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Savings makes you happier than a fun job, eating right or exercising

To achieve maximum happiness, as soon as you finish reading this, you should start eating only spam, quit your gym, and get a horrible but high paying job (patent lawyer or international accountant come to mind). Then, funnel all the extra money into a savings account.

Ok that might be a little extreme, but a national poll released today by Ally Bank [3] suggests that having a lot of money saved up is more important to people’s overall sense of well-being than eating healthy foods, having a job they like, or exercising regularly.

In the survey, 84 percent of respondents said that having money in the bank was important to their overall sense of well-being, more than the 73 percent who said eating healthy foods, the 68 percent who said having a job they like, or the 59 percent who said exercising regularly were important.

Still, as important as savings is, it still trailed having good relationships with friends and family and having time to relax and unwind, which is what you’d expect. Money in the bank doesn’t mean much [4] if you don’t have any time to enjoy it or anyone nice to enjoy it with.

A larger proportion of people with savings also reported being happy compared to those without. Overall, 29 percent of those with no savings said they were “extremely or very happy,” compared to 42 percent of those with between $20,000 and $100,000 in the bank and a whopping 57 percent with more than $100,000 in savings.

One thing I do wonder though, is how much of their happiness can be attributed to their fat savings accounts and how much of it can be chalked up to having the kind of income that lets you feasibly put away 100 stacks in savings in the first place. In another section of the poll, the biggest reasons people cited for not saving was “The amount of money I make,” “Paying off my debts and/or loans,” and “My basic living expenses.” And those are pretty valid reasons! It’s hard to get anything going savings-wise when you have to strain to cover food, shelter and utilities.

Also, the poll was conducted online, and those polls don’t tend to be as accurate as the old-fashioned phone kind.

What do you think? Are you a happier person when you have savings in the bank? Or are other factors more important to you?