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Can’t Buy Me Happiness

This article was written by in Society. 8 comments.

Here is some common sense from Jeanne Sahadi: If financial success is important to you, and you are not as successful as those around you, you are not going to be as happy as someone who doesn’t care as much about financial success. In fact, setting financial success as a goal can make some people less happy.

There are some interesting statistics in the article, some of which may not be common sense like the statement above.

When a group of MBAs were asked whether they’d rather make $100,000 when everyone around them made $120,000, or make $90,000 when everyone around them made $70,000, a majority opted for the lesser salary if everyone at the company knew about the discrepancy, Schwarz said. But if the salary discrepancies were kept confidential, about half said they’d opt for the $100,000 job.

I’m not sure why they singled out MBAs, perhaps they were who was available. Maybe they figure MBAs are conrcerned only with money.

I write about personal finance on Consumerism Commentary. That topic, while broad, is really the sole content of this website. This is not because I am obsessed with personal finance; I have other blogs where I write about different aspects my life and the world. (It’s up to you to find them–no obvious direct links.) Personal finance is such a small part of my universe of interests, but it gets a large chunk of time because I have a big audience here.

I happen to be in one of the categories mentioned in this article, a category which supposedly makes me unhappy. Most of the people around me are doing better off than I am or seem to be. My friends have houses and families and I’m still a low-level worker bee in the office, with no sign of the CEO coming to my cubicle and asking me to run one of the divisions of the company, working directly for him.

My level of cash seems to be decreasing, so I don’t see a house any time soon, either.

If I decide to go to law school next fall, which is looking good right now, it’s not because I want money. I want to do something interesting. If I get paid more for it, great, but even still I’m going to be in debt for a while. Since I’ve been anti-debt for the last several years, that’s a difficult mental barrier for me to cross.

Published or updated July 6, 2005.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

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avatar 1 Anonymous

Flexo-you will be happiest following your passion. The debt is a drag but it will take care of itself over time. Go to law school! ps remember the other day we were talking about essp plans-check out this article in todays WSJ free section.

avatar 2 Luke Landes

Ah, passion. The issue is I don’t really know what my true passion is. Once I was passionate about teaching music, but the multifaceted horrors of the U.S. public school system are too deep for me to really enjoy the activity. Will I be passionate about a certain aspect of the study of law? I don’t know.

avatar 3 Anonymous

It’s odd, because financial success was/is important to me, but doing what I want to do was/is also important to me as well. I suppose, if you look at it, I chose to follow what was important and hoped the financial success would come later, because in the process of living how I wanted in terms of work, I sacrificed a great deal of financial security (although I would never say that I was “in trouble”, it was a little touchy at times). The end result, however, was a much more financially secure situation and what some might consider “success”. So I guess my point is that the most important thing is to first do what you want, and ideally the finances will work themselves out.

avatar 4 Anonymous

My advice — work for free for a lawyer as an intern to see if you like it. I did when I was in college, found that I hated it, and changed my career to marketing. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.