14 Ways Money Can Actually Buy Happiness

From better vacations to less financial stress, here is how having money results in a happier life.

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Updated July 18, 2024
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It’s been said that money can’t buy happiness, but it turns out that’s probably a myth.

It’s true that you can’t marry your money or take it to the movies. However, there are many other ways you can use money to strengthen relationships and your personal well-being.

So, pay attention to any wealth secrets you hear: They might lead to a more fulfilling life. Here are 14 ways money can legitimately buy happiness.

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You can take exotic vacations

Song_about_summer/Adobe couple on the beach at sunset

As it turns out, true happiness often comes from rich experiences — or at least that’s what many studies say.

Doing enjoyable things improves our sense of well-being a lot more than accumulating stuff. No pair of sneakers will bring nearly as much happiness as a dream vacation. But alas, you need to build wealth so you have the money to enjoy many of those special experiences.

You can afford a bigger house

Gorodenkoff/Adobe big family and friends celebrating outside at home

Bigger isn’t always better, but many homeowners feel cramped and would like to upgrade to a little more space and happier living.

Watch any episode of HGTV’s “House Hunters,” and you will find people who have to compromise between extra living space and proximity to bike shops and breweries.

Spacious homes in walkable urban areas are spendy, but having enough money means you won’t have to compromise.

You can live in a nicer, safer neighborhood

Photographer Jon/Adobe pleasant village road

Money can’t solve all of life’s problems, but it can help with the big ones: food, shelter, and safety.

The less money you have, the more limited your options are when it comes to where you can live. You might be forced to buy a cheaper home in a high-crime area.

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You don't have to worry about debt and paying the monthly bills

saksit/Adobe asian girl working at a coffee shop

Life is much less stressful when you are not stuck in survival mode, worrying about how to pay rent and manage bills.

Financial worry has been strongly linked to diminished mental health and increased psychological distress, which has a clear negative impact on overall happiness.

When freed from financial strain, we have an increased capacity to savor more positive life experiences.

You can be generous with family and friends

Prins Productions/Adobe friends out for dinner paying with cellular device

Sometimes, it feels good to treat our friends “just because,” and money is the fuel for such largesse.

A 2008 study found that we are happier when we spend money on other people. Participants were given $5 or $20 to spend on themselves or on someone else. The experiment revealed that spending on someone else delivers greater happiness.

But before you go off doling out cash willy-nilly, hold up. A similar study found people feel happier spending money on someone else when they are connected to the recipient. Giving to friends and family brings greater happiness than giving to strangers.

You can give to worthy causes

zimmytws/Adobe charitable giving note on banknotes

While we can’t all give out money like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, most of us can give a little to charities and reap the positive mental health benefits.

Studies show that charitable giving is linked to higher levels of happiness across people of all ages and income levels.

However, having more money gives you the resources to be even happier playing philanthropist.

It makes sense that we are happier giving when we can see a major impact from our donation. Gifting a library renovation just “feels” better than paying for someone’s coffee.

You can hire others to do jobs you don't like

amyinlondon/Adobe male gardener standing in garden clearing out autumn leaves

With money, you can outsource the life chores you dislike: cleaning, lawn care, laundry, and more.

Time-saving services such as housekeeping and gardening mean you can devote energy to tasks you don’t resent — and being less resentful is generally a good ingredient for happiness.

You can invest the money to get richer

wutzkoh/Adobe business partnership coworkers discussing

It takes money to make money. Rich people use their money to make more of it through investing and earning compound interest.

Putting your money to work for you can buy happiness in the form of greater security. Having enough wealth means the ability to buy the material things you need and to participate in the experiences you most value.

You can afford expensive hobbies you love

Julie/Adobe women riding horses in woods

Many pastimes — from polo and golf to horseback riding and hiking Mount Everest — don’t come cheap.

But spending money on these experiences can pay off by putting you in a state of “flow,” where you lose track of time. It’s difficult to put a price on something that brings you such joy, but you often need money to get there.

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You can express your personality

belahoche/Adobe senior woman smiling while drawing

Sometimes, material goods can bring happiness. A 2016 study found that money can buy happiness if the spending fits your personality.

Introverts are happier if they can invest in solo activities such as reading books, crafting, or completing puzzles. A tech junkie may get genuine joy from acquiring the latest iPhone or Apple Vision Pro.

You are less likely to experience depression

okrasiuk/Adobe woman sitting on sofa

People living in poverty are more likely to suffer from mental health issues.

According to Gallup, poor people (31%) are around twice as likely as those not in poverty (15.8%) to be diagnosed with depression.

You might have all your teeth

olezzo/Adobe mature woman  makes selfie

A recent study in the U.K. found there’s an eight-tooth difference between the richest and poorest people in that nation by the time they reach age 70: Poor people have eight fewer teeth than their monied peers.

Plainly speaking, people are happier when they are not in physical pain — or perpetual embarrassment — because of dental issues.

You have access to better health care

rocketclips/Adobe doctor holding tablet checking young girl

Rich Americans receive more health care than their less-affluent peers.

A 2012 study from Harvard Medical School revealed this health care disparity, reporting that the wealthiest top one-fifth of Americans receive 43% more health care than the poorest one-fifth — and 23% more than those in the middle-income group.

You can retire earlier

Peera/Adobe traveler asian woman relax in hammock

Would you like to retire early? High-earning folks are able to quit working earlier than their peers, assuming they plan wisely, such as by contributing to their 401(k) plan.

Having enough money gives you the freedom to choose when you want to stop working. Additional money means more options for when and how you want retirement to play out.

Bottom line

Martin Villadsen/Adobe happy woman looks in camera

Money often lays the groundwork for happiness through its ability to fund meaningful experiences, reduce major stress, and improve living conditions.

Why not try making a few smart money moves and see if you can increase both your happiness and bank account balances?

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Author Details

Stacy Garrels

Stacy enjoys writing about fintech, consumer deals, the side hustle economy, and random tomfoolery. She's personally tried more than 100 different gigs, including being an Uber driver for one afternoon.