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Money Does NOT Buy Happiness


 

"If you want to feel rich, just stop and count the things you have that money can't buy."


-Unknown

 

I'm eating alligator while watching a group of musicians play street jazz in New Orleans. I've never been to the Big Easy before. It's really fun; it was kind of like the jazz version of Austin or Nashville - music everywhere. I'm in town for a wealth management conference. 


I've done a lot of studying in the world of economics and investments and it kind of feels like everyone should make rational decisions; after all, that's what we assume in economics. At a session on behavioral finance, the speaker tells us that most humans compare themselves to one another, whether they know it or not. What he said next stuck with me. He said that most people don't care if they make more than person A; they only care that they don't make as much as person B. 


It made so much sense but I've never heard it articulated before. It's difficult for us to be happy with what we have. Instead, we spend our time and energy chasing more and more in the hopes of finally being happy.


money does not buy happiness

What Money Is


Money is simply a tool that we use. The collection of money is not the goal. Money comes to us via income, which is kind of like turning on a water faucet. It's a flow, or a stream. It's important to understand that income is not the same as wealth. 


Maybe you've heard of people who make it their quest to earn more and more income because they think that will give them happiness or make them wealthy. But income alone does not give you happiness, nor wealth.


income is not wealth

What You Can Do With Income


Income is a flow, or a stream, of money, and we get to choose what we do with it. At the end of the day there are only four things you can do with your money; you can pay taxes, you and save it, you can give it away, or you can spend it. That's it. 


Do you have friends or family members who use their income to buy stuff - better cars, a nicer house in a nicer neighborhood, fancier clothes, and so on? This is usually driven by the belief that acquiring stuff will make us happy, but