A few days back, while I was on the way to a meeting, I chanced upon an article on my phone. It was the most recent list of the richest and most famous individuals in India. The usual names were all there and further down I could see quite a few new names that were there due to the startup revolution that has been happening in India. It was quite gratifying to see young entrepreneurs make it to the list of youngest billionaires. While scrolling to the top of the list the figures became bigger and bigger and things came to a point where words like billion ceased to have any sense of awe.
It was at this point that I thought “How much money is actually enough?” At the outset, this might seem like a simple question, but when one thinks a bit harder, it soon becomes too overwhelming a problem to solve. By this time, I had reached the office where a meeting was scheduled to happen. 2 hours later, I was still intrigued by the question. I couldn’t just get it out of my mind. After devoting a good hour of my time on research, I came across a chapter from the book ‘David & Goliath’, written by the famous author Malcolm Gladwell.
The author has done his research on the same topic and has arrived at a figure of around USD75,000 per annum as the amount beyond which more money doesn’t really mean more happiness. The graph in his book shows a bell curve that actually worsens with an increase in household income beyond the USD75,000 mark. The whole thing was now becoming even more interesting. I searched further to see if other researchers had found any specific answer to this question. Unsurprisingly, different economists have given different amounts of money, but almost all the figures are less than USD100,000. In Indian Rupee terms, we are talking about a household income of 70-75 Lakhs per annum at the most.
Last year, when I donated more than 75% of my net worth to the Rotary Foundation, I was at times worried about my family’s future. With their support, I eventually finalised the donation as an endowment that will benefit thousands of people year after year. That moment of worry has long since passed. I find myself more energetic now. I can feel the happiness in my bones when I see schools being built for the benefit of underprivileged children. In all, I couldn’t be happier in life.
So, from the research perspective if this amount has to be held true, then anything above this becomes a burden that actually brings down your peace of mind and overall happiness. In an era when money is seen as a means to make more money, I think it’s imperative for everyone to know as to how much is actually enough.
I can only imagine a monthly income of around Rs 5 to Rs 6 Lakhs per month as a more than sufficient amount for anyone living in any part of India. One can also imagine the amount of social change that can be brought about by using one’s wealth over and above this mark for philanthropic purposes. I will leave you with these thoughts.
Let’s try to build a world where you have enough for yourself and you can use whatever surplus you have to ensure that others around you have enough too.