Do we really need money?


I like to think we’ve grown into a society where money and materialistic goods are regarded as only secondary to non-materialistic goods: love, friendship, contentedness, peace, etc. But the older I get and the more I elbow myself into the so-called “real world,” the more I realize this is merely childhood idealism.

Money is the fossil fuel the car of the world runs on, stinking up the atmosphere, pushing out and polluting everything else.

213px-Flavian_dynasty_AureiMoney even determines the worth of a person. People my age still have parents who expect the significant other of their children to have a house, money, car, etc. Nevermind things like compassion, good listening skills––hell, a sense of humour. Young people are pressured to pursue occupations they have no passion for, strictly for the money.

And my question is: why? Why do we attach this sacredness to money?

Money doesn’t necessarily make you happier or live a longer life. Of course, money does help those things. If by affording business class plane ticket makes you happier, money is making you happier. If money gets you the best possible medical treatment, you may live longer. But it’s not the determinant and it’s not absolutely necessary. A business class plane ticket is useless to your happiness if the food they serve on the plane is gruesome. Expensive medical treatment may not be necessary if you’d eaten healthy and exercised throughout your life.

Of course, we can’t live on no money. We have necessities that can only be bought with money: food, shelter, clothing, etc. Perhaps it’s because I never grew up in an environment where these things were out of reach, that I am able to dismiss money. Still, I’d rather have a job doing work I enjoy but pays less than a job I hate that pays millions. If someone offered me the CEO position of a mega-company that pays six digits annually, I’d turn it down in a heartbeat.

When I think about why human beings worship money, I think of this Bible verse:

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

– Matthew 6: 19-21

385px-Billets_de_5000Perhaps it is because of our increasingly secular society that we are concerned with money. Since we believe this life is all we’ll ever have, we’re obsessed with amassing as many short-term tools of happiness as we can. The only way we can anchor happiness in this physical, materialistic world is to buy physical, material things we can enjoy.

So perhaps we do need money to buy happiness, or at least some form of it. I just hope people don’t forget that there are countless, numerous, priceless things that deliver as much, if not more, happiness than things that have to be bought with money. These are the some of the priceless things that make me happy:

  1. Waking up and realizing you can sleep in.
  2. Walking down the beach with the water around my ankles.
  3. Playing with animals you meet on the street.
  4. Seeing an eagle.
  5. When you’re running and you get to the point where your body’s adapted and your breathing is no longer laboured.
  6. That first gulp of water after the run, when you really, really need it.
  7. Having an in-depth conversation with friends and getting to know everyone’s commonalities, emerging from the conversation as better friends.
  8. Finding out that you just made a friend.
  9. Finding out that you just made a lover.
  10. Writing. (Provided you have a few bucks to afford writing utensils!)

Nature is free.

Perhaps what we need is not money, but time. Time to slow down and enjoy these things. Then again, perhaps we need money to buy time.
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5 thoughts on “Do we really need money?

  1. I was interested to see what people would say about this before I put in my own say and I can see that we all have lots to say.
    “I think we writers are a little lucky; at least you can be dirt poor and start your journey as a writer. (You can’t be dirt poor if you want to be a pro snowboarder because you have buy gear, passes, transport etc.)” HAHA. I triple like this comment. I still dream of the people who really happen to be that awesome and great at bumming things off people and have connections. If so, then you have found a way to be happy and not quite meet the threshold that exists for everyone else.
    “I’m always stunned by those who take on crippling jobs in order to get massive salaries. If your job is that demanding and eats up all your time, how much time and energy do you have left at the end of the day to spend your money on happy things?” High achieving people become those people oftentimes. Doubt it feels like a choice but a personal challenge.
    As for the comments I think we all know that the gist of the article tended to talk about the extravagance of money and the forgetting of simple pleasures. All of the simples pleasures listed there are awesome; and how often do we think of them when we look at someone else and think “How come they have so much more (____) than me?” If we really only cared about reaching a threshold, we wouldn’t be staring jealously at people who flash their belongings instead of thinking of the simple pleasures we have that truly make us happy instead of those that don’t.
    All of us commenting here I assume live a pretty comfortable lifestyle even if it is penny pinching. I feel the message is about enjoying what you have, not a condemnation of spending above the threshold, although it does question it. So do I. It’s pretty awful seeing people obviously rolling with money and thinking how you must be financially lower or lazier or unlucky when it’s totally not true, you’ve got tons of things to be thankful for, but for that moment, society’s made you think your life isn’t as good because you don’t have a certain iconic item marketed as one that “people can’t live without”.


  2. Parents, so annoying, eh? Nagging us to take on jobs we have no passion for. What they want is for us to be able to afford to live comfortably – and I acknowledge that everybody’s definition of “comfortably” is a little different – in lovely but expensive places like Vancouver. Do we really need money to be happy? I think, absolutely. The ten things listed are pretty dreams, but I’d say it’s just a tad harder for me, personally, to enjoy most of them if I have “can I afford next month’s rent and electricity bills” hanging around in the back of my head. There’s no denying that there is a financial threashold that we need to pass to be happy. Granted, that threashold is different for everyone, but it exists for everyone. I think that oftentimes we, having lived in comfort beyond our personal thresholds for all our lives, neglect to really consider what life would be like if we had to constantly worry about money. To be able to own a home in Vancouver, especially in a ‘nice’ neighbourhood, will take a lot of money. Given that, it would be naieve to go with fleeting passions without consiidering money when exploring career options. “Follow your heart” works wonderfully in Disney films, but less so in real life. I’d say that in real life, “commit to a definite and financially pragmatic goal that you can live with” works better.


    • What I really wanted to address was the need for money after your basic needs have been met. And I guess I didn’t make it clear in the post, and perhaps I’ll post about this topic again later, but I feel that there is a “slippery slope” when it comes to money. We start out legitimately hunting for money because we need our shelter/food/clothing etc. But when we get to a point when those things are secure, we don’t feel satisfied. We want more, even though we don’t NEED more. With more money brings the need to have more money.


    • That’s a wonderful clip!

      I think we writers are a little lucky; at least you can be dirt poor and start your journey as a writer. (You can’t be dirt poor if you want to be a pro snowboarder because you have buy gear, passes, transport etc.)

      I’m always stunned by those who take on crippling jobs in order to get massive salaries. If your job is that demanding and eats up all your time, how much time and energy do you have left at the end of the day to spend your money on happy things?

      Liked by 2 people

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