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The Good, The Bad, and The Expensive

Exploring the relationship between money and happiness


Money can’t buy happiness, or so we’re told. With such economic uncertainty in the UK right now, prices for essentials, luxuries, and pretty much everything in between have skyrocketed, with little to no sign of return. Now I don’t know about you, but I would certainly feel a little more content with a few extra pounds in my bank account right now. So, does this mean money can buy happiness? Well, not exactly. To explore the relationship between money and happiness we must understand what each word means. Money, well that’s easy. Money is money. Simple. It’s always been there, and it’s always been needed. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to have a roof over our heads, put food on the table, or even have the table to put food on. However, happiness, that’s a little more complicated. 8 billion people on the planet, means 8 billion different definitions of happiness… not so simple.


Saving


Saving money has always been important. It can help provide a safety net that leads to greater financial independence and security in the future, which can have a positive impact on your life and future career. Cutting back on unnecessary expenses such as impulse purchases or eating out. Choosing to use public transportation rather than driving and reducing energy costs at home are all tips I would recommend to help start saving.


However, past a certain extent, it can have negative effects, particularly on mental health and well-being. Research shows that too much focus on saving money can trigger short-term stress and anxiety problems in people, which can lead to more serious mental health complications further down the road. Speaking from personal experience here, as a student, I have found saving money to be a double-edged sword. I have missed out on multiple fun experiences with friends due to my fears about money. I was fine with it all at first, but after a bit of time, I found myself really struggling to cope. But at the end of that day, it was my decision. I chose to miss out so that I would be happier in the future so how could I complain? This poses the question, is your future happiness worth more than our happiness and enjoyment in life now? And for me, the answer is no.


Cost of living crisis


To give a little context we must explore some of the current social issues regarding money, and how they could affect happiness. The most glaring being the current cost of living crisis in the UK. Put simply, the cost-of-living crisis has occurred because inflation growth levels are outpacing wage levels. This means that the average cost of products and services is more expensive, and the average wage cannot keep up. Therefore, the majority of people in the UK have less disposable income and are having to be increasingly wary of how they spend their money.


It's a worrying time for everyone, particularly those not currently earning a steady or consistent form of income. For me, trying to manage studies, social life, and more, whilst worrying about whether or not the heating has been on for too long, or if I left my bedroom light on after I went out has been difficult to navigate at times. However, has helped me realise that while money and happiness are connected, they are not dependent on each other.


Can money buy happiness?


Money can buy happiness to a certain extent. Having enough money to meet your basic needs and provide for your family can bring a sense of security and peace of mind, which can increase overall happiness. Additionally, having enough money to do the things you enjoy, such as travelling or pursuing hobbies, can bring joy and fulfillment. However, beyond a certain point, more money doesn’t necessarily lead to more happiness. Research has shown that there is a correlation between income and happiness up to a certain threshold, after which additional income has little to no impact on overall life satisfaction.


It's crucial to remember that happiness derives from a variety of sources other than money. Relationships, friends, personal development, and a sense of purpose are all factors that contribute to happiness. Yes, money can provide comfort and security, but it’s not the only important factor in determining happiness. So treat yourself once in a while, go out with friends, and find what makes yu happy.


Instead of always putting the focus on saving money, or wondering what you could buy if you had more, I urge you to remember to think about all the things you can do without it, the things money can’t buy. Putting too much stress on money can spiral into a never-ending pit of unhappiness, so just remember, to do what you enjoy, and happiness will always follow.

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