How much money do you need to be happy in South Africa?

A new survey finds that South African consumers continue to feel the pinch as the sluggish economy and rising prices erode their ability to put away away enough money.

The latest Old Mutual Savings & Investment Monitor survey tracks shifts in the financial attitudes and behaviour of South Africa’s working metropolitan population.

The report is based on 1,000 household interviews among working South Africans living in major metropolitan areas, and examines levels of savings and investment as well as their attitude to finances in general and savings in particular.

Respondents were asked to rate their level of agreement with a series of statements about their attitude to finances and life general. Job security remains extremely important but there is an increasing trend of those who would rather be their own boss, the survey found.

“It may well be that in the face of all the retrenchments that people see around them, that there is a growing realisation that working for somebody else is not necessarily any more secure than working for oneself,” Old Mutual said.

The financial services group also pointed to an increased recognition of money issues being a major stress point in the household.

In the table below, respondents within various earnings brackets were asked a series of questions relating to finance, their work and general state of living.

A 2018 report published by Purdue and University of Virginia researchers, found that people are satisfied at $95,000 (R1,375,894)  – but also that emotional well-being was satiated at between $60,000 (R869,000) and $75,000 (R1,086,232).

“However, there is substantial variation across world regions, with satiation occurring later in wealthier regions. We also find that in certain parts of the world, incomes beyond satiation are associated with lower (levels of happiness),” the researchers said.

Specifically, earning too much money can affect your happiness, due to a higher workload, and less free time, the study said.

It suggested that once a person’s basic needs are met, it could lead to increased competitiveness, with a weighted focus on material gain and social status.

For overall happiness, the highest satiation points seemed to form two general clusters.

The first was made up of regions with high satiation points. These included most ‘wealthy’ nations. The second cluster had significantly lower satiation points, comprising typically ‘poorer’ nations.

The research suggested that a South African earning more than R1 million a year (the global average happiness level), might not be any happier than someone earning $40,000 (R580,000) – the regional happiness level.


Read: Here’s how many South Africans could survive a R10,000 financial emergency

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How much money do you need to be happy in South Africa?