Humankind has been chasing the secret to happiness for millennia, but for many people it remains tantalisingly out of reach. Not for a group of Australians, which Perpetual unearthed in our recent research project, where we asked 3,000 Australians about their financial habits and life passions. They seem to be happier and more comfortable than the rest of us. They’re living the dolce vita (sweet life). We call them the ‘Sweet Spotters’ because they’ve found the balance of health, wealth and purpose which brings happiness.
Mission and purpose
The Sweet Spotters are wealthy, sure, but that’s only one part of it. Research shows that once you have enough money to be comfortable, incremental increases in wealth don’t necessarily add much to your overall happiness. While our Sweet Spotters use their money to enjoy themselves and pursue their passions, they also use their money (and time), to support their friends, family and those less fortunate. This gives their lives greater purpose, which is an important part of happiness, and allows them to enjoy their wealth without guilt.
Sweet Spotters care more about their legacy
There’s another important difference between Sweet Spotters and the rest of Australia. They don’t just care about others during their lives. Over half (55%) of Sweet Spotters care what happens after they die, compared to 45% of the rest of Australia. This means they are much more likely to posthumously donate or set up a philanthropic trust.
Sweet Spotters are both happy people and good citizens. So let’s look at what creates a Sweet Spotter – after all, if there are more of them, there’ll be more people with the money and time to help others.
What’s the plan?
The Sweet Spotters didn’t get to this happy place by accident. For most of them it was a result of years of hard work, planning and smart choices. For example, while many Australians find planning their finances is too difficult, too boring or something to do tomorrow, Sweet Spotters have much better financial sense.
As well as planning their finances carefully, Sweet Spotters have thought through the rest of their lives just as carefully. To be happy and healthy most people need regular exercise and mental stimulation, a good diet and close personal relationships.
One other aspect which is very important, but easily overlooked, is having something in your life which gives you a sense of purpose. This sense of purpose can come from many things including creative pursuits, caring for loved ones or using your skills and experience to make a difference in the lives of others. Many Sweet Spotters gain purpose through contributing to a cause they care about, either through volunteering, philanthropy or both.
Making the sweet spot even sweeter
While Sweet Spotters care about their legacy and have adopted a smart approach to their finances in general, they aren’t necessarily maximising the value of their charitable donations or taking full advantage of the tax-efficiencies available. Of all Australians surveyed that have a will, only 7.4% have included a charitable bequest in their will. In comparison, 39% of estates administered by Perpetual include a charitable bequest.
A strategic approach to philanthropy is more likely to help people achieve their financial and life goals. Successful philanthropy carefully matches an individual or family’s long-term goals with a charity or cause and makes sure that the money is used in the most efficient and impactful way. Through more careful philanthropic planning our Sweet Spotters could take their life plans one step further and ensure their wealth has the maximum benefit both during their lifetime and afterwards.
Maximising the value of charitable donations
To find out more about how Perpetual can help your donors structure their charitable giving appropriately, get in touch with one of our estate planning experts