Saving money makes you happier – here’s proof

The argument over whether you should invest or pay off debt usually focuses on financial numbers, such as rates of return and interest charges. Maybe happiness should be part of the equation as well.

Studies in several countries, including the U.S., Norway, Ireland and Spain, have found high levels of financial satisfaction among elderly people. Happiness with our money situation tends to rise with age, even though our income peaks in midlife and then generally declines.

Why is that? Further studies show that what we own and what we owe make a difference. One study of 3,751 U.S. adults ages 30 to 80 found that increases in assets and decreases in debt over time “contribute substantially to the life course pattern of financial satisfaction.”

Fair enough. But then two Texas researchers looked into which of those two actions — paying down debt or building up investments — was the bigger contributor. In my latest for the Associated Press, find out which one makes you happier.

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