A cool $161,000 makes us happy

A new global survey finds that people do need quite a bit of cash to feel content.

By Kim Peterson Dec 4, 2012 6:24PM
Image: Man holding cash - Rubberball, Getty ImagesWhat does it take to make Earthlings happy? An average salary of $161,000 is a good place to start.

A new study by Skandia International asked people in 13 countries about what level of income they would need to feel "really happy." The responses varied by country, but averaged out at about 15 times the global individual income average of $10,700. Yeah, I'd say $161,000 would be enough to put a smile on most faces.

Skandia skipped the U.S. in its survey, so we don't know what level of money brings happiness here. But of the countries surveyed, those hard-working, stoic Germans had the most modest needs, saying that only $85,781 would be necessary. Everyone else zipped up past the $100,000 mark, with France coming in at $114,344 and the United Kingdom at $133,010.

Residents of Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai had the highest totals, with Dubai coming in first with an average of $276,150 for pure happiness.

And money does in fact equate to happiness for most respondents. About 80% said that money would make them happy, the researchers said. That percentage rose to 93% percent in Brazil, while Europeans didn't see as much correlation between money and happiness. In Germany, only 68% of people equated money with happiness.

The survey also asked about debt levels, and -- perhaps not coincidentally -- the countries that required the most money for happiness also had some of the highest average debts. Residents of Dubai said they would need about $19,000 to pay off all their debts, excluding mortgages. Germans only needed about $5,800 to pay their debts -- the lowest of all countries surveyed.

More from Money Now

Dec 4, 2012 11:02PM
161 thousand will help  a person who's loosing their house due to the Obama economy get caught up and maybe save his family from the trauma of being kicked out on their rears. When 57 thousand a year was just enough a family could live well and be happy. Now with this crappy economy even 57 thousand looks pretty.
Dec 4, 2012 11:01PM
There is a book "The millionaire next door" One of the best books I ever read, to get this and more go to the-team.biz/39906109
Dec 4, 2012 10:44PM
$75,0000 is more than enough for me...!
Dec 4, 2012 10:38PM

The more you make the more taxes you have to pay to obama. so making more is not worth it.

Dec 4, 2012 10:31PM
the love of money is the root of all evil-not money itself, but the love of it-the greed, the selfishness, the stinginess, the hoarding, etc. Rich or poor-you leave this world with what you came into it with-NOTHING.
Dec 4, 2012 10:29PM
They say the love of money ,is the root of all evil.You need money to eat and pay bills,its when you get to love it,crave it ,and believe a certain amount of it can bring happiness,thats when it takes root in you.You become evil, just as anything you think makes you happy.
Dec 4, 2012 10:22PM
The government takes half my check, oh and did i mention $3500 a year in rip off union dues???
Dec 4, 2012 10:18PM

@Colorado Bike Chick and V_L,  the article is not referring to a  lump sum of money but rather an average salary.

Dec 4, 2012 10:17PM
Exactly $700.00 a week after ALL taxes, or $2800.00 a month.  House is paid for, two cars run just fine, good health, books, dvds and cds all here.  So you see it wouldn't take much to make me feel more SECURE.  HAPPINESS, to me, at least, isn't obtained by six figures.  I already have that in the bank.
Dec 4, 2012 10:12PM

Money can not buy happiness, but it's more comfortable to cry in a Corvette than on a bicycle.




Dec 4, 2012 10:03PM

Do what you love. You may make less money, but you will be more satisfied

with your life and may even be able to get off of your blood pressure meds.

Dec 4, 2012 10:02PM
I can live in Panama for 20% of that and live like a king. I do not even need to live like a king but a swimming pool and clean home and good food. Panama will allow you to live well on much much less.
Dec 4, 2012 10:00PM
Just have the federal reserve print  161 k   for everyone ....say for the holidays...  and all will be happy.  Lets have no taxes on this thank you very much.
Dec 4, 2012 9:55PM
When i went to red lobster, when it first opened it was good and you felt like you were being cooked for and now its like going to a fast food joint only sit down style. Feels like the food is massed produced so i stopped going there. Also if i want to tip i will i do not want it added to my bill
Dec 4, 2012 9:52PM
The middle class is getting tax increase as well as the rich you idiots. The republicans wanted to keep the same tax structure as its always been and obama hooked you all hook line and sinker. Now he is going to cut Medicare. How do you think he was going to pay for his promises. Taxing the rich will solve the problem for 3 days. 
Dec 4, 2012 9:52PM
If you have $2,500 worth of assets, you are in the top 50% of the world's population as far as wealth.  If you have $500,000 in assets, you are in the top 1% of wealth.  $161,000 means that everyone wishes they were in the top 1%.  I try to spend my money helping those less fortunate than me.  That makes me happy.  Not the money that I wish I had.
Dec 4, 2012 9:51PM

When hubby and I were dating, we would ask each other hypothetical questions, just for fun. One question has always stuck out though.


I once asked him, "If you could be as rich as you want, how rich would you be?"


Both of us came to the same conclusion. Rich enough so that if I want to go out to dinner or go to the movies, I don't have to think about it. I don't have to rework my budget for the month or worry about all the bills getting paid.


Ultimately, my goal is to be rich enough to be a stay-at-home mom. But I don't need a McMansion and a Hummer and all that stuff to be happy. Just financially stable enough to stay home, raise my kids, and make our home a warm welcoming place. Honestly, we'd only need about $50,000-$60,000/year to make that happen.

Dec 4, 2012 9:51PM
Might not be the ultimate but it would go a long ways in buying the things that give me comfort....thus a much happier life.
Dec 4, 2012 9:50PM
The funniest thing I see are people who make 150 and 200K a year and are always broke.
They live in giant houses, drive hot cars, dress up in all the latest fashion but are always broke.
Hahaha. Man, I make 54K a year, own a small house, drive a new Tacoma, don't use credit cards. And! have $1000 bucks a month floating around in my wallet. Sure I only have two bedrooms and one bath but it sure is cozy and warm.
I guess I missed the, Make 1ooK spend 150K lifestyle.
Oh yeah, And I'm EXTREMELY Happy with my life.

Dec 4, 2012 9:49PM
Who says money can't buy happiness???  Kinda hard NOT to smile while driving a new jet ski ;)
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?


[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished an upbeat week on a mixed note. The S&P 500 shed less than a point, ending the week higher by 1.3%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) cemented a 1.7% advance for the week. High-beta names underperformed, which weighed on the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) and the Russell 2000 (-1.3%).

Equity indices displayed strength in the early going with the S&P 500 tagging the 2,019 level during the opening 30 minutes of the action. However, ... More