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60 second guide to the life money balance

Dayana Yochim
April 22, 2008

For status reports on wealth, we ask an economist. For check-ups on our mental well-being, we see a shrink. And for an answer to that $64,000 question -- "How much money do I need to be happy?" -- we turn to behavioral economists, who confirm what we already know: Surprise! Money doesn't buy happiness!

But let's be honest: Raises, windfalls, and new gadgets don't exactly make us miserable, either. So what's the key to finding that life-money balance? Let's review the findings of folks who actually study this stuff in a one-minute crash therapy session:

0:60: Make "live rich," not "get rich," your life purpose. Besides being just plain crass, "get rich" as a life purpose is really not something to aspire to. (Though "make you rich" will score you major points in that job interview.) In fact, studies show that the pursuit of money as a primary goal has negative mental health consequences. Says Laura Rowley, author of Money & Happiness: "You have lower self-esteem, are more likely to be depressed, and have more trouble in your relationships."

That said, all thoughts of money aren't bad for your mental health. A little worrying may be just what the doctor ordered ...

0:51: Don't dismiss all negative thoughts. Some anxiety about job loss, stock market dips, or real estate crashes is good because it will inspire you to do things to avoid them.

0:43: Calculate the price tag for your "me" time. All fi