Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Money can't buy happiness . . .

It has been said that whoever coined (no pun intended) this phrase probably didn’t have much money – but I don’t think so. After being poor and wealthy, I think it was written by someone who had seen life from both sides. Recently there was a television documentary about people who have had major cash windfalls by winning the lottery and, subsequently, how their lives had been ruined. One woman won the lottery for a large amount of money not once – but TWICE. After losing it all by gambling it away, she currently lives in a trailer in New Jersey. A man who won what was supposedly the largest lottery payout in history has lost family members, lost his drivers’ license because of an alleged DUI/failure to appear, and faced criminal charges for assault– all this from someone who probably lived a quiet, normal life before money changed his life for the worse.

Most people dream of having more money. Not having to work, being able to buy homes in great locations and decorate them without looking at prices, travelling, buying expensive cars would certainly be nice. The question is does quality of life actually improve because of a higher bank balance? I’m sure stress levels about certain things (i.e., paying the bills!) would disappear. On the other hand a new set of problems would appear. People would know you have money (part of the deal with the lottery is that they give you the big check with the press taking photos – anonymity is not an option). People you know (and some that you don’t) would suddenly want to be your closest friends. Worry that some crazy person would try to kidnap your children because they know you can afford to pay ransom would be a new concern.
Although I would love to have a brownstone on the Upper West Side, a summer house on Nantucket, a Volvo SUV, a yearly trip to Europe, etc., I think my happiness can be achieved on a fairly small budget. Living debt free and having enough money to pay the bills on time, having a small vacation every few years, having enough money for my sons to go to the colleges of their choice when the time comes and living comfortably in my modest but nice home would be enough for me (with one exception – I still would want the Volvo SUV - you have to have dreams!).

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