Want more life satisfaction? Look no further than your salary. While $75,000 used to be the magic number, a new study shows there’s a new happiness tipping point in town.
Before I left high school, I came to the conclusion that I never wanted to make more than $75,000. Mind you, I didn’t pick that number out of the air. I knew what my parents were making (money was always a very open topic in our house) and I could guesstimate what “rich” people were making. And while I realized the joys that money would bring, I also saw the headache that came along with it. Headaches my parents weren’t dealing with. Add in the fact that I couldn’t remember one field trip or awards day that my parents weren’t able to make “because of work,” and it was easy to see that the sweet spot was probably slightly more than my parents were making, but way less that what it took to be considered “rich.” In my mind, a $75,000 salary should be enough money to take care of the wants and needs of my family, but not be a big enough salary to make me feel forever indebted to my employer.
In 2010, a Princeton study came to the conclusion that my $75k number was actually pretty spot on and that after that amount, increases in happiness were nominal. I remember that study being published and it made me feel good to know that I wasn’t crazy. However a colleague of mine passed this story my way and I’m finding it to be true in its own way.
Would I be willing to compromise on my $75k figure to something closer to $50k? Probably. But there are a lot of factors as to why. The two biggest are probably the fact that there are two people contributing solid incomes to our household and those people are the most easily pleased people you will ever meet. (Seriously, I’m simple. Give me the Internet and a soft chair and I’m good. Em is only slightly fancier. She may prefer a nice sewing machine.over the Internet.)
It’s interesting how our views on money change as we get older. The older we get, the more obvious it becomes that it’s not “what you earn with your time” as it is so much “how you spend your time.” I had my first ‘big boy’ job ten years ago. Adjusted for inflation, I’m pretty sure I’m not bringing home what I did at that job. However, I have three times as many vacation days and I work not even half as many hours a week. That’s a trade off I’m more than happy with.
The money will come eventually. Maybe. If it doesn’t no big deal. My time is more valuable anyways.
My number is also probably less than $75k. (A lot less actually, provided buying my house doesn’t prove to be ridiculously expensive.) I’m on the other side of the spectrum from my friend topolk though. I’ve always known that it doesn’t take money to make me happy. As such, I’ve done a lot of cool and really different things with my life. But, I also have been broke the past 10 years, and honestly I’m over it. I’m settling into a career type job, and while I don’t need much, I don’t want to start a pattern of being taken advantage of, and I do want to travel. For the first time in my life I feel like more money would make me happier. Not a lot of money though, I just need a little.