How Money Can Buy Happiness.. Sort Of

Sometimes used as a way to persuade children into following a career that they love rather than one that will ensure wealth, parents say money will never buy you happiness. Adults tell this to other adults as well, usually friends who seem very unhappy despite boatloads of money. In these situations, the advice-givers are probably correct. Being wealthy does not bring happiness; no matter how fat the paycheck, work takes up a significant amount of time and if you hate it, the money probably does not matter.

But, there is more to it than that. Sometimes, money really does make us happy.
Imagine for a moment someone on the other side of the coin, someone who struggles to eat every week and never knows how they will pay their rent. They have no money in the bank and if their car were to break down they would have no way of fixing it. These people struggle along always wishing that they had just a few more dollars to fend off their financial anxiety. Money really would make them happier.

In reality, most people do not truly fall at either end of this spectrum; most lie somewhere in between. We know that more money does not satisfy the rich, but money brings great joy to the poor, but what of the middle? It turns out, money can buy happiness up to a salary of about $70,000. Nationwide, this is the approximate income level where people stop feeling anxiety about money. A person making $70,000 can expect to afford their basic expenses including car payments, mortgage payments and bills while still having some money left over each month and having some retirement savings. Effectively, people making this much money have their needs met and any further increases in wage would likely go towards "extra" unnecessary purchases such as for example buying a bigger house or nicer car. These types of extras do not actually add any happiness.

While $70,000 is still more than the average American pulls in each year, the median hovers around $50,000, it is still not an unimaginable level of income. It does not take extreme wealth to achieve this financial independence. Of course, in certain areas such as New York City or Boston, $70,000 would not be enough to achieve this standard of living, but it is a generally good fit for most of the country. Next time someone says that money will make them happier, think about their current lifestyle before responding!