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How Much Money You Need to Feel "Comfortable" in Life, Says New Study 

Money can buy happiness to a certain point. But how much do you need to feel good about life?
FACT CHECKED BY Alex Daniel
Female hand putting money into piggy bank and counting on calculator closeup

One study famously calculated that you need to earn at least $75,000 every year in order to be happy. More recently, a survey from Purdue University changed the figure to $95,000/year for life satisfaction, while noting that you need $60,000 to $75,000/year for emotional wellbeing. But a new survey looked at how much money you need to have in your wallet to feel "comfortable" in life.

After all, money can buy a lot of shiny, expensive toys, but beyond that, the right amount of funds can also guarantee a degree of certainty and comfort in life. No one wants the added stresses of not being able to provide for themselves and their loved ones. So, how many zeros would you need to see in your bank account to feel truly financially comfortable?

Charles Schwab asked 1,000 Americans that very question for its 2021 Modern Wealth Survey. Notably, this year's average answer was significantly lower than in year's past. Read on to see how much money you need to feel financially comfortable in life. And for more news that can affect your mental health, don't miss the Surprising Habits That Are Rapidly Aging Your Body, Say Experts.

1

Who needs to be a millionaire?

United States bills from side angle, one dollar and twenty dollar bills
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When most people think about having tons of money, the word "millionaire" immediately comes to mind. According to the survey, however, all one needs is a much more modest (by comparison) $624,000 net worth to be dubbed "financially comfortable." For comparison's sake, last year's average was $934,000.

It's highly likely, if not virtually guaranteed, the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on this year-over-year change. Over half of surveyed Americans (53%) admitted that the coronavirus had been detrimental to their personal finances in 2020. Within that group, a full 20% even lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

2

Net worth, explained

Woiman sitting at the table worrying about the money.
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How exactly is someone's net worth calculated? It isn't as simple as taking a peek at their bank account. Net worth casts a wide financial net, accounting for the full spectrum of an individual's finances, debts, loans, and even possessions. In other words, all assets (both positive and negative) are taken into account. If you'd like to quickly estimate your own net worth, take a moment and add up all of your bank accounts (checking, savings), investments (stocks, IRA, crypto), and the value of any owned cars, properties, etc. Then, take that number and subtract from it any outstanding loans or debts in your name (mortgages, student loans).

3

But remember: Money isn't everything

Female hand putting money into piggy bank and counting on calculator closeup
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At the risk of sounding like a cliché, last year changed everything. We've all had to re-evaluate what's important in the wake of COVID-19, and many Americans' responses to this survey reflected that. Nobody is going to pass up $624,000, but at the same time, 68% of respondents say their priorities have changed since 2019. A full 69% place more importance on their mental health, and another 57% say the relationships in their life trump everything else.

4

Demographic differences

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Of course, what one person considers enough money for financial stability may not gel with someone else. Depending on age and gender, a number of trends emerged in the survey results. For instance, the average male respondent considers $864,000 enough for some stability, while $325,000 is enough for the average female survey participant.

Generational differences were apparent as well. Baby boomers (ages 56-74) consider $609,000 enough to be comfortable, while millennials (ages 24-39) need a little more ($618,000). Meanwhile, those belonging to generation x (ages 40-55) would only feel financially secure if they have $717,000. And for some great ways to improve your mental health, don't miss these Secret Celeb Self-Care Tricks That Totally Work!

John Anderer
John Anderer is a writer who specializes in science, health, and lifestyle topics. Read more
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