How Much Money Does it Take to Be Happy?

TD Ameritrade survey examines Savers vs. Spenders: Savers are more likely to be married, some Spenders just give up on saving

TD Ameritrade's 2016 Millennials and Money Survey (Graphic: TD Ameritrade).

OMAHA, Neb.--()--So much for retail therapy … the TD Ameritrade Millennials and Money Survey showed saving and the financial security it may bring makes people happier than spending. Of course, it’s easier for some to save than others. For example, Millennials have more debt and student loans than Boomers. The survey of 2,100 U.S. adults identified Americans as either Savers or Spenders and found:

  • The minimum personal income to be happy is $58,000 for Boomers and $51,000 for Millennials
  • Only a quarter of Millennials say spending money helps them enjoy life
  • Savers are more likely than Spenders to be married, own homes and have higher incomes
  • Savers marry Savers, which they say prevents arguments (59 percent Boomers, 57 percent Millennials)
  • Savers – both Millennials and Boomers – find saving makes them happy (67 percent, 71 percent) and most (8 out of 10) equate it with security

“Our research shows that it isn’t so much having more money as it is saving money that can make people feel more financially secure and happy,” said Dara Luber, a retirement and long-term investing professional at TD Ameritrade. “The more money you have saved, the freer you are to take control of your own destiny and make choices to improve your quality of life.”

Eighty-two percent of Millennials are saving for something other than retirement, such as vacation or an emergency fund while 80 percent of Boomers, who are nearing a time when they may no longer work, are saving primarily for retirement.

  • One in four Millennials is saving for a down-payment on a home, almost one in five (18 percent) is saving for education and one in 10 for a wedding/civil ceremony
  • Boomers are saving twice as much for retirement as Millennials, with a median of $300 vs. $150 per month

Despite the fact that Millennials are saving for other things, more than two-thirds (72 percent) have already started saving for retirement.

“While we’re thrilled to learn the majority of Americans have positive savings habits, we can’t ignore the fact that a significant number of non-savers find long-term saving to be difficult, if not impossible,” Luber said. For instance:

  • Of those who aren’t saving, two-thirds (67 percent) of Millennials and more than half (56 percent) of Boomers say they can’t afford to save
  • More than a quarter (26 percent) of non-retired Boomers expect that they will never fully retire, along with 23 percent of Millennials
  • 14 percent of Millennial Spenders say they are Spenders because they have so much debt they don’t care about saving anymore
  • Millennials hold more non-mortgage debt ($15,000) than Boomers ($10,000)
  • Four in 10 (39 percent) Millennials are paying off student loans by making median monthly payments of $200

“Everyone needs to start somewhere, and a commitment to a regular long-term savings plan – no matter how small – is well worth the effort,” Luber said. “If your end goal seems daunting, break it down into smaller goals and celebrate milestones along the way. Use these small happy moments as motivation toward your big money goals like retirement.”

TD Ameritrade’s 2016 Goal Planning Survey shows that people who have a savings plan with specific goals are more likely to make progress toward fulfilling their savings or investing targets. Not sure how to get started? Investors of any age and experience level can benefit from a free, comprehensive financial goal planning session with an investment consultant at TD Ameritrade’s more than 100 branch locations. Visit

About TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation
Millions of investors and independent registered investment advisors (RIAs) have turned to TD Ameritrade’s (Nasdaq: AMTD) technology, people and education to help make investing and trading easier to understand and do. Online or over the phone. In a branch or with an independent RIA. First-timer or sophisticated trader. Our clients want to take control, and we help them decide how — bringing Wall Street to Main Street for more than 40 years. An official sponsor of the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams, TD Ameritrade has time and again been recognized as a leader in investment services. Please visit TD Ameritrade’s newsroom or for more information.

Brokerage services provided by TD Ameritrade, Inc., member FINRA ( (

About Head Solutions Group
Head Solutions Group (U.S.) Inc., is a leading market research partner for Financial Services companies in North America. With offices in New York, Toronto and Montreal, Head delivers the deep customer insights that increase institutional knowledge and propel business action. TD Ameritrade and Head Solutions Group are separate and unaffiliated firms and are not responsible for each other’s services or policies.

About the 2016 Millennials and Money Survey
A 20-minute online survey was conducted with 2,100 American adults (half Boomers and half Millennials) by Head Solutions Group, between June 17 and June 21, 2016, on behalf of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation. The statistical margin of error for the total sample of N=2,100 American adults within the target group is +/- 2.1 percent. This means that, in 19 out of 20 cases, survey results will differ by no more than 2.1 percentage points in either direction from what would have been obtained by the opinions of all target group members in the U.S. Sample was drawn from major regions in proportion to the U.S. Census. Generations used in this report are defined according to the Pew Research Center. Millennials (born 1981 to 1997, ages 18 to 35 in 2016) and Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964, ages 52 to 70 in 2016).

Source: TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation


TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation
Rebecca Niiya, 402-574-6652
Communications & Public Affairs


TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation
Rebecca Niiya, 402-574-6652
Communications & Public Affairs