15 November 2018Last updated

Hot debate

Can money buy happiness?

Bags of cash will get you lots of nice shoes, but can they buy more than just material wealth? We ask two readers what they think

15 May 2015 | 12:00 am


Natalie De Haan, 38, from the UK, is a freelance marketing manager

It’s an age-old quetsion and, at face value, the answer has to be am unequivocal ‘no’ (and that’s not just because I know I will never be super-wealthy and am looking to find some hope for my current situation!). While having lots of money can buy you the freedom to travel first class to exotic destinations and afford you the latest in fancy cars, gadgets and a whole new designer wardrobe, it would be narrow-minded to think that wealth alone can provide the guarantee of a happy life.

Splashing the cash on a lavishly over-priced pair of heels can bring you a fleeting thrill (often mistaken for happiness), but these quick fixes are vacuous and can soon spiral into a pattern wherein the more possessions we accumulate, the more we desire to self-gratify, without addressing our real needs (the pursuit of lasting happiness being one of them!).

Of course, there’s no question that money can help to alleviate some of the financial stresses in life, such as credit card bills, mortgages and other debts, and setting aside some savings will certainly help you relax a little.

The bottom line is that no amount of money in the world can bring you happiness when you consider that there are other components in the construct of happiness, which money simply can’t buy. Having a loving partner by your side, a supportive friend, a fulfilling career and a good state of health are all examples of the other key ingredients of what makes us happy. These other factors somehow hold a lot more substance than the value of my bank balance and, moreover, what is money when you don’t have these other fundamentals in place? I have only to think of the beautiful, iconic Marilyn Monroe; all the money 
in the world, yet it made her far from happy...

Material wealth, ultimately, reduces your ability to savour the simple joys and experiences of life. It’s all very well having a big sprawling house and a line of luxury cars, but do people in this situation really take the time to smell the roses? I believe that an abundance of money only serves to keep us from the happy moments of everyday life experiences, as we are too focused on our next big purchase and on keeping up with the Joneses. I might not have the financial means to travel the world, but I don’t have to go far to feel the sand between my toes, the warmth of the sun on my face or to sit on a blanket, watching the huge orange sun set across the desert. The best things in life are free.


Helen Ingram, 48, from the UK, is an image consultant

Can money buy you happiness? I guess it depends on what makes you happy. BUT, in my experience, the answer is yes! Here’s why: When you have financial stability and comfort, you have more freedom of choice. And that is a crucial stepping stone on the way to happiness. My husband and I came to the Middle East shortly after getting married in 1998, and up until 2010 I worked full-time in a variety of roles in PR and marketing across Dubai and Oman.

But by 2010, I was feeling frustrated and bored with my job, and I really wanted to ‘do my own thing’. After some useful (not inexpensive) sessions with a career coach and some long discussions with my husband, I decided to give up full-time work and pursue a new career. I could only do this because we were in a financial position to do so.

I re-trained as an image consultant, heading to London for a two-week training course. I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions of my life! The course was inspiring, intense and made me realise I had found what I was looking for. It allowed me to take my love of style, fashion, colour and cosmetics and channel it into a ‘career in a suitcase’, which I can now take anywhere in the world. This would not have been possible if I didn’t have financial security to support me, as well as the obvious emotional support from family. I feel I have escaped the rat race and am much happier doing something I truly love and believe in. It might be luck, but it’s also the result of hard work – and, of course, having the funds to afford it.

So, money can buy you happiness if you have a specific goal or dream to aim for – whether it’s a new career direction, a bucket-list vacation or simply an amazing pair of shoes! You just need to work out what will make you happy. I did, and I needed money to get there. Oh, and did I mention? As I write this I am on holiday on the stunning island of Mauritius – a beautiful bucket-list vacation ticked off the list!