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Wealthy who give most get more, stay happier

October 19, 2009

One statistic that is fun to quote shows that people who leave money to charity in their wills live longer on average. And now we hear that wealthy people who give away more become wealthier and happier than others in the same income category.

Thomas J. Stanley, who won a following with his book “The Millionaire Next Door,” has a new book out called “Stop Acting Rich … and Start Living Like a Real Millionaire.” According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Stanley looked closely at almost 1,000 millionaires with net investment assets of at least $1 million. He analyzed the way they spent their money, how they gave and how happy they said they were.

If they gave at least 10 percent of their income to charity, Stanley says, they spent less on everything from income taxes and mortgages to cars, clothing and clubs, all things that Stanley believes prevent the buliding of wealth. Stanley believes this shows that they are not concerned with status, and they get more satisfaction from giving back than in what we might call conspicuous consumption.

We’ve seen plenty of evidence of this among the generous people we know in greater Birmingham and particularly with our donors at the Community Foundation. We don’t do an income check to see how much they have, but we do know and appreciate what they give — and how happy they seem to be about it.

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