Here's how much money you need to be happy, according to 2023 survey

If happiness had a price tag, the average American thinks it could be bought for just over $1 million, according to a new poll. 

A survey published on Wednesday by financial services company Empower asked 2,034 U.S. adults the age-old question: can money buy happiness? More than half (59%) said yes, and it costs around $1.2 million. 

RELATED: Tips for gift giving and staying on budget this holiday season

The majority of Americans define "financial happiness" as paying bills on time and in full (67%) and living debt-free (65%). The first word that comes to mind when people think about financial happiness is "freedom," followed by "security" and "relief," according to the U.S. adults surveyed.

But the poll, conducted in August, found that nearly three in four Americans (73%) experience financial stress amid surging inflation and high interest rates. 

Seven in 10 Americans (71%) say having more money would solve most of their problems. 

Some 42% of Americans said $25,000 would boost their financial happiness for six months, according to the survey. A third (32%) said $15,000 would make a meaningful impact on their lives, and just $5,000 would do it for 17% of respondents. 

Photo illustration taken on Nov 6, 2023, shows U.S. currency. (Photo by Costfoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Photo illustration taken on Nov 6, 2023, shows U.S. currency. (Photo by Costfoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Average salary per year to be happy

When it comes to feeling financially comfortable, Millennials estimate needing more wealth than other generations, according to the survey. 

Overall, Americans say they need to make $284,167 per year to be happy, with men’s estimates much higher than women's estimates ($381,000 and $183,000, respectively), the poll found. 

Millennials estimated the highest annual salary at $525,000, Gen Z at $128,000, Gen X at $130,000, and Boomers at $124,000.

Majority carry debt as expenses grow faster than income

Over half of Americans in the survey (54%) said they carry debt, and 36% said they couldn’t handle an unforeseen expense over $500 without worrying. 

This, while 67% of those surveyed said their income isn’t keeping up with inflation, and 42% said their standard of living is declining. 

Economic pressures like rising costs (81%), interest rates (66%), and student loans (32%) are deflating people’s sense of prosperity, the survey found.  

Empower’s survey found that people expect they’ll have to retire three years later than they anticipated, at age 63 on average. Gen Z plans to retire the soonest of all generations, at age 54, the survey found. 

The findings echoed other recent surveys, including one published last month by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. 

It found that about 2 in 3 Americans say their household expenses have outpaced earnings, and for most Americans, household debt has either risen in the last year or has not gone away.

RELATED: Retirement crisis: Great Recession takes its toll on younger Boomers

This story was reported from Cincinnati.