Northwestern Mutual Encourages Generosity in Giving to Create Happier Lifestyles


My career in financial planning has led me to spend a great deal of time thinking about and researching why people spend money the way we do. The conclusion I have come to is we spend it however we feel will make us happy. Happiness could mean possessions, financial security, status, etc.

One thing I have found interesting is how much people, myself included, overestimate the extent to which material things will make us happy, while we underestimate the happiness or total joy we will feel from generosity. I think we intuitively know this when we talk about the joy of giving around the holidays, or with little clichés like, “It’s better to give than to receive,” but very few of us live this truth daily.

It is difficult to put generosity in a box and break it down to a number, but because I’m a financial planner, I’ll try. My happiest clients set a target percentage of their annual income they plan to give away each year. For some, it’s 5% and for others, it’s 50%. There is a biblical principle called the tithe, which is 10% of income. I think this is a great place to start, and if that sounds too big, just start somewhere.

When we consider how much money we spend on happiness, knowing most of the “stuff” we thought would make us happy ultimately rusts, breaks or tears... why don’t we repurpose some of our money? A number of my clients have begun tithing, and they are not only happier, but changing the world for the better. I believe generosity appears to have a big price, but ultimately has no cost due to how much it enriches our lives and the lives of others.

I’ll leave you with a parting question to are you using your money to improve your return on life?


Article prepared by Northwestern Mutual with the cooperation of Ben Beshear. Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM) (life and disability insurance, annuities and life insurance with long-term care benefits), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and its subsidiaries. Securities are offered through Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS), a subsidiary of NM, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, member of FINRA and SIPC. Ben Beshear is an agent of NM and registered representative of the NMIS based in Cincinnati, OH. To contact Ben Beshear, please call 513.366.3664, email him at or visit his Website at