Why do young people think money is the key to happiness?

The under 30s and over 60s disagree violently - only the young think money makes you happy

smiling senior couple at the...

What is the key to lifelong happiness? Ask a young person, and a quarter of them will say 'money'. Ask an older person, and you'll learn that family, love and travel is the answer. So why do we disagree? And who is right?

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The latest people to study this phenomenon are Skoda. They found that 24% of young people say that money makes them happiest in life - while just 9% of the over 60s agree

Three times as many young people also said that material possessions lead to a happy life.


The reason for the difference isn't some radical change in our national sensibility between generations, it's down to the way our brains work.

Our brains are really good at adapting, it's what has put us at the top of the food chain, but it also means we're really great adapting to the things we already have - so we immediately start to take them for granted.

What we focus on instead is the next thing we want. Or, if we are tempted to look back, we focus on the things we wish we still had.

Young people, just starting out, haven't had the opportunity to get used to having plenty of money or all the material possessions on their wish list. It means they focus on them as their source of happiness.

Older people, meanwhile, have made the money, and bought the stuff, so they don't even consider it. Instead, they focus on the things they want to do in retirement - like spending time with family (65%), enjoying the company of their other half (36%) and travelling (31%).

If they look back, they regret the things they missed out on because they were working and spending - like not travelling enough (26%) and not spending enough time with loved ones (16%).

Kirsten Stagg, Head of Marketing for ŠKODA UK says: "As we get older, rarely do we look back and think 'I wish I'd spent more money' on something - it's spending time with the people we love that fulfils us".

So what is the most important thing in life?

Money certainly features, but not wealth beyond our wildest dreams. For a happy life we need just enough money to be able to get used to it - and take it for granted.

There are also several things everyone appears to agree on - which don't involve money at all. Around 75% of millennials and baby boomers value family life, 49% of millennials and 74% of baby boomers value their health, and 45% of millennials and 48% of boomers value their friends.

It's also well worth bearing in mind the things older people regret missing - like travel, and spending time with their family - and building plenty of that into our plans. It may mean less overtime, and less opportunity to buy a better car or TV, but when we look back, how many of us will really regret not having a TV that was just ever-so slightly bigger?

But what do you think? What makes you happy? Is it money? Let us know in the comments.

Vintage money-saving tips

Vintage money-saving tips