How Much Money Do You Need to Make to Be Happy

Interview Question: How Much Money Do You Need to Make to Be Happy?

How do you answer this interview question: “How much money do you need to make to be happy?”

Everybody needs money to attain a measure of happiness. That’s a fact, even when we try to be modest about it. You need money for necessities like food, shelter, and clothing. We also need money for situations like medical emergencies. And then for job seekers or entry-level candidates who have spent so much to get a college degree, they need to reap the benefits of their struggle and maybe pay off some student loans. Therefore, when people make career choices, it is not surprising and far from selfish that they put monetary compensation into consideration. As one’s career progresses, it is expected that his finances improve and reflect his new position.

Despite all we know about money, it can be a touchy topic for most because they don’t want to come across as greedy, money-conscious, or selfish. It’s even more difficult to discuss money with a boss or an interviewer. When you decide to apply for a job and subsequently attend an interview, you probably did so because you developed an interest. However, you and the interviewer know that pay plays a major role in making your final decision of accepting or rejecting an offer. So why do interviewers ask seemingly obvious questions like, “How much money do you need to make to be happy?”

Truthfully, questions like that are tricky and can pull the rug from under your feet even when you have worn your best corporate attire to the interview venue and practiced how to give firm handshakes. You can’t avoid tough interview questions if you want to land a job. You just have to prepare answers before the interview and that’s why this article is here to help. To avoid tricky interview questions from throwing you off balance, you need to take a trip to the mind of the interviewer to find the reason for the question. That will help you formulate an answer that works.

There are many reasons why an interviewer would ask that question. However, the chief reason is that an employer wants to guess how much salary you would be comfortable with. Employers want to know your level of expenses and budget before they set a salary range for you. You see the trick there? If you spontaneously mention a small amount, then you might be setting yourself up for underpayment. On the other hand, if you mention an outrageous amount, the employer might be forced to tell you that they can’t afford to pay you. Another reason why interviewers ask that question is to understand how you view money and its relation to your happiness. The interviewer wants to know if your lifestyle and choices are largely influenced by money. Your answer matters to the interviewer because if your happiness is largely tied to money, then the employer may be convinced that he is not assured of your commitment and loyalty to the cause of the company – you will always be ready to leave the organization at a whim or engage in shady activities just to get more money to finance your happiness.

How best then to answer this question? If answered well, you will be able to cut a good bargain for yourself and also convince your prospective employer that you are a valuable asset to the company. Your answer should be able to ensure that the employer offers you enough money to cover your basic expenses and even more. That would certainly make you happy, right? After all, extra money doesn’t hurt anybody. By your answer, convince the employer that you should be paid according to your worth as an employee not according to how much you spend in a month. For instance, if you spend approximately a hundred dollars every month, you would not want to receive exactly a hundred dollars as salary irrespective of the hours and energy you will put into the work. Since this question is an interview question, present yourself as an in-demand candidate, one who offers quality services and knows his worth.

Now let’s get down to answering the question. Here are some tips and samples to help you prepare your answer.


  • Deflect the question and shift the conversation from money and direct the interviewer’s attention to your value. Use the opportunity to your advantage and sell yourself to the recruiter.
  • Personalize your answer but like you should with all interview questions, answer honestly. Talk about what happiness means to you, exclusive of money. A great tip is to talk about something you like about your career or the role that gives you satisfaction and happiness.
  • While you aim at being modest, do not pretend that you are not interested at all in money. The interviewer will see through that ploy. It’s no secret that money does guarantee a measure of happiness for everyone because it solves our basic needs and that makes it the best compensation for an employee’s services.
  • Except you plan on giving your services for free, leverage the situation, and use it to negotiate salary and other benefits. When you have carefully veered the question away from money at the beginning of your answer, you can steer it back in that direction. How? Asking the interviewer the salary range of the role is a great way to go back to the money question. You must have also heard that you can throw someone who is questioning you off balance by asking your questions (after you have answered the interviewer’s question first, of course)! Yes, you can end your answer with a flourish by directing a question of your own to the interviewer.


  • You already know this now, but do not tell the interviewer that you require a truckload of cash to be happy. Avoid saying that you can survive on less than a dollar or do without money completely. Do not put a price tag on your happiness.
  • Don’t ramble. Your answer will make more impact when it is brief and concise.

Sample Answer:

“My happiness is not dependent on money alone. Other things make me happy like spending time with my family and working on my hobby.

When it comes to my career, I would say that the satisfaction I get from work is more important and beneficial. In my years as an (input job role), I have realized that coming home satisfied after working in a productive environment gives me satisfaction. That’s why I put my best at whatever I do and ensure I give maximum value. Therefore, I expect that my income matches the entry role I play in an organization and subsequently, other tasks and responsibilities I may be given. Could I ask what the salary expectations are for this job?”

Interview Questions

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