Money Does Buy Happiness (Fulfillment)

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One of the premises of the book, Your Money or Your Life, is that there is a positive relationship between spending and fulfillment.  In other words, the more money you spend the more fulfillment you experience.  However, this relationship has a limit.  Thus, while money cannot buy happiness, money can buy fulfillment -but only to a certain point.  The relationship between money and fulfillment is a powerful financial lesson, so it is beneficial to introduce these three stages.

Three Stages in Our Interaction with Money:

Money Offers Survival

In the beginning of our lives, more possessions did indeed mean more fulfillment.  Basic needs were met.  We were fed.  We were warm.  We were sheltered. (pg. 24)

The money to fulfillment relationship is very high.  Each dollar quantitatively adds a lot of fulfillment to live in the survival stage.

Money Offers Comfort

When we went from bare necessities (food, clothing, shelter) to some amenities (toys, a wardrobe, a bicycle), the positive relationship between money and fulfillment became even more deeply embedded. (pg. 24)

Once again, the money to fulfillment relationship is noticeable.  Now the impact is less powerful than in the survival stage, but each dollar appears to add fulfillment. 

Money Offers Luxuries

Eventually, we slipped beyond amenities and outright luxuries – and hardly registered the change. … we believed that money equals fulfillment so we barely noticed the curve [fulfillment] had started to level out. (pg. 23-24)

In the luxury stage, the money to fulfillment relationship is lost.  Dollars spent are no longer translating into experienced fulfillment.  Out of frustration the person in luxury tries to purchase more expensive and exotic elements to recapture the fulfillment, but to no avail.  Ultimately, the frustration leads to each dollar spent now bringing more grief and misery. 

Reflecting on these three money stages, the authors suggest readers identify their “point of maximum fulfillment.”  At what point does money stop offering fulfillment?  What is one supposed to do once they have reached the point where there is no fulfillment in the relationship between money and fulfillment?

How Can Money Continue to Provide Fulfillment?

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35 NIV)

income and giving

The chart above shows us how we can continue to receive fulfillment from our money.  This chart is based on the words of Jesus (written above – Acts 20:35).  Using the same lingo as Your Money or Your Life, we might say, “You receive more fulfillment with your money when you give it than when your spend it on yourself.”

Take Note:

  1. The income is increasing, but the spending is not.  Talk about countercultural! Truthfully, the spending is slightly increasing in proportion to the income.  However, it is relatively stagnant.  Are there really people who do not spend in relationship to their income? 
  2. The giving is increasing.  The more earned money, the more giving money.
  3. Notice that the fulfillment line is now moving in tandem with the giving line – not the spending line.

The relationship between money and fulfillment was a powerful reminder for me.  Again, I recommend the book Your Money or Your Life as it will (hopefully) challenge you to re-evaluate your relationship with money.

Photo by srboisvert.

Do you think money does provide some fulfillment?  What is your “point of maximum fulfillment”? For example, low comfort, high comfort, low luxury, or high luxury?


  1. says

    Yea, I am becoming more and more convinced that the happiest people in the world are the ones who give the most (not necessarily money).

  2. jarthurford says

    Bob, I am becoming more and more convinced that the happiest people in the world are those ones who give themselves to God and then who, as a result give of both their money and time/talents.

  3. says

    Hi Craig,

    interesting thoughts!

    I believe it’s not possible to make a general statement on whether money makes people more or less happy. Money comes with a whole set of new elements that may have good or bad impact on our happiness, and depending on how susceptible we are to every one of them, the conclusion will go one way or the other.

    I recently made an effort to provide a more comprehensive picture of what these ad- and disadvantages are. I invite you to have a look at and tell me what you think!

    Thank you,

    .-= Nick´s last blog ..A guide to enjoy classical music (2/3): Enabling an easy entry =-.

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