side note before I get started – I think my title may give a hint as to why English may be so confusing for people trying to learn it. I used the word “read” twice, but hopefully, most of you you pronounced it two different ways each time. How would somebody not familiar with English know that? I was tempted to write “Did I Just Reed What I Think I Red?”, but that would probably be worse.
Two Saturdays ago, I featured Dan Ariely’s column from the Wall Street Journal. So some of you may know what that means. It’s time for another Dan Ariely post.
Today, Dan received the following email:
My partner and I are students, and we have very different approaches to dealing with money. My policy is to spend less than I earn and invest my savings for the long term. But my partner feels that since we will both be earning more money after we graduate, we should spend freely now and enjoy the moment. Is there any way to avoid fighting about this issue? —Mathieu
Dan gave some good advice:
Try setting up a joint bank account in which you can both deposit your paychecks. Use that account to pay shared expenses such as rent and utilities. In addition, you should each have individual accounts for discretionary spending, into which you can transfer a fixed amount from your joint account every month. That money can be used for spending or saving as you see fit.
But it was the next part of his answer that shocked me:
You may still disagree, but this way you’ll only be arguing about the smaller amounts in your individual accounts, which limits the size of the problem. And remember, the goal of money is to buy happiness. If you keep fighting about it, what’s the point?
Did Dan, a behavioral scientist, really say that the goal of money is to buy happiness?
Where did that come from?
I didn’t think money could buy happiness?
Here’s a quote from one of Dan’s earlier WSJ column:
“…these studies show that we need far less money than we think to maximize our emotional well-being and minimize stress. This means that accumulating wealth isn’t about the pursuit of happiness—it’s about the pursuit of what we think (wrongly) will make us happy.”
And the title of one of his previous blogs was, “Money doesn’t always buy happiness.”
And here’s a video of Dan, with the headline, “Why Doesn’t Money Buy Happiness? Dan Ariely Explains“.
I could go on and on, given that Google returned 220,000 results from my search:
“dan ariely” money happiness
The purpose of this post is to not get into the whole issue if money and happiness; I’ve written about it before, and so have many others, including Dan.
I just wanted to see if anyone felt the same way as Dan states in today’s column – is the goal of money to buy happiness?
I certainly don’t think so. I think the goal of money is to enable an individual to take care of his or her basic needs, which if you go by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, is certainly a necessity if you want to move on to those higher levels, which I think is where happiness resides. But it’s not money that will get you to those higher levels, it’s more intrinsic things like love and esteem that lead to self-actualization, which could be roughly equated to happiness.
So I’m just baffled; why would Dan – someone much more well-read on the topics of money and happiness than I am – make such a comment?
*image from The Pursuit of Happiness