Speech: Prepared for Toastmasters International

Delivered: Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Pathways: Level 1: Speech 3


MONEY Can’t Buy You Love,

but It Can Certainly Buy You HAPPINESS


We treat money like we were in an abusive relationship.

We tell everyone how hard it is to get it, but we are so quick to dismiss it as unimportant.

We hate the rich, but we hate being poor.

We preach that money is root of all evil, when in fact it’s the love of money that is the root of all evil.

Money can’t buy you love, true, but life can be happier with a bit of cash.

I want you to remember three names. Gervais, Jebb, and Cohan.

It is through their work and research that I wish to offer you some insights into how much money you’ll need to be happy. So, remember Gervais, Jebb, and Cohan.


Sarah Gervais, the associate Professor of Psychology at University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers three very important insights about how money may lead you to happiness.

  1. There is a threshold.

Having more money doesn’t mean you will be more happy. When your personal income reaches a certain level and you have all the basic necessities of life like food, shelter, and healthcare, the negative effects of working longer hours and taking on more stress to earn more money can make you very unhappy.

  1. Experience lasts longer than things.

A new car or the latest gadget will make you very happy, but over time the value of that object ultimately fades. Experiences on the other hand, like relationships, vacations, or concerts may not have the same initial impact, but they do not fade over time. They increase in intensity and meaning.

  1. Spending money on others will make you just as happy.

It is something that only comes with age, but spending money on other people’s lives, provided it doesn’t diminish our own, gives more happiness than spending the same money on ourselves.

The insights of Sarah Gervais, can be further validated by the research work of Andrew Jebb of Perdue University and his study published in Nature Human Behaviour.

2 | JEBB

Jebb surveyed 1.7 million people, spanning over 164 countries. He conducted research and focused on how much income is needed to be happy.

So what do the numbers tell us?

  1. Happiness comes at an average cost of $75,000 per year/per individual.
  2. Those number fluctuate depending where you live.

Latin America – $35,000

North America/Europe – $75,000

Australia/New Zealand – $125,000

  1. There was little difference between men and women
  2. University graduates had higher expectations/more chance of disappointments as they were very susceptible to social comparison.

Although Jebb surveyed an enormous amount of people, he did not survey the wealthy. Author Peter Cohan in INC Magazine pointed to a survey that did.


Author Peter Cohan wrote an article in INC magazine about a Harvard University study which looked at the happiness of millionaires by Donnelly and Norton. They surveyed over 4,000 millionaires and had came up with three interesting insights.

  1. People with $10 million dollars were significantly happier than those with $1 or $2 million.
  2. People who earned their wealth were happier than those who inherited or married into wealth.
  3. Millionaires can find more happiness by giving the money away.

So what can we learn from all of this?

  1. Be happy with $75,000 or work damn hard to get $10,000,000. (There is no in-between).
  2. Don’t play the lottery.
  3. Spend your money on experiences not things.
  4. Give some of your money away.

When all else fails. Stick up your middle finger to the survey and choose to be happy anyway!



Research Endnotes

(I)        Gervais, Sarah. ’Can Money Buy Happiness? Three psychological principles to consider before you make your next purchase’. November 11, 2015. (https://psychology.unl.edu/can-money-buy-happiness).

(II)       Jebb, Andrew. Tay, Louis. Diener, Ed. Oishi, Shigehiro. ‘Happiness, income satiation and turning points around the world’. January 8, 2018. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41562-017-0277-0).

(III)     Cohan, Peter. ‘This Harvard study of 4,000 Millionaires revealed something surprising about money and happiness’. INC Magazine. December 14, 2017. (https://www.inc.com/peter-cohan/will-10-million-make-you-happier-harvard-says-yes-if-you-make-it-yourself-give-it-away.html).


Cover photo generously provided by photographer Jeremy Paige via unsplash.com