Does money make us happy?
Well, according to that famous Beatles song, no: "Money Can't Buy Me Love."
But, of course, the Beatles also had a hit with their cover of the Motown song "Money, That's What I Want."
So which is it?
The answer, according to psychologists, is both: up to a certain point money can buy happiness, so to speak. After all, without enough money for food, clothes, shelter, and other basic necessities, it would be hard to feel very happy.
But once the basics are covered, money alone doesn't equate with happiness. Put another way, having more and more money doesn't necessarily make you happier. Dozens of studies back that up.
Rather, according to a lot of recent research, happiness depends not so much on exactly how much money you have as on how you spend it. For example, spending money on things, like a new car or big flat screen TV, may give you a happiness bump at first. But it's only temporary. Because we very quickly get used to even our coolest, most expensive possessions and soon barely notice them.
Good memories, on the other hand, tend to give us longer-lasting satisfaction, according to the research. Spending money on things like travel, going out with friends, and generally having interesting experiences is more likely to raise our happiness quotient. Spending money on other people has also been shown to increase happiness.
So spending lots of money on yourself may buy some short-term happiness. But spending it in order to be with friends or help others is a better investment when it comes to feeling happy.