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Money and Happiness: 50 Financial Lessons for a Happier Life

Money and happiness are two concepts that are closely intertwined. Everyone has their own perspective on how money can affect their happiness, and many of us struggle to find the right balance. In this post, we’ll explore the relationship between money and happiness, drawing on lessons learned from a recent article in Esquire Magazine.

Is money evil?

The first question we’ll tackle is whether or not money is inherently evil. The answer is no. Money is simply a tool, and the intentions of the person using it can be good or bad. In the right hands, money can be used to achieve financial freedom, which allows us to spend our time however we choose.

Our Relationship with Money

Tatiana and I both come from modest financial backgrounds, and we’ve had to work hard to improve our own economies. However, once we got on the path to financial independence (FI), our relationship with money transformed. We could see beyond the average person’s perception of money and determined how much was “enough” for us. Along the way, we learned that “enough” was already too much and that we could be happier with less.

Inspiration for this post

The inspiration for this post came from an article in Esquire Magazine. The article, titled “4 Men with 4 Very Different Incomes Open Up About the Lives They Can Afford,” featured four men of different income levels and explored how their finances impacted their happiness. The men’s incomes were as follows:

  • A 35-year-old CEO who makes $1,000,000/yr.
  • A Real Estate Agent who makes $250,000/yr.
  • A Concierge for a property management group who makes $53,000/yr.
  • A Bar-back at a lounge who makes $7/hr.

50 financial lessons for a happier life

Here are 50 financial lessons we picked up from reading the article that can help improve your relationship with money and lead to a happier life:

  1. Keeping track of your expenses is critical to getting a good handle on your finances.
  2. A budget is essential for acquiring wealth. Failure to budget can result in financial disaster.
  3. Paying off your mortgage is a significant achievement. You can own your own roof!
  4. You save money by eating at home.
  5. Being married or in a relationship can be beneficial to your finances.
  6. Don’t have more children than you can afford, and postpone parenthood until you can.
  7. Help those in need.
  8. Perform a financial checkup on a regular basis.
  9. Purchase only what you can afford.
  10. Consume nutritious foods.
  11. Look after your parents.
  12. Set long-term financial objectives.
  13. Pay off your credit card balance every month.
  14. Set aside money for retirement.
  15. Don’t put your mind to rest.
  16. Hold your children fully accountable for their college performance.
  17. Don’t spoil your kids.
  18. Show your children the value of hard work.
  19. Make rules to reinforce good behavior in your children.
  20. Put family time ahead of extra work.
  21. Have well-defined financial objectives.
  22. Money can become a game once your basic needs are met. More money does not imply more happiness.
  23. Set spending priorities.
  24. Make travel plans.
  25. Create passive income streams to make your money work for you.
  26. Determine when you want to achieve financial independence.
  27. Make college a wise investment.
  28. Set realistic and meaningful financial goals for yourself.
  29. Don’t become so preoccupied with money that you forget to live.
  30. Purchase in bulk.
  31. Don’t mix up needs and desires.
  32. Don’t buy more housing than you need.
  33. Live in an affordable neighborhood.
  34. Face reality with action.
  35. A car is simply a car.
  36. Rich people buy assets, while poor people buy things.
  37. Finance charges will keep you from getting ahead.
  38. Maintain a credit card charge limit based on your budget.
  39. Keep track of your retirement savings.
  40. Learn how to get more done with less.
  41. You get what you are willing to work for in life.
  42. Avoid salespeople, also known as TV commercials.
  43. Bills and fines should not be ignored.
  44. Make an investment in yourself.
  45. Make yourself a winner, not a victim of taxes.
  46. Nobody enjoys paying taxes.
  47. Take care of the issues that keep you awake at night.
  48. Pay off ALL debts as soon as possible.
  49. Consider the big picture.
  50. Happiness is a state of mind.

Final thoughts

Money can be a complicated and emotional topic, but it doesn’t have to be. By understanding the connection between money and happiness, we can make better financial decisions and ultimately lead happier lives. It’s important to remember that money is a tool, not an end goal. It’s our intentions and priorities that determine how we use it.

One key takeaway from the article in Esquire Magazine was that happiness doesn’t necessarily increase with income. The men with the highest incomes were not necessarily the happiest. This highlights the importance of finding contentment with what we have rather than constantly striving for more.

As you read through these 50 financial lessons, consider which ones resonate with you the most. Which ones do you already practice in your own life, and which ones do you need to work on? Reflect on your own relationship with money and think about how you can make changes to improve it.

Finally, it’s important to remember that financial independence is not the end goal. It’s simply a means to an end. It’s about having the freedom to choose how we spend our time and what we prioritize in our lives. So, ask yourself: What is your ultimate goal, and how can financial independence help you achieve it?

Now, it’s your turn to reflect on what you’ve learned. What are some of the lessons that resonated with you the most? How do you currently manage your finances, and what changes can you make to improve your relationship with money?


After dedicating 13 years of his career to Vanguard, José retired from the corporate world at the young age of 44. During his tenure at Vanguard, he expertly coordinated the production of both electronic and print educational materials for 401(k) participants. Now, he relishes in his early retirement, cherishing time spent with his family, indulging in his favorite hobbies, seeking out new experiences, and savoring meals in the comfort of his own backyard.

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[…] relationship between money and happiness is complex, but José with Crucial Wealth explains how he uses the former to improve the latter. Money and Happiness: 50 Financial Lessons […]

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