It’s time we settle this age-old question, once and for all. In today’s blog, we answer the question “can money buy happiness?” by discussing two things: 1) what makes us happy?, and 2) is that for sale?

Keep reading because the answer might surprise you!

Temporary Happiness

In order to answer question number one, we need to distinguish between “temporary happiness” and “lasting happiness.”

I’m sure we have a good idea of the things that bring us temporary happiness. Think about the last time you got a brand new gadget. Maybe it was a new car, a new outfit, or a new purse. How long did that thing make you happy?

What I have found is that material possessions make us happy for a limited amount of time.

We enjoy them, we get super excited to have them, and then after a while, we get used to them. The novelty wears off and we need to buy something else to bring that feeling of happiness back. So material possessions give us a temporary version of happiness. There’s nothing wrong with that, and yes you can use your money to buy material possessions.

But, I want to ask a deeper question. Can money buy lasting happiness?

How do we define lasting happiness? Have you heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs usually shows up as a pyramid:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

As each pyramid level is met, we’re able to advance up the pyramid. At the base of the pyramid are our basic needs–having a place to live, having food, things like that.

Lasting Happiness

At the top of the pyramid is self-actualization. I would argue that the top of the pyramid is true and lasting happiness. This includes things like meaning, connection, and creativity.

Are those the kind of things we can buy with money? Your first answer might be “no”–but I want us to think about this a little bit more deeply.

We know the things at the bottom of the pyramid usually cost money. Particularly when you live in a capitalist society like we do, things like shelter and food cost money. So yeah, we know you need money to buy the basics.

But as you move up the pyramid, what do you need more of in order to experience those things?

Think about this for yourself. What’s currently blocking you from being able to fully express your creativity? What’s stopping you from feeling fully self-actualized–particularly if all of your basic needs are met?

For many of us, the answer is “time.”

We get really busy with the daily requirements of life and we rarely have time to really step in our creativity, to contribute to the world at the level that we want to, to fully experience our own self-actualization. It requires time and it requires freedom of mental space, right?

So the question really is how could we free up more of our time? I teach that financial freedom is about buying back your time. No longer being required to work means that you own your time.

There are a couple of ways to start walking toward that destination today. One is to charge more money for your time. Your time is your most valuable asset. You cannot get it back. How much are you charging for an hour of your time today? Are you charging enough?

When you start making more money for your time, two things happen. One, you can work fewer hours to make the same amount of money. If you were thinking you need two or three jobs to make more money, imagine making all of that money from a single job! Imagine having your evenings and weekends free for creative endeavors.

Buying More Time

Okay, so now we’ve got you making more money. What can you do with that money to buy even more time?

There are two things I recommend. One is an investment in buying back your time for the long-term. Did you know that every dollar you invest today is an hour you don’t have to work in the future? So yes, one thing you should be doing with your money today is investing it.

The other thing I recommend is buying back your time in the present.

What are some things that you spend time doing that honestly if you didn’t have to you would not? For me, it’s things like cooking, doing laundry, cleaning the house, gardening…

How about using some of that money to outsource your least favorite tasks. This is important. We usually think you have to be rich in order to afford help. I would challenge you to think of one thing this week that you can outsource.

Go on an app like Thumbtack and just price out how much it would cost to hire a house cleaner for an hour or a day.

Do you spend a lot of time shopping for groceries or preparing meals? Do a google search and see how much it would cost to pay someone else to do your shopping (hello Instacart!), to pay someone else to plan your meals (HelloFresh?!) or to pay someone else to cook all your meals for you. That might be Uber Eats or it might be one of these new companies that deliver freshly prepared meals.

What’s your thing going to be? What are you going to research outsourcing? Give it a try this week and see how it makes you feel to buy back your time on that thing.

Let’s summarize. Can money buy happiness? Yes, money can buy temporary happiness in the form of things and money can buy lasting happiness in the form of buying back your time.

What do you think? Are you going to try any of these strategies this week? If you do let me know how it goes!