Money can’t buy happiness – Proverb Meaning and Expansion of idea


The proverb ‘Money can’t buy happiness’ states that money can be used to obtain materials and physical possessions, but the very important emotion, ‘happiness’ cannot be bought by it. You can pay for your car, house, fridge, electricity, and thousands of other things, but there is no shop in the entire world, that sells happiness. No matter how rich you are, it has nothing to do with the fact, how happy you are. Wealth and happiness are two different things and must not be linked together.

Expansion of idea

The proverb ‘money can’t buy happiness’ sets the limit to the power of money. With money, even with lots of it, you will only be able to buy materialistic things, but not happiness. You can use the money to pay your rent, buy a house, buy a car, or even go on vacation, but there is still no guarantee that you would be happy even after having all that. In other words, you just can’t walk into a store and buy happiness. It comes from inside, from your soul, and has nothing to do with how much bank balance you have or what is your net worth.

Happiness is internal – it comes from your own acts of kindness or the kindness others do to you. It also comes from generous friends and family, who are always there with you in adversity. It also comes from the love you get in life from different quarters – friends, family, colleagues, etc. Worth noting here, that all the things that really matter in making you happy, that is, friends, family, generosity, love, etc, can’t be bought, but has to be earned. Someone might have all the richness, but might still be sad and lonely, while a poor person could still be happy.

Short Stories on ‘Money Can’t Buy happiness’

Stories are the best way to understand the true meaning of a proverb. A well-written story will go a long way into deeply instilling the true meaning of the proverb. Keeping this in mind, I have given below a couple of stories based on the proverb ‘money can’t buy happiness.’ Hopefully, the stories will be able to motivate you and help you understand the meaning of the proverb.

Short Story 1

Once there lived a greedy businessman in a village. He owned vast expanses of land and was the wealthiest in the village. His wealth had put in him a false sense of superiority from others. He looked down on the poor and weak and thought of them as the unhappiest people in the world. The man thought that those who don’t have money can’t stay happy. Although, when he saw a poor yet happy man he used to get really confused. He used to think – “what makes that man so happy. Look at me. I have everything money can buy, and that man doesn’t have a penny, still, he looks happier.”

He discussed the same with his wife. His wife used to stay quiet and sad because she wanted a child. Perhaps she understood true happiness better than the man. In the due course of time, it so happened that the man lost all his wealth during a pandemic. Just when he was beginning everything afresh and used to stay depressed most of the time, news came in that had him jump with joy.

His wife told him that he is going to be a father lately and she is a couple of months into pregnancy. The man was so happy that he wasn’t tired by thanking God for this gift in difficult times. Suddenly he also realized that the conception of money bringing happiness is false, and that true happiness lies elsewhere. It is in love, and inner joy or satisfaction, rather than money. At last, he realized that money can buy anything but happiness.

Short Story 2

There lived a very wealthy businessman in a big town. For him time was money and he spends most of his time in the office, earning more money with each passing hour. When someone asked him, why was he so much onto earning money and getting richer every day, he would say that he is doing this to keep his family, especially, his daughter happy.  At least it is what the businessman thought.

He rarely met his own daughter despite living under the same roof. He reached home during the late-night hours and most of the time the teenage daughter was fast asleep. Nevertheless, the man was satisfied that he was providing all the comforts to his family and his beloved daughter. Perhaps, this will keep them happy, he thought.

One day, the man got a call from his wife that their daughter has gone somewhere and wasn’t responding to phone calls. He rushed back to home. His daughter had left a note stating that she is gone for a few days, on her own, in search of happiness. The note surprised him as well as shocked him.

All his life he had been earning money day and night, thinking that he is keeping his family happy, but now his whole belief seems to vanish in the air. He sank into a chair, thinking that – perhaps money can’t buy happiness, that’s why his daughter has left. From that day onwards the man changed his priorities. When his daughter returned, he spent more time with family and less on business.


A well-written example of a proverb helps a lot in understanding its true meaning. Keeping this in mind, I am giving below a couple of examples for you to better understand the meaning of the proverb ‘money can’t buy happiness.’

“The doctor said to the couple – Many of the pairs who come here are rich and have all the possessions, money could buy, but for some reason, they aren’t happy in their personal lives. It is very true that money can’t buy happiness!”

“Many of the rich persons on the planet have gone through depression, some even going to the extent of committing suicide. All this proves just one thing that money can’t buy happiness.”

“The teacher told the boy’s parents – I understand that you both are busy, yet you try to keep your child happy, by buying him things and gifts. But, lately, he is looking sad and inattentive in class. I think that you both need to spend more time with your child. Buying things for him isn’t going to work, as you know that money can’t buy happiness.”

“Yesterday, I met a poor farmer while I was doing a survey. He was wearing soiled clothes and was sweating heavily. Still, his beaming smile brought to me the realization that money can’t buy happiness, in fact, it is something that even poor can have.”

“I know a rich man who has donated all his property to an NGO working for the poor children. When I asked him as to what drives him to this act, he said – I had lots of money but lacked happiness in life. Lastly, I realized that money can’t buy happiness, but donating it for a greater cause can make you happy.”


A phrase, not exactly similar to ‘money can’t buy happiness’ but meaning exactly the same, was first coined by a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In 1750 he wrote – ‘Money buys everything, except morality and citizens.’

In the United States, the phrase first appeared in the “William and Mary College quarterly history magazine.” Since then it has been used in several forms like money can’t buy love; money can’t buy education; money can’t buy friends, etc.


The proverb is very important, for it makes us realize the true reality of life. Today, everyone seems to be in a race. Race to get richer with each passing day. All we think about is how can our possessions be increased on day to day basis. A person with the best car in town, want to own a chopper; someone, who already has a decent house, wants to own a sea-facing mansion. They both fail to realize that it’s a never-ending race. In the end, they all will realize that what truly matters is how happily they lived but not how lavishly they lived.