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How Much Money Do You Need to Be Happy?

savings Credit: Salary Image via Shutterstock

It turns out, money might buy happiness after all. And, it might not cost as much as you think. According to a new poll, an annual household income of $50,000 is enough to increase the likelihood of people feeling an overall sense of happiness and satisfaction in life.

To arrive at that number, the researchers at Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College, which conducted the survey, asked people to rate their level of satisfaction in the following areas of their lives: family, neighborhood safety, housing situation, spiritual life, health, friends, work or how days are spent, free time, finances and community involvement. They then asked them to identify their annual household income. The research found that an annual salary of $50,000 represented a significant tipping point in determining happiness and personal satisfaction.

Households with annual incomes of less than $50,000 were less happy than those with an annual household income of more than $50,000. Some of the largest disparities between the two income levels occurred in satisfaction with housing, relationships with friends and overall satisfaction with life.

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Regardless of income level, the survey also found that 64 percent of Americans have experienced a financial hardship in the past year. The survey also found that in the past year:

  • 57 percent cut back on spending
  • 26 percent considered delaying retirement
  • 17 percent had trouble paying for medical care
  • 14 percent had trouble paying their mortgage
  • 12 percent had trouble paying for prescription drugs

"Money may not directly buy happiness, but our study clearly shows that it is an important factor in satisfaction with quality of life," Paul Hogan, chairman and founder of Home Instead Senior Care, a company that provides in-home care for seniors and commissioned the survey.  "The important take-away is not only the extent to which income shapes perspective on life but how difficult the recent economic downturn has been for many."  

The survey was based on the responses of 1,235 Americans in a telephone survey.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.