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Are those $100's in your wallet or are you just happy to see me?
July 2, 2009 3:32 PM   Subscribe

When Money Buys Happiness. List the ten most expensive things (products, services or experiences) that you have ever paid for (including houses, cars, university degrees, marriage ceremonies, divorce settlements and taxes). Then, list the ten items that you have ever bought that gave you the most happiness. Count how many items appear on both lists.

Maybe money can buy happiness, Mack Metcalf notwithstanding. (Previously. Via.)
posted by zinfandel (82 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
IMO, the only thing on both lists would be my daughter - but I didn't buy her, just spoiled her rotten while I had the chance.
posted by bunnycup at 3:36 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, this would be travel, travel, and more travel for me...
posted by mr_roboto at 3:36 PM on July 2, 2009


Hmm... nope, not coming up with anything.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 3:40 PM on July 2, 2009


Yeah, kids don't count but they should...

College education and, though I may hate it to admit it, my wedding/honeymoon, make both lists. I bought one car back in '94 for $3,500, and as much as I'd hate to admit that even more, it makes both lists too. My bicycle(s) was/were gifts, but they make make the lists as honorable mentions, b/c they are close.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:41 PM on July 2, 2009


Can I count the money I've spent on beer in the aggregate? If so, it's on both lists for sure.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:42 PM on July 2, 2009 [19 favorites]


Any study of happiness bound by the constraint of goods which can be purchased is a miserably thin examination of humanity.
posted by Izner Myletze at 3:43 PM on July 2, 2009 [11 favorites]


The items appearing much more on the ‘expensive’ than on the ‘happy’ lists were:

• Children, including child care, school fees, child support, fertility treatments. Costly, often disappointing, usually ungrateful.


Ha. Hahahahahahahahahaha.
posted by shmegegge at 3:43 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe money can buy happiness

Tell me about it!

*fires up crack pipe*

I love you mr speedy cubes!
posted by MeatLightning at 3:45 PM on July 2, 2009 [6 favorites]


The ten most expensive things that I have ever paid for:

10. WMDs
9. Gold-plating the Indentured Servants
8. Stairway to Heaven
7. Flying Car Insurance
6. All of My Sockpuppet Accounts
5. That One Night in Vegas
4. A 12-inch Pianist
3. Entry Fee for The Most Dangerous Game
2. Republicans in the White House
1. Ignorance
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:48 PM on July 2, 2009 [29 favorites]


I dunno...having $110s in my wallet, alone, is something that can give me some degree of joy. The peace of mind knowing I can meet my survival needs and stave off the problems of penury is one part of it. Another is the opportunity cash affords to experience potential joys: fine meals, chocolate, wine, etc. To some degree, the mere knowledge that I have the ability to experience those things if I wanted to is a pleasure.

Not sure where to draw the line between pleasure and happiness, semantically, but you get the idea.
posted by darkstar at 3:50 PM on July 2, 2009


I get the point of taxes being the cost of civilization (it was Oliver Wendell Holmes' who gets credited with the notion) - it's just all the added bells and whistles and undercoating and mats that I have to take whether I like them or not that annoy me.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:50 PM on July 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


11. Metafilter membership
posted by hypersloth at 3:50 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


It got up to at least 103 here today, and just after I read this article, I realized that nice weather doesn't make me happy. Or, rather, that it does, but only for a little while. So spending money on a place similar to mine but in a wonderful climate wouldn't make me happy. Travel to these places makes me happy, though.

Horace Rumpole, you can add up all your beer, and I'll add up all my wine, k?
posted by zinfandel at 3:52 PM on July 2, 2009


$100s, darnit.
posted by darkstar at 3:52 PM on July 2, 2009


Idle daydreaming and torrid sexual fantasies have never cost me a cent!*

* Minus the lost clients, friendships, and court fees.
posted by maxwelton at 3:53 PM on July 2, 2009


4. A 12-inch Pianist

4. A 12-inch Penis. FTFY.
posted by ericb at 3:56 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this a facebook quiz?
posted by HuronBob at 3:57 PM on July 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


OHHHHHHH

NOW I get it!
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:58 PM on July 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


On preview: in response to ericb
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:58 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I swear to g-d there was a NYT blog post about the top ten things people spend money on versus the top ten things they've gotten enjoyment/value from just a few weeks ago.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 3:59 PM on July 2, 2009


3. Entry Fee for The Most Dangerous Game

This one?
posted by Krrrlson at 4:00 PM on July 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


I read the whole piece, and I don't see how you'd conclude that the money buys the happiness. I took a different message from it - look at the list of items that provided a lot of happiness but did not cost a lot of money.

My two cars have brought me satisfaction and convenience, but not happiness. My travels have been sort of expensive, probably next the car, but worth it, and in the grand scheme of thing it's all been budget travel anyway. My computer has probably brought me a lot of happiness, by connecting me with everyone and with information so well. But it's a tool - unconnected, it would not produce the happiness. The people and information produce the happiness. My garden brings me a ton of happiness, and costs about $20 a year. Pets are great; my pet averaged $30 a month until she got insanely sick and needed a lot of medical care, so she'd have to migrate over to the 'expensive' list, so she'd be on both.

It's interesting how the top 5 run:
1. House
2. Higher ed
3. Travel..and then
4. Consumer electronics, and
5. Cars that people really like.

I dunno. I get as much pleasure watching movies on a Freecycled TV as on some amazing home theater.

This is interesting, but I'm not completely sure what can be concluded from it. I wouldn't go so far as to say "money buys happiness,' but "some purchases are more satisfying than others, some investments are worth it for the personal development they bring, and many of life's greatest pleasures require little money."
posted by Miko at 4:04 PM on July 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


He needs some marginal theory of value right there :P. It's not about how absolutely expensive some stuff is, it's more about how much more happiness you get by paying a premium for an item. Like expensive A/V equipment versus cheap ones, luxury cars versus econoboxes, good wine versus cheap wine, decent food versus fast food, expensive mail order bride versus cheap one, etc, etc.

I can tell that car upgrades, apartment upgrades, home theater upgrades and laptop upgrades are the ones that brought me the most happiness, while the TV I skimped on a bit, and my first crappy laptop are the ones that caused me more grief.

Delta Money brings Delta Happiness is a more accurate presentation.
posted by qvantamon at 4:05 PM on July 2, 2009


My garden brings me a ton of happiness, and costs about $20 a year.

Boy, do I need to have you talk to my wife...
posted by Pantengliopoli at 4:06 PM on July 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Delta Money brings Delta Happiness is a more accurate presentation.

While Delta House brings debauchery and expulsion.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:08 PM on July 2, 2009 [10 favorites]


In terms of bang-for-the-buck happiness, nothing even comes close to all those sheets of good clean blotter acid I bought in 1984.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:14 PM on July 2, 2009 [11 favorites]


Oddly enough I have radial keratotomy on both lists.
posted by JaredSeth at 4:18 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


So the reason why I'm unhappy is because I don't own a house, which incidentally would also allow me to have a dog? I... this makes sense, actually. :(
posted by danny the boy at 4:23 PM on July 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


In terms of bang-for-the-buck happiness...

And the article said people didn't usually put prostitutes on their lists...
posted by darkstar at 4:24 PM on July 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


And the article said people didn't usually put prostitutes on their lists...

That would be bang-for-the-20-bucks-same-as-in-town happiness.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:26 PM on July 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


List the ten most expensive things...that you have ever paid for... Then, list the ten items...that gave you the most happiness.

I'd bet a lot of money that he'd get different items in the happiness list if he hadn't asked them to list the things they paid a lot for first.
posted by ErWenn at 4:29 PM on July 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


The items appearing much more on the ‘expensive’ than on the ‘happy’ lists were:

• Children, including child care, school fees, child support, fertility treatments. Costly, often disappointing, usually ungrateful.


Isn't this just a mismatch? You put child-related expenses on the "expensive" list because they're purchases of material goods and services: day care, school, fertility treatments. But you can't put "children" on the "happy" list because they're not things. It's like saying, "Strangely, we made a lot of purchases related to self, but 'self' did not appear on the happy list! Weird! We must hate ourselves!"
posted by palliser at 4:32 PM on July 2, 2009


it's more about how much more happiness you get by paying a premium for an item.

But this would be different for different people. For instance, though I might get a small amount more happiness from a nice car than an econobox, it wouldn't make my top 10 list or even top 20 list.

And if the expense of paying extra for a nice car came out of my travel budget, it would be a downright negative - a net happiness loss, creating less happiness.
posted by Miko at 4:35 PM on July 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Without a doubt, I spend the most on dog stuff and horse stuff.

Makes me happy.

Everything on my cost the most list and my happy list are the same - and danny the boy having a house with a yard for my dogs is a large part of why my house make me so happy.

Seriously, the cost per yer of vehicle ownership does not come close the animal spend. (This might be different if I had a new car with a payment and yes I am including car insurance.)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:39 PM on July 2, 2009


Some thoughts:

First of all, Scott Adams had a great equation in one of his books that it isn't that money can't buy some degree of happiness, but rather that there are bound to be diminshing returns It went something like this - Happiness[asleep indoors - eaten by wolves in the cold] > [Porsche - Hyundai].

Secondly, a lot of our most expensive items are going to be necessities, like most notably, a home, which is also in a lot of times a good financial investment as well. Personally, I can't imagine purchasing a home (I rent now) that I didn't love, that I wouldn't form great memories in, but when there's that much money on the table I'm going to be extremely choosy and my domicile means the world to me.

Similarly, I've never had to purchase a car (I've spent my adult life in mass-transit cities) but I get immense joy out of driving (and immense frustration out of parking, but the joy outweighs the pain there). My folks have had a BMW Z3 back home in Oklahoma since '96, and that's what I drive whenever I'm there. It cost around $33,000, IIRC, and I, at least, have never once gotten tired of how much fun it is. So cars can be great fun as well, as long as you're the type of person who gets a kick out of driving fun cars.

As far as personal expenses go, I've probably spent the most on personal electronics (and, like Horace Rumpole said, beer in agragate would probably, ironically, sober me a little) and in both I've been very happy. Hook up the big television to a wide array of game systems and I've basically got a proto-holodeck, and what could be cooler and more joyful than that?

All of this is coming from somebody with few real financial responsibilities as yet, but the point is that while happiness can be free, and probably is most of the time, we can all spend our money in a way which makes us happy with how we've spent it. We just have to be patient and choosy. Which isn't easy, I know. But if you hate your car payments and you also hate your car, then, well, you bought the wrong car. If you don't get joy out of your living space then you need to rearrange your furniture or else be more picky when you're buying something as monumental as a house (or co-op, or whatever.) We don't have a hell of a lot of choice where we work. We either get the corner office or we don't, the cubicle by the windows or the one in the middle of the farm. But aside from that we spend the most time in our homes and cars, generally. So spend your money there wisely, so that there, in your own space, you can be happy with how you spent it.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:40 PM on July 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dr. Miller issued an open invitation to readers...
I think the self-selection problem kills any chance of demonstrating anything objective or interesting with this excercise from the get-go.

All you're left with is: Some people think that money bought them happiness. And those people are eager to tell other people about it. But that idea is exactly why we have the old chestnut "Money can't buy happiness" in the first place.

Many of the things on this list are really matters of pleasure anyway. Which isn't surprising; we humans aren't very good at deciding what makes us happy, but we're very good at knowing what have found pleasurable.
posted by Western Infidels at 4:43 PM on July 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


if you hate your car payments and you also hate your car, then, well, you bought the wrong car

...or you may have just gotten the car you could afford, because you had to have a basic car and did not have, or did not want to set aside, a big car budget.
posted by Miko at 4:44 PM on July 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, I personally know plenty of totally miserable bastards in banking with comp packages approaching and probably exceeding £300K a year. They spend every pence they can get their hands on too.

Although my personal value system agrees with the article in that experiences are an excellent driver of personal happiness, I'd submit that if folks aren't intrinsically happy then no end of experiences or objects purchased will make them happy.

When I was growing up a poor country boy in Western New York, I was mighty happy hanging out with kin, shooting, fishing, looking at the stars at night and just exploring the woods.

Now I'm a sabbatical taking nearly middle aged banker living in Whitechapel, London I'm mighty happy spending time with my wife, visiting art galleries, drinking at outdoor pubs, trying to see the stars at night and just exploring The East End.

As much as my tastes have changed, some things have remained the same.
posted by Mutant at 4:46 PM on July 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yup, travel is on both lists. Travel to visit friends and travel to experience new things.

Houses, too.

Dogs -- not so much the cost to buy them but to pay for their care and food. Really adds up!

Gifts -- brings joy to give them, whatever the cost.

Haven't paid much for anything else.... Someone else paid for education, marriage was elopement (under 'travel' category), cars all used and cheap, clothes from Goodwill, don't have a lot of electronics, books are from public library.

Oh: insurances (car, house, health, life). But they aren't meant to buy happiness directly, but lack thereof could bring a lot of misery.

The lists are pretty similar, more than I would have thought ...
posted by mmw at 4:47 PM on July 2, 2009


money buys happiness

Well duh, but not in the strict sense. Money enables you to leverage the world your terms, but that's only enjoyable if how you got the money is enjoyable. Money as a tool is damn useful, money as a goal is almost an example of hell.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:56 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


The weird thing about happiness is most of it occurs in hind-sight and in the minds eye at that. And most the time happiness, real happiness, occurs in little moments.

One of my happiest memories occurred in Ireland off the Dingle Peninsula. I was laying out in the sun on a rock at low tide, in my skivvies. At the time I'm not sure I realized the degree of contentment and joy I really felt right then. It wasn't until later in life when I had experienced real strife that I retreated back to that previous happy moment and realized it was it. And then later bringing my wife to that spot years later on our honeymoon created a worm-hole connecting the two of the happiest moments in life. Silly simple little thing.

But was it money that bought those moments? I dunno.
posted by tkchrist at 5:08 PM on July 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


Most expensive: House, Car, TV, Beer

Most happiness: Beer, TV, Car, House

Woah. My world has turned upside down.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 5:10 PM on July 2, 2009


The funny thing is, my list of most expensive items, besides the house and the car, is filled with a lot of rather inexpensive stuff. I was broke most of my life, and I still act like I'm broke, too, probably because I don't know any better. Is that good thing?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:11 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Oh: insurances (car, house, health, life). But they aren't meant to buy happiness directly, but lack thereof could bring a lot of misery. "

I think this is a key point. Money may not be able to buy happiness; accounts of unhappy, depressed, suicidal, or cranky rich people abound to the point of cliche. However money can beat off a lot of unhappiness (medical treatment, roof, food, energy and opportunity). If painting 16 hours a day makes you ecstatic having a full ride trust fund allows you to pursue that muse even though the money itself isn't making you happy.
posted by Mitheral at 5:20 PM on July 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Travel. Hands down. And I am not much of one for traveling "expensively," but still...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:23 PM on July 2, 2009


Is it just me...
List the ten most expensive things (products, services or experiences) that you have ever paid for (including houses, cars, university degrees, marriage ceremonies, divorce settlements and taxes). Then, list the ten items that you have ever bought that gave you the most happiness. Count how many items appear on both lists.

List ten... list ten... then count each list??!?
posted by Drasher at 5:32 PM on July 2, 2009


Even the very cliche that "money can't buy happiness" often (but not always) buys into the "money = happiness" idea because it implies you should be saving instead of spending.
posted by DU at 5:39 PM on July 2, 2009


For me, "stuff" isn't happiness, freedom is happiness. To a certain extent, money buys freedom, but simply having the courage to say "I would prefer not to" is absolutely exhilarating and a reward in itself.
posted by aquafortis at 5:43 PM on July 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


I dunno, darkstar, I think I'd get a great deal of happiness out of having $110s in my wallet.

One of my most expensive purchases in the last 10 years was a trip to New York to see Hugh Jackman in The Boy From Oz. Totally worth it -- one of my most favorite memories.

On the other hand, I spent approximately 100x that on a year at grad school in Chicago, which has been a source of pain and frustration. For more happiness, I should have just skipped Chicago and gone to see Hugh 100 more times. But I'd probably still be wondering what I was missing by not pursuing the academic dream -- so, while not productive of happiness, that experience was necessary and probably a contributor to my current satisfaction with my life.
posted by katemonster at 5:49 PM on July 2, 2009


*sighs* Is this something where I would have to have experienced happiness to understand the topic?
posted by adipocere at 5:55 PM on July 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Which isn't surprising; we humans aren't very good at deciding what makes us happy, but we're very good at knowing what have found pleasurable.

But that's kind of the flaw of all those pop psych "happiness" studies that find people of various levels of wealth are about equally happy. People (at least those with some insecurity showing) twist this to mean they'd be happier without. But that's not what these studies keep showing. They keep saying you'd be about equally happy. Well, what do you do when you have the same term on either side of an equation? You remove it.

Let's for the sake of argument accept that we're equally "happy":

- waiting tables in a great restaurant rather than being able to afford to eat there
- sending people off on great vacations as an agent rather than taking those vacations yourself
- cleaning nice homes, fixing nice cars, etc., rather than having those things

If you're about equally "happy" in either scenario ("I know a rich bastard whose miserable" need not apply)... I'll take the stuff, please! Cause I'll get a whole lot more pleasure out of it. Like those that ask parents vs. child-free adults. About equally "happy", but lo and behold, one group enjoys their time more.

Sounds like a deal to me. You'd need a significant trade-off in happiness to get me to decide otherwise.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:01 PM on July 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


(this of course does not take into account the virtue -- to your environment -- of consuming less. The simplistic way people buy into the $ /= happiness arguments just bug me is all)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:07 PM on July 2, 2009


No no no nooooooo.
posted by yoink at 6:09 PM on July 2, 2009


I mispoke, or at least miscommunicated quite a bit in my earlier comment. I didn't mean to say that everyone can set aside huge amounts of money to get the best thing possible - obviously not, and I'd even argue that the hunt for allowing more money to eventually bring you to some sort of ideal existence is a source of huge anxiety, particularly among the rich who are living in the reality that such an ideal is unattainable, if it exists at all.

The point I was making, and I'm clarifying mostly for Miko here, is that if you're spending a lot of money on something (like say, a house or a car) then it's worth your time to find that thing which, while being within your budget, is the one you can be happiest with. You don't need to break the bank, you just need to actually find what's most right for you.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:33 PM on July 2, 2009


Travel is probably the only thing for me. Oh, and food and drugs and beer and maybe cider and wine. Uni brought me great happiness (and greatly increased my lifetime earning potential) but cost me nothing, and I don't have a house or a kid, but if I did they'd probably be in there too.

Mutant: trying to see the stars at night and just exploring The East End

I recently moved to a 'heritage quarter' of Ealing and we have these lovely original cast iron, low-light street lamps. I can finally see the stars in London! That brings me great happiness, at very little cost.

The rain that has just started will also hopefully bring me great happiness (breaking the heat and allowing me to sleep, finally) and that cost me nothing.
posted by goo at 6:59 PM on July 2, 2009


The thing that bugs me about this is that it's limiting the "happiness" column to things that are bought. That's a pretty severe limitation. I mean, consider this alternative test:

Make a list of the ten times you've been beat up the most.
Then make a list of the ten times you've had the most fun while being beat up.
Count how many occasions appear on both lists.

Even if you score 9 or 10, would you think this shows that getting beat up is fun?
posted by baf at 7:01 PM on July 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


And - how could I forget? must be the heat - books. I have spent a fortune on books over the years and they bring me great happiness.
posted by goo at 7:03 PM on July 2, 2009


Struggled, but couldn't get a list of 10 things I've bought that have made me happy. Objects don't really do it for me, (though the original iPod, GameBoy and the PowerBook 170 all made it), and I haven't married, had children and my education was free, so things like that can't make it either.

(It's not that my history is laden with happy days picknicking with girls in summer dresses in fields of hay either, so perhaps I should stop giving so much money to Apple and start buying more cars or these things that are making y'all happy.)
posted by fightorflight at 7:16 PM on July 2, 2009


Contax Zeiss MM 45mm f/2.8 pancake lens with an Aria body. Spent $280 on the lens alone. Made me happier than almost any other physical possession, save for, perhaps, the $4500 I spent on a 1969 Cadillac Coupe Deville convertible.

Lemon yellow with walnut-brown leather interior and top. I named her Daisy after the first woman to break my heart. Cop once pulled me over, just to ask what year she was. I had a super-model-sex-vixen walk by two brand-new Porsches and a BMW (Waltham, MA, 1997) just to see if I had the climate control option offered that year (she did have it!) She shut down a new Mustang Cobra, in a midnight stoplight drag, putting all 472cui of a her mildly massaged motor to work cranking out a torque curve the likes of which God has never seen.

And then she broke my heart by eating voltage regulators and alternators and Die-Hards like pop-tarts... where that damn lens continues to keep me happy with just one CLA in ten years. I know I should sell it and the rest of my Contax kit to buy a DSLR, but damn. It's a fiiiine lens.

I've spent more on stuff and junk and cars and shit since then in typical yuppie fashion... but when there is something in this world that you know is perfect and good and right, you do not forget the one time you had it and it was yours.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:00 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


The things that have brought me the greatest amount of happiness over my lifetime have been freedoms facilitated by money. Having money enabled me to pay rent, therefore freeing myself from living with my parents. (My current lack of money, and subsequent lack of ability to pay rent and having to move back in with my parents, has resulted in a lack of happiness.) Money allowed me to buy drugs as a teenager, which resulted in a significant removal of pain, which felt like happiness. Money allows me to have a car, which allows me to go where I want and do things. The point is, I think of freedom as happiness, it's just that money can help create a lot of freedom.
posted by Dilemma at 8:01 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I recently bought a Roomba, which made me immensely happy. Instead of having to do a bunch of fucking vacuuming, I just clean the thing out afterwards, which takes 2 minutes and little effort. And it's fun to watch, when I'm around. A couple weeks ago, it managed to shut itself inside the bathroom and then meander around, presumably wondering where its docking station was. Comedy gold. For $350, totally worth it.

Two years ago, I bought a pair of earbuds for $40, and I use them most days. The improvement in sound over the shitty $10 earbuds I'd been using since grad school still makes me happy to this day. I can finally hear the bass line for every song, and other instruments that I hadn't heard before.

I agree with other commenters who have said their greatest sources of happiness have been experiences. I don't have anything original to add in that area, but I would argue that certain pieces of technology offer the best bang for the buck.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:12 PM on July 2, 2009


My two rescue dogs. They get better healthcare than I do and over their lifetime, they are third on my "big spender" list (after house and car).
My audiobook collection, which I listen to over and over. Now I get my MP3 player to read me to sleep and I no longer care if I can't sleep. Best $nnnn I ever spent!
My MBA. Changed my life and got me into a career I actually enjoy ... plus enabled me to pay the bills without worrying for the first time in my life.
My car. I can get in and out of it without struggling, really does get 37 mpg (Highway) and feels wonderful to drive.
Clear skies and sunshine all summer. Anyone who has ever lived in the UK will know what I mean when I say that the cost of moving to the US was money well spent ;-)
posted by Susurration at 8:38 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


i haz a bicycle. ok, 4. and they were expensive. but i got each one on sale.

happy.

everything else is bullshit, which is why i don't have much else. except a girlfriend, but she was free and costs nothing to maintain.
posted by klanawa at 8:52 PM on July 2, 2009


DoctorFedora: OHHHHHHH

NOW I get it!
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:58 PM on July 2 [3 favorites +] [!]

On preview: in response to ericb


I think, DoctorFedora, that you're a little confused about what "on preview" means. :-)
posted by Malor at 8:55 PM on July 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Aside from shelter and health insurence, everything that has made me happy have been gifts.


Everything that gives me pleasure is consumable and time-based, food food, good friends, good shows, good talk, good drink, good walks, good sights, and good company. Maybe books, but they're so fungible now they might as well be water. I'm just not good at keeping shit, apparently.

A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have.
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 PM on July 2, 2009


Then again, my own BF once said happiness was knowing that he could, within his modest means, buy something on a whim or eat out or see a show without having to worry about money was the great luxury in the world.

And he grew up with outhouses and digging family potatoes, so YMMV.
posted by The Whelk at 9:11 PM on July 2, 2009


Oh! and having the freedom to take off for a week to go ...places, if you wanted. Cause of the Academic calender and a nest egg of money just for that. That's pretty nice.
posted by The Whelk at 9:15 PM on July 2, 2009


I think money can buy happiness, in the form of less stress coupled with more choices.

Money can buy you choices and is the difference between a nice place to live, that brings you joy and contentment or a dump with no heat that stresses you out.

It's the difference between going to the grocery store and trying to stretch 20 bucks as far as possible (wow, food is outrageous) or being able to actually choose a wide variety of things, and thanking your lucky stars that it's not mac and cheese again.

Better service, better products, the ability to have all your bills caught up. To just swipe the card instead of rolling change for gas money. It's full coverage instead liability. It's the ability to go on an actual vacation versus that being a complete pipe dream.

It's nice to say that money can't buy happiness (easy enough to say when you don't have any, it hurts less that way, I know), but it can ease those stresses that come from merely trying to survive. Less stress, the ability to breathe easy, knowing your electricity is in absolutely no danger of getting shut off, and the bills aren't multiplying before your eyes with late fees because you got behind. It's car repair money. It's grocery money. It's health insurance.

Lots of wonderful experiences in life are free, sure, but if part of the definition of happiness is not being stressed out all the time over basic necessities, then yes, money can buy happiness.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 9:28 PM on July 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


Money will never buy more than fleeting happiness. Relationships with other people on the other hand will. Good relations with family are the strongest currency here. If there is one wisdom in this world it is "be nice." I am still trying to learn that. Articles like this are just fluff for when there is nothing else to say. If there is one thing we can take from it, it is that John Tierney is an empty suit.

You see, I really do have trouble with "be nice."
posted by caddis at 9:42 PM on July 2, 2009


Drasher: List ten... list ten... then count each list??!?

You are not a mathematician, are you?

Also, bogus hapiness analysis is bogus
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:45 PM on July 2, 2009


On preview: Malor has my number.
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:59 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


"In terms of bang-for-the-buck happiness, nothing even comes close to all those sheets of good clean blotter acid I bought in 1984."

Oh, man, that sheet of gel tabs back in '99 for $300. Made my money back in less than a weekend and still had half the sheet too.

Good times.
posted by klangklangston at 10:44 PM on July 2, 2009


Money doesn't buy happiness, but it definitely makes sadness a lot more bearable.
posted by PsychoKick at 2:41 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Money does buy happiness. Books. And lapdances.
posted by orthogonality at 4:25 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


aquafortis: For me, "stuff" isn't happiness, freedom is happiness.

According to psychologist Dan Gilbert this is the opposite of the truth. He looked at a sample of people who had just become paraplegic in an accident - and compared their happiness with a group who had just had major lottery wins. No surprises for guessing who was happier immediately after the event - but about a year later the paraplegics were on a level. His TED Presentation is worth watching.

He makes the counter-intuitive claim that less freedom gives more happiness. In fact this tallies with some of the "greatest value for happiness" items on the NYT list: a house or a dog are major limitations on freedom for example.
posted by rongorongo at 4:30 AM on July 3, 2009


Happiness won't get you money.
posted by crazylegs at 5:19 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


After a couple of decades of $500 cars and $500 pianos, I inherited some money and bought a brand new Yamaha upright and I've been happier than a clam (at high tide, to use the original phrase) ever since. Buying a house and a hammock were good ideas. Buying stuff to make my daughter happy is great. Paying for a meditation retreat now and then was always worth it.

On the other hand, spending $600 for a couple of pairs of glasses yesterday and $500 to fix a car last week and $25 on a can of paint which I now have to use didn't send me into spasms of joy (which reminds me, orgasms are - usually - free).

Oh, and I spent fifteen bucks on Bruno Schulz's The Street of Crocodiles yesterday which I woke up early to read this morning and has brought me joy beyond measure.

My favorite thing of all, though, is breathing. Which, for most of us, is free.
posted by kozad at 6:58 AM on July 3, 2009


I spent $5 once, not sure how happy it's made me though.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 7:51 AM on July 3, 2009


Not having to worry about money would make me happy. But that would probably cost a billion dollars.
posted by anniecat at 9:27 AM on July 3, 2009


i haven't made very many big purchases in my life, but many of the things that, for me, were big purchases also showed up on the "happiness" list.

what i actually took away from this is that i shouldn't buy so many cheaper items that i feel compelled to buy in the moment but don't ultimately do much for me. these cheaper items add up, and in the end probably cost much more than the few expensive things i buy.

so . . . buy less, and buy high quality.
posted by imalaowai at 10:50 AM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


After giving it some thought today,I'm ready to conclude what someone suggested above: People, individually, are good at figuring out what purchases/investments will make them most happy, and prioritizing those.

What they are really varies, though.
posted by Miko at 12:42 PM on July 3, 2009


"Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the other five." - W. Somerset Maugham. One of my favorite pithy quotes. I remember it being said by the realist to the idealist in "Razor's edge," but a website says it's from "Of human bondage." In either case, thought I'd trot it out.
posted by goofyfoot at 5:09 PM on July 4, 2009


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