6 Millionaires Who Say Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness

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Denzel Washington and Halle Berry at the 2002 Academy Awards
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It’s tempting to believe that riches will make you happy. But some people who have crossed the $1 million mark — or even those with $1 billion — say it just isn’t so.

While money undoubtedly makes some things in life easier, it can create complications in other ways. More to the point, money itself will not eliminate your problems or magically transform you from a Gloomy Gus to a Joyful Jane.

Here are some famous rich folks who insist that money in and of itself does not buy you happiness.

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett
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Estimated net worth: $126 billion (as of January 2024)

Warren Buffett is one of the richest people on earth. But he insists that “even $1 million isn’t going to make you happy, it is not going to happen.” In fact, Buffett says that as soon as you realize others have $2 million, your short-lived happiness will evaporate.

So, what will make you happy? Buffett once told a story of a friend who survived being imprisoned at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. Decades after that event, the woman still used the same yardstick when determining if she could trust friends: She asked herself the question, “Would they hide me?”

Buffett concluded:

“Now when you get to be 70, if you’ve got a lot of people who would hide you, you’ve had a successful life. I know people who have a tremendous amount of money. No one would hide them.”

Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington
Jamie Lamor Thompson / Shutterstock.com

Estimated net worth: $280 million

Denzel Washington understands the value of money. He even acknowledges that although money doesn’t buy happiness, “it’s a heck of a down payment.”

Still, the famous actor emphasizes that any joy money can bring you is limited:

“You soon realize you can only drive one car at a time. I have an Aston Martin, but I prefer my truck. When you get older and wiser, you simplify. You don’t need as much. You have raised your children, and now you live through them.”

Washington says he would rather “leave this earth as a successful parent than a successful actor.”

Richard Branson

Richard Branson
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Estimated net worth: $2.9 billion (as of January 2024)

Richard Branson has made plenty of money as founder of the Virgin Group. But he also has said, “I truly believe that ‘stuff’ really does not bring happiness.”

Branson says he learned this lesson early when he lived on a houseboat with his wife, Joan, and it suddenly sank, taking all their possessions. Afterward, the couple reflected that they “missed nothing except our treasured photo albums.”

Branson concludes:

“Family, friends, good health and the satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference are what really matters.”

Barbara Corcoran

Barbara Corcoran and others from "Shark Tank"
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Estimated net worth: $100 million

Being rich can be like wearing a suit of armor that protects you from the judgment of the world. That is particularly true in a culture that worships wealth.

But Barbara Corcoran has the courage to let the mask slip.

The real estate investor who gained fame on ABC’s “Shark Tank” says riches have left her “no happier today” than she was when she was poor. She adds that she still carries around the same insecurities she has always felt.

Like Buffett, she maintains that once you hit a certain level of wealth, you jump on a hamster wheel that has you chasing the next financial milestone. Corcoran adds:

“Money complicates relationships. Everybody’s got a $10,000 problem. They always come to you. It complicates things, your kids’ wills, it just complicates things.”

Corcoran says she is still glad she has money but adds, “Ironically, I don’t know why that is.”

Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone
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Estimated net worth: $400 million

Sylvester Stallone is a world-famous actor who has starred in the Rocky and Rambo films. Yet despite his fame and money, Stallone believes rich people are not so different from the rest of us.

Stallone says he is grateful for his financial status and realizes his family is “blessed.” However, he adds that his family goes through the same struggles as everyone else, and that “when you think you have it all together — you don’t.”:

“I don’t care how rich you are or whatever, you don’t escape the realities of life. Period. It catches up with everybody.”

Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban
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Estimated net worth: $6.2 billion (as of January 2024)

Many of us believe that if we could just fatten our bank accounts, our happiness would swell at the same time. But Mark Cuban — “Shark Tank” star and owner of the Dallas Mavericks — throws cold water on those dreams:

“Money buys you comfort. Money buys you sanity in some respects. Money takes away a lot of the stress of paying the bills, but it doesn’t make you happy.”

Cuban says money can make life a bit better than it was before you were wealthy. He notes that he can use his riches to get things done faster, which “buys time.”

But having money will not magically change who you are, he says:

“I was happy when I was broke. If you were miserable when you were broke, money is not gonna change that.”

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