Boomers value money more than becoming grandparents

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“Let me tell you about the very rich,” wrote tragic novelist and partier extraordinaire F. Scott Fitzgerald. “They are different than you and me.”

But not so different: they’re so used to having money, for example, that they forgot its intoxicating and powerful ability to make one’s life happier and materially better.

The regular people, though, know that nothing – but nothing – puts a merry spring in your step like a thicker bankroll.

You don’t have to inherit wealth or get a raise to find that our for sure; a new study shows that more look forward to paying off debt and achieving financial independence than falling in love. The team at Happy Cards gift cards surveyed over 1,000 people on what makes them the most content. And as it turns out, money is delightful. You can’t be happy, joyous, and free without a little mad, mad money.

A fat bankroll doesn’t just buy champagne and flowers. Here are some of the major, life-changing things financial resources can do for people.

  • All three generations (Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials) say rank paying off debt ranks in their top five happiest milestones. After all, how happy would you be to have that wad of money freed up every month?
  • Grabbing the brass ring – meaning that first full-time job, aka a steady paycheck – provides more to peoples’ happiness than traveling or homeownership.
  • It can buy the lifestyle you always wanted: nearly one in five most look forward towards that ultimate financial freedom – a comfortable retirement – to provide their most joyful moment. In fact, retirement is more likely to induce “peak happiness” in Baby Boomers – even more than having their first grandchild.
  • While Millennials are rightly or wrongly considered “bad with money,” it’s still their top priority.  Ranked among their top 5 future goals and milestones? Retirement, paying off debt, and financial independence.

Early life goals: poor but happy is OK

The average age when people reported experiencing their happiest moments: 27. (33.4% of respondents said their happiest moment was in the future).

Early happiness milestones for those surveyed didn’t include money, but life’s big moments that build a life: falling in love, getting married, buying a house.

Future happiness goals: there’s always a dollar sign

With the foundation built, however, and asked about future happiness mile markers, respondents got out their calculators and financial statements. Note that respondents often favored financial goals over goals that favored family.

  • Retirement was the golden fleece in terms of happiness for 18% of respondents. Out of that number, Baby Boomers salivated over retirement at 32%, over becoming grandparents. Gen X anticipated retiring at 24%, followed by paying off debt.
  • Paying off debt meant pure joy in the future for an average of 9%. (In comparison, having grandchildren stacked up at 8% and getting married at 7%).
  • And the Millennials are on their mark financially. Ten percent think getting married will give them the ultimate happiness, followed by falling in love (9%) and having a child (9%). But they’ve got their eye on another prize: even though they’re far from retirement, 8% of them responded that they believe they’ll be at their utmost after they retire (even after reaching financial independence).

Money is glorious, enabling, easy. But be careful what you wish for. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, multimillionaire Jay Gatsby, the novel’s mysterious protagonist, threw lavish parties for all and sundry every night at his home in West Egg, Long Island. And years later, when he died, none but two came to his funeral.