Three layers to how money buys happiness

A while ago, when I first planned this post, I’d made a few notes. They involved ideas on what I could write about, and suggested a bit of an exaggerated take on things. I’d be writing about how money can’t actually buy happiness, since to me, happiness usually comes from human experiences, but that it can buy security – a roof over your head, for instance. I’d be making jokes, being a bit silly, that kind of thing. It would have been that kind of a post.

Not this one. This is a different kind of a post.

If you’re not caught up on what’s been going on in the UK this week, the economy’s been shunted into a pretty dramatic downward spiral. You can read all about what that means, and what the banks have done to step in, here. I’m not particularly qualified to start offering advice and analyses of the state of the economy.

I can, however, give my thoughts on everything. Unfortunately, money has become a pretty central part of our society; it runs all of our lives in some way or another. This has really highlighted how money can still buy happiness. Here are the three central layers to what it can be used for (and therefore why something needs to be done to solve the situation in the UK – and quickly).

Spending

The top level of the money pyramid – probably the most superficial – is that it’s quite nice to have. It lets us spend, to have the latest piece of tech or clothing, maybe a new video game or book. Not everyone will like shopping, but I’m yet to meet someone who doesn’t like getting new things. Whenever I come downstairs to see an Amazon box in the porch, my heart skips a beat. It’s like Christmas. It’s just so exciting.

And, you know what? Good for you for spending your money on something that you want. I think that so much of our lives have been targeted towards either saving or never spending, that we’re sometimes a little remiss to treat ourselves. As I keep saying on this blog, we are so much more than our job – and we deserve to treat ourselves for all of the hours that we put into the office every week. It’s only fair that you should feel free to spend the money that you’ve earned on the products that you want, guilt-free.

Saving

Perhaps spending can get us short-term happiness. After buying something, you’ll probably suffer from lifestyle creep, where you readjust to the new thing and suddenly don’t find it quite as exciting to own. That’s only natural.

A longer-term happiness is the one that we get from saving. Saving up to finally put down a deposit on your dream home, or for a holiday, or to take someone you love on a fab day trip that costs a lot of money. Unfortunately, with the way that wages have stagnated, inflation has skyrocketed, and pay rises have all but vanished, the average British citizen has found it harder and harder to save for the future.

That is absolutely unacceptable. If somebody chooses not to save – fine; it’s their money. But if we’re in positions where we physically can’t save, and just focus on living week-by-week, or paycheck to paycheck, then clearly the system is broken. Nobody deserves that.

Surviving

For others – the most in-need – help is needed now more so than ever before. Money can bring happiness through buying and saving, but it also brings happiness from being able to eat and stay warm on the same evening. It brings happiness from the fact that you won’t be evicted from your home that afternoon, or have your items repossessed.

It would be disingenuous to suggest that money doesn’t play a huge role in society. I’d go so far as to say that it controls society. That’s not far from the truth when personal income has, in fact, been shown to affect our happiness – up to about $76,000 per year. Some people need urgent help now, and more will do in the winter.

Something needs to change. Sooner rather than later, something needs to be done.


If you need help right now, here’s what I’d recommend reading next:

Martin Lewis’ excellent guide to the costing of living crisis.

Kooth, for people aged 11-24 in need of mental health support.

MIND, a mental health charity for all ages.


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