The idea that money can't buy happiness has been disproved by science, at least up to a point. Experts say that happiness does increase with wealth, but the correlation peaks at earning $75,000 per year.
"The lower a person's annual income falls below that benchmark, the unhappier he or she feels. But no matter how much more than $75,000 people make, they don't report any greater degree of happiness," Time reported in 2010, citing a study from Princeton University conducted by economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman.
However, a new analysis from Town & Country's Norman Vanamee contends that it takes more to achieve "optimal contentment." Much, much more.
Vanamee set out to determine how the amount that "allowed you to pursue your personal passions — join the board of a philanthropy, support the arts, avoid flying out of Newark ever again — but didn't make you question the intentions of friends and otherwise consume your life."
For this analysis, Vanamee created a model family: a wealthy couple with two teenage children living in New York City. They have vacation homes in the Caribbean and the Hamptons, send their kids to private schools, own a spacious apartment on Fifth Avenue, donate generously to charity and have acquired a pricey art collection. This couple also has help in the form of a maid, driver and chef.
What would that lavish, fulfilling, having-it-all lifestyle cost? $100 million, says Vanamee.