Can money buy happiness?

This question was posed to me about three months ago, and I battled how to answer it. My first conditioned response was no, of course not, but when I pondered further and deepened my thinking, it challenged me.  

I now believe money can buy happiness, but it depends on how you spend money and what you do with it. Often, money is used to buy possessions, thinking this will make us feel better. But that is a temporary feeling and can leave us feeling empty or on a mission to go buy another possession (I think they call this retail therapy).

Money can buy back your time. As a business owner, wife, mom to three active kids, a volunteer in my community, not to mention a desire for self-care, there is never enough time in my day. I prioritize what I do versus what I can delegate and pay someone else to do. Using money to buy back time increases free time, which may create happiness.  

It’s different for each of us, but I guarantee all of us would enjoy having enough money to pay someone else to do what we don’t like or have time to do. Things such as hiring a house cleaner, having someone do landscaping and home maintenance, maybe daily chores, errands, grocery shopping or meal prep (thank you Blue Apron). We have shifted to the experience economy where money buys convenience, which equals happiness.

Money can buy experiences, a family gathering, a vacation or a mission trip to serve people in need.  Creating memories with your loved ones or giving back is one of the best investments money can buy. It creates not only joy and happiness in the moment, but for years to come. Money can buy options when it comes to your health. Money is a tool and should not be given power. However, it is certainly useful in helping us live a purposeful and fulfilling life. So yes, money can buy happiness.

I welcome your feedback. Please email me at [email protected].

Julia Carlson is a registered principal with, and securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, member FINRA/SIPC.

Information in this column is for general information only and not intended as investment, tax or legal advice. Please consult the appropriate professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation prior to making any financial decision.

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