Are Your Friends Worth $100,000 to You??

Every now and then I type “How to stay happy?” into Google looking for some good tips.

I’m naturally a pretty cheerful guy, but like anyone I can have my moments and often need help reminding myself to appreciate things more. You know, like my kids, wife, that thing we call breath ;)

I usually find the same suggestions over and over again so not sure why I continue to search, haha, but this time I caught something wild and couldn’t wait to get your thoughts on it! It comes from an article on Inc. on 10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Incredibly Happy and I think you’ll find it fascinating:

A study published in the Journal of Socio-Economics states that your relationships are worth more than $100,000… Actual changes in income, on the other hand, buy very little happiness.

BOOM! So you CAN actually put a price on friendship! ;)

It goes on to say:

So we could increase our annual income by hundreds of thousands of dollars and still not be as happy as we would if we increased the strength of our social relationships.

We’ve all heard that the magical “happiness” salary is around $75,000 (more is nice, but only incrementally so, whereas less makes a much bigger difference), but never have I seen any price tags on relationships before.

And then of course I had to start going down my own list of loved ones to see how accurate this is ;)

  • WIFE: Yup, worth more than $100,000
  • Kid #1: DEFINITELY $100k+
  • Kid #2: Hummm… just kidding, haha… another yes here.
  • Best friend: Of course!
  • Other close friends – like from college/growing up: Yes, although I’ll need a discount for some as they are horrible at returning my calls…
  • All other friends/acquaintances/random people you talk/work with every now and then: Nah… I’d miss some over others, but wouldn’t miss them $100k-much.
  • Facebook friends – lololololololol…

Only half serious about this, of course, but it def. gets you to stop and think for a bit… Especially when we’re so caught up in our own lives that we forget just how important some of these relationships truly are! Or, for that matter, how *toxic* some of them are? I wonder what the going rate is to get RID of a relationship? Haha…

In my search to find out more about this survey, I also came across the following dizzying stats:

  • Your health is worth $463,170
  • Better social life: $131,232
  • Divorce: -$34,000
  • Unemployment: -$114,248
  • Separation: -$255,000 (7x an actual divorce??!)
  • Death of a spouse: -$308,780
  • Death of your blog: $1,000,000,000!! (Who put that there?)

And then if you REALLY want to be mind-boggled, here’s what your LIFE is worth according to various government agencies!

  • Transportation Department: $9.4 million
  • Environmental Protection Agency: $9.1 million
  • Food and Drug Administration: $7.9 million
  • With each year of “quality life” coming out between $50,000-$129,000

I think we all need to go back and update our net worth ;)

So needless to say I quickly forgot about my funk and added “mental stimulation” to my list of happiness factors that work for me… It wasn’t on the 10 scientifically proven routes that I saw anyways, but it definitely did the trick. I’m an easy win whenever you relate things to money ;)

You can check out the full list here.

My second favorite was #5 on how helping other people improves your mood – specifically 2 hours a week. Doesn’t seem that hard out of the 168 we have, eh?

That picture up top used to be on the wall of my old house. My sister was trying to sell it at a yard sale once, but after my nephew got a hold of it and stated that he was worth exactly “g$” I thought it was too cute to let it go, haha… Been trying to figure out how much g$ is ever since!

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  1. Mrs. CTC August 3, 2016 at 5:21 AM

    Haha! Strange things happen when you try to put a price on priceless things. Or people.

    I once read an agreement on road construction (not for fun, for my job :)) that said the employer had to reimburse the contractor in case of a loss of life or permanent disability. Funny fact: it was cheaper to let the man die than to let him end up disabled.

    Not sure whether it was a typo, but that could have led to some ugly situations :)

    1. Fiscally Free August 3, 2016 at 10:39 AM

      That type of thing leads to some gruesome videos of Chinese motorists. Apparently, if a driver hits a pedestrian, it will cost the driver much less if the pedestrian dies, so drivers often back up to make sure they kill the pedestrian.

      1. J. Money August 3, 2016 at 12:44 PM

        Ewwwww stop that!

  2. Brian @ Debt Discipline August 3, 2016 at 6:11 AM

    Interesting topic. #7 on the list – Plan a Trip: It Helps Even if You Don’t Actually Take One – so just thinking about positive things will improve your happiness. Never hurts to do a little daydreaming.

    I always try and start my day with positive thoughts. Today will be no different!

  3. AMW August 3, 2016 at 6:12 AM

    Finally….validation! I’ve been trying my whole life to convince my family how valuable I am!

    1. whiskey August 3, 2016 at 6:34 AM

      LOL… now that’s funny…. but so true

      1. J. Money August 3, 2016 at 3:36 PM

        Haha yeah – good one :)

  4. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar August 3, 2016 at 6:37 AM

    Hah! I just tried selling something similar to my parents. We floated the idea of buying a huge house with an in-law suite if it’s still on the market in 2 years. We started discussing rent and I pointed out that time with the grandkids is priceless!

    As to the friends, the hardest part about some of my best friends is that they are still in the pre-kid phase. It’s just very hard to relate when we need to go to bed early or can’t go out bar hopping. Our neighbors are just like us so it has helped fill that gap.

    1. J. Money August 3, 2016 at 3:39 PM

      YES!!!! I keep trying to convince my wife and parents to do the same! I have the perfect house to all move in together with too – but so far I’m the only one on board, booooo…. How convenient/nice would that be though? Not only to spend more time with each other but to have a nicer and cheaper place too? So many cultures shack up with their parents and lovd ones – I wouldn’t mind it a bit (provided the in-laws section was separated out ;))

  5. The Green Swan August 3, 2016 at 6:55 AM

    So the value assigned to us by the government agencies is presumably based on our tax we all pay. I wonder how much that changes though for early retirees who wouldn’t be paying nearly as much income tax!?

  6. Roy Largo @ Band of Savers August 3, 2016 at 6:56 AM

    With my wife and boys being out of town all of last week I realized that they were worth well over this $100,000 to me. When they drove away to make an all night drive I was terrified that I had just watched my whole life drive away and couldn’t stop worrying till they got there safely the next day. It made me realize that they were by far the most valuable thing that I have.

    But as for friends? I can’t think of one that I wouldn’t trade for $100k, maybe that just makes me a bad friend but I wouldn’t expect any of them to pick me over $100k either.

    1. J. Money August 3, 2016 at 3:40 PM

      I hate that feeling when they drive off too :( I’ve even taken less flights/trips myself just cuz I can’t bare the thought of leaving my kids w/out their daddy! I’ve gotten so mushy – and conservative – since having them!

  7. Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions August 3, 2016 at 7:27 AM

    I thought the final fact was pretty cool – getting older makes you happier! As I head closer to to reaching 50 next spring, I am finding this to be so true! Letting go of what other people think and being happy about what I have and what I’ve done! Definitely focusing on greater well being and giving back – and being happy!

    1. Lisa O August 3, 2016 at 9:01 AM

      I feel the same way. I am pushing 51 and the kids are raised and educated and making their way in this thing called life. Sometimes I feel like a kid with so much free time which can lead to play time :)

      1. J. Money August 3, 2016 at 3:41 PM

        Love it :) I’m def. way more content/carefree as I get up there too.. Though not trying to rush it ;)

  8. Miss Mazuma August 3, 2016 at 7:28 AM

    That’s a bit of perspective for ya! Now I wonder if I am worth 100k to my friends?? ;)

    I can totally understand why the seperation rate is so much higher than divorce. Being in limbo is a sucky way to live. I see people fight for years over silly things only because their pride is hurt. So sad…and expensive!!

    Glad you got lifted from your funk…the internet wins again!!!

  9. Apathy Ends August 3, 2016 at 7:37 AM

    I wonder if the 75,000 number changes based on spending habits, if you are constantly filling up with “stuff” I can see it being true but those of us looking at FI see extra cash as acelleration towards a goal.

    1. Matt @ Optimize Your Life August 3, 2016 at 7:55 AM

      My understanding is that the $75k figure comes from average American spending habits. I would imagine that would mean that the number would be even lower for FI-minded folks because our spending is more optimized and less wasteful.

      That said, maybe when you view money as a tool for reaching your FI goal, then any extra progress along that path would lead to increased happiness. I could see it going either way.

      1. J. Money August 3, 2016 at 3:43 PM

        Oh totally – the FI chasers operate on a whole other level, haha…

  10. Matt @ Optimize Your Life August 3, 2016 at 7:57 AM

    I’m always intrigued by the processes that people devise to place monetary value on non-material things. I’m really curious why the different government agencies all came to different numbers.

  11. Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor August 3, 2016 at 8:06 AM

    Very interesting. What are these dollar amounts based on? How much happiness that amount in income would bring? Either way, it rings true that relationships and helping others definitely bring happiness that’s worth a lot!

    1. J. Money August 3, 2016 at 12:51 PM

      I think so, yeah. Was too lazy to go and poke around the methodology:)

  12. Mr Crazy Kicks August 3, 2016 at 8:33 AM

    Maybe there’s a business venture here – friend pimp. How much for a day?

    1. Lindy August 3, 2016 at 10:02 AM

      already exists:
      cracked me up the first time I saw that site pop up…

      1. J. Money August 3, 2016 at 12:49 PM

        Hah! I’m guessing it costs less than $100,000 to do so too? :)

      2. Mr Crazy Kicks August 3, 2016 at 2:31 PM

        Wow, the internet really does have it all :)

  13. Stacking Dollars August 3, 2016 at 9:21 AM

    This is certainly intersting. Getting older has its perks. You can look back and see your mistakes things you could have done differently.

    This list shows that some things simply aren’t worth it, but hindsight is 20/20.

  14. Josh Gwin August 3, 2016 at 10:11 AM

    Great post bud! Interesting estimate on health. How does the saying go? We’ll sacrifice our health to make money, then we’ll spend all our money trying to get our health back. This made me go do some push-ups and invite a friend to lunch today. Cheers!

    1. J. Money August 3, 2016 at 12:47 PM

      Haha… I’d take you up on that if we were near :)

  15. Joe August 3, 2016 at 10:22 AM

    Whoa, I don’t like it. The dollar values don’t sit well with me. Health is priceless. Nobody would trade money for health if they can help it. Also, a divorce would cost me a lot more than $35,000. :)

    1. Julie@ChooseBetterLife August 3, 2016 at 12:03 PM

      A lot of people do choose to trade money for health. They eat junk, don’t exercise, don’t go outside, and are tired and angry all the time. They’re not good friends, so others don’t want to stick around.
      Many of these people blame all of this on things outside their control, but most of it really is their choice to a significant extent.

    2. J. Money August 3, 2016 at 12:46 PM

      I’ve always liked that “Would you give up an arm or leg for a million dollars?” question. Some people would!

  16. Stefan @Mllnnlbudget August 3, 2016 at 10:29 AM

    “Happiness is maximized at 57 degrees.” Not sure how they got this statistic but it seems pretty crazy to me. I feel pretty darn happy relaxing on a Caribbean beach at 80 degree weather so I may have to disagree with this one.

    1. J. Money August 3, 2016 at 12:45 PM

      Haha… it would be different if you were where I am right now: the DMV

  17. Fiscally Free August 3, 2016 at 10:36 AM

    These numbers are fun to think about, but they are pretty meaningless. Nobody would pay you for your relationships, and I highly doubt anyone would give up their health for $460,000.

  18. Free to Pursue August 3, 2016 at 10:40 AM

    Happiness and economics are very strange bed fellows. I find it fascinating that we try to quantify the unquantifiable. It puts the focus entirely on the wrong thing.

    Here are some additional ideas re what makes us happy:
    1. Continuous learning: when we keep learning and growing as a person and we’re never disappointed.
    2. Gratitude: notice the little things that make life so wonderful: a smile, a kind word, even a good cup of coffee.
    3. Connection: whether it be with family, friends, even business associates & school buddies or through music, theatre, dance or books, being able to connect with other people creates an energy in us that helps us relate and thrive. Connecting lifts our spirits and exposes us to ideas about living we’d never come up with on our own. We’re stronger together.
    4. Risk: feel the fear and do it anyway. We never feel more alive than when we’ve managed to do something that scares us. Our comfort zone is forever expanded.
    5. Purpose: we’re happiest when we feel that what we’re doing matters. The more meaning and purpose we have in life, the easier it is to get through some not-so-fun times.

    1. J. Money August 3, 2016 at 12:43 PM

      Double amen on Learning and Purpose! So easy to just do the same thing over and over again without Something pushing you otherwise. We were great in school when everything was structured and all we did was get to learn! :) Same with college – only MUCH more fun haha….

  19. BeSmartRich August 3, 2016 at 10:49 AM

    That was wonderful. I am realizing more and more lately that being healthy and having great friends and family are worth far more than money in the bank. Nothing really matters when you are not healthy to enjoy the money and no-one to enjoy the money with. :)

  20. ESI Money August 3, 2016 at 11:32 AM

    If this is true, do I have a deal for you!

    I’ll be your friend for only $90k!

    Or, I’ll sell you three of my friends for $200k — buy two get one free!!!!

    1. J. Money August 3, 2016 at 12:39 PM

      Haha… too late – already Scored a 100% off coupon when we first met :) The “finance blogger” special.

  21. Done by Forty August 3, 2016 at 12:14 PM

    I love how this puts money into perspective. Money has value, of course. It’s just a far, far lower value than that of the people we love and the friends we spend time with, and generally just cultivating a life full of good relationships, rather than one sole of good investments. We personal finance folks are probably a bit more in need of reminding of that than the average Joe, so thanks for the post, J Mo.

    1. J. Money August 3, 2016 at 12:36 PM

      Agreed! We get so sucked into it sometimes.

  22. Gary @ Super Saving Tips August 3, 2016 at 2:36 PM

    As someone who doesn’t have their health anymore, I can tell you it would have taken a lot more than $463,170 to make me choose money over health. More like $10 million to even entertain the thought. And while I can see a separation being a bigger negative than divorce, I think that divorce number really underestimates how terrible divorce can be. Really interesting statistics though.

    1. J. Money August 3, 2016 at 4:08 PM

      Sorry to hear, man :( I wish I had some millions to throw you to get that health back! :)

  23. EL August 3, 2016 at 3:56 PM

    Interesting facts about the value different agencies place on a life. So do I have to get a 9 million dollar policy for the miss or aka the government. LOL, smile about that joke and you’ll be good any day. Well I’m off to day dream about reaching FI.

  24. Ty @ Get Rich Quickish August 3, 2016 at 5:28 PM

    Really interesting to see how much negative/drama/stress “costs” us. All the more reason to relentlessly eliminate the BS from our lives.

  25. Paul August 4, 2016 at 9:15 AM

    really we measure our own financial value in net worth. If you think about it friends are really worth $100k since they end up costing us money too. Id be interested in a mathmatical breakdown of how much a friends net worth really is. Probably more like $50K over a lifetime… and even then I would trade all of my friends combined for $50K total, bunch of jerks….lol.

    1. J. Money August 5, 2016 at 10:28 AM

      Hah! taking away my invitation to you for my house-warming party then! :)

  26. Linda @ Brooklyn Bread August 4, 2016 at 11:08 AM

    This makes perfect sense. It’s the reason why we live a financially strapped life in an expensive town. All things being equal, a slight financial uptick isn’t always worth being far away from your family, or a deep bench of friends that you have built up through the years.

    1. J. Money August 5, 2016 at 10:30 AM

      Exactly.. Which is why it always annoys the hell out of me anytime someone says “Just move!” in order to save money. Fine if you’re going to a different community down the street and/or don’t have any friends/family where you live anyways, but to haul it halfway across the country purely for financial reasons? Crazy. Can’t separate all the areas of your life like that without affecting the others.

  27. Josh @MoneyBuffalo August 4, 2016 at 11:14 AM

    I like the quote excerpts. IMO, people look for approval. If their family and friends approve of their actions they might not care if they have a low salary. So, people might theoretically chase higher paying jobs because they are lacking good friends at home.

    1. J. Money August 5, 2016 at 10:31 AM

      Quite possibly! Anyone we hang out around will affect us to some level.

  28. Colin @ rebelwithaplan August 4, 2016 at 12:17 PM

    Seems like health would be worth even more than the figure mentioned. I’m so thankful I’m in good health (being 22 is also a big reason for it). Maybe when my friends don’t return my messages or turn down the chance to go out, I can threaten them with “you’re starting to tread below the 100k mark!”. That would work…right? Ha.

    1. J. Money August 5, 2016 at 10:32 AM

      At the very least it’ll give you a chance to start up a convo on personal finance! :)

  29. Latoya @ Femme Frugality August 5, 2016 at 1:36 PM

    It feels pretty darned good to know I’m that valuable. And yes, if friends could be brought, I would definitely spare no expenses. You get what you pay for, right?

    1. J. Money August 5, 2016 at 2:32 PM

      Haha… that’s how the saying goes.

  30. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank August 5, 2016 at 11:37 PM

    Of course! It feels great to enjoy money with friends and family. It’s really a double, happier experience, J Money.

  31. ZJ Thorne August 6, 2016 at 9:43 PM

    After 5 hours of volunteering today, I have to agree with two hours being worth so much.

    1. J. Money August 8, 2016 at 2:05 PM

      You’re such a good person over there! Love that! :)

  32. Donna Freedman August 9, 2016 at 2:41 PM

    My partner tells me that I’m a pearl beyond price. And he wouldn’t lie to me. ;-)

    For my part, I’d say there’s no amount of money I’d trade him for — he’s just wonderful.

    We both agree that our fairly good health is also priceless.

    1. J. Money August 10, 2016 at 4:28 PM

      Haha…. love how smitten you two always are together :)

  33. Nathan August 9, 2016 at 2:46 PM

    Friends and family are indeed valuable, and money certainly doesn’t equal happiness. In fact I know for a fact that the things that make me happiest are free. Backpacking, hiking, getting a good run in, and spending time with the folks that matter are really ALL that matters.

    J kudos to you for putting money in it’s place….a tool to be used, not a master to be served.

    1. J. Money August 10, 2016 at 4:32 PM

      *tips hat*