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Money on my Mind?

Always has been, always will be... ?

Let's start with the facts:

  • 45% of Brits felt poorer than they did a year ago.

  • 44% of consumers feel they don't have a lot of money left after they have taken care of the basics.

  • Consumers are reporting the 'gloomiest sentiment' relating to financial wellbeing in over a decade.

The ongoing debate:

Feeling poor. This is definably different to actually being poor. Despite the fact that these participants may have been both, it caught my attention and got me thinking...

Although we are all - very - aware of the current economic crisis and the impact this is having on people's finances and spending, the different mindset of each individual regarding money and their personal experience reflects the ongoing debate; can money buy happiness?

Yes, we have all heard it before and had that slightly too long argument with someone who disagrees with what we think, but after some research, I came to an understanding that money and happiness should not be looked at through the same lens.

Money, Money, Money!

Surely this debate has been ongoing since the dawn of time, well, since the dawn of trade at least.

The feelings towards money are not even about money, but the value that we hold in it's abundance, or lack thereof. Whether we can swap the metal and plastic for the things we want, or if we can watch the number on our phone go down each time we tap it against a machine, the principle is the same; we don't care about money, we care about what it can do for us. And it rules our lives.

Eating, education, work, business, charity, entertainment, leisure, travel, day-to-day living, all are rooted in money and spending, how does one escape that? Has anyone found the cure to not thinking about it? You might be saying, 'it doesn't rule my life', but didn't you have to actively make that choice to disregard it? It could be said that 'money is everything' is just the default belief for many, even without being explicitly told so, and we have to work against that if we want to change it.

Even as a child without a penny to my own name and no clue of how much my parents earned, why was I still somewhat concerned how rich I will be in the future. As a teen with a part-time job, why was I caused more stress when I saw the paycheck come in than I was when I was actually working? Even now, with endless sharing online of each other's lives and unavoidable comparison, I cannot seem to prevent my mind from thinking 'If I had more money, I could do that too... I could wear those clothes if I had more money... If I had more money I would live that way'. Sometimes, its subconscious and you have to catch yourself in these damaging mindsets that let you believe that money would solve all of your problems, and that money would make you happy like the person you are seeing on the internet. Admittedly, I worry more when I 'feel poorer', despite having more money than ever in my past, and this is because we always want more.

A different outlook:

It is human nature to want more. We are greedy beings and have evolved from 'greed in order to survive', into, 'greed in order to make us feel better'. Basing my thought process on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, how are we able to reach 'self- actualisation' if our wants and needs are constantly changing? How can we ever be truly happy with what we are, if we believe that we could become better,if we had the money to do so? If we think that money can buy happiness, where do we draw the line of greed vs happiness?

In a 2010 study undertaken by a psychologist and an economist to test if money can truly buy happiness, it was found that, yes, more money correlated to higher levels of happiness, but only up to a certain amount of money, specifically around $75,000. After that, the same correlations were not seen. What strikes me however, is that this study has since been contradicted, using the same method in principal, over a decade later in 2021. This time, it was shown that there was not a limit to an amount of money that would increase levels of happiness. Have people's values changed over time, or do more people truly feel happier with the more they can buy?

That said, it is always crucial to be aware of the other factors playing a role in this measure of happiness. How will we know if having more money is the real reason that the participants reported higher happiness, or if it was simply that they were having a good day? Maybe they felt they had reached self-actualisation, but really they were just able to own material things that made them believe this is what made them their true, happiest self...

"To call people 'poor', is to demean them and ourselves, because what's poor is their circumstances, not them. Its inappropriate to call them poor... and we make the same mistake when we label people 'rich'" - Lynn Twist.

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