Man throwing money and hundred dollar bills into the air

A man throwing money (© deagreez -

NEW YORK — Who says money can’t buy happiness? More than half of Americans (54%) agree buying loved ones something they’ve wanted for a long time is their happiest purchase.

A survey of 2,000 adults between 18 and 55 discovered the definition of happiness hasn’t changed much since pre-pandemic times. Forty-five percent say that before 2019, they associated joy with having free time to spend with friends and family, and a similar amount (46%) continues to do so.

However, Gen Zers experienced a shift in priorities, as more of them associate happiness with their loved ones being healthy now than they did before the pandemic began (45% vs. 33%).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Happy Money for National Financial Awareness Day, the survey found that, overall, more than half the poll (55%) are outsourcing some of their chores to open up their schedules for friends or family.

Over the past three years, people have hired a cleaning service (56%), ordered groceries instead of shopping in-store (54%), moved closer to work to reduce their commute (52%), and ordered takeout instead of cooking (48%), all in the name of enjoying more time with loved ones.

With cooking taking up an average of 90 minutes each day, that’s a potential 1,095 hours gained per year. That may be why nearly two-thirds (65%) believe money can buy happiness.

A new home is where the heart is

Despite the ups and downs of the current housing market, purchasing an apartment or house (52%) was the top milestone people associated with their happiness journey, followed by paying for their child’s education (48%), and buying the perfect gift for a friend or loved one (45%).

When it comes to smaller, recurring purchases, the average person spends about $53 each week on things or experiences that bring them joy.

If there were a recipe for happiness that included purchasable items, a monthly cleaning service for a house or yard (41%) and a month-long family vacation (40%), were preferred “ingredients” over a spa day (29%) or a book club subscription (28%).

People also shared some of their life’s happiest buys, including “buying new furniture,” “living abroad,” “paying off my loans,” and “finally going on a vacation I’ve always wanted.”

“One of the keys to the money and happiness equation is figuring out how to use money as a tool – whether you have a little or a lot of it,” says Dr. Chris Courtney, vice president of science at Happy Money, in a statement. “And given the chaotic macroeconomic environment, it’s an opportunity to rethink old spending habits and make a shift toward spending money on what is truly essential to our well-being.”

Overall, 67 percent are happy at the moment

However, while only 29 percent describe themselves as “very happy,” 45 percent of these respondents think it will take one or a few weeks for them to reach that level.

As for purchases that will make them happy in the future, 59 percent say paying for their kids’ schooling will put a smile on their face, while 56 percent look forward to the joy home remodeling brings.

“As people look at their financial pictures and evaluate their spending, it is also an opportunity to consider what financial products they’re using,” says Dr. Courtney. “People tend only to associate loans with burdensome debt, but the right loan can actually help pay off your credit card and boost your credit score at the same time.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans between 18 and 55 was commissioned by Happy Money between Aug. 10 and Aug. 17, 2022. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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