- Personal Finance
Money can buy our needs, wants and happiness.
Money. What is it? Its our medium of exchange. Pounds, American dollars, Cedis, Japanese yen, Canadian dollars, Israeli shekel...whatever we choose to call it or describe it, its all money. We all need it, we all want it, even if we may not openly admit to this fact. It forms a major part of our lives and is a medium of exchange that we simply cannot do without. We live in a world where our existence revolves around making money and how to make more of it to survive. Some may disagree, but money dictates the pace of our lives. We exchange our services in return for money to fund our way of life. We use money to pay for other people's services to improve our lifestyles. Money buys our way of life, it can influence our social status in more ways than we may or not care to admit. I do not have any scientific theories to bring this truth that 'money can buy happiness' to the table, its just the reality of the world we live in today. That is just the bottom line, no matter how much we care to deny it, money talks.
The importance of money is evident at the very early stages of childhood. We learn about money at a very early age. We are taught about money in schools. We are educated to know the purchasing power of money and what we can do with it. We are educated to know that money can be used to acquire the things we need, want and crave for. Money is also introduced at a young age via educative board games such as "pop to the shops" and entertaining ones like " monopoly". These games highlight the power of money and what we can buy with any amount we have. I was chatting with my friend this morning about how dismayed I was when a drinks machine swallowed my change after I had purchased a can of diet coke. I wanted my change cause I knew I could buy something else with it, a bag of crisps perhaps? My friend laughed out loud (LOL) because she thought it was hilarious, but when we came down to the basics, it was the fact that money in your hands can bring you as much happiness as you shall desire and buy you whatever you want and can afford.
The truth is more money means less worry and less stress. Some may argue that having money just covers the basics of our human existence i.e food, clothing and shelter; throw in entertainment and travel as a bonus incentive, once these have been covered, there is nothing left to provide you with happiness which is derived apart from the acquisition of material satisfaction that money can bring. Think about it though, when you are not able to cover the basic essentials needed to survive because there is no money to purchase these products, where does that leave you? Certainly not grinning from ear to ear. It leaves you with a feeling of frustration and wondering how "tomorrow will take care of itself".
Growing up I was taught to believe that money should never be the focal point of a person's life because "money is the root of all evil". This saying which is originally derived from the bible verse from the book of Timothy was a saying I frequently heard whilst growing up in Ghana which is located on the West coast of Africa. Then there was the other saying which defied the alleged evil nature of money and instead stressed money as a means of survival. This saying translated literally says "money is blood".This proverb which compares money to blood basically means money is the life line of our existence, without which we are better off dead.
With all this drama surrounding the need for money, its instinctively rational to say that money does buy happiness. However does it buy long term happiness or shortlived satisfaction?
Most of us will not be strangers to the myth of King Midas, who asked for one wish, which was for everything he touched to turn into gold. Of course he was delighted initially when his wish came true and he realised that everything he touched turned to gold, till he realised that his beloved daughter turned into a golden statue at his touch. Even his basic need for survival was threatened because food and water he wanted to eat and drink turned to gold at the touch of his lips. What ensued was a King filled with misery because even though he had found wealth in abundance, he derived no joy from it. This story is exactly what it is - a myth, however the lessons we have been led to learn from it is the fact that money does not bring happiness.
In the world we live in today though money does buy long termhappiness. There's little or no fear of everything we touch turning into money, because we do want everything we touch to turn into money. We want money to survive and not have to scrape and scrounge. When I have had discussions about money issues with friends, family and colleagues, not once has anyone said they did not want money. If not wanted in excess, the common fact was always to have enough to live comfortably and not have to worry about running out. The truth is we could all do with a life that is free of money worries. That is why people play the lottery, work their socks off for a pay cheque, endeavour to save in a bank to get that almost non existent interest which I simply describe as a thank you from the bankers for giving them your money to play with.
Enough money lessens financial woes especially in the current economic climate where the cost of living is increasing everyday but not in line with the standard of living. Every hard earned currency is vital to keep the creditors away and lessen the bills that one has to pay. In our real world money does not only buy happiness, it buys less stress, less worry and defeats the meaning of the famous phrase which says " tomorrow will take care of itself". Note that I say 'enough' money not 'excessive amounts' (as that comes with its attendant problems) gives the individual peace of mind. When money is readily available, there isn't a conscious need to budget and account for every penny spent. Whilst acquiring the habit of budgeting is a good discipline just for the sake of it, having less or no money worries does not call for strict budgeting.
More money also frees up time for the individual to relax and pursue life's pleasures in order to really appreciate the essence of life and living. It means people can retire at the normal selected age, should they wish and allow life to pass them by without rushing to make ends meet. Money talks and creature comforts are dictated by the individual's purchasing power. Everywhere you turn, you need money to pay for one service or another because that is the way the economies have been designed. We need money to pay for food, clothing and shelter, buy our kids a good education, good healthcare services, transportation, and enable us save a pot for a rainy day (if we can). A life without enough money in this day and age can paint a pretty grim picture.
Money is also a key ingredient in the survival of any relationship. Where money is not a source of worry, relationships are less strained as the couple's energy can be channeled towards other meaningful ways of strengthening their bond and enjoying each other's company. I think its also safe to say the phrase as sang by Ralph Tresvant in his song "money can't buy you love, can't buy you happiness..." is a thing of the past. I was going to work via the train a few weeks ago, and picked up the Metro which is a free newspaper circulated on a daily basis. I happened to read about a lorry driver Matthew Breach who had won the lottery and was hoping to find love as a result. I thought to myself I bet you will find love alright. Money opens doors, makes dreams come true and gives people a sense of security and comfort.
Jesse J in her song price tag sings " its not about the money, money, money, we don't need your money, money, we just want to make the world right, forget about the price tag..." The truth is of course in the real world we do need the money and it definitely is about the price tag. When there isn't enough money, spending is restricted. We also don't have to look far to hear about the various appeals made on national TV, radios, billboards sites asking for money to aid one course or the other. We see the TV ads asking people to put a smile on childrens faces by making regular monthly contributions of varying monetary amounts towards clean water, education, improved housing and clothing. These are all basic necessities which essentially provide the individual with happiness which promotes well being and a sense of fulfillment that are acquired through the purchasing power of money. There are countless charities promoted on line and via the media seeking to raise money to improve someone's life and put back a smile on a sad face. These objectives when achieved create a sense of achievement and satisfaction, all through the purchasing of power of money which can buy you happiness.
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