Can money buy happiness? It’s the freedom to reach goals that adds value to your life

| Category: News

Is the common saying “money can’t buy happiness” true? Research suggests that it isn’t, and that the opportunities financial security brings can deliver happiness and improve wellbeing.

This latest study refutes often cited research, which claims money could buy happiness but only up to a point. A 2010 paper written by psychologist Daniel Kahneman and economist Angus Deaton found happiness and income were only linked up to $75,000 per year. Up to this point, life satisfaction increased in line with income, but plateaued once earnings exceeded $75,000. The paper concluded that: yes, money can improve satisfaction, but it can’t improve emotional wellbeing.

Now, however, a newly published paper is disputing this.

New research finds money can buy happiness

While the 2010 paper utilised surveys, the new one uses data collected from an iPhone app called “Track Your Happiness”. At random intervals, the app will ask users about their activities and feelings. App developer Matthew Killingsworth has based research on these findings, which are now published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The title “Experienced wellbeing rises with income, even above $75,000 per year” sums up the findings.

The paper states: “Higher incomes may still have potential to improve people’s day-to-day wellbeing, rather than having already reached a plateau for many people in wealthy countries. […] There is no evidence of an income threshold at which experienced and evaluative wellbeing diverged, suggesting that higher incomes are associated with both feeling better day-to-day and being more satisfied with life overall.”

In fact, while there is a slight dip in both experienced wellbeing and life satisfaction around $100,000, there is a general upwards trend, even as annual income reaches $500,000 per year, the first figure shows. The second figure highlights that as positive feelings rise, so, too, negative feelings fall in line with income.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

So, if money does buy happiness, should you focus on increasing your income and the amount in the bank?

Value of assets vs value to your life

One of the things both research papers don’t examine is why wellbeing increases as income rises.

You may get some satisfaction from watching the balance of your savings account rise, but it’s often not the number itself that improves wellbeing. Rather, it’s the security and stability it provides. Knowing that you have a safety net to fall back on, for example, can deliver a huge boost to how confident you are about the future and allow you to enjoy the present.

A rise in income can allow you to devote more of your disposable income to the things you enjoy and help you take steps towards long-term goals. However, if you need to spend more time commuting and sitting in traffic every day, so you don’t have the freedom to enjoy the additional income, would it still improve your day-to-day happiness? Some may find they feel less satisfied with life despite having more money.

While the research provides an interesting insight, focusing on what’s important to you and how your income can help you achieve this is just as important, on an individual level, as your salary.

An increase in wellbeing doesn’t have to be tied directly to your income. A five-figure sum in savings and investments can help you prepare for unexpected life events, but that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve the same sense of security without this. A financial protection product, such as life insurance or income protection, that aligns with your priorities may deliver the same sense of wellbeing.

The process of financial planning helps you understand what your goals and concerns are, and then creates a long-term financial plan that addresses them. It’s about making your assets and income work in a way that reflects your priorities, whether that’s spending more time with family, exploring the world, or taking early retirement.

Rather than solely looking at the value of your assets, looking at how they can add value to your life can help you get the most out of them.

Please get in touch if you’d like to speak to a financial planner about how you can use assets to improve your quality of life.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.


Working with Blue Ocean has enabled myself and my wife to invest our pension savings with the confidence that they are being managed by a professional team of qualified financial advisers. They have been very supportive and responsive when we've requested a detailed analysis of our investment performance and the outcome has been positive in terms of the expected returns. I have recommended family and friends to Blue Ocean and they have been equally very satisfied with the service.

Glen Ridout


A client since 2011

We would have no problem whatsoever in recommending the services of Blue Ocean for sound financial appreciation and advice, all handled in a friendly, convivial and concerned manner. Blue Ocean are always looking at how they can go that extra mile for their clients. This is a rare positive commodity in any business environment in today's world. The financial advice is always considered and simply explained in terms of what if and if you invested here etc. There is no pressure put on me to invest in high-risk return possibilities and at all stages the advice given is tailored to the perceived situation of their clients.

Barry William Ednie

Tonbridge, Kent

A client since 2013

Over the past 18 years, I have received very reassuring advice on my investments and always been treated in a friendly but professional manner.

Jacqueline Prosser


A client since 2001

I have known John for over 20 years and have always been satisfied with his integrity, knowledge and reliability. I recommend him to business and family contacts without reserve.

Paul Richardson


A client since 2002

Bespoke service... friendly, helpful staff.

Jane Stevens

Dartford, Kent

A client since 2017

Blue Ocean resolved a difficult situation in a very satisfactory way. The whole staff are extremely friendly and helpful and it was very cost-effective.

Richard Mersh


A client since 2017

Since we have used John and the team over the years our investments have gone from strength to strength. We’re very happy with the work they have done for us. I am now in a position to retire with no money worries.

Keith Yeates


A client since 2008

Honest, well versed, ‘personal touch’ business out to make sure everyone has satisfaction.

John Townsend

Hearn Bay, Kent

A client since 2017

I have received honest advice in a relaxed, friendly environment with my personal circumstances paramount.

Janice Hill


A client since 2009

I love Blue Ocean Hartley! So very helpful and fantastic staff.

Christine Bryant

Dartford, Kent

A client since 2009

Blue Ocean has always given me the help and advice that I feel protects my family’s investments. Not only have we used Blue Ocean for more than 20 years, but the team have always made us feel welcome. Always at the end of the phone for any advice we may need. Many thanks!

Russell Paul David

Rochester, Kent

A client since 2001

I have been advised by Blue Ocean for the past 21 years, and have always found their service sound, helpful and supportive.

Louise Bober


A client since 1999

Having the benefits of sound financial advice from Blue Ocean for over 20 years, I would recommend them without hesitation.

Andrew Martin

Medway, Kent

A client since 1999

We have used John Doyle and Blue Ocean for over 20 years as our financial adviser for everything from mortgages, pensions, income protection, trusts and investments. His advice has always been realistic, reliable and no-nonsense. He has always understood our requirements and has advised accordingly.

Michaela Franklin


A client since 1999

I find them very easy to deal with. Extremely knowledgeable and with no pressure.

George Howell


A client since 2016

I moved my investments to Blue Ocean in 2014. The advice I have received has been more professional and my investments have performed better. The staff are polite and always quick to respond to queries.

Lee Menzies

East Sussex

A client since 2014

Having been a client of Blue Ocean for the past 3-4 years, I can honestly say there is nobody I trust more with regards to my financial future than John and the team. Too good to be true? Not with Blue Ocean!

Liam Ryan


A client since 2016

Very good, friendly advice from a good team.

Stephen Williams


A client since 2010

Knowledgeable, approachable and always happy to discuss my issues.

Michael Southall


A client since 2018

Professional and reactive to any questions regarding your investment.

Michael Gould


A client since 2011