Can Money Buy Happiness? Are the Best Things in Life Free? Essay Question & Answer

IELTS Writing Test Task 2 Essay

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task. Write about the following topic:

Some people think money brings happiness, while other people think that the most important things in life are free, and cannot be bought.

Do you agree or disagree? Include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

Here are some ideas to think about, which can help you formulate a great answer to this essay question.

I am sure that some of you at some point in your life have thought that if you won the lottery or that you unexpectedly received a good amount of money, it would solve any problems in your life and make your existence happier. But it’s not true.

If I received the first prize in the lottery I would celebrate all day long, and surely buy things that I do not need, compulsively. However, this joy is ephemeral and unless I manage this huge amount of money very well, it could bring me more displeasure than joy in the long run.
Evidence that money does not give happiness

There are plenty of examples, but right now here are three that show that rich people with a lot of money are not happier than people who have a regular standard of living.

It is clear that a certain level of economic wellbeing allows us to satisfy our basic needs and helps reduce our concerns and increase our comfort, welfare and happiness. Having to be calculating every day to make ends meet and juggling your budget in the supermarket generates a lot of anxiety and frustration.

But I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about having so much money, but it doesn’t increase your level of happiness, I would even say that in the long term it can give you some major problems.

1. The rich also commit suicide.

This is the first evidence that money does not automatically bring happiness. If, as we often think, having a lot of money is the solution to all our problems and the reason why our lives will be improved remarkably, why are there rich people who have problems? Why are there rich people who commit suicide even when they have everything (apparently)?

Let's give some examples:
  • Marilyn Monroe: This actress, model and producer was found dead at 36 on August 5, 1962 with an overdose of barbiturates.
    Kurt Cobain: The singer of the group Nirvana decided to put an end to his days with a shot in the head in April 1994 after suffering constant depressions.
  • Elvis Presley: The King of Rock and Roll died in August 1997 from a heart attack caused by an excessive intake of barbiturates.
    Anna Nicole Smith: The former Playboy bunny was found dead in a luxurious hotel room on February 8, 2007, drowned in her own vomit after taking a high dose of antidepressants.
  • Lucy Gordon: The French actress and model decided to hang herself two days after her 29th birthday in May 2009. She was going through a depressive crisis.

Maybe we are wrong, and money is not the solution to all (or even most) of our problems. Even, perhaps, having a lot of money can make us more vulnerable to emotional shock, since we get used to having everything we want and do not develop the necessary skills to deal with situations in which things are not as we would like, and such situations sooner or later always arrive, since not everything can be bought with money. In fact, the best things in life are free!

And what happens when these emotional blows arrive, we do not have the resources to face them, but nevertheless we have tons of money? Well, very simple. We go the easy way and resort to drugs or medication in an uncontrolled way, which in the short term can help us to escape from our situation, but in the long term the only thing we are doing is making the problem worse. And if not, look how those celebrities ended up.

2. Dangers of the lottery jackpot

There are some studies that show that 80% of people who receive the lottery jackpot lose their fortune in the next 10 years (In the United States 75% lose it in the following 5 years).

The truth is that it’s not surprising this happens. We are not used to managing such amounts of money, nobody has taught us to do it. Therefore, it is normal that we have difficulties and we get carried away by the initial euphoria and compulsively spend impressive amounts of money. Luxury cars, impressive villas, parties full of alcohol and drugs, first class trips, yachts, investments in businesses, etc.

If in life we have known nothing about companies and suddenly we win 15 million dollars, it is more likely that instead of starting to study the subject and study viable projects, we will invest in the first thing that comes our way which is appealing.

Or that if we have never understood yachts, we get the most expensive and luxurious and with a space in the port before considering that perhaps it would be good to learn to drive it. Nor is it any wonder that we invest large amounts in games of chance, if after all, gambling is what has made us rich. Why not use that money to be even richer? In addition, we have money to spare.

People who win a high prize do not need to ruin their lives. So, if you just won the lottery or received a millionaire inheritance, do not be overwhelmed, just use your brain! Get organized and create a plan of action before you start spending and compulsively buying all those unnecessary things.

3. Millionaire executives without time to enjoy their fortune

This kind of person is the third evidence that money really does not bring happiness. These are individuals who achieve a high position in their company, everything seems perfect, but the problem begins when he/she begins to spend too much time at work (having a high position requires a lot of responsibility and many hours of work), and then comes home stressed at 23.00 at night without wanting to talk with their family and just go to their room, to wake up again at 6.30 and go to work.

Yes, they might have a lot of money, however, they hardly talk to their spouse or children, when they get home their children are already in bed, they do not have time to go out and have a drink with their friends and only enjoys a vacation once a year.

Do you think these people are happy? Or would they be happier if they cultivated their relationship with their spouse, saw their children grow up and had a good circle of friends, but less money?

So, do you still think that money brings happiness?

In addition to these three cases which show that money not only does not have the capacity to make us happier by itself, but that it can bring us problems, another factor comes into play: habit.

Money does not bring happiness because we get used to having it. What is your favorite food? Imagine that you start eating that food three or four times a week. There will be a point where you no longer want that food as much as before. Or imagine that you travel every month to an exotic country.

Surely it made you more excited to visit other cultures when you were always at home and you could only afford exotic trips from time to time. Or think of a child when they get a new toy and spend the first few days playing with it at all hours, but a few days (hopefully weeks) later they have forgotten it, and leave it lying on the bed.

There comes a point where we get used to situations and the new becomes routine and therefore stops exciting us, it stops having that magic that it had initially. If you get a huge amount of money there will come a time when having expensive cars, living in chalets, dining in luxury restaurants and traveling to the Caribbean in 5-star hotels will cease to be something special and will become "normal".

Therefore, at the point when the initial euphoria passes, and you get used to your new situation, your level of satisfaction with your life will not be greater than before. In fact, if you want to treat yourself and get out of the routine, it will be much more complicated.

Therefore, it is not really money that brings happiness, but other kinds of things (that are free or that cost very little money) like spending time with our family, helping others, cultivating social relationships, having time for ourselves, etc. that can increase our levels of well-being and satisfaction with life.

How would you answer this essay question about happiness, money and the best things in life?