Believe it or not, money actually can buy you happiness — to an extent.
People with higher incomes tend to report higher life satisfaction than those with lower incomes, no matter how high their incomes go, according to a new study written by economists Betsy Stevenson and Justin Wolfers from the University of Michigan.
“The relationship between well-being and income … does not diminish as incomes rise. If there is a satiation point, we are yet to reach it,” the researchers wrote, according to U.S. News.
But two researchers from Princeton University found in 2010 that money makes people’s lives happier — until they make $75,000, according to Inc., which reported on the research. After making $75,000, people reach a ceiling where they can’t buy anything else that would contribute to their well-being, researchers Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton found.
“Perhaps $75,000 is a threshold beyond which further increases in income no longer improve individuals’ ability to do what matters most to their emotional well-being, such as spending time with people they like, avoiding pain and disease, and enjoying leisure,” Kahneman and Deaton wrote, according to Inc.
Money doesn’t buy all happiness, though. Researchers have said the most influential factor of one’s happiness is how they were raised as a child. A study from the London School of Economics found that a child’s emotional health — how happy they are or their general well-being — is a bigger indicator of their happiness as an adult than financial success later in life or even educational success during their youth. A person’s childhood shapes how they view the rest of their life, which can impact what makes them happy when they’re older.
“It’s time we admitted that there’s more to life than money and it’s time we focused not just on GDP but on GWB — general well-being,” said David Cameron to The Guardian.
Emotional well-being can come in a number of ways, especially when you’re surrounded by family, friends and communities that will help you. Here are five ways you can find happiness without spending too much money.
Embrace family game night
It won’t cost you too much to pick up a board game. In fact, you may already have some of the classics stowed away in your closet. Regardless, family game night is another activity for you and your family to find happier life satisfaction without breaking the bank.
Experts told CBC News that family game night can keep your evening fun and engaging. And it can teach children lessons that’ll increase their happiness and success.
Game night can help make your child a better student, too, according to The Atlantic’s Jessica Lahey. Board games help children think outside the box, which will help them in class, Lahey wrote. Students who play games at home with the family also learn how to set goals for themselves, which they later apply in the classroom, according to Lahey.
There are also a smattering of lessons you and your children can learn from board games that will make you happier. I wrote in January how board games can help you better manage your money, find success and help you develop a better understanding of what you need to do to get ahead.
Text, message and Snapchat your family
Yes, you’ll have to pay for the smartphone and the data plan, but some screen time with the family can make you happier, and it can make your family relationships better, according to new research.
Family members who text, tweet or “snap” each other report having better relationships and happier life satisfaction than those who don’t communicate through messaging apps, according to a study from the University of Kansas, cited by CTV News. In fact, people’s relationship satisfaction climbs with each new smart device or app used, the study found.
“A lot of parents might resist new technologies. They don’t see the point in them, or they seem like a lot of trouble,” doctoral student Jennifer Schon told CTV News. “But this study shows while it might take some work and learning, it would be worth it in the end if you are trying to have a good relationship with your adult child.”
Consider a religion, faith or belief system
Religious people tend to be happier than nonreligious people, according to a 2014 study from the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture. The study found those who attend a weekly religious service are twice as likely to be “very happy” as those who never attend a service, Breitbart reported.
But religious attendance isn’t the only way religion makes people happier. Breitbart reported that people who see themselves as religious or those who have a religious affiliation also have higher levels of happiness.
The study didn’t specify why this is, but Breitbart reported that it might be because religious communities help people maintain their happiness because religious people are more likely to participate in their community. Communities also offer social support systems that keep people happier, Breitbart reported.
Consider your office
We spend a lot of time at our jobs. VoxEU reported that more than one-third of Americans spend about 45 hours a week at the office, which can be more time than they spend at home.
Kelsey Dallas of Deseret News National reported that offices tend to be like a second home for many Americans, and the people we work with are like a second family. Oftentimes people who work with others that are more like them, or who they get along with, have a higher life satisfaction.
So for a happier life, make sure you choose the right office.
What office should you seek out? A green one might do. A new study from U.K. researchers found those who work in a green office — or, an office surrounded and filled with plants and vegetation — report being happier with their lives than those who don’t. In fact, those who work in green offices have a 15 percent higher productivity than those in offices without foliage, Reuters reported.
“Whatever the environment is generally speaking, it’s a better environment if it’s enriched, and plants are a very cost-effective way of enriching your space,” Craig Knight of the University of Exeter told Reuters.
You may want to be wary of the open-office format. Quartz’ Anna Codrea-Rado reported in May 2013 that open offices tend to be less productive. Employees from open offices tend to call out sick more often and report more complaints about noisy environments.
You’ll find happiness with a veil and a tuxedo. The National Bureau of Economic Research released a study earlier this year that found married couples are happier than those who remain single. Those in a marriage are happier since couples will unite and tackle the stresses of life together, lessening the burden that a single person may face, the research found.
The Washington Free Beacon also looked at the study and reported that married couples see less of a drop in life satisfaction later in life, too. Most people see a drop in happiness around middle age, but married couple see less of a dip because couples help make each other happier during middle age, the Beacon reported.
Other research has found that a woman’s happiness in a marriage can make married couples’ lives better. A study from Rutgers University found couples who reported having happier wives were also more satisfied with their marriage and life overall.“The quality of a marriage is important because it provides a buffer against the health-depleting effects of later life stressors and helps couples manage difficult decisions regarding health and medical decision-making,” said Deborah Carr, one of the researchers involved with the study.