How Much Money Would Make You Happy?

Couple holding handfuls of money

Photo: JGI/Jamie Grill / Tetra images / Getty Images

As we finish one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year some of us are realizing our spending plans are outdistancing our actual funds. We give with love, if not simply good intentions but we often have to stick to a budget which makes us unhappy. How much money do we need to be happy? How much do we need to make to buy all the things we want to buy and still meet our regular obligations? - Matt Appleby

Happiness is a big paycheck … A new Harris poll asked adults 18 and over what the key to financial happiness is. The answer: $1.2 million in the bank. When it comes to annual salary, the average respondent said an annual salary of about $285,000 a year would make them happy. Broken down by generations, here’s the annual salary and net worth respondents said they would need to achieve happiness:

  • Gen Z: $128,000 a year, with a net worth of $487,711
  • Millennials: $525,000 a year, with a net worth of $1,699,571
  • Gen X: $130,000 a year , with a net worth of $1,213,759
  • Boomer: $124,000 a year with a net worth of $999,945

Men said they needed to earn $381,000 annually to be happy, while women said $183,000 would make them happy.

"In the simplest terms, this suggests that for most people larger incomes are associated with greater happiness," said Matthew Killingsworth, a senior fellow at Penn's Wharton School and co-author of the study. "The exception is people who are financially well-off but unhappy. For instance, if you're rich and miserable, more money won't help. For everyone else, more money was associated with higher happiness to somewhat varying degrees."

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