Does Money Buy Happiness? Sure, If You Have $75,000
We’ve all heard the old sayings “more money, more problems” and “money can’t buy happiness.” Well according to a recent analysis by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives, more money can equal more happiness at certain income levels. “As people earn more money, their day-to-day happiness rises. Until you hit $75,000. After that, it is just more stuff, with no gain in happiness,” reads the publication.
So $75,000? Go figure. That doesn’t sound like a ton of money, but it’s more than 20 grand higher than the median household income. Here’s a breakdown by state, as the cost of living is higher in New York — whose magic happiness number is $99,150 — than in Georgia — whose number is less than $70,000.
Cost of happiness by state
What do you think?
Apparently, having large amounts of excess money doesn’t make you any happier than having enough money to be comfortable. If you earn enough to pay all of your bills, live in a nice home, and buy the things you need and want, everything else is just extra.
How happy are you? Would another $20,000 or $30,000 make you happier? What about another $1 million?
When you don’t have enough, it’s easy to idealize a lifestyle where you have enough money to buy anything you want, for the rest of your life, and never have to work again. But we often hear stories of people whose lives have been destroyed after they acquire substantial wealth.
With all of the wealthy celebrities, sports stars, and business people in the news committing criminal acts and behaving unethically, one may wonder if this has anything to do with their wealth. Does money bring out the worst in us?
Does money corrupt?
The University of California, Berkeley has conducted some very interesting, yet controversial research on the topic of money and how it impacts our behavior. PBS NewsHour interviewed Berkeley researchers, who found that 90 percent of drivers stopped at crosswalks for pedestrians, except for those driving luxury cars. Luxury car drivers were just about as likely to run the intersection as they were to wait for the pedestrian to cross the street.
Wealthy subjects were also twice as likely as lower-income participants to take candy from a bowl after being told it was meant for another children’s study; and those in the top income brackets were four times as likely a bottom earners to cheat when reporting dice scores, when a little bit of money was on the line.
There are a lot of incredibly generous wealthy people, and the study mentions this fact. The data findings leave us wondering whether some people become wealthy because they “look out for number one,” or if some individuals “look out for number one” because they are wealthy?
Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner tells NewsHour that “it turns out there is a lot of new data that shows if you’re generous and charitable and altruistic you’ll live longer, you’ll feel more fulfilled, you’ll feel more expressive of who you are as a person. You probably will feel more control and freedom in your life.”
So maybe a little extra money can buy happiness. That is, if you make under that magic salary number of $75,000. Perhaps, what really matters is who we are, with or without a lot of money.