Can We Agree That Money Is Important?

by Vered DeLeeuw · 66 comments

“Money does not buy happiness.”

How many times have you heard this? Lots of times, I am willing to bet. Our culture sends us two very conflicting messages about money. The first, a message that tells us money is everything. Celebrity culture, the rich and famous, Wall Street greediness, the twinge of jealousy we feel when we see a house bigger than ours, a car newer than our car.

Then, there’s the completely opposite message, the one that treats wealth – and the wealthy – with suspicion, that works hard to teach us NOT to envy them, to see the limitations that wealth has and the potential trouble it can cause. In some families, it gets to the point of feeling that money is somehow dirty, that it’s not a proper topic for conversation, that flaunting what you’ve got is tacky and that being poor is almost a virtue.

Can We Agree That Money Is Important?

But money IS important, and here, today, I’d like to get all of us to agree on this one basic assumption. Whatever we feel about money, people with money, or the pursuit of money, can we at least agree that money IS important? Very important, even? We can go into more detail later on, try to define what exactly it means, to say that money is important, or what kind of money is important. But for now, will you agree with me that dismissing money as unnecessary is a mistake?

It’s Not Having What You Want. It’s Wanting What You’ve Got

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions but in having few wants” is one of my favorite quotes. Having few wants is probably the best insurance against greediness because it’s human nature to keep wanting more, and the more you have, the more you want.

It’s a simple psychological process: you have the basics (shelter, food, clothes) and are fairly happy, although you do worry about dealing with emergency situations; you become wealthier, and you enjoy the extra luxuries very much for a few months, but then it becomes your new “normal.” Now, surrounded by wealthier people, you look around, and you feel unhappy. They have more than you. You want more. But when you get more, you’re unhappy again.

It’s a never-ending cycle and this is what explains why so many ultra-wealthy celebrities keep doing commercials. They have so much, but they always want more. They never get to a point where, if offered a million dollars for doing a commercial, they simply say, “You know what? No, thank you. I have enough.”

Money is an Important Tool

Another quote that I like: “Money on its own is neither good nor bad. It is a means to an end.” Again, this is not to say that money is not important. It is to say that money is not “dirty,” but money is also not everything. Money is a tool that enables you to protect yourself, to build yourself and your family a better life, and to give back to your community.

Money is important because having money means that you will not be destitute. It means that you are not dependent on being employed, living paycheck to paycheck, and having to put up with abuse by your boss because you badly need your job.

Money is important because it enables you to have more control over your life, more freedom to carve out your own path, and fewer constraints on your choices. How many of us are stuck in a career or in a job we hate, but cannot afford to lose because losing our job would mean losing our house and our health insurance? My own mother, a brilliant young woman with a bright future and scholarships to the best universities, back in the sixties, had to give up her dreams, forget about college and start working as a clerk because her parents were so poor and needed her to support them. It’s a sad story of unrealized potential, and the only reason she did not realize her potential was that her parents were poor.

Money is important because it means being able to give your children the best – the best education, the best health care, the best start in life. Of course, when it comes to kids, money can also greatly spoil them, so it’s up to wealthy parents to find a way to give their kids the best, while still teaching them the value of money and not giving them so much excess that their view on life is forever skewed.

Money is important because it means less financial worries. Sure, the wealthy worry too – they worry about losing their fortune, for example. But this is not the same as worrying about being able to put food on the table.

Money is important because it enables you to give back to your community, to pick the charities and causes you to believe in and support them.

Money is important because having money means that life is not a constant effort at keeping your head above the water. Having money enables you to live life to the fullest, enjoy adventures and textures and tastes, make the most of the ~80 years you’ve got. This paragraph, more than any of the above paragraphs, is about luxuries – money buys you a more comfortable lifestyle – but is that such a bad thing? Humans are hardwired to seek warmth, safety, and comfort, and having money is a great way to get those.

I Rest My Case

What do you think? Can we agree that money is important, or do you object to any of the points I’ve raised?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • me says:

    money is happiness

  • Artie Whitefox says:

    Money is important to faithless beings. They want a thing that is seen. Faith waits for what is not yet seen. Why need faith when death is no more? God wants to be in our mind giving what God asks for, in another person. God controls the person from the inside. Mans laws controls people from the outside, making people to fear those laws. God says fear not, and don’t be afraid when seen as he is. God says that through they that serve God. Indians did not use money. They respected the land. We need to respect what is, and others when world wide back, and forth free, becomes a reality. God is choosy as to who will enjoy eternal joy with him. That is a part of what work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, is all about. Jesus is he that does whatever good that you do.

  • Mike says:

    If fact the three most very important things in life are, having your health, money, and a family.

  • Mike says:

    Well if you have your health, money, and family, Bingo, you’re a winner. And there are many of us that don’t have that unfortunately.

    • David @ says:

      You are right. And I would add that if you have your health and family, then you don’t need all that much money to be a winner!

      • Georeg says:

        I disagree. You need money to enjoy your family and health. Majority of those “happy family people spend” 24/7 in work barely seeing their kids to pay for all the needs family have and it does not have to be necesaary a lot of stuff.

  • Nick says:

    Well i would certainly say that having your health, money, and a family are the three most important things in life, and without that you’re screwed.

    • David @ says:

      You are right Nick. Without health, nothing matters. Without money, you’ll worry about everything. And without family, you’ll be miserable!

      • khushi says:

        Time is also the important factor as above three. If you have money but you don’t have time to spend with with your family then all the luxurious life is worthless

        • Ron says:

          Bingo! So few ppl get this. Job which pays you fortune but demands 8hours a day from you each day is absolutely worthles.

  • Jim says:

    Why having your health, enough money to get by, and having a family are the most three important things in a man’s life compared to being single and all alone?

    • David @ says:

      Everyone has different priorities but the ones you’ve listed are up there. Without health, nothing matters and you need at least some money to get by.

      Family is also really important for emotional well being. We should strive for something else once pure survival aspects are met.

  • Trajk Logik says:

    Money is simply a point system that separates the wealthy from everyone else.

  • Trajk Logik says:

    This article seems to say that not being greedy is the way to go, then says that money is important to keep your head above water. I wouldn’t need to keep my head above water if there wasn’t money and all goods and services are provided free of charge except that you have to work to earn them. Everyone has to show that they are contributors of society to earn products and services. There would be no need to keep your head above water, because you’d have everything you want and all you have to do in return is provide your own product or service to society.

    • Sksk says:

      Wow. Only naive american can say this. I lived in eastern europe and we tried this think. I can tell you kid, it does not work. Trust me.

  • Trajk Logik says:

    I don’t see how any of this shows that money is important. We could simply provide society with a product or service and get paid in goods and services of others, instead of money. All we have to do is show that we work and provide society with services or products, then others who do the same provide those that work with their goods and services. We don’t need money, we just need to show that we aren’t lazy and giving back to society and we are then provided any product or service we need.

    • Jdjdj says:

      Well,kid. Money was invented to solve the problem of how much each of us provide to society. The problem you would have to solve very soon in your comunist ideal you are describing.

  • Jerry says:

    Yeah, everyone of us would sell out our ideals and beliefs if we could become super rich. People seek you out when you have money, so I would not have any qualms about stepping on and over someone else.

  • Mudassir Bello Mufti says:

    hhhhh! Now a days money becomes valuable extremely, because without money you’re nothing but, something. without money you can’t even life effectively without any distractions, pray to God the almighty to grant us with prosperity.

  • Let The Truth Be Known says:

    Having your health, enough money to get by, and having a family i would say is the most important thing of all. Being single and all alone with no love life is the worst of all. It was just too very bad that many of us good single men never met the right good single woman to settle down with, which would have been much better of course. But then again, many others were just very extremely blessed and lucky altogether when they found love.

  • Jadon says:

    Don’t forget inflation and tax and vat we are in a never ending web a system that we serve so it may serve us some are slaves to money and for others money is their slave it depends on us to do what we’ve got to do to get it, passion will make you happy passion will build your wealth lack of passion will simply means that you’ll have to work for someone else’s passion till you find your own. Only issue is some are born to money and others are born without so the ones that have wealth in the family don’t know the feeling of a poor person hence the Rich keep the poor poor so they can become richer the poor have to work for money and the rich have money…

  • IdPnSD says:

    “Money is important because…” – No, money is not important. Money is false, because it is not an object of nature. Therefore whatever you do with money it must be false also, because false can never become true. Since money is false, money cannot be necessary to run any real economy. It has been imposed on us, all over the world, by force.

    So, remove money and create moneyless economy (MLE). Under MLE you work free and get everything free. Thus the exact same economy can be maintained in the exact same way, without any kind of money. MLE gives us complete democracy and freedom. Under MLE there will be no wars, poverty, unemployment, discrimination, pollution, migration, gun violence, etc.

  • Joanieonthebeach says:

    Great article & agree, through real life experience of a wealthy best friend, that the more money & stuff you have, the more you want. It’s ego. My husband & I retired from professional jobs without a pension, simply social security and invested savings. Heck, the 401ks didn’t start until the early 80s. My career as a RN began in 1971. What you define as happiness is up to you. To me, your health is #1 and #2 is enjoying all the simple things in Life, after food, shelter, warm, and Maslow’s Hierarchy have been met.

  • Marwa says:

    Yhhhh money is very important bcoz we cant life without money we cant happy without money its impossible to live life without money

  • Tim says:

    Great article. It is truly finding what really makes us happy that’s important in our life.

  • sked says:

    money is only important to those who cannot enjoy life without it.
    i have no bills. so money has very little value to me. there where a few seasons of my life where i worked really hard to earn a decent amount of money. i was able to obtain a few things that i desired but the end result was me being all alone and having no money.
    the way i see it. is that people are so captivated by the thought that their net worth is really worth something. when i had lots of money and bought cool stuff and paid for my friends and family to do fun things. it was amazing. but the underlying thing is that there is this idea that your only as valuable as your bank account. so when my money ran out. my friends and family would not care about my existence any longer.
    i feel money has importance in our current time of dealing with it. but it is not necessary in the long run.
    so after parting ways with people who only value you if you can bring money in, i began searchin for individuals who valued human life and connections more than the coins in my pocket.
    if life was valued more than money, there would be no more suffering from not obtaining basic survival needs. but the way i see people with money behaving makes me very concerned for humanity.

  • Kate Bestwick says:

    I realized today that money is important for a woman with children, to survive. Without money, one is powerless, and without security. One can’t survive and can be subject to abuses by those that they depend on for survival. Without money one is dependent on another person for their well being and survival which is sad.Have enough for rent, food, gasoline, healthcare, and keep saving until you have your own place, so that you and your children can survive and thrive. Even if you earn a lot later on and live in a big house, having a small simple home and building lots of savings to put food on the table for the rest of your and your children’s lives is a very powerful thing to have.

  • MeBeingME says:

    Money is a common denominator to all things which allow us to survive in hostile environment but modern world. Think of Naked and Afraid, they have nothing to trade or someone to trade with. No matter how much money they have its a toilet paper under certain condition. Snails are more valuable and important then “money” as we know it – paper and metal. However, metal coins can be sharpened and a cutting tool can be made. Putting all aside. If we assume that an everyday life of every folk we would wake up in the morning and have 1000 bucks for pocket change, do you need money ? ( same exchange rate as now ). Will you be happy ? Now, let’s talk about utopia such as communism ( socialism is a path to never happening communism aka utopia where everything a plenty and if we were all the same and human factor would not be present Marks and Engels would of been on right path about communism ), where everyone have basics – which is 3 meals a day, private place to live,rest and spent time with yourself and loved ones, medical stuff is paid, transportation is given. So 2k a month per person should suffice. That is 320 mil people hare in USA – 320 000 000 x 2000 = 640 000 000 000 dollars a month. Soooo, 640 billion a month should make us all do nothing and just sit on our ass all day long. However, someone gotta do something… or maybe we are a the time of robotic revolution, when all work done by robots, we just spew abstract ideas, algorithms and solutions. Robots will pick those up and start error and trial process with billions tryouts per seconds in virtual sandboxes. And spit out a product at the end. Where at that point product is patented and will be allowed to be manufactured by other robots. And bring kudos to original manufacturer. Like that ? Or there will be some mofo who will decide he/she/it better then the surroundings and will try to forcefully take more ? Because force are the ultimate power from which the rest of the powers derive… I can continue with that for ever… But i have a good advice to make you happy – remember the first day of your life, you had nothing of material but love of the mother and people around, the rest of things you got are bonus! Because 80 years later bonus is over and two generations into future no one even remember your name. Unless you are one of the 500 people during current generation and made eather very good or very evil to other people. Deviations should be drastic like 90 degree turns on 300 miles an hour speed. Jesus Christ resurrection, Walmart creation, pyramid construction, holocaust, slavery, genocide… No one will remember 4.0 GPA or a big turd… However, i seen a 18 inch prawl on a tv the other day, someone were impressed by it…

  • Najwa Al-Obaidani says:

    I totally agree with that, money is important in our life. Because with money we can do what ever we want to do and we can buy what ever we want to buy. Money is important for each person. Also nowadays every things in our life need money and without it we can’t live our life in the best way.

  • yabinda says:

    yes money is important. there is no comfort in life without money. it is not the time when people compromised in what little bit they had, needs and requirements have changed. so you have to step out and earn bread for yourself and your family

  • John Weidner says:

    Pretty, attractive, beautiful, stunning, glamorous, sexy, and each of these words has a different meaning to each of us. We could argue for hours who is pretty than who. Eventually, the easy solution is to say that they are both pretty. Why do we have money? Because 2 chickens and a goat don’t fit very well in your wallet . So money is just a instrument to buy goods and services. Money can be used for good or evil, it only depends on whose hands are spending it. How pretty do you have to be to turn into beautiful? Depends on who is doing the judging. How much money is enough, depends on ones needs and wants. It is not a right or wrong thing, its just your individual thing. You can live on the street and still be happy. You can live in jail and still be happy. You can live in a palace and be miserable. Whitney Houston had it all, Robin Williams made the world laugh, but he could not cheer himself. The secret is to enjoy the moments that make you smile, most require no money at all. Need extra money, get a part time job or find a better job. Complaining solves nothing! Money is infinite. Your richness does not make me poor. Donald Trump is not in competition with Bill Gates or Michael Dell. There is plenty of money to go around. The American Dream is alive and well, but you have to work hard to collect it.

  • Geeta Singh says:

    Yes… I totally agree that MONEY is very important in everybody life.. whether we agree or not, but deep inside we all know MONEY is needed to survive in this world. It can buy us our health & happiness. We dont have money we get tension & stress, due to which we become unhealthy & unhappy. so i believe money is the root cause of all evil and happiness too.

  • bb says:

    Living in SouthAfrica, you would think money is not an important thing. Nonetheles, I think money does help make life easier. But the fear of having it ‘come to an end’ makes the greedy want more of it. There’s literally enough money for every person in the world. But then again, greed is the main reason for that uneven distribution. But in this world of -the fittest- the poor and uneducated are rarely given a change to polish their skills and potentials. (Again, refering to uneven distribution of resources).

  • John says:

    Saving money is not a one size fits all program. It’s like giving to charity, you don’t give till it hurts, but give till it feels good. Money may not buy happiness, but poverty can’t buy anything! So saving is a very personal thing, and whatever program works for you is OK. My rule is never pay interest, interest should be earned because it helps to save more money so you get to your goal faster. Another important lesson about money is its not how much money you make, but how much you keep. Stop counting dollars, and make ever dollar spent count.

  • joshua says:

    i completely disagree with this……..the only reason we have money is because the world isn’t UNITED…if we all cared for each other as we care for ourselfs, i say we dont need money, money is more of a curse and a drug that even he says “we want more and more”. i believe in balance of everything in this world… this world could be 1000 years more advance than now….why?….because we would all be together and work for the same THRIVE……….BUT all humans are just blinded with money..not everyone see’s what is really going on

    • Anna says:

      I must admit that this is a very interesting post. Personally, I believe money is essential to life. There are numerous disasters that can result if we do not have money. For example; if you are sick, you need money to get help, you need money to pay for college; in fact we need money to stay informed. If I did not have money, I will not be responding to your article right now. Money is the ultimate idol and everyone who is sane enough to understand the value of money worships money. The Bible says where a man’s treasure is there is his heart. When we do not have money, and have no viable means to take care of our obligations bad imaginations starts to crop up in our head and our existence feels threatened and when you feel threatened your fight for your life and this includes doing whatever possible to survive.

      • Rebecca says:

        Anna, I think you are missing his point. Money is only important to us now because it is required to access any resource we need. What Joshua is saying, and I agree with, is that Money is actually inhibiting our human potential to evolve, because it is quite difficult to attain sufficient amounts to individually thrive in the current construct of the Monetary system we live under. If we did not have the obstacle of Money inhibiting our potential, every human on earth would be free to unlock their true passions instead of spending their entire lives trying to make enough money to survive. Since you can’t even exist without it.

  • Angela says:

    I believe money is important in order to survive. But I believe that practicing simplicity is more importance in order to gain happiness.

  • Dhirendra says:

    Money is really very very important. It is not the only important thing we need but definitely it’s the one of them..

    The person who says that money is not important:
    does not spend sleepness nights without food.
    does not walk several miles just to save some pennies.
    does not see their relative die due the lack of a medical facility.
    does not see their children starving due to hunger, and
    does not feel the winter without clothes and summer without shelter.

    I know that money is one of most important thing in today’s world because without it you can’t even survive. Money is needed for food, shelter, clothes.

  • Arjun says:

    Well I agree that money is important, but I am not sure if it is worth spending all our short time on earth to earn money ?

    Is not enough if you have the what you require to live and a bit more. Where does the search for money end ?

    As you said once you reach a point you won’t see people below you, you will feel jealous of people above you.

    I am quite confused, money is needed but how much is a question I want people to answer.

  • Jeanne Melanson says:

    Hey, good post! I’m on a mission to create wealth and I loved this article. All the best to you! Peace.

  • Sean says:

    I can’t say money is important unless I completely agree that man must all conform to standard rules for happiness. I don’t completely agree with that. One of my idols is Jesus. He constantly refuted the importance of money, instilling in his followers the concept of appreciation. He would offer help in return for food, shelter and spirits instead of accepting payment in the form of currency. The fact that man has conditioned us to turn from this approach and to contribute to those who are the Caesars of our time doesn’t negate the fact that money can be avoided, and thus not important to some. Money is a means to an end. If no one in the entire world can fathom a more efficient means then I would call it important. We’ve put someone on the moon, split an atom, cured countless deadly ailments yet can’t find a way to live without a small piece of paper or plastic in our pockets. Personally, I find that to be a sad statement for humanity.

  • Joe says:

    The most important part is how much money will be enough for you to make you happy and how to get it.

  • steve says:

    kevin says: It’s easy to argue for why money is important. But, what are some reasons why money is not all that important?

    My answer is this: the only time I can see when money is not important is if you are living off the land (kinda like a hobo)or something,where you have no financial responsibilities like rent,electric,travel to and from work,etc. But, you still need to eat, and find a way to replace worn out clothing, so you may still need money for these kinds of things,but just not as much as most people.

  • Kevin H says:

    It’s easy to argue for why money is important. But, what are some reasons why money is not all that important?

  • CoupSmart says:

    I think you hit it on the early on in your post, Vered: “Wealth consists not in having great possessions but in having few wants.” Money is not “dirty”; it’s the actions sometimes taken to accumulate it that gives it such a bad name.

    Money is absolutely important, but its importance is often overshadowed by other interests. When profits are a company’s only goal, for example, everything else gets weirdly skewed and other things of importance (health of workers, environment, fairness) get thrown out the window. I think we’re all seeing how money’s “importance” ended up ruining the current economy.

    I think your example of a movie star doing commercials is spot-on (add in a dash of ego to the equation, too). How much does one person NEED, anyway, before they end up becoming a caricature?

    The fact is, based on world standards, anyone who washes their car with drinking water is “wealthy.”

  • Brad Pitt says:

    As much as we want to deny money as not important for our happiness but we do need money to be happy. We are certainly be happier if we don’t need to think on where to get the food for our next meal. The chance of not worrying about it makes us happy, thus money is important to be happy.

  • Abedi says:

    As the my retirement is around the corner with no savings (never had enough to live on and to save) and a pittance of a pension I realize now how important money is. I will certainly not be happy inspite of the clamour about money not being able to by happiness. It can certainly facilitate it.

  • Infinite Banking says:

    Ya it is funny how we send such conflicting messages. Money obviously doesn’t buy happiness but the lack of it can sure bring misery. Financing your own vehicles is a good step towards a great financial future.

  • Ken Zang - Cambio de Cheques says:

    Consumerism is a disease that is paid at retirement.

    In this era of my life I’m saving money and learning to invest and establish profitable businesses under supervision time. I am what is called diversification.


  • HenryTalksMoney says:

    Money is important if only because it’s what we need use to get what’s really important to us. It essentially provides access to everything you want because that’s how society is structured. It’s the designated vehicle to make commerce and society function more efficiently. More family, health, personal time directly correlates to having more money. But as stated above, that’s only true to a point.

    It makes me happy when I have enough money to provide for my family and give them a better standard of living. In addition, health and the amount of personal time a person has relies so much on the amount of money they have. Eating better, improved medical attention, less time at work, etc. are prime examples of how having money has a better impact there.

  • KM says:

    After I traveled to the Moroccan side of the Sahara desert, I decided to go live there and part of the appeal of the place was that it seemed that those people didn’t care about money. Sure, the place was quite poor, but it was down to earth and the people were real, whereas I started to see people here as two-faced. However, after a while (I lived there for a month first, then another half a year), I started to see that that was not the case at all. It might have been more laid back in some respects, but in general, it was still the same thing as everywhere else in the world. People like money there too and they like technology and they buy the latest phones even though they live in dirt. I thought trade was more prevalent there, but people still prefer to be paid in money and although they will give you more time if you don’t have it, they are not generous enough to do something for free. Needless to say, I was disappointed that the world was ruined all over.

  • Blue Spyder says:

    Money makes me happy in the sense that I don’t need to hide from bill collectors or dodge anyone I owed money to. Other than that, I was happier poor.

  • Jenna says:

    I agree but want to add a side note that money doesn’t replace bigger things like: family, community, and doing good.

  • Christine says:

    I agree that having enough money to alleviate any financial stress does add a sense of happiness to your life. Any additional wealth above that point doesn’t really increase your happiness. In fact in may reduce it. My father always says, life use to be much simpler when we didnt have any money.

  • Cath Lawson says:

    Hi Vered – I’ve had plenty of money and I’ve been poor. Neither made me happy but there is no doubt that having enough money makes you feel more secure. On the other hand, having more money doesn’t always give you a better lifestyle, especially if the way you’re earning it stresses you out.

    I appreciated losing a lot of money because it enabled me to live more frugally and wisely and make good choices. Beforehand I was quite extravagent and wasteful.

    Now, I would like to increase my net worth again, but become a lot smarter when it comes to spending and investing.

  • Briana @ GBR says:

    Your points are absolutely valid. Money is important. Without it, it’s hard to do the things you want, and even more difficult to do the things you need to do. Money is just a form of exchange for goods and services. It could easily be something else, like tissue paper or pencils. Just the society we live in.

  • Mel Gibson says:

    If we are going to talk about material things and needs, then money is important, but if we are going to talk about one’s happiness, then money is not that important. From your list of reasons of why money is important, it all seems to point to material things and needs, except for the second to the last one in which you need money to give to charity. What if money wasn’t invented?

    • HenryTalksMoney says:

      If money wasn’t invented, I’d believe the same problems would exist. Money is only a vehicle. Human nature dictates how it is used and perceived.

  • Mark says:

    Yes, it is important. We should not overvalue it because then greed can consume you. We should also not undervalue it either because it is needed for survival.

  • retirebyforty says:

    Money is extremely important. People who says money is not important had never been poor. Once the basic are taken care of, money is still important but I agree there are more important things like heath, family, and much more.

  • LoveBeingRetired says:

    Money is important – I agree 100% – for all of the reasons mentioned and more. For me I think the danger is becoming obsessed with MORE money. How much do you really need to live comfortably or even beyond comfortable? Yet so many people just keep working and slaving to have MORE money. And the cost is significant – missed time with family, spouses, and downtime for yourself. Nothing wrong with money but as the saying goes, the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. We should use money not be used by our desires to always have more.

    • vered says:

      I agree, and this also ties to what Donna said in her comment above. There’s a point at which one has enough, but many people are unable to stop working hard and accumulating money even when that point has been reached. Of course, “enough” is very subjective – I guess that’s the problem.

  • Donna says:

    Once the basics are taken care of then earning more gives no more happiness.

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