Money and Happiness and the Fear of Poverty

This is a topic that has been discussed for ages. Questions such as how much money do you need to be happy?  I wrote about my perspective on the Million Dollar Myth last week.

Even though I can separate the need for money and happiness, I discovered over this weekend that I do have anxiety over money.  My stresses in life, fortunately not too many, seem to be traceable to money.  After some calm reflection, I realized that it stemmed from my fear of poverty.

I shared this realization with my wife who quickly responded, “Is it because you have seen it firsthand?”  While I did not have to respond to her as she was distracted by my daughter, I thought to myself, “Is that what it’s all about?”  Merely becoming aware of this connection was quite helpful for me.  I am sure this awareness will help reduce my anxiety about money.  While some realizations do provide instant transformation for folks, I believe this may take some time for me.

When I came to the US in 1984 to attend graduate school, I had $900, a huge sum for my dad who was a retired government worker in India.  Since I was offered a tuition and teaching assistantship by the university, I felt reasonably good about my financial situation.

Unfortunately, after paying the deposit for the apartment, the telephone, the $20 per credit for tuition and the medical insurance, I was left with only $9.  Soon I found out that my assistantship would not be paid at the beginning of the month, but at the end.  So I had to live my first month in the US on $19, which included a gift of $10 from my cousin.  New to the country and without a credit card, I somehow made it through.  It was rough.  Even after that, surviving grad school on $301.78 per month was quite an ordeal.  While this may have scarred me, I am not going to let it impact me negatively for the rest of my life.  My APE will instinctively try to Avoid those Painful Experiences, real or imaginary.

Everyone has their position and relationship with money and how they interact with it.  I thought of sharing my own story hoping that my realization could benefit someone else. Recently, I was sent an article from the folks at that captures several perspectives and cites several studies on the relationship between money and happiness.  I would like to share the article with you.  Click the link to read 15 Things We Now Know About Money and Happiness.

Would love to hear your position on the relationship between money and happiness.

Peace and be well,


About Krishna Pendyala

Author of "Beyond the PIG and the APE: Realizing SUCCESS and true HAPPINESS". I am a life coach, speaker and workshop leader. My vision is to enhance life on our planet by raising awareness of the ego, in a simple manner. My commitment is to empower men and women make better choices to achieve joy and fulfillment, without protracted struggles or huge personal crises. I believe we can create an enlightened society where inner awareness empowers people to thrive in harmony.
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2 Responses to Money and Happiness and the Fear of Poverty

  1. Nagaraj says:

    My own perspective is very similar to yours. I grew up in low middle class family where even living paycheck to paycheck was an ordeal, something I wanted to avoid when I grew up. What I have realized in the recent years is that, yes while I no longer need to live pay check to pay check, the simple pleasures we had like celebrating festivals in the grandeur we could afford there was tremendous happiness associated with such celebrations that is lacking these days. As India has gained affluence alongside NRIs, the celebrations today are either mostly gone or lack that societal connections. I feel that there is lack of happiness because societies have evolved into promoting personal freedom which has caused the feeling of belonging to the community to subside. Since not every one is a Buddha, being alone is not a recipe for happiness.

  2. Joe Stafura says:

    Having been relatively poor for most of my life, money was never much of an issue for me, even after reaching the age of 40 with a net worth ( a term that I never even heard until it was mentioned by by first financial advisor ) of less than $2000.

    Having both worked hard in a risky area, and being the benefactor of some very good luck, suddenly there was more money than I ever imagined, and for several years my life became centered around this new money. My advisor made colored charts every quarter showing my future riches, and then the market crashed, and the perceived loss felt as I had lost my best friend.

    A trip to a conference in Maine allowed me to lunch with a author named Talib, he was at the conference promoting his book, The Black Swan. This lunch was enlightening in ways that persists to this day and ended my longing while kickstarting my understanding. He punched through the bright light of BS that most financial workers surround themselves with, Big homes, expensive cars and watches that would feed villages, just as the ancient kings draped themselves in gold our wall street gods followed suit.

    Now I don’t have an advisor, nor enough money to interest the types that live off of fees and carried interest, and my life is quite normal and amazingly happy. I’ve helped start a couple small businesses, including a recent one with my sons, and find the less one values what can be bought the better of a life one can lead, and the simple principle of never loving anything that can’t love me back.

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