how to invest


career, food, travel


saving, credit, debt


insurance, security


401K, IRA, FI, Retire

Home » Lifestyle Finance

Money Can’t Buy Happiness – But it Can Buy 10 Things that Help you Realize it

Last updated by on January 18, 2015

Maybe money can’t buy happiness directly. Or maybe I should say – money alone does not guarantee happiness.

If you use it right, however, it can sure buy you a lot of things that can contribute mightily to the ease of which you can realize happiness.

Placing a value on things that you can buy with the money you earn is a practice that we should all do now and then to help us focus and figure out how we should piece together our budget.

I put together a personal top 10 list of things that money can buy – in ascending order.

I’d strongly encourage you to do the same. It was eye opening for me and it might be to you too.

Here’s my list….

money cant buy happiness

10. Entertainment

As Americans, I think we place a little too much value on being entertained. And I think there’s something negative to be said for our constant feeling like we can’t just relax and be comfortable in a low stimulation state.

That being said, without books, movies, music, and other arts, life just wouldn’t be the same. Does entertainment alone make one happy? Probably not. But it can sure add some zest to life and give us something to look forward to.

9. Travel

Traveling can be a great way to unwind, de-stress, and re-focus. It can allow us to connect to nature and to connect to other cultures, broadening our worldviews. The key with travel is making sure you stop and really take in the experience. Running from one destination to the next to check things off a list can only leave you feeling empty.

8. Education

Surprised education isn’t a little higher on the list? When you take away the earning impact of an education and let it stand on its own merits, it loses a little value. Sure, it could lead you to a more interesting career, but the grass is always greener on the other side. And I can’t recall much happiness or enjoyment that came from cramming for an exam. But without some sort of passion for learning – self taught, on-the-job, or traditional, it’s hard to imagine a rewarding life.

7. A Roof Over your Head

Someone I knew once referred to a house as “four walls”. That stuck with me. I’ve seen people in beautiful homes be absolutely miserable and people in run-down 1 bedroom apartments be wonderfully happy. It’s hard to imagine a happy life, however, if you don’t have a roof over your head that you can call home.

6. Insurance

Insurance is much more than a piece of paper. It can buy you freedom from worry and stress that you suddenly might lose everything you have worked so hard for due to random chance or bad luck. And to me, that’s worth a lot.

5. Pets:

Some of you may deem this one as over-rated. To those people I’d ask you this: “how many people in your life have loved you unconditionally and absolutely cannot stand to have you be away from them?”. Pets come with a price tag. Sometimes a big one.

4. Food/Drink:

Anyone alive today has been able to get by on enough food to survive. But food can be so much more than survival. I’ve written in the past that there are a lot of things that I can sacrifice and do without. Tasty/healthy food & drink is not one of them. I’m not willing to sacrifice quality to save a few bucks. Great food and spirits and the experience that comes with sharing with others can definitely enrich your life and contribute to your happiness.

3. Health:

You need money to eat healthy, afford exercise equipment, gym memberships, health insurance, and proper medication. Your health is definitely one of those things that won’t lead to happiness on its own, but in its absence, life can be absolutely miserable. Money can help prevent that, or at least prolong it.

2. Time:

This one comes with a big caveat. Time is all about what you do with it. There are extremely wealthy people who have been able to afford to dedicate their entire lives to their own self pursuits who are miserable. For those who use it wisely, there can be no other thing that could contribute more to your happiness. Without time, many of the other things on this list would not be possible.

1. Freedom:

This is #1 for me. Without freedom, you have nothing. If you have to give up all of your time, health, relationships, healthy food, travel, experiences and everything else because you don’t have a little bit of freedom from the need to earn money to afford those things, then what do you really have in life?


  • What would you add or drop from this list and why?
  • What would your top 10 list of things money can buy look like?

Related Posts:

About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Justin @ MoneyIsTheRoot says:

    As my blog states, “money is the root of all good”. Im tired of the old adage, “money is the root of all evil”. Money is used to finance charities, purchase things we need, and everything else that you mentioned…vacation, entertainment etc. Last but not least, financial freedom, which I know is a goal of yours…and is a goal of mine as well. Id like to continue working until the typical retirement age, but only to move up within my career, as opposed to needing the money.

    • d.f. says:

      I agree with you, however it should be noted that old adage is often misquoted. It comes from the new testament of the Bible and states “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” Which I think greatly changes the meaning from money=evil to ‘greed can lead to some deleterious/unintended consequences’.

  • 20 and Engaged says:

    Very true! The only happiness money didn’t buy for me was my family & friends.

  • Francis says:

    Actually I learnt in Marketing that it has been proven that money and buying possessions does actually make you happier.

    That is one reason that lower class in society has high levels of dept. The problem is that this happiness runs out quickly.

  • Ben says:

    Money can buy happiness, but as you said “if you use it right”.

    People are horrible at maximizing their money and happiness.

    If time brings you the most happiness, logic would say you wouldn’t waste money in other areas that cause you to work longer in life.

    * For example, you would not pay ATM fees, you would be relentless in negotiating your rent and phone/cable bills, or live in a smaller house than most.

    The problem is, many people just go along doing what is normal without realizing alternative options.

    Instead, if people focused on their most important goal, their spending habits would come into alignment. Their level of happiness would follow.

  • Andrew says:

    Ha, Ha, Francis! I heard in my class on how to sell ices cubes to Eskimos that it has been proven that Eskimos really like ice cubes and that convincing them to buy ice cubes is a social good!


Enter your:

Home | Sitemap | Terms | ©