07/05/2013 10:02 am ET Updated Sep 04, 2013

Can Money Really Buy Happiness?


I love money.

I have recently been chided for my vigorous pursuit of it. It seems that my edict of always trying to monetize what I do is offensive to some.

Really? Bite me.

Money makes the world go around. It feeds us, clothes us and keeps the lights on and the gas tank filled. I should apologize for vigorously trying to do that? Yeah, I don't think so.

Many years ago my lack of money resulted in me losing my home in foreclosure and having to file for bankruptcy. You never forget that.

I greatly appreciate what money buys. I love the security it brings, knowing that if I, or someone I love gets ill, I can pay for that. And you know that roof over our heads? It's good to know I can pay for that too.

I've never been into jewelry, fancy clothes or fast cars. I'm more of a family, pets, home and books kind of girl. So even when I had more money than I had a right to, I wasn't generally the one who spent it. That job belonged to my husband.

Or should I say my ex-husband.

To this day, money seeps through his hands like sand through an hourglass. No matter how much he has, it will never be enough. Fortunately for him, his father left him quite a tidy little sum to live off of for the rest of his years. You would think he would be thrilled. But he expected and wants more. That's the thing about money, you always want more.

I understand wanting more. But I've noticed that when we do, we often are not thankful for what we have. Truth is, I've had money and I've been broke. Having money is better.

But does the want of more money make me greedy?

I've seen people file fake insurance claims because they needed money. We've all read and seen stories unfold in the news tabloids of how people kill people for their insurance money. Is it really all that important?

I think you'd have to ask the person who has none.

I grew up in a financially challenged home. Raised by just my mother, we shared a 400 square foot one-bedroom apartment most of my childhood. My clothes and shoes were bought at Newberry's and there was always just one of everything. One pair of shoes, one bra, one dress. It didn't affect me until I got into high school and I saw the wealth that others had. It didn't make me angry, it made me motivated.

I see a want for money to be a good thing. But that is because I don't equate it to happiness. I've lived that lesson.

Over 10 years ago, I willingly gave up my 6,000 square foot dream house on an acre of prime land, my country club membership and my Mercedes Benz for a 1,800 square foot condo in the city and a used BMW. I did it because I found myself miserable with my life choices and I was willing to exchange the possessions and the money for some peace of heart. Many have called me a fool for it.

Today I share a 2,100 square foot track house on a postage stamp lot with a wonderful man who has my heart. I drive a Lexus (not too shabby) and we have a modest life. I couldn't be happier. Funny how that works.

All that being said, I would be untruthful if I said I didn't want more money. I do. I'd like to spread it around. Give it to my kids to help make their life easier. Share some with some friends who are a bit down and out. I'd like to donate more to causes that help me feel like I contribute to this earth. I'd like to know that if I'm lucky enough to live to be 90, that I have enough money not to be a burden to anyone.

I've chosen writing as my encore career. I doubt I could have chosen a more poor paying occupation if I tried. But these days I go with what makes me happy. And writing makes me very happy.

I'm happy to report that I've managed to parlay it into quite a comfortable career (who knew?). I am the pudding that the proof is in. Do what you love and the money will follow.

I admit that I go to whatever lengths I need to go to, to make the money find me. I do not call that greed. I call that good business. I am left to wonder if I would be receiving this criticism if I were a man.

I make no apologies for letting money have an important place in my life. I'm always finding myself striving for more. It is, after all, the currency that buys what we need to maintain house and home.

I've figured out, however, that maintaining heart and soul have pity little to do with money. And since I value them more, money takes a secondary position.

I know a lot of people who do not share this sentiment. Their friendships are income based. They boast their travels, purchases and adventures on social media for all to envy. To them, money and excess is their measuring unit of success. Flaunting it is garish but vital to their happiness and the visibility they crave. Strange, when I think about it, so very few of the wealthy people I know are actually happy.

They have yet to learn what many already know: it's not in the wanting and flaunting, but rather in the having and sharing that makes life and its relationships have real value.

If the want of money makes me greedy, then I am guilty. But if you measure what I value and what matters most to me, then you will find me to be everything but.

Money is awesome. Happiness is better.

Personally, I'm shooting for my fair share of both. Judgment be damned.

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