive surgery that would alleviate the pain from an old injury, it is very hard to be happy. In that sense, money can buy happiness by eliminating people's worries. Beyond that, it depends on individual personalities and cannot be generalised. But who wouldn't like to be able to hop on a plane and go to Hawaii for a week when feeling a "little depressed"?
Helena, US

Surely all anyone needs is enough money to live healthily and comfortably

Wayne Daly, Ireland
Surely all anyone needs is enough money to live healthily and comfortably for their lives. The reasons for people to feel insecure when they feel they don't have enough money is surely down to the pressures placed on us by our consumer society. If people would just stop and ask themselves if they really need most of the rubbish that they throw their money away on, they'd probably be in much better shape, both financially and mentally.
Wayne Daly, Ireland

For the majority, money is a source of some worries, be it affording the mortgage, buying school uniforms or going on holiday. The amount we have restricts how we live and what we can do.

A windfall of any size enables more to be afforded. It therefore makes us happy by either reducing/removing worries (such as how to afford the new uniform) or enabling us to fulfil an ambition (go on a dream holiday).

Even with a 'set up for life' windfall, there are limits to the happiness it can enable. You might lose the worries, have the nice home and travel to exotic places, but humans are complex and social creatures, so true happiness and satisfaction require more than a lack of worry and plenty of treats.
Hannah, UK

Of course money can buy happiness. It's just that the happiness increase is relative to the amount of money, your current financial situation, and in some cases, your age (children would be a lot happier after being given 10 than an adult would be).

Most people would be a lot happier if given enough money to pay off their debts, and have some left (whether to invest or spend). As for a strong marriage and good health having a greater effect, that's got a lot to do with the fact that those provide long-term security, whereas smaller amounts of money are only there for the short term.
Anthony M, UK

I earn 100 per week doing charity work

Cammy Gallagher, England
I earn 100 per week doing charity work and live in a very low costing caravan. I'm as happy as Larry. I am an extremely satisfied individual and probably more so than your average business man earning 50,000 per year.
Cammy Gallagher, Southampton, England

As long as I have enough money to provide for my weekly alcohol consumption, my annual Bank Holiday ramblings in Scotland and the day-to-day essentials to enable myself and my pregnant wife to live a normal and healthy life, then I'm happy. I want nothing more than that.
Adrian Spicer, Essex, England

I am fortunate enough not to have to worry about money, and I would say that my family and I are happier because of our prosperity. Having more money than we already have would seem to be greedy, and wouldn't necessarily improve our quality of life. We don't have, or particularly want to have, an idyllic life however. There's plenty else to worry about, and I believe that you need to experience bad things from time to time in order to appreciate the good things in life!
John, UK

I'm not sure whether money can buy happiness directly, but the way the NHS seems to be going it can certainly buy health, and healthy people are usually happier.
Adam, UK

While 1m would certainly be a proper life-changer, anything that enables you to break from the routine imposed by financial restraint. My father has just given us 1,000 as an extremely generous Christmas present (he had a good year).

Thoughts of overdrafts and credit-card bills swam dutifully to mind, but, "squander it" he said, so we are going skiing, with our young children, for the first time ever and can't wait.

January is the pits and to get out of the country (albeit somewhere even colder) is irresistible. Suddenly there's something to look forward to, from the legal euphoria due to the thin air to the beautiful mountains, as well as the prospect of doing something different from the school run and going to work. Yippee.
Camilla, England

Money can make you feel happy but not forever

Gagan, UK
Money can make you feel happy but not forever. I think optimistic people are more happier that pessimistic ones even if they do not have money. So, stop cribbing and condemning! Most of the time our mind is occupied not with money but thinking about people that matter to us. Then how can an object like money bring happiness to us all the time? What makes a person happy is that his or her desires are met which can range from finding a good life partner, health, desired profession, sex, children, parents, recognition, and so on.
Gagan, UK

The worse thing you can do for a man who is bad with money is to give him some. There are definitely lots of factors contributing to happiness. I think people who are better with their money can ensure they make the most of whatever money they have. However, I imagine, having enough money to live comfortably is probably a requirement today anyway. As someone's wealth, and so responsibility increases, so does their potential to be happy or not.
Colin Bradshaw, UK

Apparently even the rich are worried about not having enough money! I read a survey where millionaires were asked what would be a comfortable sum, above which they would feel safe. The answer? 100m!
Edward, UK

Money may not buy you happiness but at least you can be miserable in comfort

Malcolm McMahon, York, UK
As my father used to say: Money may not buy you happiness but at least you can be miserable in comfort.
Malcolm McMahon, York, UK

For the majority happiness would come from enough to take them out of the daily struggle to get by. For the richest 10%, no amount of money will bring happiness. These people will always want more, even when they already have more than enough.
Charles Moore, Scotland

Should these researchers require a guinea pig, I would like to volunteer to see if a windfall of one or perhaps two million pounds would make me happy, very happy or even extremely happy. I would of course receive and spend this money solely in the interests of science.
Simon Mallett, UK

Money can buy you security, which will bring you peace of mind, which in turn will add to a sense of well-being. It might not be the definition of happiness, but it would go a long way. Me? All I'd need would be enough to cover my outstanding Council Tax debts (by no means enormous) and to pay off my post-Christmas credit card bill. I'd feel a lot less agitated then.
Kirsten, Scotland

Happiness is a state of mind and having money is a statement of wealth. Money can certainly make life easier without having to worry about paying bills or being able to buy luxury items, but it does not guarantee that someone with money will be happy.

As someone who earns 100K p.a. it is the small things that matter most when it comes to money. If the car needs repairing it's no problem, if the video or TV breaks I'll buy a new one. Of course none of these things really matters as I am happiest when I'm with my wife and daughter.
Mark, UK

I want a Ferrari but I have no money so I'm sad, my friend has lots of money therefore he has a Ferrari. He is happy, simple !
Lee, England

At this moment, I have no change for the coffee machine - 25p would make me happy.
Rodger Edwards, UK

Money doesn't buy you happiness - but it can get rid of things (like poverty and debt) that make you unhappy.
Pete, UK

See also:

09 Jan 02 | Health
Money 'can buy you happiness'
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Talking Point stories