How much money do you need to be financially happy? A quick way to figure out your freedom number.
How much is enough, to be happy?

How much money do you need to be financially happy? A quick way to figure out your freedom number.

How much is enough, to be happy? We might find ourselves asking this question every day, week, month, year. How much food, water or exercise? If you’re a parent, it will probably revolve around sleep. I think 8 hours is close to a minimum, but my kids think it’s more like 3-4 broken hours.

The big
question many of us have is how much money is enough. Enough for what though? To
do whatever we want. To go to wherever we want. To give up / never work again. And
ultimately to retire.

I am just reading at a great book – well so far so good – How much is enough? Money and the good life. By Edward Skidelsky and Robert Skidelsky. The key point they make is enough for a good experience.

Which means we just need to define
what a good life is. The book looks at the five areas of health,

Leisure, Relationships, Security and
Harmony with nature. But it doesn’t specifically mention how much money is
enough for these things.

But I guess if you don’t know how
much is enough, then it will never be enough.

How much money do you need
to be financially free/independent?

Financial independence means having
enough money to cover all your basics needs and a little bit more—financially
free means you have everything covered up to your desired lifestyle.

If you have ever heard of the FIRE
movement, financial independence retire early. They mention the 4% rule of
thumb as a key indicator of how much might be enough.

The 4% rule

The 4% rule of thumb comes from several
studies which state that if you withdraw 4% from your investments in the first
year and then adjust for inflation your pot of money should last for 30+ years.
Again, this depends on the size of your pot of money, but the simple math’s
might look like this.

What’s a
withdrawal rate?

It’s the
amount of money that you can take out of your fund without it ever running out.
If you withdraw too little, you’ll end up with loads of money on your death bed.
If you withdraw too much, you have the worst-case scenario of running out of
money long before you run out of life. If you get it just right, you’ll have
enough money right to the end, and maybe some leftover to give to friends,
families or good causes.

A safe
withdrawal rate is a rate that lets you live a comfortable life right to the
end in the style that you want.

Warning some math’s coming.

The 4% rule of thumb often confused with the 25X rule
(below) is used to estimate how much you can withdraw from your portfolio to in
theory never run out of money. So if you had £1million across your portfolio of
investments, you could withdraw 4% which would = £40k but still expect this portfolio
to grow by at least 4% thereby never or nearly never running out of money.

The 25x times rule. This number helps you identify how
much you might need across your accounts to be financially independent or
retire. Let’s say you spend £40k per year so you would need a nest egg of
around £1million. £40k x 25 = £1million. And then you withdraw 4% each year

You can figure out your financial
independence number by figuring out what you spend a year and X by 25. You may
also be able to see here that the less money you spend, the less money you need
to amas to be financially independent.  

Therefore, it’s crucial knowing how
much you spend. Without this, you may never know how much is enough, just that
you keep wanting more. And more and more means you might have to work for money
forever. I’m not anti-work; I’m anti-work for money forever because you must. Surely
there will come a time when you can’t or don’t want to work for money anymore!

How accurate are these figures,
I hear you say?

Well as with everything that depends
on a few things within, but also outside of your control.

There is
some discussion now amongst financial experts that the 4% rule is now too
punchy and a 3% or  3.5% withdrawal rate
is a safer bet. Either way, whether it’s the 4% or 3.5% rule of thumb it does
give you a rough estimate of what you might need to live a financially
comfortable life with enough money.  

The things that are outside
your control

Inflation: right now, in early 2020,
inflation is at a significant low at 1.9%. However, it has been much higher in
the early 1970s at 25% and in the early 1980s around 22%. Those types of highs
would have been painful to deal with when buying even day to day goods. With
inflation so low does it have anywhere else to go but up? No one knows.  

What’s also outside
of your control is the returns you get but what is inside your control is how
much you put in and what fees you pay. This is why it’s essential to be clear
on the types of risk you’re willing to take, the return you need and what it
costs you every year in fees.

What the
markets do going up or going down what the government of the day does with
interest rates, taxes or spending plans.

everyone else does whether they save, invest or not, or they spend all their
money. A key challenge is how we view our friends or colleagues highlight reels
through social media of what fabulous lives they’re living. Which may make us
want to compete with them or at least feel that we’re living like they are.

What’s inside your control

But you can try and control your behaviour
and habits
. You can manage your rate of inflation. How expensive you are
becoming to live with. Better and or more expensive food, nights out, increasing
star holidays etc. All slowing edging upwards and upwards.

How you
react to the daily and constant onslaught of adverts and psychological warfare compelling
you to spend money on things you may or may not need or even want but are just
drawn to buying. How you view and react to advertising will play a big part in
how much of your money you get to keep and how much money you give away.  

What you’re invested in: The 4% rule assumes getting a 4%
and above return on your investments over the longterm. This may or may not be
possible in the near or distant future. But it also depends on what your money
is invested in. If you are hyper-cautious and have most of your wealth in low
returning assets, generally bonds and cash, then you are unlikely to get the
return you need to sustain your withdrawals.

How long do you intend to live?

Now, this is
something you need to be really accurate on exactly how long do you intend to

Of course,
no one knows the answer to this, but you can play a significant part in
ensuring that overall your life is a healthy one.

You can eat
well, not too much of this not too much of that plenty of greens etc. you can
drink well plenty of water and appropriate smoothies. You can sleep well, making
sure that you get enough hours to recharge yourself.

You can
avoid the bad stuff like smoking, and processed foods process drinks drugs etc.
just say no or not very often.

You can
exercise regularly, whether that be a sports hobby or just general walking
about all of these things can help keep you in good condition.

If you did
all of these good things, then there’s a reasonable chance you would have a long
healthy life minus getting hit by a bus or a freak yachting accident.

So if you
expect to live longer, then it’s going to be very important that you have your
finances set up for that long life.

The overall
trend is though that we are all living longer and longer. It’s probably much
better to live a longer life if you are in good health and have enough money to
live in a dignified uncomfortable way.

How much money is enough to
be happy?

Just as we can
train ourselves not to overeat, we should be able to train ourselves not to
spend too much or to want too much. Will you be satisfied with having
everything you want or wanting very little but having and loving that?

Money seems
to be the one thing you can never have enough of. You can have enough food. You
can have enough clothes, but it seems we can ever have enough money. This is
probably because we can never seem to have everything we want. For most of us,
we can get everything we need, but there’s very few of us that can get
everything we want. This can lead us to endlessly consume with no end in sight.

You only practically need so many coats, so many shoes, so many houses to live in. But because we are continually being told we don’t have enough or somebody has more than us we keep wanting more and more. How much is enough needs to be worked out by each person. But this is going to require massive self-discipline to know when we have had enough. Just like after an enormous cake ice cream and strawberries you might say I feel sick I’ve had enough will we have the insight and self-discipline to say I have enough!.

Enough money
to be happy would look something like you being able to live in a style and
location which met your needs that were reasonable and let you live in a
comfortable and dignified way.  This, of
course, maybe extremely subjective, and we need everybody to figure out at what
point they had reached there enough. Because once each of us has figured out
are enough, we will be free to enjoy our lives much more and constantly chasing
the next thing.

Is enough
money to be happy a figure or an attitude? Once we have the basics of food
water shelter medical needs, ability to engage with friends families and
hobbies, occasional luxury’s or niceties that might be enough for most of us.

At what point does money not make you happier?

There are several studies which show that an income of above £68,000 is where people reach a fairly happy or satisfactory level of income. I guess that means they can buy most of the things they need to go on the types of Holidays they like living the size of the house they want. Beyond this studies have shown there is a little additional happiness created.

You can’t live in more than one large house at a time, and you can’t go on more than one luxury holiday at a time. I guess you can have more than one massive walk-in wardrobe, but the more clothes you have, the more and more choices you are bombarded with that are of little consequence, i.e. whether it’s the red or blue shirt.

Luxuries are by definition not a need but a want. And you should never priorities luxuries over safely securing your needs.

Spending your money on things that bring you joy.

When you are not spending on things that give you lasting happiness, you may find very limited satisfaction in what you spend your money on. In fact, you will probably want a new or different thing very soon.  I’m not talking about food here as we need that every day – so have to keep buying it.  But things that you buy that are beyond what you need and more like what you want.

Spending money on things, people and places that can be classed as experiences are often the keys to happiness. Experiences can leave you with a lasting memory, photos that spark the feelings of that day, those people, that place. This is where we can find lasting happiness form what we spend our money on.

If you can satisfy your needs you will be doing pretty well, materially and psychologically. However, if you want to satisfy your wants then you are probably going to be working and unhappy forever. You are likely to always want more and therefore need to earn more and more money to pay for it.

Drop me a line if you would like to figure out how much money might be enough for you.

What do you think you need to have a good life?

Financial coaching

As a financial coach, I can help you to think about how to manage your money for a stress-free life and what your options for budgeting, saving and investing might be.

Through this education and guidance process, you will be able to make informed choices for yourself and start taking action towards your Financially Happy life now before it becomes even more painful and expensive.

I won’t be recommending specific products or trying to sell any. If you need specific debt or product advice, then a financial advisor might be your best call.

Contact me here for a free chat about what options you might have for making money work for you.


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