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Money and Happiness as a fungible resource

Money really does buy happiness. Anyone who tells you differently has a vested interest in keeping you poor, unhappy, or both. I know this because I grew up on the ragged edge of poor, and then backed my way into a career in IT, which is where the modern world keeps all the money that isn't in Finance. So I am one of the extreme minority of Generation X that actually had an adulthood that was markedly more financially stable than my parents. And let me tell you: money really does buy happiness.

To be clear: at 45 years old, I'm now in a relationship and a period of my life where our household is effectively double-income, no kids. I live in the city, but I own a house, and can only afford to do that because of our combined income. We also have two cars -- one new, one used (though neither of them is getting driven very much these days) -- and we have a small discretionary budget every month for things like videogames, books, and the like. What my brother used to call DAM -- Dicking Around Money. It was not the easiest path in the world to get here, but it was certainly easier for me than it was for others, and I try not to forget that in my daily life; I'm enormously lucky to be in this place. But trust me: money really does buy happiness.

For instance, we realized that this summer at least one and possibly both of us will be working from home full time and that this summer is also going to be the hottest one on record (this is going to be true for probably the rest of my life and possibly for the rest of humanity's time on the planet, but that's another rant for another day) so we decided to get central A/C installed before it gets really hot. I don't know if you know this, but central air installation isn't cheap; even for a small house like ours, we're talking five figure spending. But here's the thing about money: if you have enough of it, people are willing to lend you more. So a 0% interest loan over five years was within our reach, which meant central air was doable. We'll dip into our "prudent reserve" money so we don't actually have to borrow the whole amount, but it's totally doable without resorting to rice and beans for months on end. 

And yes, we have a prudent reserve; in this case we got lucky because my father had life insurance when he died, so we got a small amount of money from that, and that will almost cover the whole cost of the A/C. But even if we hadn't had that amount of money, we probably still would have gone ahead with the A/C install, because 0% for 5 years is a possibility for us, at our level in the socioeconomic strata. 

Another thing that having money lets you do is not wait until something fails to replace it. When we moved into the house, it came with a washer and dryer, but they weren't actually very nice. They were fine, perfectly serviceable, but cheap (as opposed to inexpensive, which is a different thing and probably the source of Yet Another Rant at a later date). But the thing is: money can buy happiness. And we were unhappy with our washer and dryer, so we went out and bought new ones. And because we already had the money to buy them, we were able to get a good deal on them. Because once you have money, it becomes increasingly easy to get good deals on things which allow you to spend less money to get nicer things. It's dumb, and backwards, and shockingly unfair, but then again, that's Capitalism for you. 

Money makes it possible for me to buy a new refrigerator before the one I have breaks. Money made it possible for us to replace the water heater because we wanted something that was bigger and more energy efficient. Money made it possible for us to replace the fence around our yard so the dogs could go out unsupervised. Money, in short, bought us happiness, even if it was just a little, even if it was just for Future Us. 

Anyone who tells you that money doesn't buy happiness has a vested interest in keeping both away from you. And that's super fucked up, but that's also how Capitalism works. 


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