I’ll tell you a secret…

I always whisper the same wish every time I blow out my birthday candles, no matter how old I get: “I hope I have another happy year.”

It might seem silly. Happiness is such an elusive concept.

What truly makes someone happy? Career success, fame, money, loving relationships, puppies? Shouldn’t I wish for something a little more concrete?

Well, I never knew which “happiness topic” to pick … that is, until I read that money can, in fact, buy happiness.

See, this year, the journal Nature Human Behavior pulled data from a Gallup World Poll, which surveyed more than 1.7 million people from 164 countries. From that survey, the journal put a price on optimal emotional well-being.

Can you guess what it is?

It’s between $60,000 and $75,000 a year. Not as high as I expected!

But that’s just for feeling generally positive day to day. The perfect amount for “life evaluation,” which includes a person’s long-term goals, peer comparisons and other macro-level metrics: $95,000.

For North America, though, the amount is higher at $105,000 — and emotional well-being rests between $65,000 and $95,000.

So, problem solved! You just need to make around this amount to stay happy.

Unfortunately, the average U.S. income is a bit under that at $59,039. And even though that’s the highest amount on record, Americans are still struggling.

New data from the Urban Institute found that 40% of Americans struggle to pay for at least one basic need like food or rent.

Even if we take a look at those with higher income levels, things aren’t perfect. Close to 20% of people whose household income is 400% above the federal poverty level also had trouble meeting a basic need.

Meanwhile, 1-in-5 middle-income families and 1-in-10 high-income families have zero retirement savings to speak of.

Income issues and disparities are part of why America tumbled for the second year in a row in the World Happiness Report’s annual ranking of more than 150 countries.

We scored 18th place — our worst ranking since the report was introduced in 2012.

That’s why it’s so critical to learn ways to build up a stable store of wealth, no matter how old you are.

It’s one of the reasons we at Banyan Hill Publishing created our newsletters: To help everyday, hardworking Americans achieve financial well-being … aka happiness.

If you’re looking for a way to start doing that immediately, I suggest checking out a brand-new book by personal finance expert Ted Bauman called Endless Income: 50 Secrets to a Happier, Richer Life.

It’s a great resource for any American. Ted made sure to research some easy income tools most of us have never heard about. For example, did you know you can:

  • Grow your money with “supercharged” savings accounts that pay you 20 TIMES more interest? Just about anyone can open one, and they’re available at some of the most reputable and recognized banks in the nation. I’m amazed that more retirees aren’t taking advantage of them.
  • Use three simple yet surprising words to add $130,000 to your retirement account? Investing legends Warren Buffett and Jack Bogle rave about this opportunity, yet I’ll bet only one out of three investors knows about it.
  • Get up to $54,072 in extra Social Security benefits for retiring eight years early? It takes a keen eye to spot this subtle loophole amid the mountains of publicly available Social Security information.

Personally, I’ve already started paging through it … just in case my birthday wish needs a boost this year.

To happy years ahead!


Jessica Cohn-Kleinberg
Managing Editor, Banyan Hill Publishing