How a separate 'happy budget' helps a couple earning $142,000 a year achieve their goals

SchockfamBrett SchockBrett Schock and his family.

Brett Schock, a 32-year-old father from Fort Worth, Texas, has two budgets: His real one, based on his actual income and spending, and his “happy budget,” or how much he and his wife estimate they’d need to live a life that makes them happy.

It’s ingenious: While research consistently tries to peg happiness to a dollar number (the most publicized finding was about $75,000 a year, if you’re curious — about $83,000 with inflation), the larger conclusion is that money itself doesn’t make a person happy.

It’s what you choose to do with it.

“The ‘happy budget’ is more of a self-realisation thing, because I’ve seen too many people who work themselves really hard for that little bit of extra money, and I don’t know if it’s worth it,” Schock told Business Insider in the spring of 2015. “Right now things are pretty good — we feel like we’ve kind of made it.”

Brett is a civil engineer and his wife, Becky, is a teacher. Their son is four years old.

To cover the family’s expenses and desires comfortably, the Schocks need to earn at least $125,000 a year before taxes. However, the Schocks have started earning enough money — $142,000 a year before taxes — that their happy budget is more reality than dream.

Because a day-by-day budget is hard to illustrate, Schock provided his annual budget reflecting the family’s spending for one full year. The green lines show how they actually spend in a year, and the purple show how they’d spend in a perfect situation.

Read more about the Schock’s budget ยป

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