I’m firmly in the camp that once you have met your basic needs and have the ability to have a little bit of fun more money won’t bring that much more happiness. I know a lot of people that have nicer houses than me and a lot that don’t, and it’s safe to say that having a nicer house doesn’t make them more happy than I am and having not as nice a house doesn’t make them less happy. Being unable to afford your existing house will lead to unhappiness, though. Owning a house and having a problem with the water heater and then stressing over where to come up with the funds to replace it will make you less happy.
It’s the same deal with cars. Does owning a Lexus verse a Toyota come with some extra boost of happiness? As long as you have a reliable car it’s really hard to up the happiness meter.
So what is the value of having some amount of wealth, then, if it doesn’t make you happy? These are the reasons I value my wealth:
I can value my time more than my money. Maybe I could have saved some money by shopping harder, but it’s nice not to have to worry about that.
I can handle the unexpected. Sure I don’t look forward to replacing appliances or having to do a major plumbing project in the house, but it’s not going to mean that my family goes without some other basic need.
I can daydream about really big purchases. When my wife and I go on vacation we frequently look at homes. The money is not stopping me from moving. The bigger issue would be moving away from family.
I can participate in the market. Since I have money I can buy stocks or invest in real estate. As I diversify my wealth I feel even more resilient and have even more peace of mind.
You could tell your boss to jump in a lake. I don’t have a boss, and I doubt I could because I have enough freedom to not have to do things I don’t want to do. Wouldn’t that be way more fun than having a bigger house with a dining room you rarely use?
I wrote this up because some of these things you can’t realize until you have some money, and I see a lot of people that could have more money if they made some different choices about where they live and what they drive.