Just Ask the Benjamins: New Study Confirms Money Can Buy Happiness

A new study confirms what we have known all along but refused to admit: Money can buy happiness.

Well, sort of.

Despite the traditional saying (and lie we tell ourselves when money is tight) that money can’t buy you happiness, a study from Cambridge University has found otherwise. At least, as long as you spend it the right way.

Researchers examined almost 77,000 transactions of 625 study participants and found that people who spent more on purchases that matched their personality were happiest.

Published in Psychological Science Today, the study matched spending categories on the well-known “Big Five” personality traits: Openness to experience (artistic versus traditional), conscientiousness (self-controlled vs easygoing), extraversion (outgoing vs reserved), agreeableness (compassionate vs competitive), and neuroticism (prone to stress vs stable). The researchers then compared the real purchases of the participants to their personalities using the same scale and found that people who spend more money on things they like to do were generally happier.

For example, “eating out in pubs” was rated as an extroverted and impulsive spending category, and “pets” and “charities” were rated as agreeable. Those who were rated as highly conscientious spent more on “health and fitness” than a person low in conscientiousness.

And no, the results aren’t exactly shocking.

Though this may seem like common sense to some, the study is apparently groundbreaking. Research associate at Cambridge Judge Business School and author of the study said it “breaks new ground by mining actual bank transaction data and demonstrating that spending can increase our happiness when it is spent on goods and services that fit our personalities and so meet our psychological needs.”

What does this mean for you? According to Sandra Matz, a PhD candidate in the psychology department at the University of Cambridge,“Our findings suggest that spending money on products that help us express who we are as individuals could turn out to be as important to our well-being as finding the right job, the right neighbourhood, or even the right friends and partners.”


Keep in mind, you don’t need boatloads of money; just enough to buy things that make you happy – whether that means a yoga class pass or a few meals out per week. It’s not about how much money you have; it’s about how you chose to spend it.