Savings: Key to Happiness?

Jul 14, 2015 by

Call me a cynic if you want, but I can’t avoid concluding as I watch the world go by that most people think what will make them happier is 1) earning a bunch of money and then 2) madly spending all that money on stuff that tells the world that they earn a bunch of money. I can sort of understand this monetary approach to life; after all, in America, no one is more respected, idolized, and publicized,┬áregardless of their degree of doofus-ness, than people who boldly and unreservedly flaunt wealth. Think Donald Trump, to give just one of millions of examples.

I’m old enough to remember when effectively waving $100 bill wads under other people’s noses was considered crass. Now it’s prerequisite to earning the respect of one’s similarly inclined peers.

What is the predominant American culture if not a contest to prove who earns the most money?

Savings, Not Income

But enough crotchety observations. ­čÖé Here’s the thing: before you fall in line with the income-seekers in your quest to be happier, have a think on the results of a survey done by Ally Bank. One conclusion is captured in the infographic below.

Ally found that a fatter paycheck does make people happier. But only until annual income reaches about $50,000. After that, financial pressures are largely relieved and happiness growth levels off as income continues to rise beyond $50,000.

Happiness also grows with savings–“money in the bank” (or in the Ally Bank, as the survey’s sponsors hope). But unlike with income, Ally found that the percentage of the survey’s respondents who reported being happy continued to grow at a healthy pace as their savings grew.

A Key to Happiness

What’s the takeaway? Earn as much as you can. But if you want to really boost your happiness, save a lot of those earnings instead of spending it all on trying to earn respect in our money-centric society (i.e., on stuff).

Would you rather own a car that tells the world you earn a lot of money or be happier?

If you need to think about that question, you’re wasting your time here. ­čÖé

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