According to Thomas J. Stanley, author of Stop Acting Rich… And Start Living Like a Real Millionaire, says that millionaires who donate at least ten percent of their income to charity are happier than those who don’t. And, he claims, they often build higher net worth.

Perhaps that’s why it is so common to hear of socialites like Lauren and Andres Santo Domingo being constantly involved with charities and events that benefit others. The Santo Domingos, like other celebrities and businesspeople who choose to give, seem to have realized that they can do a world of good when it comes to making the world a better place.

Stanley surveyed 944 millionaires, comparing net worth, spending habits, giving patterns, and self-reported happiness. Those who give more to charity spend less on non-essential niceties like expensive homes, clothing and accessories, cars, mortgages, club dues, personal loans, and vacations. Instead, he says, they tend to be smarter about their money, investing, building pensions, getting professional financial advice, and efficiently managing their money.

About 25% of millionaires living in homes worth $200,000-$300,000 gave at least ten percent of their income to charity, a far cry from the 17% living in million dollar homes. Those who see status as important tend to give less and instead elevate their own standing; but those who are “the least enamored with status… have a small house and a big heart.”

And as it turns out, people who gave more to charity also reported higher levels of self-satisfaction and happiness than those who didn’t give as much. Giving to charity certainly can make us feel good—and instead of wasting money on things we don’t need, we’re helping others.

Ryan Boucher is a student at Penn State interested in business, art, and culture.  Follow his musings at http://marketsandwords.wordpress.com/

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