Money Management Center discusses whether money can buy happiness

Money Management Center discusses whether money can buy happiness

Money Management Center discusses whether money can buy happiness
October 15
11:00 2013

Christina Ulsh / Senior Staff Writer

A panel of professionals will dissect the age-old question, “can money buy happiness?” on campus this evening.

The Student Money Management Center is bringing together people from different backgrounds and paychecks to discuss this relationship at 5 p.m. today in the Business Leadership Building room 170.

“There is a correlation between money and happiness, [but you can’t] actually buy happiness,” UNT money coach Emily Scifres said. “The connection is not the amount of money you have, but rather your attitude toward it.”

Associate biology professor Nicoladie Tam said perception plays a major role in whether money can make people happy.

“My theory says emotions are actually a measure of feedback [which] tell you the difference between what you want and what you get,” she said.

She said happiness is the result of a person’s expectations being met. Emotions make up the process of detecting, identifying and ultimately correcting an error in one’s life for the sake of survival.

Scifres said she sees two opposing views among students that come to the center. While these views are different, they lead to the same result.

“I often see students in our office absolutely sick with anxiety over money, to the point they become antagonistic toward it and begin to neglect their financial duties,” she said.

Tam said anxiety is a long-term fear, such as being worried about financial obligations as a college student.

“Fear is a prediction that something will happen that will decrease your [likelihood of] survival,” she said.

Scifres said on the other side, students sometimes rely solely on money for happiness. Their dependence on money leads to mindless spending. These students also neglect their financial obligations.

“It is shown that long-term happiness is caused not by commodities, but experiences,” Scifres said in an article published in October’s SMMC newsletter. “The reasoning for this is that we naturally adapt to commodities, only really acknowledge them when they are lacking.”

Scifres said after obtaining that new car or fancy house, a person grows accustomed to having these materials and the excitement wears off.

Scifres said in her article that experiences have a lifelong effect since they are embedded in our memories. Revisiting happy memories boosts endorphins – hormones that affect emotions.

Although Scifres said money can cause anxiety and dependence, business junior Christian Fitzgerald said the lack of money is cause for other issues.

Poverty leads to problems within families, such as fights and divorce, he said.

“Money cannot necessarily buy you happiness, but it can make you happier than you were,” Fitzgerald said.

Humans need money to survive. Most people don’t forage or hunt for their own food anymore., so money brings food to the table, Fitzgerald said.

“Money is pretty much the great equalizer,” he said. “It allows us to trade for the things we need.”

Tam said once basic needs are satisfied, people seek luxuries.

“The things that are optional are what give us false happiness,” Tam said.

The first-time event is free. There will be pizza and a raffle ticket drawing for attendees.

To reserve a spot sign up at here or call 940-369-7761.

Feature graphic courtesy of

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