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Money Can’t Buy Happiness But It Can Buy Financial Freedom

Updated on March 21, 2024 Updated on March 21, 2024
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Money isn’t about being rich.  Money is about choice and the freedom that goes along with being able to make decisions when money is not the only deciding factor. Stop thinking about money in terms of being rich and instead think about ways it can grant you financial freedom.

What are You Working For?

You go to work for five days (or more) a week for 40 hours (or more). Even if you love your job, it’s time away from the other things you love, your family, your friends, and your hobbies. We want to use the money we work so hard for money to buy our freedom. So, what are our financial goals and how do we achieve financial freedom?

Most of us will spend our entire lives doing hard work to make ends meet.


And for what?

  • A house bigger than you need or can afford, filled with items you never use and don’t even remember purchasing?
  • To pay off credit cards charged with accumulating that very collection of possessions?
  • For the occasional vacation that strains your budget, especially when your boss is less than supportive about you taking time off?
  • For the perceived status that comes from driving an expensive car and wearing high-end clothing?
  • To impress individuals who remain indifferent and whom you might not even like?

If this scenario resonates with you, you’ve effectively imprisoned yourself. You may or may not recognize it, but you’re trapped in a debtor’s prison, bereft of significant freedom.

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Have you ever hated a job so much that the thought of falling asleep filled you with dread, knowing that morning would arrive swiftly and you’d have to confront the job once more?

Or maybe you don’t hate your job but money is so tight that you have to go in no matter how sick you might be. Not everyone gets sick pay.

Ideally, everyone would have a job that they love, doing what they want to do.

That’s not realistic for everyone and I think most of us can be largely satisfied if our job is bearable; that the hard work has some meaning, we (mostly) get along with our colleagues, and the pay is enough to pay all of our monthly expenses and have some savings.

But that isn’t the reality for everyone.

If you’re in a job that fails to offer fulfillment and drains your energy, feeling trapped is a common outcome. Spending a third of your day in utter distress is a situation no one should endure.

That feeling is the opposite of freedom.

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What Can Money Buy?

When people fantasize about wealth, they often imagine the items they could purchase. However, the allure of material possessions, even a garage filled with Lamborghinis, is not the greatest benefit of having money.


Money can buy choices and choices mean freedom.

Money can buy convenience.

  • Are you too tired to make dinner? Order out.
  • Don’t you have time to clean your house? Hire a cleaning service.
  • Have you been instructed to evacuate due to a hurricane? Fantastic! Instead of enduring a week in a flooded house without electricity, you’re heading to Destin to relax on the beach.

Money can buy freedom.

  • Just had a baby and don’t want to return to work? Now, you have the option to be a stay-at-home parent.
  • Is your sister planning a destination wedding in Antigua? Wonderful, start packing.
  • Did your mom undergo surgery and needs you for a few weeks? It’s time to clear your schedule; you’re heading out of town.

These scenarios illustrate the control you gain over your life, avoiding the feeling of being trapped. Feeling constrained, and without choices, leads to unhappiness and anxiety.

Money can buy happiness.

We feel happy when we have control over our own lives. Money can also buy happiness if you know what to buy. Too many people think buying things brings happiness. And it does, but it’s very temporary, and usually, the happiness extends only to you.

If you want to spend money to get happy, spend it on experiences. It’s been proven that experiences make us happier than material possessions. And it’s not hard to think of an example from your own life.

Do you really need things?

Growing your net worth becomes challenging when you’re constantly making purchases. Take the new TV you bought, for example; a large model equipped with the latest features. Exciting, right? Perhaps, but only to you.

The truth is, no one else cares about those purchases, and the enjoyment they provide is limited to those in your household—and even then, only until the novelty wears off. Unnecessary spending can severely undermine your financial objectives.

Even if you’re someone who watches a lot of TV, this isn’t an investment that contributes to lasting memories or experiences you’re likely to share with others.



Now, reflect on the last concert you attended.

You were excited to go. You and the people you are going with talk about it every time you see each other. On the day of the concert, you went to dinner before, had a blast at the concert, and had some drinks after. You think about and talk about the concert for weeks, months, maybe years after.

The concert offered more than just an experience; unlike the TV, which is merely an object, the concert was a shared adventure. It was something you eagerly anticipated, enjoyed alongside others, and now cherish as a fond memory.

That’s why experiences, rather than things, make us happy. And the even better thing about experiences versus things is that you can have all sorts of wonderful experiences for free.

It doesn’t cost anything to take your kid to the park or to go hiking with a group of friends. It doesn’t cost anything to spend the evening making dinner with your partner.

Changing Your Money Mind Set

Many of our habits and thoughts about money are already ingrained by the age of just seven. That’s great if your parents had and demonstrated good financial habits but if they didn’t it can be hard to change your money mindset.


There are some personal finance mistakes we just have to let go of like the ones we made because we were young and dumb.

  • We took out $100,000 in student loans when we were 18 and got a degree in South American literature. Not many career choices with that one, huh?
  • Or maybe you took a car loan out on that new car that didn’t fit into your monthly budget after all.
  • We aren’t likely to make that kind of mistake again so we just have to move on.
  • If you’ve made purchases of unnecessary items using a credit card, due to lacking the cash, what prompted this decision?

We’ve all made financial mistakes, and even when we knew better, succumbing to decisions we were aware of could lead to negative consequences. Reflecting on these actions, whether immediately or after some time, often leaves us feeling guilty and ashamed, emotions that are particularly intense around money matters.

However, these feelings only become valuable when we use them as a learning opportunity. Coping mechanisms for stress, anxiety, and unhappiness vary among individuals, and while some can be destructive, it’s crucial to cultivate healthier strategies for managing discomfort without causing further harm to ourselves.

Stop being lazy about money

Overdrafts occur because of insufficient funds and failure to manage our checking account. Late fees on bills are similar. With the abundance of options available to automate financial transactions, there’s no excuse for not ensuring bills are paid on time.


Be Proactive

  • You can easily go online and see how much money is in your checking account before you pay something that costs more than your balance. If your checking account balance is low, you can easily transfer money from your savings account.
  • You can set up auto-pay so your bills are paid on time. If you don’t feel comfortable using auto-pay, set up alerts on your phone for two days before a bill is due and set them for a time that you know you’ll be home so you can sit down and pay them immediately.
  • Some bills allow you to change your billing date. If this is an option, change the dates to the same day so can pay all or most of your bills at once. Just be sure you have enough money to cover so many bills at once.

Are You Saving for Retirement?

  • Everyone should start saving for retirement as early as possible. Starting to save early allows interest to compound and more time to exponentially grow your savings. Therefore, don’t delay any further in opening that Roth IRA you’ve been procrastinating on for weeks.
  • While it’s never too late to begin investing, starting later means you’ll have more ground to cover. Introducing family responsibilities into the equation further complicates finding funds to save, making the catch-up process even more challenging.

If you don’t give money much thought, now is the time to get serious.

Building Financial Freedom

We want to use our money to buy our freedom. So how do we achieve financial freedom? The first thing we have to do is to pay off high-interest debt, usually credit card debt.

People working together to grow a money plant.

The current average interest rate on a credit card is 21.50% but some approach 35% or even more. Individuals facing such high-interest rates typically have experienced late payments, which trigger an increase in the interest rate beyond the card’s initial offering.

You can’t be financially independent when you have too much debt dragging you down. Credit card debt is your priority and you need a plan to tackle it.

Debt is like driving with your foot on the brake

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Tackling Debt

Payoff Methods: There are two effective strategies for debt repayment: snowballing and stacking. Explore the details, advantages, and disadvantages of each to determine the method that best suits your needs.

Some Debt Categories:

  • Mortgages – Lock in a lower rate with refinancing? Probably not likely in the current interest rate environment. But hold on – high-interest debt can be a beast. Maybe tackling that first frees up more for future goals. A home equity loan (HELOC) might be an option.
  • Student Loans – If your student loan interest is higher than 4%, you can look into refinancing for a lower interest rate with Credible. Even an interest rate 1% lower than your current one can save you thousands of dollars over the life of a loan.

Some individuals are averse to carrying any debt. If this describes your sentiment, paying off low-interest loans, although not what we consider the most efficient use of your funds, is by no means a poor decision.

Building Wealth

Building wealth might seem like a lofty goal, but it is achievable for the average person with the right mindset and strategies. Start by getting a grip on your finances: create a budget, cut unnecessary expenses, and focus on paying down any high-interest debt.

Saving is essential, so make it a habit to set aside a portion of your income regularly, no matter how small. Think about investing too—whether it’s in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, it can help your money grow over time.

Remember, it’s not about making big, risky moves; it’s about consistency, smart choices, and leveraging resources like employer retirement plans. And don’t forget to keep learning about personal finance and investment strategies. With patience and perseverance, building wealth is within your reach!

There are strategies to pursue financial freedom that extend beyond traditional careers. Exploring passive income streams, side hustles, or smart investments can contribute to your financial goals. However, building wealth often takes time and resourcefulness.

Passive Income

Passive income can offer many of us the chance to attain financial freedom. It’s the kind of income that doesn’t require active effort and very little time investment on our part. The essence of building wealth lies in putting your money to work for you.


Forms of passive income include investing in the stock market, owning rental property, investing in real estate, peer-to-peer lending, or renting out your home.

Companies like Betterment and Vanguard make investing in the stock market easy.

LMM has a “Rental Properties for Passive Investors, detailing the exact framework for investing in rental properties.

Rental Properties for Passive Investors

Our proven, data-driven approach to building a portfolio of income-producing rental properties that perform in the long-term.

If owning rental properties doesn’t sound appealing, you can invest in real estate REITs through Fundrise.

You can lend money to borrowers with Lenme and rent out your home on Airbnb. Everyone should have more than one income stream. We could lose our regular job through no fault of our own so it’s best to have extra money coming in from other sources and one of those sources should be passive.

In addition, you can spend some of your free time starting a side hustle and making extra money. Find a flexible job like driving for Uber or babysitting on Sittercity. We did an exhaustive guide to making passive income.

Rental Properties for Passive Investors

Our proven, data-driven approach to building a portfolio of income-producing rental properties that perform in the long-term.

Redefine Retirement

When most of us think of money being able to buy freedom, we think of never having to work again, or being able to retire.

But there are a lot of positive things about working; doing work that makes a difference for others, challenging yourself by learning and doing new things, the social aspect of a job, having a sense of purpose and a place to go, and some structure to your days, and of course, bringing in money.

So we need to redefine retirement. When you achieve financial independence, that means the end of mandatory work, not the end of any work (unless you choose to never work in any capacity again).


Retirement can mean

  • Not having to show up to a job you hate in order to keep a roof over your head.
  • If things changed and your job was no longer enjoyable you could leave and take as much time as you needed to find a job that would make you happy.
  • Changing fields to something you perhaps always wanted to do but knew would not pay enough to live the kind of life you wanted.
  • You could go back to college to become a teacher or pursue a career in the arts and become an artist without the starving part.
  • You can start your own business.
  • You could spend your time volunteering for a cause you care about.
  • You could run for political office.
  • You can do whatever you want without money having to factor into your decisions.
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What Financial Freedom Means

Regardless of your financial standing, money serves as a universal tool at our disposal. Like any tool, its effectiveness depends on how well it’s used. Employ your money as a means to purchase your freedom, steering you towards the right path to achieve your financial objectives.

Show Notes

Betterment: Start investing to build the life you want.

Mint:  Take control of your money.

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Mark Fiebert - Contributor Mark spent over 30 years as a senior finance executive in Private Banking, Asset Management and Alternative Investments. Mark holds a BS in Accounting from Brooklyn College, an MBA in Finance from Pace University as well as being sponsored to attend The Wharton School Executive Development Program.
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