The Happiest People And Their Money

I am close to finishing the manuscript of All The Money In The World: What The Happiest People Know About Getting And Spending. As regular blog readers know, this book did not have a title until about a month ago. Consequently, as I look over it, I think there’s a lot of good advice in there…. but I’d like to profile a few more happiest people. So I’m seeking leads. Do you know someone who has a great relationship with money? Who is really using money wisely to advance his/her happiness or the happiness of other people? That doesn’t mean having a lot of it, necessarily. I tend to think it means believing three things:

1. I have enough. Enough to meet my (and my family’s) basic needs, and, of course, more than about 5 billion-plus people on this planet, just by virtue of reading this on a computer. We are operating from a place of plenty. We often compare ourselves with people who have more, but it’s just as easy to compare with people who have less. Easier, probably, because there are a lot more of them.

2. If I want more for personal or family goals, I can get more. Being happy about money comes from a mindset of growth, too.

3. Every dollar is a choice — how I earn it and spend it. We are in control here, using money as a living values system.

What do you think?




7 thoughts on “The Happiest People And Their Money

  1. The idea of acting from a place of plenty without being frivolous is interesting. It also is about how you are raised and how you raise your own kids; similar to food issues which come from childhood. For example how do you teach and act on a belief of not being wasteful but also of feeling like you can do what you need to do to be happy without denying yourself. There is the practical money part of that as well as the psychological — for example to heat healthy you have to have healthy food but you also have to want and believe in doing it and get rid of the psychological baggage that keeps you from doing that, same thing with money… not that easy … Seems most Americans have too much debt in the wrong places right? Also it is harder psychologically to recognize plenty or those who have less even though they are more prevalent .. and I think there has been some research on happiness being directly related to a sense of fairness and also a sense of equality so poor people who live around poor people or in a developing world place where everyone has the same amount of nothing are actually happier than maybe the American “middle class” which represents such a wide range say of salary from $35,000 to $200,000 that we often feel unequal … can’t wait to read it!

  2. I think these are very middle/upper middle class, healthy, young adult viewpoints.

    On point 1, most people in the US have “enough” by a global definition.

    On point 2, the idea that if we want more money, we can get it is one I disagree with. Most people’s incomes have not kept up with inflation. For younger adults, the costs of childcare or children’s health issues limit employability. (Ever tried to get low cost childcare for an infant/toddler with asthma who needs to use a nebulizer?) For older adults, the natural challenges of age hit, at least at a population level. Some people are healthy enough to work until 70, but I suspect that fewer than 50% of couples will have both spouses able to work in their chosen fields till then. Dentists and tradespeople get bad backs; people of all sorts suffer from higher rates of cancer and autoimmune disease in their 50’s and 60’s. Manufacturing workers and nurses have bodies that can no longer handle the heavy lifting their jobs require. I find the idea of a long period of “moderate” health, from 60-90, very troubling from a macroeconomic viewpoint.

    3) Certainly some of our dollars are choices- brand name or generic, no car, small car or minivan. Many of our dollars are not discretionary. Both medical insurance costs and copays/deductibles are increasing, in large part due to subsidization. Utilities costs are increasing as developing countries consume more energy per person, raising costs for oil, natural gas and (subsequently) electricity. One can influence these costs by decisions about family size and house size. Unfortunately, the poor have fewer discretionary dollars both as a percentage of income and in an absolute sense. This point certainly doesn’t apply to many people.

    1. @Twin Mom- thanks for your comments– as the title suggests, I’m writing about what people who feel happy about their money tend to think. I would imagine that if you feel like you have zero control over your income and no choice about what you spend your money on, you wouldn’t be happy. But I think a reasonable percentage of the American population does have options. Why not write a book aimed at such people with thoughts on how to optimize the use of resources?

      1. “Happiest people” is a category way bigger than money. I think your category is better described as “financially successful” than “happy”. But OK.

        1. I agree with you on points 2 & 3 above, well-thought statements. I also agree with your assessment of ‘happiest people.”

  3. Laura, that is a great title. If I was offering $200,000 for an accounting job versus $70,000 for the marketing job, I would take the lower salary job. You can’t buy happiness…

    1. @Dan- Well, you can buy some parts of happiness. But we spend enough time at work that it would take so much more money to buy happiness when you’re miserable at a job that it’s probably not going to happen…

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