Sponsored Money won’t make you happy. But this will

Money won’t make you happy. But this will

Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Too often, it seems as if money and financial success are the main reason we get out of bed each day.

For many people, the quality of their job is measured by the size of the pay cheque, which makes sense when you consider the sky-high price of Australian housing market and the cost of living.

But new research debunks the idea that an ever-increasing income will make you happier and happier.

Work-life balance is a cruel myth
Where should you invest your money?
Investment advice to my 20-year-old self

According to the 2015 HILDA (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia) survey, the happiest Australians live in towns of 1000 people or less – far from bright lights, big cities and highly paid jobs.

One of the main lessons in the research is that the pursuit of happiness should involve avoiding comparisons and focusing instead on health and relationships.

Money won't make you as happy as working a job you love. Photo: Shutterstock
Money won’t make you as happy as working a job you love. Photo: Shutterstock


Professor Mark Wooden, who runs the HILDA project, says money brings less happiness than you might think.

“Health, relationships and having a job all have a far greater effect,” said Professor Wooden. “Compared to those, money pales in comparison.”

While money does have an effect on happiness for lower income households, the relationship is non-linear, meaning it diminishes as we make more money.

That’s the real headline here. More money does not equate to more happiness.

And for a Catch 22, Professor Wooden said money most positively affects those who don’t care about it.

Comparisons are Odious

The issue of comparing ourselves is not new. US President Teddy Roosevelt said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Shakespeare called comparisons “odorous” in Much Ado About Nothing.

While the HILDA survey doesn’t speculate as to why people in tiny towns are happier, it could be because they are not participating in the rat race and some of the more ‘odorous’ comparisons that come with city life.

Focusing on family and relationships is more likely to bring you joy. Photo: Shutterstock
Focusing on family and relationships is more likely to bring you joy. Photo: Shutterstock

While a pay increase may make us happy in the short term, once that money has been spent there is always something newer, shinier, bigger or newer for us to covet.

Focus on this instead

Put simply, the pursuit of happiness is all about choices.

“Income is a liberator, it increases choices,” said Professor Wooden.

“But it doesn’t necessarily lead you to being happier because people still make bad choices.”

The solution?

Prioritise those things proven to affect our happiness most: health, relationships, working a job you enjoy.

While the recipe for perfect happiness might remain elusive, those life-affirming things will never go out of fashion.

This content was proudly sponsored by CBUS: an Industry Super Fund.

The information in this article is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own personal situation and requirements before making any financial decisions.

You should also refer to the relevant Cbus Product Disclosure Statement and Financial Services Guide before making any financial decisions. These are located in the Forms and publications area.

Cbus’ Trustee is United Super Pty Ltd ABN 46 006 261 623 AFSL 233792 Cbus ABN 75 493 363 262. MySuper authorisation 75 493 363 262 473.photo (1)

View Comments