One of our members, Lori, wrote an article this week about money and happiness. It’s a topic I’ve given some thought to and the relationship between money and happiness is certainly something that’s been discussed and researched often in the media and academia. Penelope Trunk, one of our regular contributors, wrote a great blog post about this topic, in which she cited research that suggests that above $40,000 money doesn’t do much to increase one’s happiness significantly.
I feel that I can talk about the relationship between money and happiness because I’ve both been poor and made a lot of money. When we immigrated to the US my family lived on welfare for a year. We used food-stamps to buy food, I had 3 outfits to wear to school, and when we went on a trip to Canada my parents and I shared a single room at a Motel 6. Then my dad found a job and slowly things got better financially. Did this make a difference in our happiness level? Absolutely.
When I graduated from college, I moved to New York City and got a job with a fancy consulting firm - I made more money than most people at my age but I lived in a place where many people made crazy amounts of money. Over the next 10 years I changed several jobs, each time raising my income significantly. Before I quit my finance job, my husband and I had a high income and could live comfortably pretty much anywhere else but in New York City, where costs of living were out of control. Our income was 10x what it was when we graduated from college - were we happier? Absolutely not. Yes, it was nice to have some savings and to be able to go on vacation or to the theater once in a while (we still stood in line for 4 hour to get discounted tickets). But did having more money fundamentally affect our happiness level? No.
As I’ve written about here, a few months back I quit my job to launch and run Work It, Mom! full time. I was the main breadwinner, so our income took a significant hit - to make it work, we moved out of New York to a place with a lower cost of living. We are living on a lot less than we did a few months ago. Are we less happy? No. Yes, we stress about money and life would be easier if we could get someone to clean our house every week or get a second car. But would we be happier? I don’t think so.
I am sharing my thoughts on this topic because I hope that they will inspire you to share yours. I think it’s an important conversation to have and I hope we can have it here, at Work It, Mom! Many of us are in two-income families and we work because we have to contribute income to the family. Money certainly factors in our choices of careers and other life decisions. But I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on whether you think money can or has increased your happiness?
Please share your thoughts in the comments!