Fact Check

Did Prince Say, 'Money Won't Buy You Happiness, But It'll Pay for the Search'?

The quote has appeared on websites that collect sayings by famous people, in tweets and memes, and on at least one podcast.

Published Jul 27, 2023

Updated Jul 27, 2023
Pop rock impresario Prince performs onstage in 1985 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images) (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Pop rock impresario Prince performs onstage in 1985 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Music superstar Prince once said, "Money won't buy you happiness, but it'll pay for the search."

An online search for the quote, "Money won't buy you happiness, but it'll pay for the search," indicated that the saying came from music superstar Prince.

This was the kind of quote that has usually resulted in a long line of "So true!" Facebook comments. The question here was not whether Prince, who died in 2016 of a fentanyl overdose, would have agreed with the sentiment. Rather, the question was whether there's evidence he said the words.

Mentions of the quote with Prince's name have appeared on QuoteFancy.comAZquotes.com, PictureQuotes.com, QuoteMaster.org, IdleHearts.com, and Pinterest, just to name a few.

The International Business Times once published the saying in a list of quotes, but did not provide any source information.

Stand-up comedian Neal Brennan also once mentioned the quote on a podcast posted on July 27, 2023, during an interview with fellow comedian Tom Segura. The moment occurs at the 9:46 mark in the video below:

The quote has been featured on Twitter many times, usually with Prince's name. The oldest of these tweets was posted on March 27, 2009:

A search of the massive literature archive on Google Books produced no helpful results, nor did our search of the similarly large newspaper archive on Newspapers.com.

Hours after this story was originally published with a "Research In Progress" fact-check rating, we received a tip from a helpful Twitter user. That user showed with a YouTube link that Prince had, in fact, said the quote near the end of "Nothing Compares 2 U" during a recording of a concert for his "One Nite Alone Tour in 2002." The only change in the quote was that he started with a few extra words, then said "don't" instead of "won't."

At the 3:25 mark in the video below, Prince said, "They say that money don't buy you happiness, but it'll pay for the search."

Similar Quotes

During our initial search, we collected several somewhat related quotes that we found in past newspapers, thanks to Newspapers.com.

In 1955, E.V. Durling wrote in the San Francisco Examiner, "It was T. P. 'Tay Pay' O'Connor, the Irish nationalist member of parliament, who first made the statement: 'Money won't buy you happiness, but it soothes the nerves.'"

In 2001, Lynn Arditi wrote for The Providence Journal, "Remember how your mother told you money won't buy you happiness? Well, guess what: It won't make you stop worrying, either."

In 2006, a quote attributed to author and personal development adviser Karen Salmansohn appeared in the Dayton Daily News: "Money won't buy you happiness – it will buy you anti-depressants."

In 2009, Malcolm Berko wrote in Durham, North Carolina's Herald-Sun, "While money won't buy you happiness ... it certainly makes misery much easier to live with."


Arditi, Lynn. "How about 'Who Wants to Console a Millionaire'?" Concord Monitor via The Providence Journal via Newspapers.com, 16 July 2001, p. A5, https://www.newspapers.com/image/836293129/.

Berko, Malcolm. "E-Book Craze Shouldn't Make You Crazy." The Herald-Sun via Newspapers.com, 22 Oct. 2009, p. C7, https://www.newspapers.com/image/795600108/.

Binkowski, Brooke. "Pop Superstar Prince Dead at 57." Snopes, 21 Apr. 2016, https://www.snopes.com/news/2016/04/21/pop-superstar-prince-dead-at-57/.

Durling, E. V. "That Two-Pay-Check Gag Can Be Domestic Dynamite." San Francisco Examiner via Newspapers.com, Sunday Pictorial Review, 27 Nov. 1955, p. 7, https://www.newspapers.com/image/458552790/.

Google Books. https://books.google.com/.

Newspapers.com. https://www.newspapers.com/.

"Prince Fans Pay Respects at Paisley Park 5 Years after Death." The Associated Press, 22 Apr. 2021, https://apnews.com/article/prince-fans-pay-respects-paisley-park-5-years-after-death-0862a1a2f9f857ec2e0bcf5572447938.

Sonawane, Vishakha. "Top Sayings By Prince To Remember Him On His 1st Death Anniversary." International Business Times, 21 Apr. 2017, https://www.ibtimes.com/prince-death-anniversary-top-quotes-music-legend-remember-him-2528624.

Stromp, Steve. "Finding the Right Job Begins with Finding the Right 'You.'" Dayton Daily News via Newspapers.Com, 30 July 2006, p. E2, https://www.newspapers.com/image/411128578/.


July 27, 2023: This report was updated from "Research In Progress" to "Correct Attribution," thanks to a tip from a reader.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.

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