Having enough money to feel secure and live a comfortable lifestyle can unquestionably contribute to your overall sense of well-being, but it can't compare to having a close connection with the people you love most. If you don't pay enough attention to money it can lower your quality of life, but if you pay too much attention to money it can damage your relationship with your family because you lose out on time and connections with them.
What People Want
Happiness isn't a very easy word to define, because different people want different things out of life. Some people are more interested in having fun, some in achieving a personal goal and some in building strong connections with other people. Some people are so focused on making money that they would even consider it more important than their family and friends, according to a survey commissioned by Skrill, a money transfer company. However, prioritizing money won't necessarily make you feel better on a day-to-day basis. According to a survey of 136,000 people from 132 different nations conducted by Gallup and led by a University of Illinois professor emeritus of psychology, there was a link between money and life satisfaction, but there was not a very strong link between money and positive feelings and enjoyment of life.
Though family connections enrich people's lives immeasurably, humans being the social creatures they are, money does still matter. If you don't have enough money to consistently cover your expenses, prepare for emergencies and save for the future, you're likely to experience enough anxiety and stress to undermine much of the happiness you get from other aspects of your life. In an article for PsychCentral, Mary Jo Rapini, a counselor and therapist, points out that couples who are struggling financially often see an increase in arguments and frustrations with each other, which can lead to breakups.
Family and Friends
Assuming your basic needs are being met, relationships with other people have a much larger effect on quality of life than money does. The Gallup poll, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that the support of family and friends had a significant impact on emotional well-being, while money had only a minimal effect. People who feel well-liked and respected by others also tend to be happier, as do those who feel they have some control over the circumstances of their lives. Of course, money can make it easier to have this kind of your control over your situation, but not enough for it to rate above a satisfying family life.
Money, Marriage and Materialism
Another study, conducted by Dr. Jason Carroll at Brigham Young University, found that too much emphasis on money and material possessions was correlated with depression and anxiety. People who were more materialistic also tended to make worse financial decisions, such as buying luxury items on credit. Married couples who emphasized their relationship more than money were not only happier, but also tended to be more financially responsible. Whether your priority is to have more fulfilling relationships or more financial security, research seems to show that putting family first and money second is the way to do it.
- PsychCentral: 5 Ways to Make Your Marriage More Important Than Money
- Express: Money Is More Important Than Family for 3 in 10
- Daily Mail: Money Isn't Everything
- News Bureau University of Illinois: Can Money Buy Happiness? Gallup Poll Asks, and the World Answers
- PubMed:Wealth and Happiness Across the World: Material Prosperity Predicts Life Evaluation, Whereas Psychosocial Prosperity Predicts Positive Feeling
Scott Thompson has been writing professionally since 1990, beginning with the "Pequawket Valley News." He is the author of nine published books on topics such as history, martial arts, poetry and fantasy fiction. His work has also appeared in "Talebones" magazine and the "Strange Pleasures" anthology.