Does a higher salary lead to happiness?

Does a higher salary lead to happiness?

Higher salary lead to happiness?

Money doesn’t buy happiness.” We’ve all thought about it at some point, right? That phrase has always been the one that I’ve either heard or told myself when I met someone who was wealthy (or at least LOOKED wealthy…the ability to finance stuff has made that blurry from the outside looking in).

Research says $75,000 is the magic happiness number

According to Princeton University, your salary can make you happier…but only up to $75,000 per year.

When I was a band director, I made a little over $50,000/year. Compared to a lot of starting wages out there right now, that seemed like a ton of money!

After starting my own business, I’m now on track to make somewhere from $80,000 – $120,000 over the next 12 months if I don’t mess up. If you had told me that a few years ago, I would have probably been super jealous of my future self haha.

You can take a look at my latest income report to see how I’m making money online: 

September 2016 Online Income Report: $10,172.27

I’ve tried to give my new increase in earning a lot of thought lately. I truly believe that M$M can be a $1,000,000/year type of website (maybe more someday). There are SO many different ways you can make money online, and I haven’t even tapped the potential of this thing in my opinion.

Has more money made me happier?

I’m not going to lie – I’ve been super happy lately. Every time I have a conversation with someone about what I do for a living, it brings a little smile to my face (after I convince them that I ACTUALLY make money online).

My quality of life is great, I actually like waking up on Monday’s, etc. The extra money coming in is killer as well.

But how much of that is purely happiness based on $$$? In reality, not much. I don’t feel happy when I cash an affiliate check or transfer money from my PayPal account. It’s been a little surprising actually.

Here’s the dirty little secret about making more money:

When you make more money than you used to, the milestone wears off freakishly fast. It’s almost immediately replaced with “now how can I make more?”

This is especially true in business where you have more control over the amount of money that you can make in a given time period. It’s easy to let your goals become financially driven, which is a slippery slope IMO.

Your career path and goals should be driven by higher level ideas, like how much impact you’re making in the world or how fulfilling your work really is. I try not to bring it up too much, but we’re all going to die someday and can’t take the money with us.

That’s the reality. We all die, and life isn’t about the money.

What does make me happy?

If it’s not the money, maybe it’s the stuff right? Well…not really.

*GASP* My wife and I own a pretty sweet wake boarding boat. Before you get all upset with your hypocrite pitchforks, it was used and we wrote a check for it. It’s ok. 🙂

The boat is obviously an example of something you can buy when you’re good with your money and don’t have any debt. But the boat itself doesn’t make me happy – the experience of being out on the water does. There’s a BIG difference.

Experiences drive happiness for me, but maybe not for you.

Some of the happiest times for Coral and I have been when we are doing something cool. I’m not a multi-millionaire (although I know plenty that would agree with me), and I can tell you that it’s not all about the numbers in your bank account.

Money isn’t a happiness creator, it’s a tool for making life easier (and some people with a lot of it might argue against that as well). Don’t overthink it. You should absolutely be trying to make money a focus in your life, but it can’t be THE focus. You’ll just never find true happiness there.

Here’s the last problem with money:

Especially when it comes to comparing yourself with others – there’s literally no point in using money as a measuring stick. If you’re looking to find happiness by comparing yourself financially with the people around you, remember this:


Question for you:

  1. I’m right…right?

Live differently. Your bank accounts will thank me later. ~M$M


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21 comments… add one
  • Mystery Money Man Oct 17, 2016, 7:32 am

    Great post, Bobby! I like that you don’t assume that what makes you happy is the same for others, but I think for most, it is the experiences they enjoy that bring them fulfillment in life.
    Unfortunately, so many people don’t seem to realize that, and end up in a vicious cycle of chasing after ever-increasing material pursuits.
    There’s an expectation that at some point the will find happiness, but they keep coming up empty.

    • Millennial Money Man Oct 17, 2016, 8:33 am

      Thanks! Some people might love money haha! I enjoy making more of course, but it’s just not EVERYTHING to me.

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher Oct 17, 2016, 8:06 am

    I think happiness from money certainly caps off at a certain point, but after that it’s all about doing something you love. Maybe that’s the reason behind your happiness, M$M! 🙂

    And yup, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head! Once you’re used to attaining so much money, it becomes a pursuit/obsession itself instead of pursuing the things that make you happy. While more money is always much nicer, you can be just as content with less, and that’s what frugal living is all about anyway.

  • Financial Panther Oct 17, 2016, 9:46 am

    This is exactly why I quit my six figure job earlier this year! A lot of lawyers have this idea that money means everything. They work crazy hours on things they hate, barely spend any time at home, and are constantly worried about everything. And as a bonus, they get a huge paycheck!

    I was exactly in that same position, and then, because I didn’t rely on the money and didn’t need the money, I took myself a $50,000 pay cut. Now, I’m making that exact magic number … $75,000 per year.

    And oh yeah, I have way more time now and enjoy what I do a lot more. So I for one can say that money did not lead to higher happiness. Go talk to any young lawyer earning six figures and working 80 hours a week. Guarantee you they aren’t any happier…

    • Millennial Money Man Oct 17, 2016, 12:41 pm

      Dude I could NEVER be a lawyer. I like money as much as the next person, but the amount of stress that seems to be associated with it just doesn’t seem worth it at all.

      I took a paycut as well after I quit my job. For a few months I was barely making anything! Finally turning around haha

    • Mystery Money Man Oct 17, 2016, 1:21 pm

      Wow FP, that’s fantastic! I certainly don’t have lawyer level stress, but I understand the feeling. I haven’t taken the big pay cut yet, as I’m still in the same job. However, over the past year we’ve been in the process of restructuring our family finances in such a way that when the time comes, I will be able to walk away and not worry about having to maintain nearly the same level of income. So far, we managed a 15K pay cut a few months ago when my wife left her part time job to be at home full time. In another 6-12 months, we should be in a position where we could take another 20K cut if need be.

  • Bo Oct 17, 2016, 10:02 am

    To me, life should be about the memories you share with the people you love and that is something money can’t buy!!

  • JAY Oct 17, 2016, 10:43 am

    Bob Marley put it best, ” Money is numbers and numbers never end, if it takes money for you to be happy your search for happiness will never end “

  • Amanda @ centsiblyrich Oct 17, 2016, 10:47 am

    YES! Totally agree! Really learning what brings you happiness is the key, and it’s not likely the new clothes you bought at the mall this weekend. We’ve never made over 5 figures and I am sooo incredibly happy! While it’s always nice to have a little boost in income, the happiness it brings is fleeting.

    We just bought a boat last month (used, with cash)! LOVE it! No regrets here.

    • Millennial Money Man Oct 17, 2016, 12:39 pm

      Oh nice! Congrats (and I use that sparingly on stuff like this) on the boat! Boats are definitely not a frugal move by any stretch, but if you’re a water person the feeling of being out is incredible!

  • Fehmeen Oct 17, 2016, 10:49 am

    Up to a point, a bigger paycheck does lead to more happiness because your financial worries are taken care off. However, too much money is toxic, I feel, just like too much medicine or anything else. The parable of money is that of a boat floating in the water. You need a certain amount of water to survive, a certain amount to thrive and a certain amount to be toppled over. What determines this ‘optimal amount’ of money? It’s different in each case but it does apply to most people. Unless you’re Bill Gates who has remained very grounded and seemingly happy despite his unlimited riches!

    • Millennial Money Man Oct 17, 2016, 12:38 pm

      I agree – definitely different for everyone! It’s so funny that I spent the first 3-4 years of my career hoping to get to $75-100k, and now that it looks like I’ll be there I’m trying to figure out $2-300k. Never ends 🙂

  • The Grounded Engineer Oct 17, 2016, 2:02 pm

    This post made me stop and really think.

    My current career path (engineer and now sales engineer) has been fun and provided a nice income for my family and I. The role I am in now requires me to work well more than 40 hours per week. Additionally, my commute tacks on another 2+ hours round trip, where I am away from my family.

    So the question is, now that we eliminated our debt, can I transition to a different job that requires less hours? Or, do I stay where I am at and keep stocking away significant amounts of money for retirement. We could retire early and I could go into teaching – ironic based on your situation 😄

  • Gary Oct 17, 2016, 8:17 pm

    My employer offered me a role with a higher salary but would require more travel (over 50%) and roughly about 60hrs per week. For me, work travel and more hours aren’t worth the extra money b/c working a corporate 9-5 job isn’t on my 3-5 year plan. Some people have come up to me saying I am missing out a great opportunity for my career by passing, but I know I am making the right decision for me.

    I value my freedom more than money. I’d rather grind out 40hrs a week for the next year or two at a lower salary, and work on a side hustle on nights and weekends until I can build it up to something full time.

    • Millennial Money Man Oct 18, 2016, 5:54 am

      A LOT of millennials feel the same way! I got a lot of the same “you’re making a mistake” talk when I left my teaching job, and that has worked out pretty well so far! 🙂

  • Debt Plower Nov 16, 2016, 7:24 am

    Great article! I agree 100% that experiences drive happiness…at least for me.

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