The Cash Happy study from SunLife interviewed over 3,000 people and found an interesting correlation between spare cash and happiness.
‘Spare cash’ is defined as the money we have to spend however we want each month; money left over after our regular outgoings on household bills, food, fuel, fees and so on are paid for.
The Cash Happy study found that the average monthly household income in the UK is £1,970.
Out of this comes rent (average of £433) or mortgage (average of £450), loans (average of £250) or credit card payments (average of £120) and other regular monthly payments.
Then there are all our other monthly costs such as transport, clothing and food – at the end of which, the average spare cash per is £381 a month per household.
Per UK adult, that becomes £166 a month, or £38.19 a week.
Which means that on average, 81% of the money we earn is already earmarked for our regular outgoings – leaving just one pound in every five we earn as ‘spare cash’ to spend however we want.
To put it another way, if you work five days a week, then the money you earn from Monday to Thursday is already earmarked for your regular outgoings.
So, just how much spare cash makes us happy?
SunLife’s research found that – after a number of other factors that influence happiness are removed – to be among the happiest 10% in the UK someone needs £310 spare cash each month, equivalent to £71.54 a week.
Although incomes here in Surrey, the South East and London are higher than the national average, so are outgoings.
As a result, people in this region typically have less spare cash.
Londoners have an average of just 17% of their income as spare cash, which below the national average of 19%.
It is well below that of the happiest people – the Scots – whose spare cash accounts for almost a quarter of their income.
Meanwhile, the least happy (according to the research) were people in the East Midlands who also have one of the lowest levels of spare cash in the country.
It seems that ‘Keeping up with the Jones’’ is important too; those who thought they had more spare cash than their peers were happier than those who believed they had less.
Do you know how much spare cash you have each month? What impact does it have on your happiness?