skip to content


  • Research shows Australia’s happiest people may not be rich, famous or even good looking
  • $125,000 found to be the optimal salary for achieving happiness

Everyone wants to be happy. It has been the subject of books, films and in 2014 Pharrell Williams’ tune Happy went to number 1 in more than 30 countries from Slovakia to Spain, causing a wave of joy around the world. But one of the simple secret to happiness, revealed today in new research, may come as a pleasant surprise to many people.

In one of the most detailed recent investigations into the link between happiness and money, the new research, released to mark the launch of the 2014 RaboDirect Financial Health Barometer (FHB) which surveyed 2,300.

Australians aged 18-65, found that people who live within their means and are regular savers are happier, healthier and more optimistic than those whose spending is out of control.

But could it really be this simple? According to RaboDirect’s Group Executive Greg McAweeney, the results are convincing and also raise an interesting question about just how beneficial things such as ‘retail therapy’ and feel-good shopping to boost morale.

He explained, “Our research has once again shown a high correlation between financial control, savings habits and our success in the pursuit of happiness. So-called retail therapy is not necessarily bad in itself. However, the high we get from a trip to the shops is likely to be short lived if we are not living within our means. It seems that just having some money in the bank and knowing we can comfortably meet our outgoings makes us happier than actually flashing the cash.”

The RaboDirect FHB research also found that people with good financial habits may even live longer, with the benefits of living within one’s means and being a regular saver also having a profound effect on the way we view our health. People who report to be living within their means are considerably more likely than ‘out of control spenders’ to say they feel healthier than they did two years ago and that they don’t feel satisfied unless they exercise at least three or four times a week.

Mr McAweeney expanded on this. “This halo effect of good money habits extends well beyond happiness and, as extreme as it may sound, this may actually add years to your life. Regular savers are almost twice as likely to say they feel healthier than they did two years ago whilst those who live within their means are more likely to watch what they eat. This research certainly builds a compelling case for people to seize control of their financial habits and we have three years of data to prove that this is a very real phenomenon.

“There are simple steps that each of us can take to make more of our money. You don’t need to be rich to enjoy the health and happiness benefits that being in control of your finances can deliver. In fact, it isn’t about what you have, it’s what you do with it that matters. Financial control is within the grasp of most people – it’s about taking simple steps such as paying down their biggest debt first, starting a simple budget, and importantly – to spend less than you earn and tuck away the difference for a rainy day.