Want to Be Happy in Idaho? This is the Minimum Salary You Need to Make
You’ve heard both expressions before. “Money can’t buy happiness” and “More money, more problems.” Somewhere between those two adages is where you’ll find the truth.
At least that’s what Purdue University was hoping to find when asking the question “Does happiness rise indefinitely with income or is there a point at which higher incomes no longer lead to greater well-being?” While researching the answer to that question, they determined that nationwide, there is a very specific salary you need to earn to be truly happy.
That base number? $105,000 BUT that's the national average. Because of the cost of living, it varies from state to state. (Keep reading to find out what it is for Idaho.) The study explains they arrived at that number by looking at how much it would take for people to be satisfied based on two factors: life evaluation and emotional well-being.
What is Life Evaluation?
PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America,) live evaluation is “thoughts that people have about their life when they think about it.” It’s most commonly measured by using something called the “Cantril Ladder,” visually represented by 10 steps. People are asked where they feel their life is at, with “Step 1” being the worst life possible for you and “Step 10” being the best life possible for you.
When Gallup asks this question, they group those who say four or below into the “suffering” category. Many folks who are “suffering” often say they’re lacking certain necessities like food, shelter, and access to health care. They also report more feelings of pain, stress and sadness.
Those choosing “Steps Five and Six” for either their current life or perceived future are said to be struggling. Gallup explains these respondents report higher stress levels and take double the sick days of those who are “thriving.”
The thriving category includes those who are at least on “Step 7” presently and see themselves climbing over the next five years. They report more happiness and enjoyment in life.
To be solidly in the “thriving category,” the Purdue study estimates that you need to make at least $95K.
What is Emotional Well-Being?
The National Institutes of Health defines emotional wellness as “the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times.” In their “Emotional Wellness Toolkit” they have a checklist with six action items to improve your emotional well-being. Some of those tips include building resilience by taking time for yourself each day (easier to do if you’re not working three jobs to keep the lights on,) reducing stress and getting quality sleep.
In order to have good emotional well-being, Purdue’s study estimates it takes at least $60,000 and it peaks at $75,000. It makes sense when you consider that higher earnings are usually accompanied by a heavier workload, taking away from things like “me time” and sleep.
So: $95,000 + $60,000 = $105,000 (Purdue’s estimated salary to be happy.)
Price of Happiness in the Pacific Northwest
The financial site, Go Banking Rates, wanted to take it a step further to see how that number would vary from state to state. Some have much higher costs of living than others, so they adjusted the $105,000 based on the state’s cost-of-living index. After crunching the numbers, this is how much they determined you need to make in Idaho and its neighboring states in the Pacific and Mountain regions of the US.
We’ve also included the figures that Go Banking Rates says would be a living wage in each state. They define a living wage as “the income you need to cover necessary and discretionary expenses while still contributing to savings .”
Finally, you’ll see the annual earnings in each state for year-round, full-time workers according to the United States Census Bureau data.
It’s important to remember that happiness means something different to everyone. This is meant to capture a wide picture of what it looks like. Some people do well with less. Some do better with more.