PhotoHow much money does it take to achieve happiness and personal fulfillment? Researchers say they’ve pegged the perfect salary at $95,000 -- more than most U.S. consumers take in each year.

Researchers from Purdue University and the University of Virginia  reached that figure after surveying 1.7 million individuals from 164 countries. They say that people making this amount of money each year are best able to manage their work/life balance.

Satiation points

While a salary of $95,000 is optimal for achieving long-term life satisfaction, the study suggested that making $60,000 to $75,000 may be sufficient for those seeking day-to-day feelings of happiness.

“It’s been debated at what point does money no longer change your level of well-being. We found that the ideal income point is $95,000 for life evaluation and $60,000 to $75,000 for emotional well-being,” said lead author Andrew T. Jebb.

This amount is for individuals and would likely be higher for families, the researchers noted.

Once these thresholds are reached, the benefits of making more money tend to decrease. That’s because making more money than the optimal amount required to meet basic needs, purchase conveniences, and maybe pay off loans may result in a mindset that ultimately lowers well-being.

Too much money can fuel social comparisons

People making more money than what is optimal may be driven to pursue more material gains and compare themselves to their peers, the authors say.

“At this point they are asking themselves, ‘Overall, how am I doing?’ and ‘How do I compare to other people?’” Jebb said. “The small decline puts one’s level of well-being closer to individuals who make slightly lower incomes, perhaps due to the costs that come with the highest incomes.”

The average household income for the U.S. is $65,000, and 75 percent of American households earn less than $75,000.


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