You’ve probably heard a $75,000 salary is what you need to be Happy. That’s incorrect. $75,000 is what you need to be Happy if you’re silly and spendy. Here’s evidence of someone Happy at $36,000. Hell, here’s evidence of an Entire Family living on $25,330. For the purposes of today’s article though, I’m pinning Happiness at $36,500, or $100/day. Think of each day of Happiness as one unit of Happiness, and each unit is $100.
In an effort to keep myself honest, I have a confession to make: My jobs make me less than $36,500/year. I have other methods of income, and I get a lot of stuff for free, but the cash reality of my situation is I’m very average. To many, I’d be considered poor. My counterargument is I work way less and am arguably happier, and I’m staying afloat, so I’m just fine. Consider this evidence of another person happy on < $36,500. I don’t even feel as though I’m making sacrifices. I eat at restaurants nearly every day, currently have 30 litres of beer in my fridge, see the latest movies, and I travel enough that I can’t even remember all the places I’ve been. I can’t even think of anything else I’d want! I don’t want anything shiny, and a huge house would just mean more shit to clean. Any more travel would be exhausting because I’m a homebody, AND I’VE ALREADY BEEN TO TEN COUNTRIES! The last thing I want is unbridled consumerism. This article makes me sick. Andy has a Lamborghini Huracán and moans about not being able to fit his backpack and textbooks in it. After a certain level of spendiness, you apparently become an idiot!
Human minds adapt easily to any situation. Get used to living on less and you’ll be happy living on less. I’ve turned it into a game. Since I work only 30 hours a week (but don’t need to), I have plenty of time to brainstorm ways to save money. That’s one of the reasons this blog exists! On the flip side, get used to spending like a maniac and no amount of Hugo Boss tees or Gucci bags will be enough to satisfy you. Once you raise the bar for what makes you Happy, you’ll be miserable the moment you have to eat at Olive Garden instead of Le Crocodile. Is that any way to live?
Now you know that $36,500 is your Happiness Number, here’s what you should do if you make more: INVEST. Occasional splurging is fine, but don’t make a habit of it. Your goal is now to reach your Retirement Number, which is your Annual Expenses times 25. Once you reach that, you should be able to reliably make 5% each year from your investments, and withdraw 4% to finance your lifestyle. Your nest egg keeps growing, and you’ll have enough to live on FOREVER. After that, you’ll learn that Happiness isn’t tied to Money after $100/day. You’ll realize Happiness is actually more like “Money + Time + Freedom”. Come to think of it, that may be why I’m super stoked about life, even as a poor kid. Most of my work hours are optional, which translates to Time and Freedom whenever I want. Huh.
A final note: You can keep “investing” after you reach your Retirement Number. Invest in nonmaterial things that bring you joy. Donate to a charity you care about, put money back into your community, give young entrepreneurs a leg up. You don’t need a Lamborghini Huracán, and let’s face it, you wouldn’t know how to drive it anyway. Andy certainly doesn’t. He can’t even figure out what to do with his laundry.
What do you think? Can YOU get by on $100/day?