On Money and Emotional Well-Being

Photo credit: ccPixs.com, CC BY 2.0.

I know I just did a “John Hodgman Gives Advice About Money” post, like, two weeks ago, but… you really need to listen to this podcast where John Hodgman and Jesse Thorn discuss money.

It’s officially an episode of Bullseye that should air this afternoon, but I listened to the extended interview that was released as a bonus Judge John Hodgman episode on Friday.

The money talk runs from minutes 19–25, and here’s the quote that made me think I have to share this with The Billfold:

HODGMAN: It’s not like I was always worrying about money. I was worrying about my self-worth, I was worrying about whether I’m a good person, I was worrying about can I be a good dad, you know, I was worrying about all of those things. And… all of a sudden, once I had a firm financial foundation and then some, my mental health picture cleared up immediately. It was like taking an antibiotic when you’ve been suffering with a sinus infection for several weeks and you feel like you’re never going to get past this cold and someone says “no, take a pill.” Money is the pill that provides mental health, and we live in a society that doesn’t like to associate financial security—not just “richness”—with emotional well-being.

It’s important to note that saying money improves mental health is different from saying that money cures mental illness (though it can help pay for treatment). In this case Hodgman is using the term “mental health” as it is defined by, say, the University of Toronto:

A person feels mentally healthy when it feels like everything is working well. You feel good about yourself, your relationships with other people, and are able to meet the demands and challenges of everyday life.

Which… yeah, having money can certainly help with that.

Do you feel like you have better mental health, in the “everything is working well” sense, when you have more money? (Or when you aren’t as worried about money?) Have you figured out workarounds to help you maintain mental health even when the money part of your life isn’t where you’d like it to be? Or do you feel like you have the same level of mental health regardless of how your finances are doing?

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