Can money buy you happiness – at work?

Last weekend, every RedBallooner was invited to our end of financial year celebration and kick-off meeting in Port Douglas. When asked by friends, “What was it like?” The only answer I had was – “joyous”.

The excitement was palpable as soon as we met early on Friday morning. The laughter infectious; the camaraderie obvious; the sense of connection was clear.

This sense of team does not happen by accident – we work hard together, we push the boundaries, set the bar high – and then we celebrate! And on the cycle goes.

It is pretty special to be able to get away. There was plenty of work involved, but that shared sense of experience and laughter ensues. It is, as they say, ‘priceless’.

So I read with interest this week, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. We have heard since we were small that ‘Money can’t buy happiness’. However, these social scientists suggest that, used in the right way, money can improve our sense of wellbeing.

Time affluence


Timeis the only commodity that every person on the planet was given equally – we have differing lifespans of course – but we each have 24 hours a day at our disposal, and how we choose to spend it can greatly determine our experience of happiness.

If you were to use money to ‘buy time’ i.e. how is the purchase going to ensure you are using your time to do the things you want to do. This is the concept of “time affluence” – thinking about time rather than money – which means being mindful about ‘spending’ time on activities that promote wellbeing, like being with friends/family and volunteering.

Make it a treat 

Having too much of a good thing (i.e. when did party food start becoming everyday food) – Abundance is the enemy of appreciation.

Have delightful things occasionally to really appreciate them. The relationship between income and happiness is weaker than many people expect, perhaps because affluent people do the things that delight them all the time, i.e. not too much of a good thing.


Bigger is not always better 

Money can buy bigger cars houses and toys – but there is no evidence to suggest that these make people happier. What is the point in having a large home if you have no one to share it with you?

According to Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, the authors of Happy Money: “Remarkably, there is almost no evidence that buying a home – or a newer nicer home – increases happiness. People who spend their money on enhancing their leisure activities report significantly greater satisfaction with their lives.”

Do more, have less 

“The research shows experiences provide more happiness than material goods, in part because experiences are more likely to make us feel connected to others.”

As the founder of RedBalloon of course I was going to bring this to your attention – and clearly last weekend that is what it was all about for our team – no one will forget the day we all bundled onto a plane from Sydney to Cairns.

Invest in others


Volunteer, help, listen, assist, give, donate – there are so many ways to invest in others. What about simply friendship! If people have a friend at work they are far more likely to enjoy their job. I delighted in really getting to know my colleagues, warts and all, on the weekend. There is nothing like snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef together to get a sense of friendship. (You know that moment when you take off your mask and your face is swollen and, as friends, you all have a great laugh as you compare notes on what you have seen under the sea.)

This is a big investment in harmony, and that leads to happiness.


Naomi Simson has received many accolades and awards for the business she founded,, including the 2011 Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year – Industry.


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