Home News How Much Money Does the Average American Need to Be Happy?

How Much Money Does the Average American Need to Be Happy?

Happiness: Pharrell sings about it, you wish for it, and our wallets sometimes fund it.

A well-rounded person defines happiness as being able to experience and afford things, such as vacations, housing, personal development, education, socialization, and health care. So for Americans to be happy — or less emotionally pained — we know we need money not only for survival, but for comfort and the occasional splurge, as well. It’s been said that an annual income $75,000 will do the trick. Nothing more nothing less. An infamous study done by economists at Princeton found that at this rate, people probably have enough expendable cash to do things that make them feel good, like going out with friends or traveling, after meeting their necessary expenses.  But is that really the case?

Can you afford to have your cake and eat it, too, on your current income? Well, that depends on what you prioritize. But one thing is clear: Happiness comes at an annual price — and it’s much higher than you think or what Princeton advertises. As you’ll see, most things on this list are not lavish but reasonable expenses we’d all like to afford for average satisfaction. There are many variables at play that will determine our true “happiness” salary.

Let’s dig into 14 things science says you need to spend money on to be happy, starting with the basic necessities and ending with extracurricular luxuries we all strive for.

1. A nice home

Exterior of small American house

Exterior of small American house Adequate housing is one of the most important things for happiness. | iStock.com/ irina88w

At the core of survival, we must ensure our living expenses are covered. Being able to afford the monthly mortgage bill on your home comes to mind first. It’s recommended to spend about two to three times your annual income on a house. So with a $75,000 salary, you should have a housing budget of about $150,000 to $225,000. But the average loan size for purchase applications is $309,200. And that’s not including energy bills (which in 2015 amounted to a national average of $114) and other utilities, such as cable and internet fees.

Next: Cars can be really expensive.

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