We're often told money doesn't buy happiness, and the best things in life are free.

But a new study from Purdue University in the US has disproved the saying and revealed there is an annual salary point where workers are the happiest.

In Australia and New Zealand, it's AU$159,000 (NZ$170,000) for combined household salary.

The study, which used Gallup data taken from more than 1.7million people in 164 countries, found there were different incomes for optimal emotional wellbeing and an overall positive evaluation of one's life.

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On a global average, happiness requires a salary of about US$ 95,000 (NZ$129,000), but positive emotions only cost US$ 60,000 ($82,000).

New Zealanders and Australians have some of the highest expectations in the world in terms of how much it takes to buy happiness. Photo/File.
New Zealanders and Australians have some of the highest expectations in the world in terms of how much it takes to buy happiness. Photo/File.

This means while the average Australian full-time worker, who earns AU$81,530 a year, might be struggling to reach full life satisfaction, they are at least in reach of positive feelings.

The average household income in New Zealand is NZ$94,000, which is again in reach of positive feelings.

In some parts of the world, researchers found there were 'turning points', where earning more than the amount determined to bring optimal satisfaction could result in a more negative outlook.

Researchers believe it may not be the income itself that drives the change, rather the increased workload, responsibility and time commitment that accompanies a high income.

These obstacles can also result in a lessened ability to take part in relaxing or leisurely activities, which are often associated with positive emotions.

The research also suggests a greater income can lead to greater societal expectations such as owning a home in a more expensive neighbourhood or living a more lavish lifestyle, which can result in increased stress and negative emotions.

Australians and New Zealanders felt they needed the most money globally to be happy, while the Middle East and North Africa were a close second, and most satisfied with an average salary of $US 115,000.

East Asia were most satisfied earning $US 110,000, and Northern America, comprising Canada and the US, reported the highest levels of satisfaction at a salary of $US 105,000.

- Daily Mail