Having control over our finances makes us happy

Those who plan their finances properly enjoy peace of mind according to Vlerick and Optima’s Financial Happiness Barometer

  • Financially, we are somewhat happier than a year ago (42% versus 38%) and we think we’ll be even happier in the future.
  • Financial leeway that allows for saving and spending is essential.
  • Those who plan their finances and set financial goals are happier.
  • Only 50% of respondents trust banks.
  • Belgians hardly trust (12%) the government for their pension plans.

The Financial Happiness Barometer is an annual investigation into the Belgians’ financial happiness carried out by Vlerick Business School’s ‘Financial Planning Practice’ chair in collaboration with Optima. This is the second consecutive edition and this year’s results confirm last year’s trends. However, there are also several striking shifts.

42 per cent of Belgians consider themselves financially happy. The ability to save, plan and set financial goals are all factors that can positively influence their financial happiness. The research shows that financially happy people are generally also happier, prompting us to conclude that money does, after all, makes us happy.

More than a thousand Belgians were interviewed for this second edition of the Financial Happiness Barometer. The results show that from a financial point of view, we are somewhat happier (42%) than last year (38%). The vast majority of respondents (88%) define financial happiness as financial peace of mind, without worries about income and expenditure.

Saving and spending make us happier

Financial happiness – Belgians rate their financial happiness with an average of 5.6 out of 10 and are generally optimistic about their financial situation. Moreover, they feel their financial happiness can only improve in the future. It is striking that men are financially happier than women, and that married couples are financially happier than singles or cohabiting couples.

General happiness – Belgians rate their overall happiness 7.3 out of 10. The research shows that financial happiness largely determines our general happiness (23%). Belgians feel they only control 40% of their happiness. The rest is genetically determined (50%) or influenced by living conditions (10%).

Income – This year’s barometer shows that people with a higher household income are financially happier, regardless of age or sex. Moreover, the opportunity to save and spend at the same time boosts our financial happiness. However, it is striking that financial happiness does not increase once monthly income reaches € 4,000 or more.

Planning makes us happier

Financial plan – Belgians who control their personal finances and are actively involved in the process experience more financial happiness. A financial plan and setting financial goals are important in this regard. One third of Belgians (36%) have a financial plan with clear goals, which positively influences their financial peace of mind.

Financial knowledge – People with a greater insight into financial matters experience a greater degree of financial happiness. 6 in 10 Belgians feel they do not have sufficient knowledge about finances. This knowledge is mainly the result of personal study or information gathered through relatives, friends and the internet. Higher-income groups and older generations are more likely to rely on experts in the field.

Experts – Compared to last year, Belgians report a higher degree of trust in financial experts. Nevertheless, 1 in 2 Belgians has little to no trust in financial professionals. Yet more than one third of respondents rely on banks for advice on their financial future.

Pension - 35% of respondents regularly worry about their financial future, and women worry more than men. It is striking that only 12% of Belgians trust the government’s statutory pension scheme. Three quarters of respondents – mainly youngsters – think the statutory pension will not enable them to maintain their current lifestyle, yet it is remarkable that only 1 in 2 Belgians has a pension savings plan, and it is mostly men over the age of thirty who have such plans.

About Optima

Optima is a market leader in Belgium in the field of financial planning. The company owes its success to its very own, unique concept of financial and fiscal advice, which goes well beyond the traditional approach. Optima draws up a global personal plan comprising all the elements required for clients to reach their financial goals in terms of income, assets, pension and estate, paving the way for financial happiness.

Related news

  1. Belgian corporates step up the pressure on banks

    Date: 03/06/2014
    Category: Press Releases
    KPMG and Vlerick Business School conducted a study in Belgium in spring 2014 into the expectations Belgian corporates have of their bank(s). The study shows that the corporates surveyed are satisfied with their banks, but that they are also putting more and more (price) pressure on their banks, and that they play them off against one another. Despite globalisation, corporates want to have a personal relationship with their bank. Banks, for their part, will continue to adopt a strict approach to credit supply in the future.
  2. Vlerick Business School and KBC institute an academic chair on the role and positioning of financial institutions

    Date: 04/12/2013
    Category: Press Releases
    Together with KBC, Vlerick Business School's Centre for Financial Services is instituting a five-year academic chair on the role and positioning of financial institutions in the current financial and economic environment. The KBC Chair on Customer Insight is a clear win-win for both parties. Vlerick Business School is taking care of the academic underpinning, and KBC is inputting the practice-relevant aspects.
All articles