Money Buys Happiness


Money Buys Happiness by David Macfie

 At last. At last. I’ve finally done it. I’m old now and I’ve been trying, on and off, my whole life. And now, when my time is close to the end, I have finally done it. I’ve won the UK lottery. This time, I didn’t even bet much, because I don’t really have much. Or, at least, I didn’t. But, this time, it was my time and l won sixty six million British pounds. I brought it all to South Africa where I’ve been living for the past fifty years. With the exchange rate, less taxes and expenses, it converted to over one thousand and twenty five million South African Rands. Now I had to decide what to do with all that money. In all my years of wishing and hoping, I’d spent my winnings as many times as I’d betted, so I really should be able to, easily, solve the spending problem. But now that I had the money, I was having doubts. All the plans I’d made, somehow didn’t feel right. I started right back at the beginning and began to plan and then plan again. The first bit was easy. My wife and I had always wanted to retire to an apartment with an end to end balcony, looking over a panoramic view of a beautiful beach. We had decided that was the best present we could have. That cost me seven and a half million including transfer and legal fees. I also bought a six hundred square meter plot not far from the apartment. I fenced it then planted frangipani trees, in all different colors round the perimeter. Inside that, I planted all different hibiscus shrubs. I put an automatic irrigation system in and then I cleared the center and made the whole thing into a veggie garden. I was planning to grow potatoes carrots cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, corn on the cob, tomatoes, squash and butternut, as well as peas and runner beans. That took care of another three and a half million. Next I put fifteen million into investments so that I never, ever had to worry about money for myself or my wife again.

So that was twenty six million taken care of. Now what? I gave each of my three children enough to buy a house. That was another ten million. I made the amount up to fifty million with gifts to members of the extended family and to people who’d worked for us. Now I only had nine hundred and seventy five million to sort out. Then I made the biggest decision of my life. I didn’t need all that money so I decided to give it away. I started by buying a large plot of land in Diepsloot, a low income, previously disadvantaged peoples’ town north of Johannesburg. I got planning permission for five hundred houses and built them with solar geysers, heating and lighting, gas cooking and fully green insulation and materials. Each had a small garden with a couple of fruit trees and space for a small veggie garden. I then carefully looked at the various lists and selected the five hundred most deserving families. I gifted each of them a house. That project cost three hundred and twenty million but it really made me smile. Next I spent two hundred and fifty five million setting up a trust for cerebral palsied children in the same town. The trust bought land, built a school and care center, and staffed it with remedial teachers and visiting physiotherapists. The balance of the trust money was invested for future expenses. The goal of the school was to take all of the children to a school leaving certificate and employment in a job that used the skills they’d learnt. The school filled a much ignored gap in the services available in the town and became a model of how things could be done with the right people involved and the funding required. In this case the right people were all from the community and all of them had been doing something of the sort, by themselves, before they’d been made trustees.

The next project was another trust. This one was gifted with two hundred and fifty million and the money was used to help young entrepreneurs, from the town, to get started in their own businesses. To see the joy on their faces and the happiness of their extended families was the best tonic I’ve ever had. The last hundred and fifty million was also put into a trust. This money was used to pay the full expenses for deserving children, from pre-school all the way to an honors degree. All of these projects gave me joy: before, while my wife and I were planning, then during, where I controlled the execution parts of the initiatives, and finally after, when we saw and felt the results. The experiences we had were unbelievable and there is no doubt in my mind that the money was far better spent this way, than it would have been any other way.

So now, whenever I hear someone say, ‘money can’t buy you happiness’, I always disagree. I say back to them, “of course it can. Provided you spend it on the right things, money definitely buys happiness for many, many people.”