Wednesday, September 29, 2010
The Cost of Happiness
In the Sept 27th issues of Times magazine there is an article called "The Cost of Happiness" (pg.56 Belinda Luscombe) According to a recent study done by Princeton University, a person needs an annual household income of around $75,000 to be happy. "The further a person's income falls below that level, the unhappier he or she is." This information comes from a poll (how come I never get to participate in any of these polls?) concluding that was the amount of money people felt they needed to live a happy life. That was the magic number that would allow them to do the things they wanted on a regular basis and be happy. I think people need a better definition of 'happy.' STUFF does not do it for me. I grew in a household full of stuff. My dad always had the latest and greatest gadgets, and my sisters and I always had new toys to play with. Don't get me wrong, as a kid I thought this was great, but in retrospect, I believe that all that stuff and my parents desire for bigger and better led to the somewhat broken relationship we have now. My mom has a triple digit salary and I can see the misery and pure exhaustion in her eyes. She turned 50 this year, and is no where close to being able to slow things down in her life. Growing up, she was always at work and the bigger her salary, the longer her workdays. They have four TVs and four separate computers in a house that only has three occupants (my youngest sister is 15 and still lives at home). On the other side of the spectrum, my husband and I claimed 29,000 on our taxes last year. We are by no means rich, but we regularly do the things we enjoy (mostly because the things we enjoy cost little to nothing) and are always able to feed ourselves...and in fact we spend more on groceries than an average family of three. This month I will make our final car payment and will have an extra $513 at our disposal every month. Unlike most people we see paying off our car as a way to be able to save a little more, not as a reason to trade up to a newer one, with a new car payment. A few years ago we made as much as 50, 000 in one year, when I had a job as a restaurant manager. I never saw my husband, I was hardly ever home, and what's worse I was spending 80 hours a week with people I really didn't like. It was the most miserable time of my life. I don't think we'll ever see $75,000, and I think we'll still be happier than most.