Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness but it Makes Being Miserable a Lot More Fun

Generally speaking, people who espouse the “money doesn’t buy happiness” point of view, do not have any money. It is possible that uttering this old adage makes them feel better about their circumstance or more likely, it is simply an expression of sour grapes. Either way, it is crap—isn’t it?

I have been poor, and I have been flush, and to the best of my recollection, flush was better. That said… let’s examine a “money doesn’t buy happiness” real life scenario or two and see what the take-away might be.

Enter Sharon Tirabassi—this winner of roughly $10 million in an April 2004 Canadian lottery was a single mother and poorly educated. She found herself left with about $750,000 after just 9 years. Read Sharon’s story for yourself.

Preceding Sharon—in a similar riches to rags story, was Lou Eisenberg. Lou won a $5 million New York lottery payout in 1981 and he chose to receive the monthly pay out rather than a lump sum. Today, at age 84, he scrapes by on $250 per week and lives in a mobile home. You can get some insight into Lou’s escapades here.

In stark contrast—meet Brad Duke, a young man of 34 who owns a gym in Idaho. Brad won a $225 million Powerball jackpot and opted for the $85 million cash payout. Determined to avoid a fate similar to Sharon and Lou’s, Brad engaged a team of financial advisors.

Brad placed $45 million in low risk securities and bonds, $35 million into more aggressive investments, paid off his mortgage of $125,000 and put a plan in place to provide each member of his family about $1000 per month, not coincidently, the maximum gift possible without incurring a state tax burden. Brad’s goal is to grow his fortune 10 fold in ten years. Good luck Brad!

Perhaps the most inspiring—is Angela Williams, a New Zealand woman who won a modest $250,000 when she was only 18-years of age. Twenty-five years later, Angela is worth a sizable fortune! Angela turned this comparatively small windfall in a substantial estate.

She owns eight houses and a ten acre parcel in rural New Zealand and a string of additional solid investments. Very impressive Angela! Angela teamed up early on with her financial advisor, Jason, and made the most of her modest fortune.

It would appear that having no experience with money is a serious detriment to a successful outcome. I think it is a safe assumption that neither Sharon nor Lou had much of an opportunity in their lives to learn money management techniques.

Angela had no experience either but had the good sense to seek out a financial advisor.

Brad had some business experience under his belt as a gym owner but still wisely sought professional advice.

Brad and Angela have enjoyed positive outcomes. Lou and Sharon … not so much.

When you win your jackpot and win you will, just as surely as you will be struck by lightning … I offer these sage pieces of advice:

• Unless you manage a hedge fund for a living, seek the services of a trusted professional financial advisor.
• Engage the services of an attorney specializing in estates, taxes and other related financial matters.
• Grow a pair; you’re going to need them because everyone will be coming at you with their hands out and a heartbreaking story on their pouty lips.
• Hire a voice coach; he’ll teach you to say no at various volumes and with numerous, effective intonations.
• Hold off on making life-changing decisions such as quitting your job, buying that dream house, etc., for a few months because it is going to take time for this to sink in.
• Try to put your winnings into some type of reasonable perspective, regardless of the amount.

I don’t believe that it has been established beyond a reasonable doubt that money does not buy happiness. I do believe, however, that money is capable of buying peace of mind. Most of the stress one encounters in their day-to-day life can be traced back to money, or more accurately, the lack of it, and stress, as we all have been taught, is a killer!

That stressful commute, the stress of credit card bills, loan payments, college for the children, retirement savings, car repairs, car payments … the list is almost endless, could be averted by a windfall such as the one our friend Brad Duke is enjoying.

Is happiness the absence of stress? Possibly! But of one thing I am certain; living stress free regarding money matters makes being miserable so much more fun!

Have any of our readers been struck by lightning? How about sharing some of your experiences?

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  • […] Generally speaking, people who espouse the “money doesn’t buy happiness” point of view, do not have any money.  […]

  • Imran /

    Financial planning is what made the difference! Brad choose to make his wealth last while the others just blew it away or made short term financial decisions. Every decision that I now make is based on the long term, even if it’s to do with just a dollar I think about the future implications and the opportunity costs. Great post, made me think.

  • Nice post. It goes to show how the decisions you make now effect the rest of your life. To avoid regret I always think twice when I make a financial decision. Most of my decisions are long term and I’ve learnt to limit what I do on a whip. My change in attitude is beginning to make a difference to my finances. My mortgage balance is going down along with my credit card balance, my savings are rising and my knowledge of money is growing thanks to personal finance sites like this. Great inspirational work! thank you.

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