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What does financial happiness really mean?

If you ask the respondents in the study, the majority say they would feel content if they didn’t have to rely on anyone else financially, and if they had the ability to withstand unexpected expenses and take care of their loved ones.

With inflation and the cost of borrowing still high, 67% say their income isn’t keeping up with inflation, and 42% feel their standard of living is deteriorating.

Many young Americans are dealing with the current economic climate by relying on their parents to support them. For example, multigenerational living arrangements are on the rise, with more young adults opting to live with their parents and save on rent.

And for folks who have been able to buy their first home in a difficult housing market, some have still required financial aid from their loved ones to offset the costs. More than a fifth of Americans used a cash gift or loan from their family or friends for their down payment recently, according to the National Association of Realtors.

With prices going up and student loan payments resuming, more Americans are feeling the weight of their debts — and are stressing the importance of paying off their bills on time and in full. About 65% of respondents associate financial happiness with being debt-free.

In the meanwhile, experts have been raising the alarm on Americans depleting their pandemic savings, leaving them with little funds for an emergency expense.

Having more money could help younger Americans go from living paycheck to paycheck to being able to comfortably spend on small luxuries as well. About 62% of millennials admit they’re willing to shell out $7 for a coffee because it brings them joy.

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It’s not just about having extra cash

Now, an increase in income doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve fixed all your problems.

For example, 58% of Gen Z and 55% of millennials say that happiness means having a good work-life balance. So even if you’ve secured a job with a great salary that brings you more financial stability, it’s also important you have the time to relax, take a break and spend time with your loved ones.

And once you have the extra funds, it’s also key to learn how to manage it wisely, so you’re not re-entering a cycle of debt by adjusting your expenses to match your income level.

Over six in 10 respondents in the survey say it’s crucial to get good money advice in order to achieve financial happiness. Whether you’re preparing for retirement or trying to pay off your debts, a financial adviser can help evaluate your situation and get you on track to meeting your goals.

It’s also important to keep in mind that some folks have a more complicated relationship with money. Say you’ve got the funds but you’re still stressed out about spending, or your fondness for a little retail therapy is actually costing you big time. These aren’t issues that a little extra cash can solve.

If money’s keeping you up at night, speaking to a financial therapist can help you determine and address the root of the problem — and hopefully, help you find a little more joy in your life as well.

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Serah Louis is a reporter with Moneywise.com. She enjoys tackling topical personal finance issues for young people and women and covering the latest in financial news.

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