The Pay Raise People Say They Need to Be Happy
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The Pay Raise People Say They Need to Be Happy

We frequently overestimate just how much happiness money buys

By JOE PINSKER
Tue, Nov 21, 2023 9:06amGrey Clock 3 min

People are often convinced their lives would improve if only they could climb a few rungs on the income ladder.

They are right, to an extent. Many studies have found a link between income and happiness, both in terms of day-to-day mood and longer-term life satisfaction. Having more money would help many people afford necessities, and on average, richer people report being happier.

Exactly how much more money do we think we need to be happy? A new survey from the financial-services company Empower put the question to about 2,000 people.

In the survey, most people said it would take a pretty significant pay bump to deliver contentment. The respondents, who had a median salary of $65,000 a year, said a median of $95,000 would make them happy and less stressed. The highest earners, with a median income of $250,000, gave a median response of $350,000.

Employers are planning on an average pay increase of 3.9% in 2024 for nonunion employees, according to a survey from the consulting firm Mercer. In the Empower survey, Americans said that to be happy, they would need almost a 50% raise.

Just how much happier a 3.9% or 50% raise would make any given person is hard to determine, researchers said.

One study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year, found that people who randomly received $10,000 tended to get a happiness boost that lasted at least six months. (The $2 million given out in the study was provided by a wealthy couple, who the researchers estimated generated 225 times more happiness than if they had kept the money themselves.)

Another, from the Review of Economic Studies in 2020, looked at lottery winners in Sweden whose prizes were mostly between $100,000 and $500,000. They reported higher levels of satisfaction with their lives more than a decade after their windfall, compared with lottery players who won no prize or a small one.

The magnitude of a raise’s effect, though, might not be life-changing.

“The impact of money on happiness isn’t as large as people typically assume,” said Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia and a co-author of a book on money and happiness. “Happiness is determined by so many different factors that changing any one thing, it’s hard to have a huge impact.”

Happiness for sale

About seven in 10 respondents in the Empower survey said they strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement: “Having more money would solve most of my problems.” Similar proportions of people in each income bracket felt that way, including those with salaries of $200,000 or more.

Dunn said that many people might be happier if they focus on the best ways to use the money they have, rather than on getting more of it.

“That’s something that we know makes a difference and that people have control over in the immediate term,” she said.

Dunn said many people over emphasise money, relative to other variables, as a path to contentment. Her research indicates that those who give priority to time over money tend to be happier in life.

A little bit more

And as soon as someone does reach a new pay tier, they often start focusing on the next one as their target recalibrates.

“They might imagine that once they get the higher salary, then that’ll be enough,” said Matt Killingsworth, a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who studies the causes of happiness. “In reality, once they get there, they’ll probably want a little bit more.”

Even very wealthy people think like this. A 2018 study asked millionaires to rate their happiness on a scale from one to 10 and, if they didn’t say 10, predict how much money they would need to move one point higher. Slightly over half of those with a net worth of $10 million or more said their wealth would need to increase by at least 50%.

“It’s part of what makes humans amazing,” said Killingsworth of the impulse to continue advancing. “But it also means we rarely look at an aspect of our life and say, ‘That’s absolutely perfect.’”



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New York Watch Auctions Record Uptick in Sales in the Face of Market Slowdown
By LAURIE KAHLE
Mon, Jun 24, 2024 4 min

Luxury watch collectors showed ongoing strong demand for Patek Philippe, growing interest in modern watches and a preference for larger case sizes and leather straps at the June watch sales in New York, according to an analysis of the major auctions.

Independent and neo-vintage categories, meanwhile, experienced declines in total sales and average prices, said the report from  EveryWatch, a global online platform for watch information. Overall, the New York auctions achieved total sales of US$52.27 million, a 9.87% increase from the previous year, on the sale of 470 lots, reflecting a 37% increase in volume. Unsold rates ticked down a few points to 5.31%, according to the platform’s analysis.

EveryWatch gathered data from official auction results for sales held in New York from June 5 to 10 at Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s. Limited to watch sales exclusively, each auction’s data was reviewed and compiled for several categories, including total lots, sales and sold rates, highest prices achieved, performance against estimates, sales trends in case materials and sizes as well as dial colors, and more. The resulting analysis provides a detailed overview of market trends and performance.

The Charles Frodsham Pocket watch sold at Phillips for $433,400.

“We still see a strong thirst for rare, interesting, and exceptional watches, modern and vintage alike, despite a little slow down in the market overall,” says Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of the California-based pre-owned online watch dealer BobsWatches.com, in an email. “The results show that there is still a lot of money floating around out there in the economy looking for quality assets.”

Patek Philippe came out on top with more than US$17.68 million on the sale of 122 lots. It also claimed the top lot: Sylvester Stallone’s Patek Philippe GrandMaster Chime 6300G-010, still in the sealed factory packaging, which sold at Sotheby’s for US$5.4 million, much to the dismay of the brand’s president, Thierry Stern . The London-based industry news website WatchPro estimates the flip made the actor as much as US$2 million in just a few years.

At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire
Richard Mille

“As we have seen before and again in the recent Sotheby’s sale, provenance can really drive prices higher than market value with regards to the Sylvester Stallone Panerai watches and his standard Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1a offered,” Altieri says.

Patek Philippe claimed half of the top 10 lots, while Rolex and Richard Mille claimed two each, and Philippe Dufour claimed the No. 3 slot with a 1999 Duality, which sold at Phillips for about US$2.1 million.

“In-line with EveryWatch’s observation of the market’s strong preference for strap watches, the top lot of our auction was a Philippe Dufour Duality,” says Paul Boutros, Phillips’ deputy chairman and head of watches, Americas, in an email. “The only known example with two dials and hand sets, and presented on a leather strap, it achieved a result of over US$2 million—well above its high estimate of US$1.6 million.”

In all, four watches surpassed the US$1 million mark, down from seven in 2023. At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire, the most expensive watch sold at Christie’s in New York. That sale also saw a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM52-01 CA-FQ Tourbillon Skull Model go for US$1.26 million to an online buyer.

Rolex expert Altieri was surprised one of the brand’s timepieces did not crack the US$1 million threshold but notes that a rare Rolex Daytona 6239 in yellow gold with a “Paul Newman John Player Special” dial came close at US$952,500 in the Phillips sale.

The Crown did rank second in terms of brand clout, achieving sales of US$8.95 million with 110 lots. However, both Patek Philippe and Rolex experienced a sales decline by 8.55% and 2.46%, respectively. The independent brand Richard Mille, with US$6.71 million in sales, marked a 912% increase from the previous year with 15 lots, up from 5 lots in 2023.

The results underscored recent reports of prices falling on the secondary market for specific coveted models from Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet. The summary points out that five top models produced high sales but with a fall in average prices.

The Rolex Daytona topped the list with 42 appearances, averaging US$132,053, a 41% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, with two of the top five watches, made 26 appearances with an average price of US$111,198, a 26% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Perpetual Calendar followed with 23 appearances and a US$231,877 average price, signifying a fall of 43%, and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak had 22 appearances and an average price of US$105,673, a 10% decrease. The Rolex Day Date is the only watch in the top five that tracks an increase in average price, which at US$72,459 clocked a 92% increase over last year.

In terms of categories, modern watches (2005 and newer) led the market with US$30 million in total sales from 226 lots, representing a 53.54% increase in sales and a 3.78% increase in average sales price over 2023. Vintage watches (pre-1985) logged a modest 6.22% increase in total sales and an 89.89% increase in total lots to 169.

However, the average price was down across vintage, independent, and neo-vintage (1990-2005) watches. Independent brands saw sales fall 24.10% to US$8.47 million and average prices falling 42.17%, while neo-vintage watches experienced the largest decline in sales and lots, with total sales falling 44.7% to US$8.25 million, and average sales price falling 35.73% to US$111,000.

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11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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