Money and Happiness and the Fear of Poverty

This is a topic that has been discussed for ages. Questions such as how much money do you need to be happy?  I wrote about my perspective on the Million Dollar Myth last week.

Even though I can separate the need for money and happiness, I discovered over this weekend that I do have anxiety over money.  My stresses in life, fortunately not too many, seem to be traceable to money.  After some calm reflection, I realized that it stemmed from my fear of poverty.

I shared this realization with my wife who quickly responded, “Is it because you have seen it firsthand?”  While I did not have to respond to her as she was distracted by my daughter, I thought to myself, “Is that what it’s all about?”  Merely becoming aware of this connection was quite helpful for me.  I am sure this awareness will help reduce my anxiety about money.  While some realizations do provide instant transformation for folks, I believe this may take some time for me.

When I came to the US in 1984 to attend graduate school, I had $900, a huge sum for my dad who was a retired government worker in India.  Since I was offered a tuition and teaching assistantship by the university, I felt reasonably good about my financial situation.

Unfortunately, after paying the deposit for the apartment, the telephone, the $20 per credit for tuition and the medical insurance, I was left with only $9.  Soon I found out that my assistantship would not be paid at the beginning of the month, but at the end.  So I had to live my first month in the US on $19, which included a gift of $10 from my cousin.  New to the country and without a credit card, I somehow made it through.  It was rough.  Even after that, surviving grad school on $301.78 per month was quite an ordeal.  While this may have scarred me, I am not going to let it impact me negatively for the rest of my life.  My APE will instinctively try to Avoid those Painful Experiences, real or imaginary.

Everyone has their position and relationship with money and how they interact with it.  I thought of sharing my own story hoping that my realization could benefit someone else. Recently, I was sent an article from the folks at that captures several perspectives and cites several studies on the relationship between money and happiness.  I would like to share the article with you.  Click the link to read 15 Things We Now Know About Money and Happiness.

Would love to hear your position on the relationship between money and happiness.

Peace and be well,


Up Next: The Million $ Myth