Why Money Can Buy Happiness

How to identify how much you’d need to make to reach ‘peak money’

Money, as a vehicle to solve problems, relieve stress, and improve quality of life, on the whole, gets a bad press.

Recently, numerous studies are showing that earning anything above a fairly good wage (I think it was around £70k) will not improve your life satisfaction.

What isn’t obvious to me is whether it’s a fact that money can’t improve your life satisfaction over a certain point, or whether people just don’t spend it on the right things.

Musing on this question may seem like a theoretical exercise, but it’s actually incredibly practical. We spend so much of our lives, conscious of it or not, chasing money, in the hope it will make us happier. It would be pretty daft to not question what this extra cash in going to unlock for us.

In this article, I’m going to lay out a few of my own problems that I think could be adequately solved by throwing some more money at them. I’ll then assign a monthly cost to each of these activities. From this I should be able to work out what my target income should be – it will just be the cost of the new expenses plus what I am earning already.

My hope is this article gives you some inspiration to help you assess where you could be spending money to solve problems, and perhaps remove some of the abstraction as to what that successful promotion, side hustle, or crypto portfolio might mean in terms of improvements in well-being. You might just find that there’s not really much more extra money can bring to your life.

Coaching / Therapy

Life coaching, performance coaching, therapy, whatever you want to call it I think there are huge advantages in having someone more experienced than you in certain areas of life to help mull over problems, and find solutions to those problems.

I’ve had limited experience with professional coaching, mainly because the cost is prohibitive. The little coaching I’ve had, however, has been a really positive experience. I believe that the right coaches, focused on the right areas of my life could unlock a few points of happiness.

In my ideal world, my coaching schedule probably looks something like the below.

General Therapy/Performance Coaching

This coaching would focus in on limiting beliefs, learned behaviors that no longer serve me, childhood issues and other personal problems. I think most people could benefit from someone to help us explore our shadow side. By developing our self-awareness we can surely learn to become happier, healthier humans.

Cost per week: £100

Meditation / spiritual coaching

I’ve meditated for most of my adult life. It’s an incredible practice. When I’m in a period of life where my meditation is going well, everything else seems to fall into place. Unfortunately, these periods can be short-lived and sporadic in their appearance.

I have friends who use meditation coaches and extol the virtues. It’s really helped them deepen their practice, and live a happier, more mindful life. This is probably an easy way to throw money at a problem and see some results.

Cost per week: £80

Mobility/Yoga Coaching

I find it hard to hold myself accountable to yoga and mobility work. Going to the gym — no problem. Running — no problem. But for some reason when it comes to improving my mobility, arguably one of the most important factors in maintaining a good quality of life in old age, I really struggle.

Last year I had a virtual coach for yoga and mobility work and it was fantastic. Again, the cost became prohibitive as I had to start directing more money into some of my (not yet profitable) side projects. From direct experience, I know that my mobility practice is something I can throw money at and see improvements in. This improvement in mobility even in the short term helps me feel limber, agile and generally a little bit healthier.

Cost per week: £60

Buying Time

Probably the biggest advantage of being wealthy is the ability to buy yourself the ultimate of non-renewable resources — time. Often you can throw money at the issue of not having enough time by just outsourcing work you don’t particularly enjoy doing to others.

Cleaning

I don’t particularly enjoy cleaning. Perhaps this is just a problem of mindfulness. Alan Watts would argue there’s no difference between washing dishes and making love if you are fully mindful of your actions. Perhaps Alan is correct, but that doesn’t really help me, I’m just not mindful enough to enjoy washing the dishes…

We have a cleaner who comes once a month or so, it’s great. Ideally, I’d like to step this up to once a week so I never have to do any proper cleaning in my house.

Cost per week: £40

Cooking / Grocery Shopping

I do enjoy cooking, but only when I can take my time with it. Realistically, the optimal amount of cooking I’d do in a week would be 1 or 2 really great meals. On weeknights I don’t care about what I eat, I just want to get something nutritious and fairly tasty down me.

In an ideal world, I’d subscribe to one of these recipe box delivery services. They send you fresh, nutritious produce and I just bang it in a pan and enjoy. The dream. This would cut down on cooking time, decision overhead of planning what to eat, washing up and of course time trooping around my local Tesco, which is always to be avoided.

Cost per week: £50

Minimal use of Public Transport

Sometimes I don’t want to use my motorbike or pedal bike, and it’s quicker to get somewhere by taxi.

Taxis save time and are just a more pleasant experience than hopping on a packed bus or tube in central London. Need I say more as to why having the optionality between a taxi and a tube could be a good thing for my mood?

Cost per week: £30

Lifestyle Improvements

Sometimes it’s just nice to have a bougie gym, a comfortable house, a weekly massage. They say money can’t buy happiness, it just lets you miserable in comfort. I challenge that, I think some targeted spending in the lifestyle department can help with mental and physical wellbeing

Bougie Gym

Have you ever been to a really bougie gym? You know the one with a sparkling clean steam room, warm towels, great showers and a bench press that you don’t have to fend off a dozen sweaty meatheads to use?

I’ve been lucky enough to have a taste of these kinds of establishments (mainly through free passes) and I definitely leave a bougie gym feeling a little bit better than a ghetto one.

Massage is another thing I absolutely love but don’t do enough of. A weekly massage would be optimal to kneed out my knots and relieve some of the tension accumulated from 10 hours a day of sitting.

Cost per month (with a weekly massage) £400

Nicer House

This is quite a big one. I like my current apartment — it’s just too small. My desk is right next to my bed, there’s no outdoor space, the kitchen is a little pokey, the area is a little rough. Clearly improving the place you live has diminishing returns, and a mistake I’m sure the rich make is thinking that a nicer house will solve some of their issues when the house they have is pretty ideal.

My parents have a great place. When I stay there I can’t imagine needing anything more from a home. Luckily I know roughly what their place is worth, so it’s a good upper limit.

Cost per month £1000

Travel

I love travelling. If I had bigger cash reserves I’d travel more. I don’t necessarily mean big adventures to exotic lands (although that would be nice), but more city breaks here and there, a country retreat somewhere fresh for a couple of days. If I could put more of a system in place for travelling and exploring new areas of the world I’m confident my life could be slightly more fulfilling.

Cost per month: £1000

An Extravagant Hobby

I think everyone should be allowed one extravagant hobby. Whether this is an extreme sport, a weird collectable habit or Hornby. It’s just nice to have one passion that is in no way related to your work life.

For me, I’d pick motorcycling. I’d love to go on the occasional weekend track day. I’d love to be able to tear up greenlanes near me on a dirtbike. Having mini adrenaline-fueled adventures like this would give a lot to look forward to in the week.

Cost per month: £500

Total cost

I feel like I’ve included most problems that money could solve. The total cost of all this would be an extra £5340 month. This would mean to reach the upper limit of where I think money could solve problems I’d need to earn around £150,000. That’s assuming paying the maximum possible tax.

This seems like a lot, and it is, but it’s also not mad money. It’s not billionaire money. In fact, to live this lifestyle I’d only need £1.8m in the bank, assuming a 5% yearly return.

What’s Not on the List

Probably as important as what’s on the list is what isn’t on the list. If it’s not on the list it would probably be a mistake for me to direct any of my funds towards it

  • Fancy material possessions like watches
  • A nice car
  • A holiday home
  • First-class plane tickets
  • The best technology/gadgets
  • A gambling addiction

Summary

This has been a pretty practical exercise, I’d advise you to take some time and go through it yourself! We spent so much effort making decisions about money, without any number or northstar that to guide us. Quantifying to what extent money can solve my problems has helped to put into perspective what I should be going after, and what I shouldn’t.

🔨 Startup founder at Simpl, Friction 🧪 PM at Urban 📲 See my work http://tomlittler.tech

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