TAMPA, FL--(Marketwire - December 29, 2009) - Arun Abey believes the Beatles had it right.

"Money can't buy you love, or happiness, but how we use it -- and if we can learn to use it less -- can pave the way for a happier life," said Abey, author of "How Much Is Enough?" (www.howmuchisenough.net). "The secret is to figure out how to increase our happiness without increasing our spending. The fact is that most people, when they are flat out asked what would make them happy; don't respond with what you'd expect."

Abey's research into the topic revealed a variety of studies that found no relevant link between how happy people felt and their income. In fact, he said that happiness had little to do with the level of income than it did with having a plan for that income.

Instead of measuring everything with money, economists came up with the useful concept of opportunity cost which measures cost in terms of the next best thing we have forgone.

"In our country, we are always being upsold," Abey said. "We're asked if we want fries with that or if we want to super-size or get the family pack. We are always being upsold, so what the researchers did was they asked people to choose between a luxury car with the basic features, or the same car with all the bells and whistles, for only 10 percent more cost. Most people, when they reviewed all the extras, chose the upgrade. They then asked a separate group of people to choose between the basic and the upgrade. These people were told that buying the basic version was like getting almost the same car as the luxury version, but the differential in cost would be enough to pay for a couple of years worth of gas for the car. As expected, most people chose the basic car. Same choice, same demographic, but the emphasis was on spending less, not more."

About Arun Abey

Arun Abey is Executive Chairman of IPAC and Head of Strategy for AXA in the Asia Pacific, a part of the global AXA group that manages over $1.5 trillion of clients' money and is ranked as the 15th largest company in the world by Fortune Magazine.

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