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Study Reveals Millennials Need $525k Salary to Be Happy

By Albulena Murturi


24 April 2024

Millennial Happiness Price Tag

©️ jcomp / Freepik

A recent survey done by Empower, a financial services company, has sparked intriguing conversations regarding the pursuit of financial happiness. The study strives to understand the millennial happiness price tag. In other words, they found out how much money millennials think they need to be happy. So, being a millennial myself, I am curious to know what they found out. And what is the difference between other generations like Gen Z and Boomers? Keep up to find out!

Millennial Happiness Price Tag

The survey, executed by The Harris Poll in August 2023 contained 2,034 American adults aged 18 and over. It shone a fascinating insight: the majority of participants believe that happiness can indeed be bought. In other words, the average person believes a hefty $1.2 million in the bank is the key to opening this unreachable state of happiness.

Millennial Happiness Price Tag
©️ Freepik

However, what truly sets this survey apart is the specific financial aspirations across generations. Millennials emerge as particularly noteworthy contenders in the quest for financial bliss. This generation, born between 1981 and 1996, has boldly announced that their ticket to happiness comes with a considerable price tag: a substantial annual salary of $525,000.

While the average respondent deems a yearly income of $284,167 as necessary for happiness, the variations in financial goals among different generations are striking. Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, believes they require a modest $128,000 annually to achieve financial contentment. Conversely, baby boomers, representing a generation shaped by different economic landscapes, are content with a comparatively modest $124,000 per year.

Factors Shaping Financial Happiness Across Generations

But why such difference across generations? Economic conditions and thriving job markets undoubtedly play pivotal roles in shaping income expectations. Millennials are scarred by the economic tumult of the 2008 financial crisis. As a result, they carry the weight of heavier student loans and debt burdens compared to their Gen Z peers. Additionally, the evolving socio-economic landscape has planted different perspectives and priorities in each generation. This influences their perceived need for higher incomes.

Millennial Happiness Price Tag
©️ vectorpouch / Freepik

Yet, the equation for financial happiness extends beyond mere monetary figures. Inflationary pressures and the burden of student loans cast shadows on the financial security of all Americans. Remarkably, finding solace in everyday costs emerges as a crucial factor in improving the sense of financial well-being. For instance, a staggering 62% of millennials express readiness to pay $7 for a daily coffee. The justification: the simple joy it brings.

Happiness and Money

Notably, recent studies offer intriguing wisdom into the relationship between income and happiness. Such is a 2023 study, co-authored by Nobel Prize recipient Daniel Kahneman. It suggests that higher earnings, up to $500,000 annually, can indeed contribute to greater happiness. These findings resonate profoundly with the bold assertions of millennial survey respondents, underscoring the belief that money can indeed buy happiness.

Millennial Happiness Price Tag
©️ / Freepik

However, it’s essential to acknowledge the nuanced nature of financial happiness. While income undoubtedly plays a significant role, it is but one facet of a multifaceted pursuit. Balancing financial stability with purpose, satisfaction, and meaningful experiences is paramount in achieving true contentment.

Encouragingly, recent economic trends offer a glimmer of hope for all Americans striving to attain their financial happiness goals. As the United States navigates the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflationary pressures are easing. Moreover, the Federal Reserve’s prudent measures are inspiring confidence in economic stability. These developments pave the way for a more favorable environment for individuals seeking their aspirations. It also includes millennials aiming for the elusive $525,000 dream.

Millennial Happiness Price Tag
©️ Freepik

In conclusion, while the pursuit of financial happiness may be influenced by economic truths and individual circumstances, it ultimately transcends monetary metrics. It embodies a holistic journey encompassing balance, purpose, and fulfillment in financial choices and life experiences. As we navigate this dynamic terrain, let us remember that true happiness extends far beyond the keeping of a paycheck, embracing the richness of life in all its facets.

So how much do you need? Please, do tell.

You may also like: What Generation Are You? Gen X, Y, Gen Z, or Alpha?

Albulena Murturi

An enthusiastic learner rediscovering the joy of writing.