Research suggests that materialism leads to the dark side of the financial dream. In this study, we treat love of money as a mediator and test a theoretical model's direct path (Materialism to Financial Satisfaction) and indirect path (Materialism to Love of Money to Financial Satisfaction) simultaneously using the whole sample and across several demographic variables based on 1,011 citizens in Spain. Results for the whole sample showed that the positive indirect effect suppressed the negative direct effect creating an overall small positive effect. Furthermore, we found a significant negative direct path for rural dwellers, the 30–44-year-old age group, and married people, but a positive indirect path for rural residents, the 45–59-year-old age group, married, males, and urban dwellers. Overall, those in the 30–44 age group, rural residents, and married people experienced the dark side of the financial dream, whereas old (over-60 age group), unmarried, urban, and young people (18–29 age group) enjoyed the bright side of their financial optimism. People's money attitudes and demographic variables play a positive role in our understanding of materialism and financial satisfaction, i.e. the Matthew Effect. Our novel, counterintuitive, and original theoretical, empirical, and practical contributions foster theory development and testing and improved practice.