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Money! Money! Money!

I’m 35 and I don’t own a house, a car, or anything of real monetary value. We don’t live extravagant lifestyles- we very rarely go out, we order in a few times a month, we aren’t regular drinkers (and by that, I mean that I have, maybe, 4 mojitos/year and my husband probably averages 1 beer/month), we don’t smoke or partake in any other kind of drug/narcotic, we don’t buy fashion/designer anything, we don’t purchase games, music, or pay for new tech equipment regularly, we buy the cheapest groceries and sale items habitually.

And yet, we live pay cheque to pay cheque and have a significant amount of debt that we are, basically, maintaining (as in, we’re not increasing or decreasing it).

Yes, we have a child and yes, we pay for day care. We have already acknowledged that when he is in school we will have a little bit more breathing room financially.

But, we see other people with children who can afford: car, vacation, expensive clothing, expensive tech gadgets, expensive groceries, home repairs, household purchases (like furniture, appliances), go on regular dates and other kinds of weekends/trips/excursions.

When I hear people who party, go on trips every weekend, don’t have any children and make more money than I do complain about ‘not having money’ it just drives me bonkers. We are hard-working, simple-living, just trying to make ends meet, people. And we struggle every single day.

Does it sound like I’m whining?

Maybe I am, a little bit.

But, I know that, at the end of the day, we are responsible for where we are financially. It’s not anybody’s fault but our own that we: are in low paying jobs, have a child in day care (though, this was still more financially sound than me staying home with him), chose to move from NZ to Canada and the list goes on of personal choices that have landed us in this position.

We dug this hole ourselves. Well, for the most part. There are, obviously, circumstances out of everyone’s control that pop-up in life and require $$ that we would have chosen to use differently.

There is that old saying “money can’t buy happiness” on which I’ve always gone back and forth. There are times I agree with it and other times when I disagree.

I don’t have money. Am I happy? Generally speaking, I think I am for the most part.

However, would I be happier if I didn’t have to live by such a strict budget, If we had less financial burden, more disposable income, the ability to go on regular vacations and buy a $60 household item without a month of debating whether we REALLY need it, or not, only to inevitably decide we can continue to make due without it because, although it would be great and make our lives so much more enjoyable, it’s not an absolute necessity?

Ugh, yeah, I think so.

Doesn’t that kind of mean that money can and does buy happiness?

But, then I flip the coin and I wonder if we, as humans, always want more no matter how much we already have.

If we were out of debt, had a car, could afford a vacation every year, and could buy $60 items without having a mild panic attack, would we just continue to want more to make us happy? Yes, we have this, but now I want…a house, a new sofa set, a new tv…

Maybe the quote should actually say: “money can’t buy ultimate happiness” or “money can’t buy nirvana”. Because, no matter how much money you have, there will always be unhappiness and there will always be other things you want, want to do, etc. There will always be more. We will always be striving to some extent.

If I were more mathematically, scientifically, minded, I would love to be the person who creates a method for measuring happiness. And pain, actually (but that’s a different topic for another blog).

If I were to get $10,000 (for example) I could be completely debt-free. That would bring me to a 4.8 on the ‘money bought happiness’ scale. If I made an extra $2/hr, it bumps me to a 5.1 on the ‘money bought happiness’ scale and so forth. If I had a monthly disposable income of $2000 or more, I would be at a 5.4 on the scale.

And, I’d have a Noble Prize or something and be super happy.

But, alas, I am not that intelligent, nor do I have the energy to invest in such research. I barely even had the focus to write the paragraph above with horribly (not) thought through numbers in it.

But, thankfully, there are people who have the intelligence, energy and resources to put into these kinds of questions and here are a few interesting articles about it:

http://time.com/money/2802147/does-money-buy-happiness/

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-money-buy-happiness/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/05/10/money-does-buy-happiness-says-new-study/#73fa309b40b5

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