Men, women, and generations disagree on how much money will buy happiness

Nov 27, 2023, 5:00 PM

A man counts U.S. $100 bills at the craft and art market in Lagos, Nigeria, on Wednesday, Aug. 16, ...

FILE: A man counts U.S. $100 bills at the craft and art market in Lagos, Nigeria, on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. A new survey shows vast differences between men and women, and the various generations, when it comes to how much money it takes to be happy. (Sunday Alamba/ Associated Press)

(Sunday Alamba/ Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — What amount of money can bring you happiness? A financial expert gives some surprising insights.

When it comes to salary, Americans say they need $284,167 per year to be happy. Broken down by gender, men estimate the target is more like $381,000, while women say the target is $183,000.

There’s an even larger gap between generations. Millennials put their annual desired earnings at $525,000, Gen Z wants $128,000, Gen X will take $130,000, and Boomers want to make $124,000 per year, according to a survey by

In Utah, the average salary is $48,501 or $23 an hour, according to ZipRecruiter.

Why the huge disconnect? 

“[Millennials] may not quite have a concept of what it takes to run a household fully,” DMBA Certified Financial Planner Shane Stewart told KSL NewsRadio.


“They also are thinking housing, ‘I’ve got to buy a big house.’ They’re thinking of the current situation rather than over decades,” Stewart said. “I am not surprised by that … What kinds of jobs are out there for every millennial to make 500,000 a year?”

Why are men’s expectations higher than women’s?

As a financial planner who consults with couples, Stewart said men feel pressure to be the primary breadwinner.

“Whether this sounds sexist or not, men are hardwired to be the breadwinner. They feel like that’s their duty … men think they have to be the primary breadwinner,  and there’s probably some truth to that.”

Stewart said the pressure men supposedly feel is probably “self-imposed,” but he added the difference in financial expectations between men and women is surprising.

How much money buys happiness?

Stewart cited a 2010 study by Nobel Prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton that concluded happiness reaches an upper limit at $75,000 a year, but higher than that, more money has little effect on happiness.

Because of inflation, Stewart said that upper limit today is likely about $100,000.

Yet new findings suggest that, for most people, happiness does improve with higher earnings — up to $500,000 a year as reported by CBS News.

But whatever your dollar figure is, “the focus on money is a dangerous, slippery slope. You can be happy with very little as long as you don’t tie it to the money and tie it to the law of sufficiency: How much do I have to keep me going and is it sufficient for my needs?” Stewart said.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Business + Economy

Lake Powell as seen from Navajo Mountain. The Navajo Nation is asking why their request for funding...

Eric Cabrera

Navajo Nation left wondering why funding continually denied

The Navajo Nation is asking why their request for funding for a road has been denied for the last 15 years.

2 hours ago

Now hiring sign...

PAUL WISEMAN AP Economics Writer

US economy grew solid 3.2% in fourth quarter, a slight downgrade from government’s initial estimate

Far from stumbling, the economy grew 2.5% for all of 2023, topping the 1.9% growth in 2022.

5 hours ago

baby feet, utah postpartum retreat helps new moms...

Britt Johnson

Utah company aims to help postpartum moms with special retreats

The founder of Utah Postpartum Retreat said she thinks new moms are at high risk for developing postpartum mood disorders because they lack support.

6 hours ago

Power lines are pictured in utah, utah has lower electricity bill than other states...

Tammy Kikuchi

Study shows Utahns pay cheapest electricity bills in the country

Utah residents are paying less for power than any other state. Rocky Mountain Power says they work hard to keep it that way.

18 hours ago

Welcome to Tooele sign is pictured on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020.A Child was taken to a nearby Hospita...

Britt Johnson

Tooele Valley Airport to get some major updates

A new master plan for the Tooele Valley Airport will be shared with the public this week.

19 hours ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks on student loan debt forgiveness, in the Roosevelt Room of the Wh...


Biden says too many Americans are saddled with school debt as he cancels federal loans for 153,000

The first round of forgiveness from the SAVE plan will clear will help with $1.2 billion in student loans.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Men, women, and generations disagree on how much money will buy happiness