The Key to an Easier Life
Money. A bargaining principle, typically in the form of coins and banknotes, is used as a payment for goods and services. Yet, in our world today, it is the main factor, that can collectively be agreed on, and influences the way we live our lives. In today’s society, money has become more prominent, leading individuals to base their emotional state and well-being on income. Although it is argued that money cannot buy happiness, it’s evident that it generates an untroubled and easier way of living.
The motto “money cannot buy happiness” is commonly thrown around without the perception that financial stability alleviates an area of burden in life. When negative events occur in one’s life, whether financial or personal, there is a form of damage control that is performed to make the best of the situation. Money is a form of control that dictates how someone lives, therefore, the more that is acquired, the more control one has over life events and the solutions that could follow. The article, “Speaking of Psychology: The Stress of Money, with Linda Gallo, Ph.D.” provides the transcript of a podcast with Dr. Linda Gallo speaking on the 2015 American Psychological Association Stress in America Survey. Dr. Linda Gallo highlights the stress that coincides with financials and the long-term effects this stress has on one’s overall health. In the transcript, it states, “APA’s 2015 Stress in American survey tells us that money continues to be a top source of stress for Americans from all economic backgrounds. Now, however, in this last survey, lower-income households reported higher overall stress levels than those living in higher-income households…… First, as we know from the Stress in America survey, financial stress is a very common cause of stress overall and it’s more likely to occur if people have lower incomes.” Dr. Linda Gallo includes the 2015 survey findings supporting that households with a higher income experience less financial stress than a lower income household. With households making a comfortable income, they are less likely to worry about financials such as mortgages, rent, bills, groceries, etc., compared to a household that must take precautions such as budgeting accordingly for basic living necessities. Financial stability gives people the ability to exert energy on other things in life while allowing them to live comfortably, with little stress.
In addition to financial stress, money is also a big factor in alleviating overall stress levels. For instance, a study done at Harvard Business School by Jon Jachimowicz investigates the effects of financial stability and its correlation to one’s overall well-being. In the study “More Proof That Money Can Buy Happiness (or a Life with Less Stress),” 522 participants, each having different incomes, were asked to keep a diary, tracking their daily events and emotions for 30 days. After 30 days, one of the findings supported that money does and can help reduce stress levels, specifically pertaining to intense stress. The study concluded “There was no significant difference in how often the participants experienced distressing events—no matter their income, they recorded a similar number of daily frustrations. But those with higher incomes experienced less negative intensity from those events.” Although money does not reduce the concept of stress altogether, the amount of income one makes can help fund resources or ways to reduce and undermine the intensity of the stress, whether that is investing in therapy, affording medications, supplements, or even activities such as yoga classes or a gym membership. People with lower incomes are exposed to more stressors and limited to ways in managing that stress, compared to those who experience financial s no instability.
Aside from stress, money is commonly used as a gateway in legal practice and the law. In the United States, the Justice System revolves around money and money bail, making the system harder for less wealthy individuals and easier for the rich. For example, two people can commit the same crime, but both undergo two different experiences. Someone who is financially stable can afford bail and avoid spending a night in jail, while someone who struggles to put food on the table is going to spend a year in person. In the article “The US bail system punishes the poor and rewards the rich” by Arpit Gupta and Ethan Frenchmen, they compare life in jail in America amongst the poor and the rich. The article includes that the “system unfairly punishes people who are too poor to buy their freedom. In Maryland, for example, between 2011 and 2015, more than 80,000 defendants (pdf) were jailed because they were unable to afford bail. And, like Stanford, more than 17,000 of them were jailed on a bail amount of $5,000 or less.” This clearly shows that money can not only make life easier but can buy you your freedom in instances like going to jail or not. Aside from the money bail system in the United States, money is a gateway out of minor infractions such as speeding tickets, parking tickets, and other minor fines and fees. What seems like a small problem and easy payment to someone who is financially comfortable, can be a major issue to someone struggling monetarily. This issue can lead to increases in fines and court costs, causing financial stress which results in overworking, relationship strains, mental health issues, etc.
Overall, a constant theme throughout our lives that we subconsciously determine a majority of our decisions based on is money. This thin sheet of paper affects the way we live and go about life, as well as the level of difficulty in living. Without a sufficient amount of money, we not only are limited to the opportunities we can experience yet how we manage certain obstacles and issues. Unfortunately, in today’s society, in order to fix our problems, money will always be involved. Our financial status determines how difficult the challenges we face are, and it is clear through all the research and evidence included that money alleviates financial burden, and stress, and even can help buy your freedom. With that, although the common motto of “money cannot buy you happiness” continues to be debated, it is clear that it can buy you an easier life.