Does Money Make You Lonely?

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What would you do if you got a big raise at work that put you in a comfortable position to afford everything you not only need, but everything you want as well? Throw lavish parties? Take friends and family on a trip around the world? Or hide away by yourself at home, reading the latest book you’ve downloaded to your Kindle?

Based on a study conducted by Emily Bianchi of Emory University and Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota, the answer may be the latter. Their research showed that the number on your paycheck plays a role in how often you socialize, as well as with whom. People with higher incomes, they found, spent less time socializing overall, going out an average of 6.4 fewer times per year, and spending more of that time with friends and significantly less time with relatives and neighbors, compared to their lower-income counterparts.

The reasoning behind this, they believe, is that people who have financial security don’t need to rely on a social network as much (i.e. they pay a service to come mow the lawn, for example, instead of asking a teen in their neighborhood to do it) so they are allowed the freedom to socialize with whoever they want, when they want.

“For people with limited financial resources, these social ties are likely to be crucial for managing existing and impending challenges,” according to Bianchi and Vohs report.

Money’s Affect on Social Interactions

To draw these conclusions, the researchers looked at around 30,000 General Social Survey responses about household income affecting social interactions and compared this with several lab experiments. Bianchi and Vohs found that “having or thinking about money appears to heighten self-reliance and dampen attention and responsiveness to others.”

Based on their findings, they believe money motivates people to work instead of socialize and then, once money is acquired, it lowers the level of compassion toward others. In fact, they discovered that the majority of wealthy people became much more introverted, disengaging from social interactions.

‘But I Have All This Money Now’

While this research suggests that once you can afford nice dinners and drinks with your friends, you won’t want to go out anymore, but that may not necessarily be true. Cambridge University did a study earlier this year that found people who had more money to spend were happier and considered more social.

No matter how much money you’re making, or how large your social circle, it’s wise to spend within your means. If you’re going out to give yourself a needed treat but end up racking up credit card debt to do so, you’ll probably feel worse instead of better once the bills come in. Consider these saving tricks that don’t make you feel like you’re pinching pennies and this checklist to help you get out of any debt you may have. To find out how your spending habits are affecting your credit score, you can check two of your credit scores for free, updated monthly, on Credit.com.

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