There is a meme floating around the internet right now that I really like. It goes something like this:
Some self-righteous person claimed: “Money will not fix all your problems.”
The response: “bitch no offense but money would solve literally every single one of my problems. like all of them. i dont have a single problem that money wouldnt immediately solve”
I remember once when my car battery died. None of my friends were around. So I called up a towing company and paid them to start my car. A small thing, but if you don’t have money, that can turn into stress, which piles up. I remember when I broke two teeth within a month and a half. Those crowns weren’t cheap, but I had the money in the bank. So I just paid for it. Now two crowns at over a thousand each? That’s a little bit of a bigger deal.
Money can do more than solve the problem. Money can solve the stress, which is often worse than the problem.
I remember growing up, the mothers and aunties who were poor would often say, “high blood pressure is the silent killer.” That’s true. But what causes high blood pressure? Stress. And what causes stress?
I learned this fast–the parents of my friends who were poor didn’t live long compared to those who were middle class. And they had a variety of health issues, like asthma, that seemed directly connected to their environment, an environment that would be very different if they were financially secure.
Money absolutely solves most problems. All? Maybe not all. But I think whoever wrote the quoted response was probably young. And for that young person, it’s entirely possible that money really would solve every single problem. Yes, every single one.
Here is a comprehensive list of the problems money can’t solve:
2. Untreatable chronic pain.
3. Chronic mental illnesses stemming from isolation, loneliness and narcissism.
That’s about it.
But the strange thing is, money really doesn’t make you happy.
I am a financial adviser, and some of my clients are quite rich. I am also a pastor who does prison ministry, and who works with people who are literally homeless. I have done taxes for years for middle class small business owners. I am one of the few people who has direct, day-to-day experience with the financial lives of America’s rich, America’s poor, and everyone in between.
Money solves problems.
Money does not make you happy.
And there is no contradiction here.
Thinking of it this way might help. Happiness and unhappiness are not opposites. They are not different ends of a spectrum. Happiness is its own experience. Unhappiness is its own separate thing, its own separate scale. They are just two different realms.
Happiness is produced by doing the things you love, being with the people you care about, physical contact like hugs, and living according to your own deep values. Unhappiness is largely caused by stress, anxiety, physical pain, disconnection, and having to do terrible things that you hate doing because you’re broke and need the money.
And money does a lot to get rid of unhappiness. But it does very little to produce happiness. This is why even rich people sometimes commit suicide. A life with a lot of money can still be very empty. It can still be lonely, isolated, or narcissistic.
This is also why I have known many poor people who experienced a wealth of happiness. But those happy poor people still tended to live short lives. And their happiness always seemed under assault by worries and troubles.
So if a young adult, who perhaps has lots of friends, says that, “money would solve literally every single one of my problems,” well, that statement might be true. And if someone says, “hey, even rich people are not always happy,” well, that statement is true too.
And the lesson that I learned and applied to my own life is this: Given that the best thing about money is that it buys freedom from stress, why would I want to invest too aggressively, or go into debt to buy status symbols? The whole point of money is to remove worry. Money itself will not be what I worry about.