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-By Caleb Jones
When it comes to men discussing Alpha Males in relation to money and lifestyle, there seems to be two schools of thought.
The first school, which I'll call the Traditional School, says that a man must make a lot of money. He needs to put his nose to the grindstone, bust his ass, and work 70, 80, 100 hour weeks to pursue the almighty dollar. He needs to become a multimillionaire someday and make a six figure income, or he's a lazy pussy. A Real Man Makes Money dammit, that's his "job".
The second school of thought is a relatively new one in society. It's the direct result of the left-wing liberalization of mainstream Western zeitgeist. This school I'll call The New School. The New School says the exact opposite of the Traditional School. The New School says that men destroy their lives, their freedom, and their masculinity by pursuing money. Not only should you not worry about making a lot of money, you should actually reorient your life to make as little money as possible. That way you'll never have to stress about all the commercial, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses bullshit most men spend their entire lives stressing out about (as well as things like taxes and government interference in your financial life).
Men who have no debt, pay no taxes, and make less than $1500 a month (or so) are heroes to men in the New School. They have cleverly avoided the trap that ensnares most other men.
The Traditional School is trumpeted by business gurus such as Donald Trump and Brian Tracy. In the manosphere, The New School is touted by guys like Roosh and Captain Capitalism.
Hm. I agree with points made by all of those guys. So who's right?
The answer is, it depends. There also is no right or wrong answer. This isn't an issue like with 2+2=5 where there is a definitive, objective, correct answer and emotionally easier but demonstrably wrong answer. No, when it comes to this particular issue we're just dealing with opinions and personality types here. Keep that in mind as I go on.
All of my opinions are formed around the basis of long-term consistent happiness and personal freedom. All of my political opinions, opinions about women, dating, and relationships, and opinions about money, business, investments, all start there. If your life basis starts from a different place than mine, you're going to have very different opinions than I am. Keep that in mind also.
Getting To The Answer
The Traditional School is quite right when they say that a man, or at least the vast majority of men, need money in order to be happy. I am quite positive you've had the experience of badly wanting something you couldn't afford, and thus couldn't have. You've probably felt that many times. Did that make you happy? Hell no. Quite the opposite. A man needs money.
The Traditional School is dead wrong when they say that a man needs a lot of money. Most men just need a certain amount for baseline happiness. (We'll talk specific numbers in a minute.) Some of the most screwed up men I know are men who make very high incomes and bust their asses at work for decades on end. Yeah, they make a lot of money, but their bodies, relationships, and stress levels are complete trash.
So the New School is absolutely right when they talk about how the Western consumer culture can destroy a man and waste his life. But they're quite wrong when they say you'll be perfectly happy making $20,000 a year. I promise you won't....there will be things or experiences you'll badly want to have that you can't because you won't be able to afford them.
The Financial Baseline For Happiness
How much money does a man need to be happy then? Tricky question. Over the course of many years of working with people in the business world, I came up with a guess, which was that a man needs, on average, a $70,000 per year income to achieve a baseline of happiness. It was just a guess, and I admitted as much when I told people this.
A few years later I was happy to discover that science had reinforced my hypothesis. Around 2008, they did a survey of over 450,000 people on the topic of happiness. Many questions were involved, but the key one that stood out to me was the amount of income people needed in order to be happy.
The survey found (and several other studies have confirmed this since then), that the magic number was $75,000 a year. (That's about 54,000 euros per year for my European brothers).
- The more money people make, the happier they are. But! This only applies if they make less than $75,000 a year. That means that very likely, if you make less than about $6,200 a month right now, you would be much happier if you made more money.
- Once making more than $75,000 per year, most people experience diminishing returns or zero returns on additional happiness. In other words, if you make around $6,200 a month right now, you probably wouldn't be much happier if you made $10,000 a month. You might be a little happier, but not much.
Two caveats to this:
1. None of this takes into account regional differences. Living on $75,000 per year in downtown Tokyo or Manhattan would be damn near poverty, whereas you could live like a little king on that same income in Thailand or rural South Dakota.
2. None of this takes into account your family situation. $75,000 per year for a single guy with no kids is quite different than a married guy with three kids, even if his wife worked full time.
Making $75,000 A Year
So while fully acknowledging the above caveats, I'm going to go with $75,000 as a general figure. It not only matches scientific surveys, but my own business experience. Thus my general opinion: You as a man should make at least $75,000 (or €54,000) per year, but you don't need to make much more than that unless you really want to. If you make less than that, yeah, you need to get your ass to work and get your income up to at least $75,000 so your happiness level is optimal. If you make way more than that, you might want to strongly consider backing down your debt, lifestyle, and work hours to reduce stress.
The good news is that $75,000 a year is really not that much. That's $6,200 a month, and every man in the Western world who isn't mentally retarded has more than enough ability to make $6,200 a month without blowing his brains out, as long as he makes this a goal and works at it. It's not like I'm saying you should make $300,000 a year or something (which is $25,000 a month). I'll admit that's a little more difficult and/or complicated, especially if you don't want to work long hours.
The point is, $75,000 might seem like a lot to you right now if you only make $25,000, but $75,000 a year is not difficult. If I was telling you to make $200,000 a year, then I might listen to excuses about how that's "too hard" or takes "too much time". But not $75,000. You can do that. If you want it badly enough.
I'm going to repeat something R. Don Steele once said; it's something I've repeated on this blog before. He said that a man does not need to be rich at all. However, by the age of 35 or 40 or so, a man does need a decently nice place to live, a decent car (if a car is required where he lives), nice clothing, and the ability to travel when he wants. I agree 100%, and that's pretty much the $75,000-a-year lifestyle as long as you don't have much debt.
By the time you're 35-40, your lifestyle should be decent. Not ostentatious or ridiculous (unless that's what you really want), but not poor and spartan either. I'll use the example of your car. By the time you're 35-40 at the latest, your car should be a good one. Not an amazing one, but a good one. Perfect example is me. I drive a Nissan Maxima, which was about $30,000 when I bought it new many years ago. A $30,000 is a good, nice, solid, decent car. It's not Lamborghini or a Mercedes or Hummer...it's no where near that level. But! It's also not a piece of shit that I would be embarrassed to drive around town that's constantly breaking down and screwing up my life with transportation problems.
Use that example and apply it to the rest of your lifestyle. Your home should be a decent, cool place. Not a mansion or penthouse, but also not a shitty studio apartment in a run-down building either. Same goes for your clothing, toys, and experiences in your life (travel, restaurants, events, etc).
Now if you truly want to make more than $75,000 a year, go for it. There are indeed some men who would truly be happier at an income a little more than that. (I am one of them.) Just make DAMN SURE that you're living a very balanced, low-stress, high-happiness life. Never, ever let your income control you (just like you should never let a woman control you). Happiness must always come first. (Otherwise you're just another beta or Alpha Male 1.0, and the world has plenty of these kinds of men already.)
The reverse is also true. If you're currently making $30,000 a year and honestly think $75,000 would be way too much for you, that's fine. Forget about that $75,000 figure. However, I strongly suggest that instead of just blowing this concept off, go for an income of $60,000 or $65,000 a year. The odds are overwhelming that you'd be happier at that income level, regardless of your political opinions about "rich people" or the "rat race" or the consumer culture or whatever. I promise you that $65,000 a year isn't anywhere near "rich", so your Occupy Wall Street, anti-capitalist, one-percent-hating political convictions have nothing to worry about by increasing your income a little bit.
It all comes back to balance. If you embrace the New School, I promise you there's going to be all kinds of things you want to do or have that you won't be able to, and this will cause you unhappiness that I never need to worry about. If you embrace the Traditional School, I promise you're going to be stressed out of your mind, and you'll never be as happy as I am. The answer, as it so often is, lies somewhere in the middle.
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