This is how much money a majority of Americans say can buy their happiness

In her 2007 book The How of Happiness, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, Sonja Lyubomirsky, describes happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” And there is a set amount of money that a majority of Americans believe can buy them just that, a new study shows.
The new research from Empower, a leader in financial planning, investing and advice, which surveyed 2,034 U.S. adults, shows that 59% of Americans, including 72% of millennials and 67% of Gen Zers, believe happiness can be had for a price of $1.2 million.
As many households continue to weather the pain of inflation on their budgets, some 71% of respondents said having more money would solve most of their problems, while 32%, including 37% of boomers, said a gain of just $15,000 could make them happy for six months.
With a gain of just $25,000, 42% of respondents said they would be happy for six months, while 17% of respondents said a gain of just $5,000 would make them happy for six months.
Researchers also found that, for some people, financial happiness can come through just being able to pay their bills on time. A majority of respondents, 67%, agreed with this outlook. Another 65% said living debt free would make them happy, while 45% said owning a home would do the same. Some 37% said being able to retire on their own terms would make them happy, while 53% of respondents said they could find happiness if they were able to spend money on experiences they cherish.
Unfortunately, however, 73% of Americans said they’re experiencing financial stress, and people on average expect they will have to delay their retirement by three years. Adults that don’t have a financial plan expect they will need to delay their retirement by five years.
A significant majority of respondents, 81%, cited inflation as a factor in their sense of prosperity. A similar share pointed to rising costs, while 66% pointed to rising interest rates.
“Over half of people say they carry debt (54%, and 72% of Gen X), and 36% could not handle an unforeseen expense over $500 without real worry,” researchers noted.
“For many, wellbeing is rooted in a sense of security of a financial plan (73%). Americans with a more detailed financial plan are about three times as likely to report greater happiness in money matters, including goal setting, debt, net worth, and financial allies,” they added. “Yet 43% feel that access to advice is beyond their reach, and 57% say they’d wish they’d gotten financial advice sooner.”
While a majority of people today are focused on their finances, Lyubomirsky noted in a 2010 presentation on “What Determines Happiness?” that research shows about 50% of happiness is determined by people’s genes. About 10% lies in life circumstances, while some 40% is determined by intentional actions that people take to be happy.

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