How Much Money Do You Need To Be Happy?

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Have you ever asked yourself that question, thought about it, and given yourself an answer?

If you’re like Anthony, one of the people I interviewed for Breaking the Spell, the answer is $46 million.

But if you’re like most people, you don’t have a definitive answer.

Rather, your answer is simply “more money than I have now.”

I remember when I graduated from college and got my first advertising agency job earning $10,000 a year. It wasn’t a lot of money, but I was thrilled to get the job. At one point I set a goal: To make my age in terms of income. So, by the time I was 30, I wanted to be making $30,000 per year. And by the time I was 40, I’d be up to $40,000 per year.

When you’re making $10,000 quadrupling your income is quite desirable.

But, by the time I was in my thirties I was earning well over $30,000 a year. And by the time I was in my forties, I was earning six figures. Suddenly that little “make my age” goal seemed a little silly. What could I have been thinking?

I realize it’s all relative. And, when I look back, I was actually quite happy back when I was only earning $10,000 a year. I was working in a career I was excited about. I was newly married and we had a cute little apartment that suited our needs. I was able to buy my first new car and pay off my college debt. Yet today, I can’t imagine how I ever worked for so little money, or managed to live on it.

At the same time, as I look at my daughter who is a grad student supporting herself, I’m reminded that like her, I had a different attitude back then. The goal was to live life and make the most of it. The goal was not to make a million dollars.

That makes me scratch my head and ask, When did my goal change?

When did my focus shift from living and enjoying life, to making money?

I realize it probably changed once I started working in my career. Setting and pursuing that “make my age” goal, and all of the financial goals that followed, were more about climbing the corporate ladder and being successful than they were about making more money to improve my standard of living.

Don’t get me wrong, my standard of living did improve. But like many people, it was more because the more money my husband and I made the more things we found to spend it on. And at some point, I realized my attitude and values had shifted.

I’m in a different place now, although I admit I still don’t know how much money I really need, or want.

My answer to the question “How much money do I need?” is still relative.

But the answer is no longer more. Rather, the answer is enough.

Enough to pay my bills…

Enough to finance the relatively simple life we’ve adopted now that we’re no longer chasing success and money…

Enough to enjoy life…

Enough to sock the extra away so we can retire some day…

I know I probably need to set a number goal. But I suppose after chasing numbers for so many years, I’m rejecting that a bit. So instead I’m choosing to focus on living the kind of life I want to live, and ultimately I suppose I’ll figure out what that costs.

How about you?

Do you know how much money you need to be making to live the lifestyle you desire? Post a comment and share, and let’s start a conversation!

About Debbie

Debbie is an author, blogger, online teacher, business owner, and mid-lifer. She's writes on a wide range of topics, from marketing, money and success, to finding meaning at midlife. If it's on her mind, you'll find her writing about it!

1 comment on “How Much Money Do You Need To Be Happy?

  1. I loved your blog and specifically this article. I would like to say that “enough” was my answer too, but I got deep into my thoughts about this, to realize that enough is not my proper answer. “ I would like to have enough to pay my bills, but the more money I earn … more bills I get to pay. I would like to have enough money to enjoy life, but to enjoy can be listening a good song in my room or traveling to a paradisiacal place and stay in a five stars hotel”. It all depends on the point of view.

    I lived in the USA once, and I had everything I dreamed of, and after 3 months living there I was feeling completely unhappy so I decided to come back to my country (Brazil) and got my happiness back. Since then I started analyzing what makes people happy around here. Brazil is not a country where you can live comfortably. We are always struggling about money, not everybody has cars, traveling doesn’t happen very often, even city entertainment is difficult to find, but when you look people in the eye, you can see an uncommon happiness. I assume that people around here learned how to enjoy small things that money can’t buy, and much more, to share.

    I also believe that, much more than the amount of money you earn is the way you spend it that brings you happiness. A research published by the new York times proved that the more money people spend buying goods for themselves, the less pleasure they will have to enjoy them. You don’t need to be rich to do this, and don’t share only what’s is superfluous for you, everybody can give away a bit of what they have. The happiness feeling will grow when you use the money you earn helping yourself and also making a person’s life easier.
    Amanda

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