What’s The Cost of Happiness?

Be HappyWhat is the price of happiness?

It just went up! When I got to the office the other day and fired up my trusty company issued computer there was an article in my lotus notes folder that caught my eye.  It was about the price of happiness and was written by a fellow Certified Financial Planner.

I knew where the article was headed before I even started reading it. I knew it would focus happiness on “having things”.  I have been a Certified Financial Planner for many years.  I have been a Christian for many more years.  I value my credentials as a Christian more than the Financial Planner credentials.

So the article went on to say “The Jones’s are alive and well, and keeping up with them just got more expensive.”[1] The price of happiness just went up.

This is where the article really strikes a nerve.  It went on to say, “According to a 13-country survey by Skandia International, the global average income needed to be really happy is just under $162,000, compared to the mere $75,000 suggested by a Princeton study just a few years ago.

Ahha, so you say that in order to be happy, I mean “really happy” you need to have an annual income of $162,000.  Wow!  What do you think of that?  Hear ye, hear ye, all you peons that have incomes under $162,000!  You my friends are simply unhappy and will remain so until you get that income up there.  Happiness lies in having all that money you know. Of course this guy went on to say that it also depends on where you live and that if you live in Germany you can be happy earning a measly $85,781 per year.  If you live in Dubai however, you are unhappy if you have an income less that $276,150.  He often calls these posted numbers as “happiness incomes”. 

What a sad sign this is! I am not surprised to see it though.  I am accustomed to seeing this worldly and paganistic thought pattern that seems to prevail in the industry in which I have been working for several decades.  I have often referred to it as the “shark tank” or “snake pit”.  It is obvious from the start this is coming direct from the pit and there is a need to look to the Word of God and the “Parables of Christ”.  That is where the real answers are.

Warning! Warning!  This author says it’s not just some interesting statistics he is looking at but we need to look out because this is might well be a warning sign for many Financial Advisors.

It gets more succinct as he tells us, “the amount of income needed to feel “really happy” tends to track the per capita GDP, lending credence to the idea that the amount of income needed to be happy is not an absolute number, but a relative number compared to those around us.”  He is indicating here that if the person living next to us is wealthy and we are a bit under the average wealth on our street we are unhappy and until we match the income and assets of our neighbor we will continue to be unhappy.  This is the covetousness that Jesus Christ warned us about so many times.  It is also the last one of 10 commandments, “THOU SHALT NOT COVET thy neighbours’s house, THOU SHALT NOT COVET thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s” (Exodus 20:17).

So he says this can lead to unrealistic expectations of their retirement lifestyle with risks to both the client and the advisor. The client will have unsustainable spending or frustration over not being able to live a lifestyle comparable to their friends or peers creating unhappiness.  Now that is the first thing I agree with.  It is correct they will have unrealistic expectations.  Anyone that puts the material price on happiness is unreasonable and mislead.  I know that money makes life easy for people but I also know lots of unhappy millionaires.  Remember the Lord telling us how hard it is for a rich man to get to heaven, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Next came a warning that for the advisor, the risk is in being blamed for their client’s financial failure.  That is not likely to happen with me.  I always leave the client with reasonable expectations and I always share my personal values with my clients.  My suggesting would be for advisors to check their values or maybe to get some.

To his credit this guy did go on to talk about dong comprehensive planning and identifying exactly what it is that will make the client happy.  He reminded us to be working through a formalized process of identifying and documenting our client’s life goals to hopefully keep them from pursuing the shiny new toys that can distract them from their ultimate goals.

However,

No one will have happiness while being lured into the SIN OF COVETOUSNESS, which is forbidden by the 10th Commandment. To break this commandment will set us up for more trouble because it is the mother sin that breaks all the commandments. The 10th commandment embraces all the other commandments because the breach of each one grows out of the heart of covetousness that every man and woman possesses by nature.

Continued….  Click here to go to the conclusion.

Have a Godly day,

“The Tubthumper”



[1] Keith J. Weber, CFP®, CPRC, is a speaker, author and founder of Weber Consulting Group, LLC.

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