Money Isn’t Everything: Here are Studies to Prove this Phrase

By harishsystango
December 9, 2020

The relative comfort of financial stability is something that everyone strives for. Not having enough money to fulfil your basic needs of food, clothing and shelter can definitely cause mental stress and bring about difficulties in relationships. But, is money everything?

Okay, let’s start with the simpler one – Why do you chase money? To get the needed food, clothing and shelter for yourselves and your family and enjoy your life to the fullest, right? Now the question is – can you enjoy your life to the fullest with the hefty bank balance but not a single good friend to turn to or nobody to come home to? Or else can you be happy when there is no one to join you on a Saturday night booze party? No, right? Still not convinced that money is not everything and money is not the only wealth that brings happiness? Let’s see what studies say.

Americans Say Money Can’t Buy Happiness, Nor it is the Crucial Factor for Success

In a survey conducted on more than 2000 Americans commissioned by American Express, which was called “Life Twist Study” researchers discovered that money is not the only factor when it comes to fulfilment. According to the study, Americans define success and happiness in a way that doesn’t include money, they believe money can’t buy happiness. Here are some of the findings of the study:

  1. 85% of Americans believe good health is essential and is amongst the top five contributing factors to success. Other factors include having a good marriage or relationship, finding time for important things in life, good management of personal finances, having a job or career that you love or having a good work-life balance. 
  2. 43% of Americans say that they’ve experienced a financial setback and such experiences helped them determine what’s crucial in life.
  3. Another 72% said that they would use the money to experience different things in life rather than purchasing a luxury home or an expensive car.
  4. Only one in four Americans i.e. 27% believes that money determines success.

The report also took into account what people have on their bucket lists. It was found that Money is at 8th number on the list after things like having kids, volunteering, becoming a better cook, and travelling. 

Josh Silverman, president of the consumer services at American Express,“Today, Americans say that feeling successful is driven less by the amount of money they earn, and more by having a job they love, rewarding relationships and contributing to their communities.” 

The truth is we are multi-dimensional beings and wealth is also a multi-dimensional concept. Money is not everything – it is not the only wealth that gives us happiness and brings us success. There are different types of wealth which includes a healthy body, sound mind, meaningful relationships, along with our income.

Income is known to be associated with happiness, but there has also been a debate about the exact nature of this relationship. Does happiness rise indefinitely with income or is there a threshold to this and after a certain amount income no longer leads to greater happiness? 

Also, There is a Threshold to how much Money is Enough for Happiness

Money is not everything by the truly wealthy

“Money is only a part of what really makes us happy, and we’re learning more about the limits of money,” said lead author Andrew T. Jebb. Many experiences of life tell us the deleterious effects of money on happiness, however, there that’s not always the case. The study published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour found that there is a threshold to how much money is needed for catering to the needs and gaining the desired happiness. The study also states that earning more than that the threshold is actually associated with reduced happiness. 

In the study, psychologists from the University of Virginia and Purdue University analyzed World Gallup Poll Data from 1.7 million people in 164 countries. The researches cross-referenced the earnings and life satisfaction of the people and came up to the conclusion that the ideal income for individuals is $95,000 a year for attaining the needed satisfaction in life and the ideal income for emotional well-being is $60,000 to $75,000. Families with children will surely need more.

So there is no need to envy Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg for their wealth, they may not be as happy as the manager of your nearest Mcdonald’s outlet. According to Andrew T. Jebb, “there’s a certain point where money seems to bring no more benefits to well-being in terms of both feelings and your evaluation.” Once there is enough money to cover the basic needs, everyday purchases and pay the loan instalments, people may over-work to increase their earnings to gain desired material gains or to earn more than their friend/competitor. And that, according to Jebb, is a tipping point, where more results in lower well-being. This study again concluded that money can’t buy happiness always.

More Money Only Brings Temporary Satisfaction and Happiness

Human beings are adept at becoming rapidly accustomed to sensory or physiological changes. When you walk out in the bitter cold, for some time you will be shivering and feeling like running back to the home, but as you continue walking, you will get used to it. Similarly, when a conspicuous mild odour dwells in your room, you might notice it until you leave the room for a while and return.

Money can't buy happiness by the truly wealthy

The same phenomenon occurs with hedonic shifts – relocations, hike in salary, the job in a dream company, marriage – these things make you happier for a time, but that time will last in a few days. Human beings adapt to favourable changes in their wealth and possessions, however soon, this temporary happiness-boost disappears. 

Nearly everyone has stories like this – about marrying our childhood love, healing from illness, landing a dream job, which led to temporary happiness. Even people who win the lottery experience happiness for just a short period of time. 

Why does hedonic adaptation (a tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable state of happiness) occur in the context of financial wealth? While people briefly become satisfied with the fancier car or bigger house, eventually they start to experience “creeping normalcy” and begin to chase the bigger one. As a result, even as people amass more of what they need with time, the overall happiness tends to stay the same. As the Red Queen paraphrased in Through the Looking Glass, “We’re running faster and faster, but we seem to end up in exactly the same place”.


All in all, various studies and theories suggest the same thing – money is not everything and money is not the only wealth that humans should pursue happiness and satisfaction in life. No doubt, money helps you cater to your basic needs, and aids in enjoying your life the fullest, but money is not the only thing needed to gain the various experiences in life.  There is a threshold to how much money is needed for a happy and contented life, beyond that money doesn’t necessarily increase your happiness and brings you pleasure. Rather, chasing more money can sometimes be the cause of stress, poor relationships and health issues.

We, at Truly Wealth, believe that wealth is a four-dimensional concept, which is defined by your health, relationships, impact and money. Money is one of the dimensions of your wealth, but not the only dimensions. We are working to help you understand the various types of wealth and help you cultivate every dimension of wealth that makes your life more meaningful. Are you ready to begin the journey of being truly wealthy? Drop your views.

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