College Connect: Is Money Happiness?

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Anya Rogers, ASU Cronkite School

headshot-anya-rogersMoney is a medium of exchange, a unit of accounts and a store of wealth. Money is many things, but it is not happiness, time or love.

A teacher I know is eligible to retire now, but if he waits three more years, he will make a couple thousand more in retirement every year for the rest of his life.

The only problem is that his job is getting harder every year. It’s becoming more and more overwhelming, and he dreams of being an author. Is the time spent doing the job he doesn’t want to do worth thousands of dollars?

In economics, everything can be boiled down to utility and opportunity costs. That teacher loses utility, or overall happiness, by staying at his job, but he gains more income. By retiring now, his opportunity cost is thousands of dollars every year, but he gains more utility.

There are many things that my parents have taught me about money, like why you should have a credit card, how to spend money wisely and the importance of having an emergency fund. They have also taught me, though, that financial security is never as important as being happy. I think he should retire now rather than wait three more years.

Money can buy you vacations and new cars and anything you want. But how much money is it worth to be able to write the books that demand to be written? How much is it worth to be able to drink a cup of coffee leisurely on the back porch every morning as the sun rises? Is it worth losing some income? I think so. Is more income worth struggling through a job for years longer than you have to? No.

Money is a great thing for a society to have, but it will never replace true happiness.

SABEW - Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication,
Arizona State University

555 North Central Ave, Suite 406 E, Phoenix, AZ 85004-1248


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