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Money Talk with Nimi: Does Money Buy Happiness?



The constant message relayed in our materialistic society, that money is the most important thing in our lives and the constant desire for more, has had far reaching consequences for our societal value system and morals. This unending pursuit of money has damaged family relationships, the environment and global socioeconomic systems.

Sadly, in our consumption-driven society many of us have come to believe that all our worries would be solved if we have more money. Indeed, wealth has become the ultimate measure of who we are, and we have become defined by it. Chasing after money for its own sake can damage our value system, and we pay for it in time, health, and stress.

What does money mean to you? Do you have a healthy relationship with your money? Do you worship it? Or do you use it as a tool to achieve your goals? Does your life depend on it? Would you do anything, to get it? What really matters to you? What really does make you feel happy and fulfilled?

It is important to understand your own money personality and to put it in the right perspective. The ways in which you make money and how you spend it reveal a lot about your personality. This relates to the emotional aspects of money such as needs, values, relationship choices, feelings about earning and career choices, spending, saving, and investing. Issues of control, security, self-esteem, and a sense of well-being are always evident when money matters come up.

What do you need? Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist best known for his theory of the “hierarchy of needs” which he developed in the mid-1900s. This model served as a tool for understanding human motivation and development. He identified five levels of human needs that must be satisfied by one’s own environment in order for an individual to reach his or her full potential.

Maslow’s pyramid illustrates human needs stacked in layers with physiological needs at the base of the pyramid which involves the most basic needs; that is, what a person needs to stay alive, such as air, water, food, sleep, warmth, shelter and hygiene. At the second level, Maslow places safety, security, employment, money and financial stability, and good health. By the fifth and highest level, human beings seek self-actualization and fulfilment. We have the desire and the ability to grow; doing something that makes life complete such as supporting a cause or following a calling to realize personal potential or seeking personal growth.

Why doesn’t the lucrative promotion or the brand-new mansion in the best part of town keep us swathed in a permanent state of happiness? We like to think that if we just had a little bit more money, we would be happier, but once we attain that goal, something still seems to be missing. It appears that the more money we have, the more we want; but buying the car, boat, or bike of our dreams will only bring transient joy instead of a deep, lasting sense of fulfilment. We tend to overestimate how much pleasure we will get from having more money.

Certainly, earning more makes us happy in the short term, but we quickly adjust to a new lifestyle and all it brings. Naturally, there is a thrill in having that shiny new car, but soon most of us get used to it and start wanting the newer, more powerful model. Having made a special purchase, we immediately dream of acquiring the better, “latest” version. Scientists call it ‘the hedonic treadmill’ – and many people spend far too much time on it.

Professor Emeritus Lord Richard Layard, Director of The Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, in his book Happiness: Lessons from the New Science, he discusses the relationship between happiness and rising standards of wealth. A critic of consumer society and the all-consuming pursuit of money, he suggests that we eventually get trapped on the “hedonic treadmill”: Our happiness begins to wane as we start to take the new positive changes in our life for granted.

Money can bring happiness but for the most part it is temporary. A dramatic change in wealth such as the move from abject poverty to financial security can significantly increase happiness, but satisfaction will be transient; its effect will only last until the beneficiary gets used to the new status. Layard argues that once poverty and discomfort have been eliminated, extra income is much less important than human relationships. So how do we step off that hedonic treadmill?

Having spent several years interacting with people with various levels of wealth, I am convinced that money does not in itself create or sustain happiness. It certainly buys very nice things and does improve the quality of life and a standard of living. Yes, money is important, as it helps you to pay your bills, to educate your children, support your family and so on; but if you rely upon it as the key to happiness, it can be illusory as it does not always address life’s real issues, such as, concern for your family, problems in relationships, and work-related stress.

Money can buy food, shelter, education, and experiences, and it pays for healthcare and day-to-day comforts. Of course if you don’t have enough money to send your children to school, can’t provide for your elderly parents, or can’t afford costly surgery that can alleviate the pain from an old injury, it would be hard to be happy. In that sense, money can buy happiness by eliminating some worries and bringing quick relief to financial concerns.

Beyond that, longer-term happiness is dependent upon your personality and on realising how fortunate you are to have the things that truly matter in life: a strong relationship with God, a loving family, good reliable friends, good health for yourself and your loved ones, a fulfilling and secure job, a thriving business, a safe environment, moral values, and freedom. Next to these things all the money in the world pales into insignificance.

Happiness comes from giving.

Having money is a great responsibility because it enables one to do things for others. Material possessions eventually lose their sparkle then beg to be replaced. Yet, one can make transformational gifts by helping others and even shaping or saving lives. It is through generosity that one can attain the best relationship with money. By deciding to make a difference in someone else’s life, you can give much more meaning to your own. The joy that this brings is by far the most lasting form of happiness.

Photo Credit:
Nimi Akinkugbe has extensive experience in private banking and wealth management. She is passionate about encouraging financial independence and offers frank, practical insights to create a greater awareness and understanding of personal finance and wealth management issues. She is married with 3 children.Find out more via

Nimi Akinkugbe has extensive experience in private wealth management. She seeks to empower people regarding their finances and offers frank, practical insights to create a greater awareness and understanding of personal finance.


  1. dp

    April 10, 2013 at 10:44 am

    I so so love this article, it is just speaking my mind , may God bless you

  2. Ade

    April 10, 2013 at 10:50 am

    God bless you Nimi-The greastest form of happiness -which outlasts our time here on earth and continues into eternity-is to be in right standing with God through a relationship with Jesus Christ by Faith.

  3. Ms lala

    April 10, 2013 at 11:45 am

    money buys temporal happiness not permanent. i’ll somehow take health over wealth…i feel money makes u happy but before u blink ur eye wahala don come…u gain more enemies , you see people for who they truly are and u become somehow sad. i do believe they is great joy and pleasure helping the unfortunate, trust me it brings inner joy and peace with yourself.

    • jcsgrl

      April 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm

      Ha ha ha ha…I hear ya pinnie, but like everyone said it brings temporary happiness. After 2 weeks of non stop celebration, shebi that one has ended. BN will put up another post of another wedding even grander than the last and we will oooh and aaaah! The couple has returned to the solitude of their married life. Reality don set in! Ask them in a couple of years if money buys happiness in their marriage and see what they say?

  4. pynk

    April 10, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Nimi well written, however in this high consumerism driven society, you get a lot of “nigger rich” displays where people have unrealistic relationships with money. I dated a man who’s emotional state was heavily dependent on how much money he had, lets say that situation didnt last long as i took to my heels.

    • John

      April 10, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      A Nigerian woman that ran from money. That’s a surprise!!

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      April 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      @John, a Nigerian man that lumps every single Nigerian girl into the same box to bear the same label as some other previous female who did either him or his brother or his friend or even a far-flung acquaintance wrong… No surprises there at all!

  5. omoibo

    April 10, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Money doesn’t buy happiness but ranks up there next to oxygen 😛

  6. ikeade

    April 10, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    A very in depth analysis, indeed money can buy happiness – in a transient form; money however can not buy deep abiding joy.

  7. winnie

    April 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Thank you for this piece!

  8. gro up!

    April 10, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    no comment

  9. olofofo

    April 10, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Great piece!

  10. Omo Sango

    April 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    @gro up! You just commented.

  11. Mz Socially Awkward...

    April 10, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    I’m currently standing at the edge of the fence (career wise) looking over to the other side and wondering whether to make the jump across. The main motivation is money, I won’t deny it as I don’t see the point of getting up every morning to go and expend my professional talent for 37.5hrs a week in a job without appropriate incentives. However, I can’t deny that God’s been good and has increased me greatly where I’m at now; I’m just concerned about accelerating my future plans and want to up my earning power to actualize those plans.

    So this article exactly addresses a question I’ve been asking myself all of today and reading it brings confirmation in my heart that any move I make from here should bring more fulfilment into my life than just earning a bigger paycheck. But there’s value in earning more, when one considers the people that one could help and the good that one could do with more money. God should please just help His children to make wise decisions … especially since now is the opportune time for putting down those investments that we’ll need to supplement our pensions after we’ve retired.

    Money issues dem plenty…

    • Sophia

      May 5, 2013 at 1:48 am

      You say God has been good to YOU ! Why is he good to you and not others ? Are you more loved by God or better than others ? I am just wondering ! Maybe your good life just happened because you had luck on your side and blessed with money for an education and this is why you are doing well. Wish I was sitting on a fence like you ! better than living in the gutter and not being able to get out ! I guess God play favorites ! Or maybe people like me are not worth it to God to help us ! All I know is I cannot love God anymore or trust him anymore….I lost my only job I ever had to stand up for God and He abandoned me ! Now I live in poverty and feel like giving up on life ! Am I supposed to be grateful ?

  12. Omo Sango

    April 10, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    @ John: What is that suppose to mean? Do you think every Nigerian woman is some kind of gold digger. May God help people like you with such myopic thinking.

    • Shells

      April 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      @John @Omo Sango one has a right to ones opinion you know, and it can be both ways both male and female can be a gold digger.

  13. Trendiest

    April 10, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Money cant buy happiness .but somehow,its more comfortable to cry in a BMW than on a bicycle…
    —–>Humor Me

  14. who cares???

    April 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Money is important BUT it CANNOT BUY HAPPINESS to a great extent.
    Career wise DO WHAT YOU LOVE and you’re utmost comfortable with and you see future prospects…

  15. Damie

    April 10, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Why do we like to deceive ourselves? Of course money makes one happy. Money enables you to attain a certain level of comfort that brings about peace of mind. Have you been in a bus (danfo) and it starts to rain and you know you are still going to walk to your office or house dripping wet and there plenty of people in cars driving past you? It has happened to me and I almost started crying. This by-force humility that people are being forced to practise sef. Please, I want to have plenty of money. Wanting to have more money does not make me a bad person. And how I choose to spend it is really just my business (hypocritical considering how much I hate these Bella Naija type weddings. lol).

  16. kikelomo

    April 10, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Happiness really comes from giving….I missed Nimi’s class at d last business retreat i attended in lagos….believe me you i cried…my driver in lagos was very surprised…this is a woman i had wanted to meet cos i have read a lots of her articles in Genevieve mag…infact i drafted all d questions i was to asked her but on getting to EDC lagos i saw her with Mr Bankole…greeted them russhed to d class to wait for her but unfortunately for me i never new she was on her way then….at d long run i found outd answers ro my questioms on d slides sent to us after d retreat….i attended dat retreat cos of its benefit i ll derived as a woman n ro meet Nimi and Adesuwa…but thank God sha…Nice article here again…thank tou ma for sharing your knowledge continuosly with us…I am a Goldmansach Scholar based in d northern part of Nigeria.

  17. anon

    April 11, 2013 at 1:34 am

    Nice article, writer did a great job of putting all necessary points out

  18. Oaken

    April 11, 2013 at 5:30 am

    Whoever tells you money can’t buy happiness does not know where to shop ….pls chek the Newman Marcus racks and Barney’s ….thank me later

  19. Evezzz

    April 11, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Yes ooo, hapiness comes from giving. Please give me some money

    on a serious note, rich people are more depressed than middle income earner-who are the happiest in the world. The have enough for their needs , have time for family and relationships and can be themselves in every given situation.

    rich people have so much junk to worry about, the have fake friends and users, theyre always gossiped about and in the news. there is more pressure on their children.

  20. Evezzz

    April 11, 2013 at 11:22 am

    But wait o. Nimi you re a hustler. With all the money you have why are you still always on the grind

  21. Mabel

    April 12, 2013 at 5:35 am

    Money does buy happiness. Money is a necessary tool to survival on earth, when you do not have enough of it you cannot be at peace, that is why the number one reason for discord in marriages is money and it is the leading contributing factor to divorce. There is a wonderful feeling in having money and being comfortably at peace with it, there is a freedom in your being that is very hard to explain.

  22. Big Tee

    April 13, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Yes I know money cant buy me happiness, but I’ll rather cry in a Bentley. call me selfish, but vacationing at the seaside in Barbados will make me happy, having my kids go to the best schools in the world will make me walk taller, not having to worry about money will also make me happy, abeggi, I will rather cry in my own bentley than not to have money abeg.

  23. sallysueee

    April 13, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    when you bank account has gone into the negative and you have rent ,bills, etc knocking on your door and u look to the left and to the right and theres no help coming from no where and its seems everyone has stopped hiring and you live in abroad were all you have is you and your GOD its is then u will know MONEY sure does buy happiness

    • Sophia

      May 5, 2013 at 1:38 am

      I agree totally with you sallysueee ! People who have these things do not know what it is like for those who do not. In this case money would really help me in life and I would be much happier ! I could become my full potential..I could give more also ! I have lived on poverty for so long.. 48 years of my life ! I am drained, depressed, lost faith in God, hopeless ,lost all motivation and have horribly low self esteem because living in where you cannot provide things like medical costs,medications, healthy food,safe, healthy living environment for oneself and cannot pay for an education to get a decent job to get out of poverty can actually destroy a person ! A person needs money to open doors.
      God doesn’t care for us and being left with nothing but God is like having NOTHING at all ! Church people tend to think we should be grateful and shut up and not complain if we have a piece of bread in our mouths everyday..we are then to be grateful for having that at least ! They also tend to think even if we live in a bad environment that is unsafe and unhealthy we should be grateful to God we have anything at all ! Of course the ones who say this are either brainwashed or have money ! if I had money..and I am not talking about being a millionaire or anything…just having a good paying job and enough to help me get out of this situation in life to make it better. I would be happier and feel good about myself with self esteem, no depression or worry plaguing me everyday of my existence. I could go to school and feel good about myself that I am doing something with my life. I would feel hopeful ! I also find people with alot of money are greedy and they give very little then they claim to give…maybe they get tax cuts for doing it or can claim on income tax or something…but they are so afraid to let it go and share it with others in need unless they get publicity for doing it ! As for the God thing…..God created us didn’t he ? The He should know that there is more to a person then basic needs like food etc…there is another side to us that needs nurturing also that he seems to forget or not care about…this is our physiological and emotional health ! God neglects this for absolute sure ! God does do good for us..he doesn’t care for us ! if he did he would help those like me tangibly and not with mere words as he does ! The bible does not help or comfort and nor does belief in God or prayer…money would help me though as this is tangible and makes the whole difference !

  24. Mz Socially Awkward's Fan!

    April 13, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    You better tell him!!! 🙂

  25. Chris

    April 15, 2013 at 2:09 am

    I do believe giving encourages happiness, but I also believe “living in the now” is key. I’ve been reading up a lot on this lately and it makes so much sense. It sounds like an oversimplification but when we dream of “a better time,” then get to that better time, it just never seems to stack up, and I don’t believe it’s because the experience isn’t actually good. I think it’s because we’re too used to wishing for more rather than being, by that point. If that makes sense.

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