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How To Balance Making Money and Living Happy

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If you’re someone who does a lot of thinking, then you may have wondered: this quest for money, where does it end? The need to work hard and make money, to save up and invest, to get life insurance, to have an emergency fund, to build wealth, where does it end? Is there an end to the to-do list of financial freedom or is this a chase forever? Do you always have to choose between making money and living happy?

Thoughts like this can cause a bout of sadness especially if you are new to the world of personal finance and wealth building. It all looks so busy and difficult. So how do you navigate this? At Cowrywise, we emphasise that building wealth and financial freedom is not optional. So how do you balance making money and living a happy life?

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The relationship between money and happiness

Exploring the connection between money and happiness helps us understand how to balance making money and living happy. Here’s the thing, contrary to the common saying, money can buy happiness.

Being debt-free, having choices, buying experiences, prosocial spending, and staying healthy—all these are ways money can contribute fundamentally to your happiness. When you know this, you can easily settle within yourself that there is a solid relationship between money and happiness.

The next question though is how to ensure that this relationship favours you. How do you make sure the chase does not ultimately lead to sadness and a sense of fulfilment?

The goal is to build wealth the right way, not at the expense of your happiness. 

You can eat your cake and have it

In understanding how to balance making money and living happy, you may come across the idea that money and happiness are mutually exclusive. This is a false notion and it feeds into the fear that most people have. 

Unlike most things in life, when it comes to making money and living happy, you can actually eat your cake and have it.

The idea that you cannot have both is a misconception and this itself can be part of the reason why most people grow weary and sad as they search for money. 

On the subject, Sha-En Yeo MAPP wrote that the ‘question of “either… or” already implies a dichotomy – that we can only achieve one and not the other.’

The Killingsworth study also shows that people are generally happier when they make more money and this is not just a transient feeling.

So not only is it possible to balance making money and living a happy life but making more money actually helps you live a happier life. Hence, the question of choosing between money and happiness is invalid since both are not mutually exclusive, rather the former reinforces the latter.

Striking the balance

Here are six things to bear in mind to strike the balance between making money and living a happy life:

1. Wealth building takes time

The bulk of emotional distress that comes as a result of making money is from the expectation of quick cash. Having a get-rich-quick mindset puts you under unnecessary pressure. It puts you on an imaginary countdown and makes you feel like you have a deadline.

The truth, however, is that wealth building actually takes time and it is mostly continuous. The term ‘making money’ is often taken to mean actively working to make money and while this may be true in most cases, the term also means ‘making decisions that help you build wealth.’

This won’t happen in a day. When you understand this, you will approach ‘making money’ from a healthier and happier perspective. 

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2. Practice healthy comparison

A fast way to get overwhelmed is to compare how much you earn with those of your colleagues. Making money should happen at your own pace, not at the pace of others.

When you compare your income with that of someone else, oftentimes you do not take into account other variables that may influence the results you are comparing. Instead of comparing negatively, practice healthy comparison.

See the progress of others as motivation rather than an insult to your efforts. The same way the progress of public figures and role models motivate you, the progress of colleagues can also serve as an inspiration to do better, not as a source of frustration.

3. Celebrate your wins

At Cowrywise, we go all the way in helping you achieve your financial goals and when you achieve them, we are always here to celebrate you.

We have Cowrywise badges that acknowledge your financial progress and achievements. For example, you get ‘The Harvester’ badge when you get your first investment returns. When you invest in Equity Funds, you get the ‘Brave One’ badge.

We do all these to help you celebrate your financial progress. You can make this a personal habit. Once you do, making money stops being what steals your happiness but rather what contributes to it. 

4. Build with a group

Making money can be a lonesome journey sometimes. However, it gets better when you do it with friends. This is what brings the fun out of it.

Here’s a good example: we have Cowrywise Football Circles that allow football fans to save together anytime their team scores. This creates a sense of community and togetherness.

Research shows that ‘Being part of a community can have a positive effect on mental health and emotional wellbeing. Community involvement provides a sense of belonging and social connectedness. It can also offer extra meaning and purpose to everyday life.’

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5. Practice free time

If you’ve ever asked, ‘this quest for wealth, where does it end?’ then you need to practice more free time.

You need to always remember to take a step back and relax. Rather than resting whenever the time comes, you should make it part of your regular routine to rest. Free up some time for this sole purpose. This allows you to see money-making as part of what you do, not the summary of your entire life.

When one thing takes the bulk of your time and effort, there is a tendency to feel stuck. This singular thing becomes consuming and overwhelming. The same is true for making money. Practising free time allows you to do all you want to do while also retaining your freedom and space. 

6. Stay optimistic and positive

In this article on generational poverty, we explored the solutions to poverty and one of the major solutions is staying hopeful.

The road to financial freedom is not always easy and it is not short. While there are exceptions to the norm, making money and building wealth can be demanding and may cause negative feelings like pessimism and hopelessness.

All these contribute to the lack of happiness often associated with making money. Staying optimistic and positive will help to see wealth building differently.

Conclusion: What Next?

The first thing to know when you think about choosing between making money and happiness is that you don’t have to choose. With these two, you can eat your cake and have it. Understanding this puts you in a great position already.

Also, take your time and avoid negative comparisons. Just like we have at Cowrywise, create a system that helps you celebrate your wins. Practice free time and stay optimistic through it all. The sky is just the starting point!

To get started building wealth the happy way, start here


Fear of investing: Cowrywise report

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