Can Money buy Happiness?

By Jan Cullinane
NABBW’s Expert on The New Retirement

We\’ve heard the expression “Money can\’t buy you love,” but what about happiness? The answer may be yes.

An April 2012 Marist Institute for Public Opinion poll found that people who made $50,000 or more felt younger than their actual years, felt less likely they will be burden to others, thought they wouldn\’t feel as lonely as they age, thought they would be more likely to travel and volunteer, and even thought they\’d have a better sex life than those making under $50,000.

The only virtually identical answer to questions about well-being was when those surveyed were asked if they were considering delaying retirement; 27% of those making under $50,000 said they planned to postpone retirement compared to 28% making more than $50,000. (The survey was a random telephone call to 1,235 Americans.)

The good news? In 2010, a study by Princeton University found that the “happiness number” for feeling good about the way your life was going was $75,000. So, the price of happiness is one of the few things that have gone down in cost!

What\’s it all mean? Having a certain income let\’s you escape the stress and worry of everyday financial issues, allows you to pursue desired activities, and lets you cope with unexpected circumstances. Once you get to that point, additional income doesn\’t make much difference.

Other studies have demonstrated it\’s not so much the absolute amount of money we have, but how much we have compared to our peers. We know we can\’t compete with the likes of Bill Gates or Oprah, but I guess seeing a pricey new car in our neighbor\’s driveway can drive us crazy.

Jan Cullinane is the co-author of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale).