Arthur Saginian’s grandmother is right (Aug. 16, letters to the editor). “If you need money to be happy, then you will never have enough.” But we also know that having enough money can make us happy. New research shows that the more money you have, the happier you might be. A paper published March 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that happiness increases as you make more money but caps out at $500,000 a year.
There are some facts about money that cannot be ignored. Among other things, money will purchase better health care, better food and better housing. If you have “money in the bank” and don’t live from paycheck to paycheck, you will almost certainly sleep better at night. And if you want an even better night’s sleep, have enough investments paying dividends and interest so you wake up with more money.
As for being able to buy more “stuff,” Mr. Saginian makes an excellent point. Accumulating more and more stuff isn’t going to make us happy. More stuff provides us only a temporary euphoria and then becomes something we eventually put out at a garage sale or donate to charity. Even if you hang on to all your stuff to the end, it will eventually find its way to a landfill, charity, or an estate sale. Many of us learned how useless all our accumulated stuff was during the pandemic, to the extent that Goodwill Charities had to limit the number of hours people could drop off items at their collection centers.
Money is easier than barter and humans have been using money, in some form, for at least 5,000 years. Perhaps the best description of money comes from the Jeremy Irons character of John Tuld in the movie “Margin Call.”
“It’s just money; it’s made up. Pieces of paper so we don’t have to kill each other just to get something to eat. It’s not wrong. And it’s certainly no different today than it’s ever been.”