Health, Personal Finance, Relationships

Ten Things Money Can’t Buy

money can't buy love

We talk a lot about money: How to get it, how to spend it, where to spend it, and how to save it. For all the time we devote to talking about, worrying about, and dealing with money, you’d think it was the most important thing in the world. If the time spent obsessing about money truly equated to its worth, then there would be nothing that you couldn’t do or have without money. Money would be the only thing that mattered. But is money really as valuable as our obsession level leads us to believe?

Money is important, obviously. Without it we’d have no roof over our heads, food in our bellies or clothes on our backs. Money allows us to do and have more things than we can without it. It’s a means to an end. But, for all that money is useful and good to have around, for all that it can buy, there are quite a few things that it can’t buy. Even if you have millions of dollars, there are some things that you’ll never have with money alone. So what can’t money buy? Read on.

Lost time

Money cannot buy back lost time. As each day passes, it is lost and you can never get it back. When you miss that chance to say, “I love you,” to someone special, or you tell your kids, “Not now, I have to work,” that opportunity is gone. No amount of money that you make in the future will get that day, that moment, back.


It’s a cliche that money can’t buy happiness, but it’s also true. It can buy you some fun and fleeting joy-a cool vacation, a big TV, a fast car-but it can’t buy the true happiness that comes from liking yourself, having stable relationships, and good a familial support system.

Happy, well adjusted kids

Money can buy your kids a lot of clothes, toys and gizmos, but it can’t turn them into secure, responsible, well-mannered, intelligent people. That only comes from the time you spend with them and the things you teach them. Money might be able to help with some aspects of parenting but it’s been proven many times that kids, once their basic needs are met, benefit more from parents spending time with them than the amount of money spent on them.


It’s another cliche that money can’t buy love, but a true one. Money can buy initial attraction or even lust, but “true” love comes from mutual respect, caring for each other, sharing experiences, and growing together. There’s a reason that people who marry only for money rarely end up happy. Love at it’s best functions regardless of whether you have a lot of money or very little.


True, you can buy things that make you fit in-the latest cars, clothes, shoes, or electronics-but these things don’t represent true acceptance. If you really want to be accepted by your peers (beyond high school where a pair of shoes really does make you part of the in crowd), you’d do better to focus your energies on making yourself valuable to those around you. Being a good friend, a kind and helpful person, and someone who excels at what they do will go further to gain you acceptance than the stuff money can buy.


Money can buy healthcare and medicine, but it cannot replace health once it’s lost. It’s far better to take preventative action such as watching what you eat, exercising, not smoking, and getting regular physicals than to rely on money to save you once your body has started to fail you. Money also can’t buy back your youth. No amount of money you make in the future will replace those days when your body could do anything easily and look good doing it. You can spend thousands on “treatments” to preserve your youth, but it’s an illusion. Once your youth is gone, no amount of money will get it back.


Some people succeed by being slimy and paying/bribing their way to the top. But these are the exception and I would hope you wouldn’t aspire to that. Success comes from hard work, applying your gifts in the best way possible, and paying your dues to move ahead in the world. There is very little that money can buy you to help you succeed. It might be able to buy you some training or equipment, but the majority of your success is determined by the work you put in, not the money you spend.


People are born with certain talents. Money can certainly nurture a talent. You can buy music lessons or coaching sessions to nurture your talents, but money cannot buy a talent. You can learn to do certain things well-I’ve learned to play the piano after years of lessons-but the true gift to do it well can’t be bought. Even after years of lessons, I don’t have the ability to make the piano truly sing, whereas others in my family have had that talent from birth.


There are plenty of rich people who are rude and crude and plenty of poor people who demonstrate perfect manners and respect for others. And vice-versa. The amount of money you have doesn’t determine whether you behave well or poorly. Manners and classy behavior are not bought, they are taught and practiced at all levels of society by parents and family members who want to see their offspring behave well in society. Money doesn’t confer good behavior. Money can buy you entry into a better class position, but it cannot make you behave with class.


If money could buy peace, I think we’d be there by now. Think of the amount of money that governments have spent over the years in the name of “peace.” Has it worked? Nope. Peace isn’t something you buy. I think peace only comes from acting fairly, humanely, and treating others (people and countries) as we would want to be treated. And even then, it might not be possible. But for sure money won’t buy it.

I’m not suggesting that you give up the pursuit of money and go on some monastic quest for deeper meaning. It is important to manage your money well, to educate yourself about money, and earn enough to secure your financial future. However, it pays to stop and think every now and then about the things you would still have even if you didn’t have money. Your family, your health, and your gifts and abilities aren’t determined by how much money you have. There are things that no amount of money can buy and it’s worthwhile to pursue them even as you worry about money. Money is important, but maybe it’s not the most important thing in the world.

(Photo courtesy of Photo4jenifer)

32 thoughts on “Ten Things Money Can’t Buy

  1. I’ll have to disagree with peace, dispite the wars going on today and crime, there has been less violence these times than anytime in the history of humans. Violence has been decreasing as a whole in the world and predicted that by 3000 humans will pretty much be living in a war free world.

    The solution to peace is money! Democracy, free trade, free enterprise, etc.. is why there is less war between man today than there was in any time in history.

    Even penn and teller briefly explains why money is the solution for peace in thier video…

  2. What can I say? While we have all heard before that money can’t buy me love (thanks to the Beatles) the point does bear repeating again and again.

    Too many people think that they will be loveable and happy once they have enough money.

    By equating money to happiness they are setting themselves up for a life of misery. Ironic but unfortunately true in many cases. Money does not equal happiness.

    Thanks for the great post

  3. I hate to put it out there, but there is actually a great new book out by M.P. Dunleavy called Money Can Buy You Happiness.
    It was actually an entertaining read about how money can buy you happiness, by investing it into things like spending more time with your kids and family. It’s not about how money can buy you things that make you happy, but about how by re-allocating where your money is going you can create more happiness in your life.
    I agree that money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it was still a fun approach to the thought.

  4. Pingback: Weekend Reading: September 7, 2008 | Moolanomy
  5. Money The ability to buy the necessities you need or want. In the Bible it says the farmers left grain in the fields to feed the widow’s and fatherless. Today all they have to do is pick up there welfare check in the mailbox. Then they had to go to the fields and get the grain. I am a firm believer in helping others but I think people should be more responsible for there actions. They seem to like a large family but have no idea how to feed them. The people who think like that should be neutered. Everyone needs to be responsible for there actions. I think anyone who brings a child into this world should be responsible to keep them up. If we work to keep our family’s up we have done Gods work. Money can be the root of all evil or the salvation of those in need. We need to use it wisely Like the talents in the Bible

  6. I found this post through the festival of frugality.

    You’ve written a good post and I agree with most of what you say.

    I’m in two minds about “happiness”. I also feel that if you use your money wisely, and pursue freedom rather than stuff, then your money can buy you freedom to do things that are really significant and important – which in turn can bring you happiness.

    In the same breath, I’ve met people in African villages who have almost nothing. They were not suffering, they managed to get enough from the land and the ocean to live off. And from the looks of it, these people were really genuinely happy every I saw them…

  7. my daughter cant work lives on 500,oo mt. tell her about money and how to feed her 4 kids and beinging happy pooh

  8. Pingback: Money Can't Buy __________ | Broke In America
  9. Its not money that is the root of all evil. It is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil. Money can’t buy happyness but it can sure upgrade your misery. My experience has been you are only as happy as your most miserable kid.

  10. I agree that money can’t buy love, happiness, acceptance, etc.. But if you have money, it is easier to achieve them. Take love for example. You cannot buy someone to love you, but you can do the sweetest things for that person with money. Think of making use of money to produce favorable results for you. Actions are more important than money, but money makes the actions much easier.

    The only thing that money can’t really buy is lost time.

  11. “and good a familial support system.” -at the end of happiness section- is it a typo or something?

  12. It is important to take time and appreciate the things that money has never been able to buy. One thing that most every human being yearns to be is loved. No amount of money can take the place of love. It involves compassion, care, nurture, and honesty concerning feelings.

  13. Hey,

    I’ve read your post because I was looking for entrepreneurial ideas to fix things that cannot be fixed by throwing money at them.

    While reading, however, I found that I disagree with a number of things you say:

    – money vs health: Money can buy you a subscription to the gym, to the pool, yoga class; money can buy you the mass transportation/taxi tickets to those destinations, unless you live in a 4+ star hotel (which by the way, money CAN buy) where the gym is on floor number “-2” and all you have to do is throw on your shorts and hit the “preventitive” maintenance activity.

    Money CAN buy you food supplements, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, healthy stuff (did you notice that the level of health in food increases it’s price, unless we are talking about eating bugs, which is not standard practice in North America / Europe yet)

    Money CAN buy you a health coach.

    – money vs time: While I agree that money can’t turn back time, it CAN certainly save you a lot of time.

    Money CAN save you the time you spend shopping, cooking, cleaning, driving etc.

    A lot of money CAN allow you to not ever have to work again in your life and focus on the things that are important to you.

    – money vs talent: I believe talent is nothing without talent management. If you look at the sheer number of child prodigies who, by the time they’re 18 seem to return to average because of the standardized treatment minors are subject to, you will find: it’s a lot.

    Money CAN buy special training, elite classes, the right kind of stimulation children need to reach their potential faster, better VS NOT AT ALL.

    …sorry. While growing up, money was scarce in our family, and the only thing, I found, it couldn’t buy me was overcompensation for all the things missing from my life. I pushed harder, got further, became better than my peers whose families were better off, but didn’t know how to allocate their resources well, or their kids simply weren’t a priority.


  14. i agree with that…
    ooh, just wanna say that money also can;t buy life. if a man is died, he can;t live anymore and he can;t buy life with his money…..

  15. Money can buy:
    Bed but not sleep
    Books but not brain
    Food but not appetite
    Finery but not beauty
    House but not a home
    Medicine but not health
    Luxury but not culture
    Amusement but not happiness
    Companions but not friends
    Flattery but not respect
    Sex but not love
    There are many things money can buy but we rather seeks the things money can’t buy.

  16. War doesn’t necessarily have to be with other people. Therefore, peace starts from oneself. As much as we may want peace with others, how much of it do we have in ourselves? As they say, the greatest victory is victory over self. That is peace!

  17. You are really gonna base your understanding of human history and conflict on a 57 second YouTube video by Penn & Teller? And those 2 are likely hacking Stephen Pinker’s book for their blurb. But even Pinker admits that he conveniently left certain major conflicts out of his data (most notably WWI and WWII). It’s easy to argue that things are more peaceful when you purposely ignore data contrary to your hypothesis. the twentieth century was filled with violence, horrific violence, from the World Wars, to the Holocaust, to the Russian Revolution and its aftermath, to the Killing Fields of Pol Pot. Timothy Snyder–reviewing the book for Foreign Affairs–explains how Pinker attempts (and fails, in Snyder’s opinion) to account for this apparent problem. Also, the nineteenth century was hardly a time of lesser violence. For the oft-forgotten Taiping Rebellion occurred in this period, as did the Napoleonic Wars, and the American Civil War, along with a host of others. But for perspective, an estimated 20 million people died during the Taiping Rebellion. In fact, some estimates put the total much, much higher.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *