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Money Really Does Lead to a More Satisfying Life (nytimes.com)
263 points by mpweiher 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 146 comments



It isn't money. Its agency over your own life. Money is how we currently regulate and monitor the agency our citizens have over there lives and those around them. Finding better ways to grant and assert agency over one's own life is the key to happiness AFAICT.


I think of it the same way. Money is power, and the most important kind of power for your own well-being is control over your own life. Whenever I get very stressed at work, I find it reassuring to think that, worst case scenario, I have enough "fuck you money" piled up that I could walk away and take my time to look for a new job on my own terms. Knowing this in the back of my mind also allows me to negotiate my working conditions more boldly. I dare to pick projects I'm interested in and say no to others.

I have a fairly high-paying job, but I would like to find a way to earn more eventually. Not so I can be filthy rich and buy myself ridiculous things most people can't afford, but so I can have the freedom to take a sabbatical and travel, or start my own business, or heck, retire early, while I'm still healthy enough to enjoy life.

I grew up poor, and to me, having more earnings/savings makes me feel more safe and in control of my life. The biggest difference it has made recently is going from having roommates to having my own place. I'm an introvert, I need time alone, and I find it really rewarding to be able to come home to my own little sanctuary after work.


Compounded interest is your friend. Start using the stock market. It's the only way to make money without working "hard." Rule of 72 is something you can read about.


This is a very easy statement to make in the middle of an unprecedented bull market. But you know what they say about things that go up . . .


...they go into orbit?

While I'm a big believer that we're going to see a big correction in the next couple of years (the kind that will make 2008 look like a foreshock), nobody knows how much higher the market can go and for how long. Maybe it will still be going up before I die.

The conventional wisdom is to never try to time the market. Buy and hold, and in the long run you'll make money.


> Buy and hold, and in the long run you'll make money.

Is that where Bitcoin's HODL "wisdom" comes from?

Also, don't bet on one horse.


That's why you should buy a fund/ETF tracking the All Country World Index.


I agree. I'm still waiting on my dogecoins to make me a millionaire!


Yes, but a good number of individual investors will pour money into the markets only when things get super frothy and exciting (i.e. at the peak) and then freak out and pull all their money out of the markets when we see a huge downturn.


And those people are the reason everyone else says not to do that, not to time the market, and to invest for the long term. If you stick to an established plan, adjust your allocation according to that plan, and don't panic sell, historically you will have always come out ahead.

http://awealthofcommonsense.com/2014/02/worlds-worst-market-...


The important thing the linked article shows is that even if you're always investing right before crashes the market still trends upwards and you still come out ahead — as long as you don't panic sell.


Of course, there is a difference of how much ahead. If you would have invested few months later you could have come much more ahead.


Yes. If you can (accurately) predict the future you can make a hell of a lot of money far faster than 43 years with out of the money options.


Out of the money options are really risky if there is a pullback. ITM options 30-45 DTE can you make tons of money.


Correct, but I think this is easier said than done sometimes - especially if you've only been investing during a huge bull market. As Mike Tyson once said, "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face."


Not really, regardless of the state of the market, you are probably better off keeping your stock than selling it.


This seems true, however the following quote is worth mentioning:

“The market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.”

https://quoteinvestigator.com/2011/08/09/remain-solvent/


All the more reason to constantly tell people the right thing to do and why and strategies to avoid letting fear and other emotions get the better of them in those situations. We can all be susceptible to such things, but with a little education and discipline can avoid making terrible mistakes like that.


As Warren Buffet once observed, the stock market is just a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient.


Or the desperate to the well-bufferred.


There are opportunities in bull and bear markets. Also, has the $SPY ever gone to $0? If you have the belief that it will, well, when that happens, we are all screwed. No point thinking doomsday.

But let's step back and calculate suppose you got into $SPY in 2007 at 155. If you had kept the $10K in there, it would be worth $20K today almost. However, if you had kept adding money to it each year, your return would be massive. As you get older, you move from more index holdings to bonds, which guarantees you to hold your money. Another method is dividends, if you had AAPL shares, suppose 1000 shares @ 0.50 per quarter, that's $2.00 a year on 1000 shares, $2000 a year. If you had a family member who doesn't work and owns all the shares, in Canada, that would be up to $60,000 each year you can earn tax free.

I don't hold any stock, although I believe it is safe to do so, I currently only own 2 shares of TSLA as I wanted to be eligible for the class action lawsuit if there ever was one. I only trade options and I believe that is the safest way to make money and never go bankrupt.

Also, if you buy stock you can also sells calls/puts against your shares to protect you from a downside/flat days.

To reiterate, the statement above, is always easy to make, because this is the only way to make money. If you don't get into the market, then each year your money is running away from you, see inflation. Ally savings accounts just aren't as helpful.

Hopefully I have changed your mind and you will start looking into Vanguard funds at the minimum.


This is all very true but you mentioned not working hard in your previous post. It seems that you are working hard to research the best opportunities, hedge your positions, etc. (it's not like you're digging ditches but still). Perhaps I was too quick to judge your post as a "make tons of money without any work" comment. I would agree that being passively invested in the market is better than sitting in cash or trying to time it.

With that said, I am nervous about the current market. I'm still invested but am starting to diversify into buy and hold real estate in established locations. One thing I don't like about the market is the impact that some random geopolitical event can have and I don't see the world moving toward more stability at the moment.


One other approach when you don't trust the market is to pay off debt (if you have any).

Depending on the interest rates of the debt you hold and how long it's supposed to take to pay it back, you could save yourself a lot of money long term. It's not an approach that investors often recommend but if you've got a 7% interest rate on a 30 year mortgage the return for paying it off early is 7% saved. Whether the market goes up or down, the loss for that percentage remains the same.

The more debt you get paid off, the more cash flow you free up to invest.

It doesn't always make sense, but it's worth considering. When interest rates were really low I locked up a 2.8% rate on a 15 year mortgage...and at that point there's really no incentive to pay it off early. Other forms of debt will vary though.


Very good point, I am paying off debt as well. This will position me better for the following two things:

- Better debt to income ratio/monthly cash flow numbers as I diversify into real estate

- Provide more cash flow to purchase under valued assets should the market drop significantly (there's always an initial overreaction)


Hey, I didn't want to respond to the real estate remark you made in the post where I responded, but now I kind of just had to.

With real estate, there are hidden costs. The furnace breaks, the AC breaks. The stairs need something. The roof needs patching. There is mold. There is property tax. There are bad tenants. There are other aspects also. It takes time.

IMO forget real estate and get in the market. But I mean, I am biased right? :)


Re: the hidden costs of real estate - yes, this all has to be taken into consideration when you run the numbers. But it works in the opposite direction, too. You can add some upgrades, or even a car port or storage unit, and increase the value and cash flow of your asset.

I'm not looking at it as an either/or thing though, I'll still stay in the market just not 100%. Part of the reason I'm diversifying is because the market has been very good to me and I want to pull some of that profit off the table. In any event, I'm going to begin looking for the user named realestategod so you two can have a chat :)


This all comes down to time. Time > Money.


Basic financial literacy is important to learn. The items I mentioned are somethings everyone should be able to do after hours of reading. Worst case VTI/Vanguard funds require limited work. You can also get a bank to manage your money for you and pay the fee. If you learn it yourself though, you will always be able to save that MER fee. There are many people who work 9-5 and just put all their money in $BRK or an ETF fund or other investments and in their retirement are doing okay. The ones who didn't are struggling from the people I have interacted with.

As for the political instability, if it gets bad enough, we are all going to die of famine, so no point thinking doomsday. Also, since you are holding long term, who cares if it goes down, you are worried about 15/20/25 years from today. I think this is what stops many people from getting the market, thinking banks are corrupt, the system is crazy, and so on. Leave your politics to the side, this is the market, it doesn't care about conservatives or liberals, Chinese or American, black or white, it cares about dollars and cents.

Where I work hard is my options trade.

If you really want to see proof that you can make money, without working hard, shameless plug, www.marketgodfathers.com, I provide option trades before the market opens, I provide when I enter and when I exit. If someone follows my plans, they would make the same amount of money, percentage wise with a $30K account and no research required or work. So there are ways. Obviously, you might think this is incorrect, but if you spend time researching the market, you can definitely do what I do on your own. I do it in bull markets, and I will do it in bear markets.

The thing about money in the market is when you make more, you want more. It never stops. Also, when you learn one way to make it, you always want to enhance it and do better. It's a never ending journey.

Remember the richest people in the world pay people to manage their money, so the stock market is where you want to be.


Even true over the entire historical performance of the S&P 500. You just have to look at a longer time horizon. Busts are temporary.


Unless you're Japan.


This deserves upvotes.

Edit: Also, everyone should investigate this.


And China's debt profile is starting to resemble Japan's before the lost decade.


Even though wealth has been concentrating in corporate stocks for the past century or so, a lot of things have changed since then so we can't guarantee that this trend will continue. Access to easy money has made corporations extremely innefficient and wasteful. Also people have already started to complain about centralization so already there are social forces that are starting to push back against the corporate trend.


The stock market is just a mean of transferring wealth. It won't change anything in the "real world". You're not generating value for anybody by investing in it. If that makes your existence fulfilling, good for you. But I'd just feel a crook.


Secondary markets exist because they give businessmen and investors incentive to create and fund risky but potentially lucrative businesses. Your view on the stock market is warped if you think investors are crooks. The stock market doesn’t deprive people of things and is simply a group of people freely exchanging what they own.


I never said investors are crooks. I said that I wouldn't be satisfied by just doing stock market investing, even though that leads to more money. I want to do something that has a minimum of meaning. And i'd probably take a basic but meaningful job (plumber?) If it brought me enough money.


The point of this chain was to gain agency of your life. You don't just go work the market, you go do something meaningful and take some of the money you earn and put it into the market so you can have more agency in your life later on.


You say that like transferring wealth is a bad thing. It's not charity or particularly fulfilling, but public companies are intended to be owned by the public, which includes you. There's no reason to feel guilty about owning a share of the profits. They are going to go to someone.

If anything, ownership should be spread more widely. Suppose the government bought index funds and used it to fund basic income?


I don't feel guilty. But I wouldn't feel happy.


What are you otherwise using that money for? If you're using it as a means to fund activities that make you happy it would be worthwhile but if it's sitting in the bank then your bank is just using it to generate interest for itself. This could instead be going to you.


I would say that the stock market is a means of exchanging ownership of these exponentially growing assets we call companies, and that a public market exists for doing so is tremendously egalitarian. Any average Joe can become a part-owner of the Apple's of the world and ride with them to pre-eminence.

Apparently that makes the average Joe a crook? I don't know, I don't see it.


I spoke for me. I never told anybody else is a crook. But, "invest in the stock market and pretend to be happy" doesn't work for me


Sure it's changing things in the real world. And in a positive way.

You are providing funds for companies to exist. Companies that pay some of the people, and provide services for other people. You also get a share of the profits.

Certainly, this can be abused, but at the fundamental level, it's a good thing to have businesses that provide value. I like being able to go buy a nice computer when I want one, or going and getting some fast (or slow) food. I also like googling things. All these things are (often) supported by stocks.


We don't use money to "regulate and monitor the agency" people have over their own lives. We use money as a medium of exchange enabling people to get other people to do things for them. Money doesn't make you happy. Being able to pay a doctor to take care of you when you're sick, pay a private school teacher to heap attention on your kid, pay a chef to prepare nice meals for you at a restaurant--those things make you happy.

If all people wanted was agency over themselves most people could do it--living off the land in the middle of nowhere is still pretty cheap here in the U.S.


"We use money as a medium of exchange enabling people to get other people to do things for them. "

How does money get other people to do things for you? Well, there has to be this group of individuals who are just dying for that money and will do all manner of things to get it. That flexibility comes from desperation and not having agency over your own life.

"If all people wanted was agency over themselves most people could do it--living off the land in the middle of nowhere is still pretty cheap here in the U.S."

You mean if people wanted to trade nature having control of their existence for an employer having control over their existence, it should be easy in the US. Even that is hardly true - even subsistence agriculture requires skills that can't easily gotten and moreover, all land owners have to pay taxes so you can't have true independence, a best growing your own food and hopefully selling the surplus to pay your property taxes.

It's not that any of this is impossible. Rather, it's a "way out" but so is getting a lot of money so you're a labor buyer rather than the labor seller. But all this does add up to lack of money actually being a force to "regulate and monitor the agency" of most people today.


Doctors are generally not "just dying for that money". It's pretty nice to have, though, and they still want to be paid for treating you. And if they're going to spend their time treating a patient anyway, why would they not spend it treating the patient who could pay them over the one who can't? (Barring the warm fuzzies of helping people who can't afford it...many doctors do in fact do volunteer work, but they divide that off into a separate block of time and spend the bulk of their time helping folks who can pay for it.)


The Mercedes and mansion aren’t going to pay for themselves.


You should become an orthodontist or a specialized kind of doctor (like plastic surgeon, brain surgeon, heart specialist, gasteroentrologist, or some such thing). Ideally, own and operate your practice, because that's where the multimillionaire-money is -- otherwise, being a doctor in this age is not that lucrative of a job. Some of my doctor acquaintances have trouble making the bill (whilst most of my software engineer acquaintances are doing exceedingly well).


Yeah, as Josh Frydenberg commented recently, "how does anyone survive on under $100,000 a year?"

Not that lucrative … by whose standards?


NYU recently made its medical school tuition free for exactly that reason, to prevent a shortage of first-line family physicians and research doctors.


And you have to consider all of the low paying years while they are in residency, getting fellowships, etc.


Being unable to pay for something you need to live your life is bvb the same as having no agency over ones life. I see no difference. Sure, if you found that no one was willing to provide you with the money you required to make decisions and live your life you could move somewhere else. That act in and of itself is an act of agency with the likely goal of improving one's situation. As far as I can tell you're supporting my argument, all in saying is that money doesn't equal agency, it's the provider of agency in our current civilization. There are either ways we could provide individual agency to our citizens with getting it all muddled up in the medium of exchange for bartering and resource allotment.


>Being unable to pay for something you need to live your life is bvb the same as having no agency over ones life.

Requiring someone else to provide something you need without compensating them with something they want in return (money or barter) is removing their agency over their life.


>We don't use money to "regulate and monitor the agency" people have over their own lives.

We might not advertise that we use them explicitly for this, but this is exactly what they end up doing. People that need money have to give away their time and do stuff for other people.

>We use money as a medium of exchange enabling people to get other people to do things for them.

Po-ta-toh, po-tah-to. Those people that do "things for them" give up part of their own agency of what to do and part of their own time in exchange of getting paid. They can still pick between this or that job (if they're lucky and there are plenty of jobs), but they can't choose not to give their time to a job, or to be too picky about which job to do (lest they starve).

>If all people wanted was agency over themselves most people could do it--living off the land in the middle of nowhere is still pretty cheap here in the U.S.

The agency doesn't end in subsistence, as people aren't animals. It includes being able to do things like e.g. travel, watch tv, eat a nice meal, surf the internet, etc. -- and that gets costly fast. Part of that agency also includes that is shouldn't involve others treating them like pariahs (because again, they're not animals).


> It includes being able to do things like e.g. travel, watch tv, eat a nice meal, surf the internet, etc. -- and that gets costly fast.

by that definition, nobody can have true agency, until a post-scarcity society where provision of services does not require any labour from any human, and is free.


>by that definition, nobody can have true agency, until a post-scarcity society where provision of services does not require any labour from any human, and is free.

Of course. Nobody is 100% free. At best we have fewer limitations to what we decide to do, but not none.

Even in a post scarcity world, where we would much freer, we wouldn't have 100% agency (for one, we can't do whatever we like to other persons, we need to respect their agency too. Second we have inherent limits, as to what we can do without getting tired, talent, a lifespan, etc). So our agency is limited in several ways.


Well, you’re kind of stopping halfway. Being able to pay other people to do things for me that I would not be able to do myself gives me agency over my own life. The point is acquiring things for me, not anything that happens to the other people.


"Money is coined liberty" -- Fyodor Dostoevsky


"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone." -- HD Thoreau


100% agree with this.

When I think of money..I think of freedom...to do what I want to do. When you don't have money or your need to get money then suddenly you have to do stuff that you don't want to do. Even if you have a job you love to do...you are still going to work and taking orders from your boss. It would always be preferable to do the stuff you love to do...but on your terms.


UBI FTW!


Survey is of Swedish lottery winners. Results may not generalize.

By some estimates, two-thirds of lottery winners are broke within seven years.

https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/lottery-curse-claims-an...

Nearly One-Third of U.S. Lottery Winners Declare Bankruptcy

https://wolfstreet.com/2018/04/17/nearly-one-third-of-u-s-lo...


I suspect the reason why many lottery winners end up broke soon is because most rational well adjusted people don't play lottery.

So it's not so much the winning that make people go crazy. It's just what happens when people who don't understand money get lots of it.


I know rational people that play the lottery. I don't think it works to suggest that only crazy people play. Professional athletes who come into sudden wealth due to becoming professional athletes are also infamous for their financial struggles.

However, I will suggest that many poor people think coming into money would solve all their problems because money is very often the most obvious sticking point in their own life. In reality, they trade poor people problems for rich people problems and it doesn't come with some built-in education on how to handle rich people problems. (I mean a la The Matrix: "Download this to my brain." A lot of the advice they get falls on deaf ears and they are ill-equipped to sort good advice from bad.)

In fact, many poor people are incredibly dismissive of the idea that rich people have any problems. They often mock the problems that rich people have. So no surprise they aren't psychologically prepared to deal with the reality of sudden wealth in cases where they think "rich people don't have real problems."


> Professional athletes who come into sudden wealth due to becoming professional athletes are also infamous for their financial struggles.

I think this group has similar characteristics to the lottery winners. They become rich suddenly, after having beaten long odds.

You can make the same sorts of arguments about the rationality of professional athletes too. Most people who aspire to become professional athletes don't make it. Continuing to pursue the dream is largely an irrational decision.


Not everyone buying lottery tickets sits around hoping to win millions. I know someone who has played for years and had many small wins who decries how they have made it worse by increasing the size of the big payout and decreasing the frequency of the small ones.

Similarly, it is possible to play sports because you love it, not because you see it as a get rich scheme.

Participating doesn't have to be crazy behavior in either case.


> someone who has played for years and had many small wins

That only makes it more likely that this person is losing money by playing. "Crazy" is too strong, I agree, but it's certainly not the shrewdest investment.


Oh, geez. If they played video games for fun, would you be explaining to me how unwise an investment that is?

Some people enjoy gambling. If it pays off, yay! If it doesn't, it was only a couple of bucks that they felt they could spare.

I'm aware there are very poor people who play the lottery in hopes of it fixing their lives, even homeless people. And I don't think that's a great idea. But there are people who can spare a few bucks who just like playing.

One person I know used to call it "Contributing to my nephew's scholarship fund" because the lottery covers education expenses in that state.

I have only rarely played the lottery. It's not really my thing. But not everything in life needs to be decided with a slide rule for someone to be fundamentally healthy. In fact, I have seen studies that suggest that people who do a little gambling are typically healthier than average.


>"Crazy" is too strong, I agree, but it's certainly not the shrewdest investment.

It's not supposed to be an investment, it's something you do for the fun of the "what if".


"What would you do with the money if you won $25,000,000 in the lottery?"

There. Just saved you n dollars where n is the number of times you want to play that game.


Yeah, this could work for someone from Vulkan.

Humans also want a tiny possibility of it happening to make their "what if" worth, and are willing to pay to get that.

Just like they are more engaged when there are props and sets and costumes when they see a play. A play requires suspension of disbelief, so they could have also made believe that they see the set and costumes over a naked stage, but we don't want that, we prefer to have them as aids.


I think the only similarity is that both groups get to where they are suddenly, without proving any financial acumen, which distinguishes them from the multimillionaires who become such from decades of working, frugality, and investing.

However, that's where the similarities end. Athletes become successful from years of hard work and sacrificing present enjoyment for future rewards. Lottery winners are chosen randomly from people who literally demonstrate how poorly they handle money buy buying lottery tickets.


Professional athletes usually have the extra money sink of massive health care costs relatively early in life, though.


I think it's perfectly rational to play the lottery, as long as you are completely aware of the odds and you are happy with the value of what you are buying. Same as with anything else you buy.

I buy a megabucks ticket about once every year. Sometimes twice. I buy it for a little bit of fantasy. It's totally worth the dollar. In reality I'd hate to win a big lottery because the evidence is pretty overwhelming that it would ruin my life (not the financial aspect, I could handle that bit, it's the social consequences that would make me wish I had never won).


Certainly rational people play the lottery, but I would argue that less rational people play proportionally more often and buy more tickets.


I have a slightly more convoluted explanation: There are two types of money. Capital money (or seed money) and income money. People don't understand the difference.

When you win the lottey, you get seed money. This money is "worth" 200 times less than you think it's worth, because you can only spend it once. If you put e.g. 10 million in an investment, you get an allowance of less than 50k/month to spend without eroding the original capital. That's the true "value" of this lottery ticket.


10M in capital, you should be able to live conservatively on 300k/yr (today's dollars) without running out. Probably more.


My estimation was more optimistic (50k/mo = 600k/yr), but yeah, the less you spend the better.


Oh, I thought you meant yearly.


Something I've always wondered about, which HN might be the only possible place to get an answer to: Does the "lottery winners' curse" afflict founders of wildly successful startups? (Say, people who walk away from an acquisition with $10M+ -- on par with "winning the lottery".)


Not as much because the success of a wildly successful startup happens over a longer period which gives you more time to adjust.


I don’t know about founders, but something similar can happen to highly-paid tech employees. The few years I worked in SV [1] changed my spending habits much more than I expected, and I didn’t realize it until I left and went back to a “normal” life. The experience altered my relationship with money, and not necessarily for the better — expensive things don’t have a mystique anymore, but neither does their price instantly turn me away; it’s hard to tell which effect will dominate in the long run.

[1] Where I amassed orders of magnitude less capital than you’re asking about


Doubt it, most successful tech startup founders aren't super stupid.


That's an interesting question


I can’t find the source, but someone posted a story here once discussing the curse of winner’s. One was a millionaire businessman. The publicity of the win sent relatives and criminals after hum for money. I believe he was eventually murdered by a robber.


In that vein, there is this Reddit comment:

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/24vzgl/you_just_...


Ah, that's exactly the comment I was thinking of. Thanks! Clearly memory is none tol accurate.

Though I guess that post doesn't apply to smaller winners.


>I suspect the reason why many lottery winners end up broke soon is because most rational well adjusted people don't play lottery.

You'd be surprised. People of all kinds play lottery.

The real reason is far more likely to be that people who are not rich already are not prepared for sudden wealth, and do not know how to handle their finances. Plus all kinds of other people (relatives, advisors, etc) will prey on them.


> I suspect the reason why many lottery winners end up broke soon is because most rational well adjusted people don't play lottery.

I know why you might think that, the articles talking about lottery spending by poor people and socioeconomic "failures". But they are not capable of the lottery spending necessary to reach jackpots numbers we see multiple times a week. Because all classes of society play the lottery at an even distribution.

The % of their income or net worth is negligible once you get to the middle class and higher. It is negligible and inconsequential and sometimes you win.

Your supposition is flawed, and also many more people are fine winning the lottery and you never hear about them. They buy the condo in South Beach and send their children to Ivy League schools and make up stories about their successful business, the end.



If you think of a lottery as a source of hope then buying lottery tickets is a rational choice for those who don't have the chance of ever being rich.


By some measures, at any point in time most Americans are broke.

https://money.cnn.com/2018/01/18/pf/lack-of-savings-cover-un...


That article is repeating a falsehood that's been widely refuted. The surveys that article is likely mentioning do not ask individuals if they could pay for an expense using just their savings, but rather how would they pay for an unexpected expense. Some clickbait sites then take facts like, let's say, only 31% choose 'from savings' to create fake news along the lines of '69% of Americans do not have the savings to cover a $xxx expense'.

It's completely fake. I, for instance, would also not answer 'from savings' -- probably preferring to reduce expenses, since I try to avoid touching my savings.


That is the new paper this article discusses, but it does not exhaust the research. The author has written other work summarizing multiple different ways of measuring that confirm the same conclusion: http://users.nber.org/~jwolfers/research.php.

More than that, "money is positively associated with happiness/life satisfaction" is common sense. Anyone who has ever struggled with money knows that it's incredibly stressful. "Money doesn't make you any happier" is the counter-intuitive research finding that needs ironclad evidence.

It's also important not to confuse either of these claims with "anyone who has money is happy", which is obviously false. It's still true that money can't buy happiness. But lack of money is a major (but not guaranteed) cause of unhappiness.


Sorry, I'm not disputing that poverty sucks. I was merely noting that conclusions about lottery winners in Sweden don't necessarily apply to lottery winners in other countries.


It's significant because doubts of validity have been cast on the much older studies that claimed that lottery winning ultimately makes you less happy

https://twitter.com/sapinker/status/1033170989545340928


I think denial is the only reason why one might find this result surprising. Everything else being equal, almost any life path will be enriched by extra money up to a certain point. That point is field-dependent, but it’s rarely low.


> Everything else being equal, almost any life path will be enriched by extra money...

I don't think so. If you have a lot of money, there will be constant pressure upon you about ways to spend it or invest it "wisely". And you ll always will have the fear of "ruining everything". If you choose to do nothing with it, you ll be blamed for not investing it or making it grow.

Not to mention that you will have a hard time differentiating associates who are just there for a piece of the cake.


I have a lot of money and none of what you mention afflicts me. I don't feel "constant pressure" to spend or invest it wisely, and I don't recall ever fearing "ruining everything." I doubt I would be blamed (by who?) for not investing it; even if I was I don't think I'd care.

This might come across as condescending, but everything you're saying sounds like the typical cliches about what it's like to have wealth from people who don't actually have it. It comes with its own challenges but I would not include the ones you've mentioned. Clearly some people with money do struggle with some of what you've said, but in my experience it's rare for it to be a dominating focus in their lives, and it's rarer still for it to cause the wealth to become a net negative on their health and well-being.

The reason why I'm saying this is because frankly I find it frustrating when speculation like this is promulgated so confidently despite its disconnect with reality. Of the people I personally know earning over seven figures in annual income, none of them struggle with what you've said. Your generalization has a very brittle foundation.

Unfortunately there are two obstacles in combatting generalizations like this: 1) most wealthy people don't talk about what their life, aspirations and challenges are actually like, 2) hearing wealthy people say they in fact are mostly happy and fulfilled makes for a boring story without a lot of draw.


> I have a lot of money and none of what you mention afflicts me.

Sure. Some people are afraid of public speaking. But some people on the other hand, can't wait to get in front of people. But I think it wouldn't be too off to say people are generally afraid of public speaking.

So generally, the more you have to lose, the more you will worry. Simple. If you want to refute that, argue logically why it might not be the case, instead of just "I am rich, and you are wrong". Please.


If you want me to "argue logically", you should start with defending the points you've made for which the burden of proof is on the positive. My point is that you're generalizing without any substantive support for the generalization. For example:

> So generally, the more you have to lose, the more you will worry. Simple.

This is not simple and I don't follow that it's true a priori. Moreover I don't necessarily agree that it's the correct characterization, either. I don't know anyone with wealth whose approach to thinking about wealth is that they have "more to lose." That strikes me as begging the question. I can understand why a given rich person might feel that way, but I don't see why the modal rich person would feel that way.

The essence is that you're asking me to refute a statement that you have not actually supported. Had you supported with something grounded I'd agree that my anecdotal reply isn't much of a refutation. But so far it's my direct experience and observations against something which boils down to intuition. Intuition is misleading.


>This is not simple and I don't follow that it's true a priori.

Is it not?

1. Having something comes with the risk of loosing it.

2. with risks comes the potential to add worry.

3. People with more to lose have more potential to be worried about it

How is my reasoning flawed?

The only thing you cannot lose is your past. You might lose the memory of it, but that does not nullify it's existence.


1. Having more of something - gives one the tolerance to lose some of it without feeling the pinch.

2. Again - the ability to take risks increases - this is one reason the rich get richer - they can make riskier investments while the poor can't make such bets

3. People with more to lose - are the people who lose a greater percentage of their savings - a rich person losing $1000 vs a poor person losing $1000 - a poor person loses more


I am talking about prospect of losing everything. Not some of it...


But the probability of loosing your life savings is greater if you’re poor (since the quantity is smaller), so you have more to worry about.


But loosing a million bucks is going to hurt much more than losing 100 bucks. Apart from that, it is much easier to sit on 100 bucks, not doing anything with it, than to sit on a million dollars. Doing nothing with money is less worrisome than taking risks with a lot of money..


This is not logical reasoning, there are too many gaps.

Logical reasoning works best with absolutes, things like individual motives (applied to larger populations) and "risk", "worry" etc have a lot of nuances - you need to work with probabilities backed by data.


That is why I said potential..


> So generally, the more you have to lose, the more you will worry. Simple.

This is correct, but in a way that implies the opposite of your conclusion!

Let Alice be a wealthy person and Bob be a poor person. Suppose they each loose $100K. Who suffers the greatest loss in utility/welfare/happiness?

All else being equal, the answer is Bob. Bob will loose his house and have to live on the streets, but Alice certainly won’t.

The takeaway here is that being wealthier gives you a bigger buffer. Being poor means you have more to loose from the vissicitudes of life.


> The takeaway here is that being wealthier gives you a bigger buffer. Being poor means you have more to loose from the vissicitudes of life.

Bigger buffer does not always mean big enough. That is why rich work to make more and more money. It is never enough. You don't know how much money might be required to save you in a future calamity. After a certain point, no amount of money might be able to save you. Then you need to keep people on power on payroll. And they, in turn, will be going through the same thing, demanding more and more money.

The point is, A buffer is not never big enough, if the rate of drain can be arbitrarily high, which is the case for human existence in the current economic makeup.

So you see, once you are rich, there is not stopping.

Actually there is. If someone thinks that, "This is enough. What I have is the buffer I am willing to store for future calamities. For me and my descendants". But I doubt rich people ended up being rich thinking like that. Or if someone is stupid/naive to not see things as they are. Then they will spend themselves to bankruptcy anyway.

Then either they ll kill themselves or grow wise, and might grow rich and go the first path the second time.


> If you have a lot of money, there will be constant pressure upon you about ways to spend it or invest it "wisely".

The pressure is even greater for someone who has to live paycheck-to-paycheck.


I grew up without much money in a third world country. My memories from that time are much more vivid and meaningful than once I moved to the US and lived a well educated, middle class life. Money and comfort are good, but I seem to have lost something amidst the greater control and predictability of things here.


Youth produces vivid, seemingly magical memories. The time relativity of having had fewer experiences and how that amplifies every experience you do have. When you're 10, every year seems like a small lifetime. Small or simple things seem extraordinary. On top of that, we usually end up over-glorifying the past because most negatives and how they made us feel fade with time.

Not to mention having a lot fewer responsibilities and knowing a lot less about the world.

I grew up relatively poor in the US. My childhood seems magical compared to this bullshit. Now each day vaporizes in a blur, feeling not very memorable compared to any other. I love what I do work-wise as an adult, and it still just doesn't remotely compare to spending all day roaring down a snowy hill on a sled at ten years old. I'd probably struggle to recall something memorable from ~100 days ago, but I can recall a hundred memorable things from my childhood. I don't think it was money that made the primary difference, it was the nature of every new or semi-new experience and what it means to a younger brain.


It is something also about the lack of control. I have vivid adult memories of Afghanistan and trekking through the Tibetan plateau. I also have vivid memories of deep discussions during college that I have failed to reproduce under my own control.


I suspect your memories are about people and places, and not necessarily things—which is what money gets you.


Money gets you plenty of experiences. My happy memories from last time I went snowboarding were certainly acquired with money.


I think while technically true its not really the spirit of the saying.

Of course free money (from lottery winnings) is better than no money.

But for most people it's a choice between more money or a less stressful job, or a shorter commute, or less hours etc.

And then it's a much more complicated equation.


People are often reproached because their desires are directed mainly to money and they are fonder of it than of anything else. Yet it is natural and even inevitable for them to love that which, as an untiring Proteus, is ready at any moment to convert itself into the particular object of our fickle desires and manifold needs. Thus every other blessing can satisfy only one desire and one need; for instance, food is good only to the hungry, wine only for the healthy, medicine for the sick, a fur coat for winter, women for youth, and so on. Consequently, all these are only relatively good. Money alone is the absolutely good thing because it meets not merely one need in concreto, but needs generally in abstracto.


"This research is able to reliably disentangle causation and correlation because a lottery effectively provides a randomized control trial."

False. The sample size is limited to those who buy lottery tickets. Of course people who buy lottery tickets think they will be happier if they have more money; otherwise they would not be buying lottery tickets.


Even if you criticize the external validity of the results, the internal validity of the randomization is still there.


I can see that's true, but what are you trying to get at?


To quote my grandpa, who started out with nothing and retired as a millionaire, money doesn't buy happiness, but it sure makes it easier.


Or to quote Weird Al, money can't buy happiness but it can rent it.


To quote Daniel Tosh, jet skis are proof that money can buy happiness. No one has a frown on a jet ski.



Edit: My original post was irrelevant and not enough karma to delete. Sorry.


How is death by accident related to happiness? Seriously, I know many people who got injured doing a sport they enjoy and then immediately went back to it, without being particularly unhappy. I don't personally know anyone who died from an accident like this, but I imagine that someone can absolutely die while doing something that makes them happy. I'm not sure what I feel about this. On the one hand, it's definitely a kind of a Darwin award, but on the other hand, I see this as exemplifying living life to the fullest.


I think of it in the reverse. If money isn't buying you happiness, you should reconsider what you using it for.


I think it depends entirely on how you spend your money. For example, if you buy a nice bed and get good sleep you are going to be happier. If you can afford healthier, higher quality food you will be happier. If money helps you spend more time with friends and family you will be happier.


It makes a lot of sense in today's Sweden. Sweden is still a functioning welfare state, but egalitarianism is decreasing. A couple of hundred thousand dollars will be a major difference to your success rate in getting a good quality of life. Or to put it another way there is a lot of people in Sweden today who are denied opportunities because they don't have that kind of money. Which can be seen by the large amount of private debt.


> (Free) Money (Awarded To Lottery Winners) Really Does Lead to a More Satisfying Life


"This research is able to reliably disentangle causation and correlation because a lottery effectively provides a randomized control trial"

This doesn't sound true. Many high earning workers never play the lottery, yet have the same economic power as those who only win hundreds of thousands like in the study. I imagine their lifestyle choices are different.

Lottery winners are an extremely small percentage of the population. They don't have the same responsibilities, anixities, or "golden handcuffs" that the majority of high earners have because they didn't need to go through that to achieve their economic level and don't need to maintain it.


Given how often studies like this float around, here's what I've learned from past comments I've read:

- Those who don't have money, and are therefore forced to be more self-reliant, generally would like the opportunity to have more money because they envision how it would make their lives easier.

- Those who have a lot of money tend to downplay the importance of having money, generally because it's more about what the money gets you than the money itself - having options to not deal with things you don't have to.

- Money is the vehicle to providing life-enhancing value for yourself in the sense that it can be exchanged for what you want/need. This is what provides happiness. I could have 1 trillion Zimbabwe dollars, but if I can't gain anything meaningful I want with it, then just the number alone isn't going to make me happy (aside from a blip of an ego boost).


"Money can't buy happiness but it solves 95% of the problems that make you unhappy." ~ GSElevator


“Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.”

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/240944-lottery-a-tax-on-peo...


Our biological instinct when freedom is restricted is to resist the force binding us. Try having a young child watch a long movie or trap a moth in a jar. We all panic or bolt or wig out. Give a thing maximum freedom and the very opposite happens. That's what a ton of money does to humans...although those that are perverse or have extreme addiction or simply have odd personalities, are able to amplify those traits extremely so. This says nothing for those that lose all their money later as that is a separate concept which has nothing to do with financial literacy and conflates negativity with having large sums of money, which is idiotic IMO, like the sour grapes allegory.


Well, now they tell me.


Lottery wealth is a (tiny) subset of wealth.

It is possible that besides the material part there is some form of psychological effect, "I have won in a 1 to a zilion chance, I am better (or the fate, or God preferred me), I am special".

Inherited wealth or hard worked for wealth may well produce different happyness levels.

And of course whar happens in Sweden may (or may not) be "universal".


A sample of lottery players is hardly a representative sample. I think people who don’t enter lotteries, besides understanding statistics better, are more likely to believe money is not the source of their success and fulfilment.


Money can’t solve all your problem, but it will solve most of them.


Intuitively, this sounds correct. The class "Problems that can be solved by throwing money at them" is larger.


Money is just another tool, we need to know how to use it as well.


I found personally the best factor contributing to my satisfaction is to maintain a usual modest lifestyle with combined knowledge of being financially secure and not worrying about money.


Works great until it doesn't.


a "modest lifestyle" is one of the most likely ways to continue to be financially secure.


Who plays the lotto? Idiots, that's who. Idiots who want to get rich.

So I'd say this is a flawed study with tremendous selection bias, we all know money can't buy happiness :)




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