Tales from the Wallet: How Much Money Do You Need to Be Happy?

How much money do you need to be happy?

Here’s a random question that is always a fun discussion: how much money do you think you need to be happy? Do you agree that there may be an “optimal” income for happiness in that your problems increase if you make more? (We haven’t talked about how we all define “rich” for quite a while…)

I’ve always heard $ 75,000 is the “optimal” number, but according to a recent(ish) story in Fast Company the amount is now $ 105,000 for Americans, and beyond that, “there’s a point at which more money has decreasing returns in terms of our emotional well-being and life satisfaction.”

How Much Money Do You Need to Be Happy - Tales from the Wallet

Pictured above (affiliate link).

It’s an interesting point, and readers I’d love to hear from you — if you’ve made different salaries, did you notice increasing stress or happiness as the numbers moved up or down? To what degree “does money buy happiness” for you, either in terms of enabling hobbies or lifestyle habits (like eating out often) or in terms of enabling outsourcing (so, for example, someone else scrubs your toilets). To what extent does “mo money mo problems” ring true to you — either in terms of increased expectations or stress at work, keeping up with the Joneses or other issues? 

Stock photo via Stencil.

The latest studies say that the "optimal salary" for Americans is $  105K, with the theory being that more money = more problems. We asked our professional women readers: how much money do YOU need to be happy? Readers with household incomes of anywhere from $  67K to HHI of $  400K chimed in...

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The Weekend Reset: Strange tales, Seattle sounds and pickleball.

It’s Friday. Looking for something to switch up your weekend, or to give you an excuse to relax a little? That’s what the Weekend Reset is for. Each week contributor Tim Johnstone pulls together five things to get your weekend started. Could be something to read or watch, something to eat or listen to, or even something to do. Enjoy the weekend fellas.

 

PLAY: Introducing your new favorite activity.

PICKLEBALL. Yes, pickleball. I have it on excellent authority (hey boss!) that this game is a blast. I feel a bit out of touch not having heard about it before now. I guess I wasn’t running in the right circles. But this totally has my name on it. I like the amalgamation of other net sports. As with most games, you’ve got some rules to learn. While Coach Mark does a fine job of explaining the game, he could stand to be a little more exciting. Nonetheless, you get a good idea of how it all works. Here’s to a summer of fun.

 

NAP: Your grey matter will thank you.

When I was a kid, I hated having to take naps. I just wasn’t having it. I was always straight-up frustrated when the day care lady made us lie down for an hour so she could watch her “stories.” At some point (most likely college) my attitude was, as they say, adjusted. I love naps. Happily, they are good for us for a number of reasons, from the “oh that’s pretty cool” to “yes, please and thank you.” All of this should wipe away any lingering guilt you might have about napping. Now, if I could just figure out how to fall asleep in minutes so I can get the benefit of “power naps.” Also, I have never in my life been able to take a nap that lasted only fifteen minutes.

 

WATCH: Satire, social commentary, big laughs and…

…one ginormous plot twist. I keep thinking I should give you all a heads up about some of the content but while this is satire that bites, we are all adults.

 

READ: Because truth is stranger than fiction.

The Man who mistook his Wife for a hat

Dr. Oliver Sacks became something of a celebrity when this collection was originally published. This was quite the feat considering that The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat And Other Clinical Tales discusses cases about people who suffered from severe neurological disorders “with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations.” The reason that this book became a best seller is due to Sacks’ ability to share these complex stories in a relatable manner. Fascinating stuff. I’ve read it a couple of times.

 

LISTEN: 25 years on, the Singles soundtrack still satisfies.

Here’s where I do my full disclosure thing and share that I was smack in the middle of this remarkable era of Seattle’s music scene. I was promoting records for Virgin Records. The company had just signed Smashing Pumpkins (who appear on the soundtrack). I had many friends who found themselves in the midst of all of this. I even had a friend who ended up in the movie. I am no casual observer. None of that matters. This is just a great cross section of rock from a specific time and place. The 25th Anniversary re-issue (here is a good overview of it) is the best way to revisit this album as the bonus material is stellar. Flannel not required.

Tim Johnstone is Dappered’s music correspondent as well as our resident gatherer of all things interwebs related. He’s currently chasing his spirit animal. 


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Tales from the Wallet: How to Save Money on Food

how to save money on food when you work long hours

There was an interesting threadjack the other day about how much people spend on groceries, and I thought it might make an interesting discussion for its own post. How DO you save money on food when you work long hours and don’t have a ton of time for meal prep and other things? When you’re cutting back do you cut back on restaurants, food deliveries, groceries and more? Do you do this for a period of time (no eating out for a month!) or do you try to do it for the long haul? (Side note: how do you track purchases so you can quantify what you’re spending on food?) (For those of you who DO do a lot of weekend meal prep and bring your own lunches, share your best tips!) 

This post contains affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!

how to save money on food when you work long hours(Pictured above: lovely J.Crew wallet, now 50% off! It’s available in three colors and is $ 64.)

Psst: we’ve talked specifically about how to save money on lunch in the past.

For my $ .02, I’ve never been great about tracking grocery spending — too much of our stuff comes from mixed-category stores like Amazon, CVS and more to be flagged easily by Mint. I also tend to swing wildly from overstocking the cabinets (aka “buying whatever I want”) one month to “realizing I’ve bought too much and now we must eat it” the next month, so one month’s spending may be $ 1000+ and another month may be $ 200. (But we DO save money when I buy grocery items because they’re on sale rather than “we need it right now,” so… I’m not sure what the answer is.)

In my very first job, I was on such a strict budget that I often realized I had $ 5 left at the end of the month — so I would end up bringing things like a raw potato and a slice of American cheese with me to microwave at lunch. I also perfected the art of making sandwiches with grocery store meat and cheese from home but with slightly-less-fresh bagels from the deli. A lot of these habits stuck with me even when I was a lawyer — I kept a 6-can mini-fridge (affiliate link) in my office so I could have yogurts, Diet Cokes, deli meat and cheese on hand… and I knew more than a few lawyers who kept a jumbo jar of peanut butter along with some crackers to “eat something quickly” if they really had no time to eat.  (Also great if you need to avoid getting hangry at work!)

In terms of restaurants and other food spending, that is generally easier for me to track and curb — after all, it’s easy to avoid the fanciest restaurants when you’re making plans, and you can even make intelligent decisions when looking at the menu, like getting the $ 16 pasta dish (and taking some home for later if it’s too many calories for you at that moment) versus getting the $ 34 fish dish and not having any leftovers.

How about you, readers — how do you save money on food? Do you feel like it’s harder to save money on food if you’re working long hours, or easier? After all, you may not be buying many groceries for your home fridge — but you may feel like you’re spending a ton on lunches or convenience foods.

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Head for the Black Hills: tales of Crazy Horse and Custer in South Dakota

The carving of the Crazy Horse statue is a story in itself but then insurgent tales and mountain sculptures have helped shape this midwest state

It takes a few seconds for the statue of Crazy Horse to come into focus, which is surprising given that it’s being carved out of a 641ft-high stone outcrop. From a distance it looks like just another rocky peak silhouetted against the cloudless South Dakota sky. But get closer and its form and detail become apparent: an unyielding face, a raised arm, a pointing finger, all recreated on a colossal scale.

Continue reading…
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Tales from the Wallet: What Was Your Best Money Decision This Year?

best money decision this yearWhat was your best money decision this year — and what was your worst? We’ve nearing the end of the year so I thought it might be a fun discussion, especially since there’s still time to make a great money decision or correct a bad one. Bonus question: what’s your biggest financial goal for 2019?

Psst: here’s our old advice on end of year financial steps if you’re wondering what you can do — as well as how to set financial goals for the year

For my $ .02…

Probably my best money decision has been my focus this year on automated savings and investments — I got a lot buttoned down, and feel good about that. I still use Ally for most short-term savings (the ones I want to keep in cash or CDs), but saw one comment yesterday that concerned me about Ally, so I’d love to hear what other banks you guys are using! Almost all of my long-term savings and investments are with Schwab and Vanguard, and short-short term (basically checking) is through Chase.

My worst money decision is just how loosey-goosey I’ve let my spending become. I tend to stress shop (and stress eat, and stress drink) and I really need to reign it in! It’s also kind of hard to keep track of how much I’ve actually spent because I return a ton of what I buy. I’m pondering setting up a gift card or something with a set amount of cash and using that for all online spending next year — has anyone done that? (Edited to add: I just bought myself a $ 500 gift card at Nordstrom to test it out since Nordstrom probably represents 80% of my shopping — I’ll report back on how that works out.)

My goal for 2019: The biggest money decision I’ll make in 2019 will probably be made this month, as I choose our health insurance for next year, so my goal for 2019 is to choose intelligently! I haaaaate health insurance with a fiery passion. (Here are some of our previous open enrollment tips…)

How about you guys — what was your best money decision of 2018? Worst money decision of 2018? Any early goals for 2019?

Stock photo credit: Stencil.

 

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