Start saving: the dream lifestyle will cost you £2.6m (or 94 years' wages)

The dream home, car and holidays that people believe are necessary for an ideal lifestyle would cost more than £2.6m, according to research by Yahoo, the internet company.

Yahoo! Personal Finance calculated that it would take someone on an average salary 94 years to earn enough to afford an ideal lifestyle after polling 2,500 people in an online questionnaire in November and December. Participants in the survey were asked details of their salary and savings, about their ideal home, car and holiday, what type of person their ideal partner would be and how they would woo them, what they like to eat, drink and do on a night out, and what kind of clothes they prefer to wear.

Each answer was then given a numerical value used to calculate the cost of happiness. Those under aged 24 needed £2.55m to be happy while those aged 44 to 55 would need £2.9m. Women needed on average just over £2.7m for their dream lifestyle and men £2.6m.

The researchers also divided people into four categories based on their saving and spending behaviour. They foundthat 45 per cent wanted to be playboys or playgirls enjoying a party lifestyle and 39 per cent were "flashers", which stands for funds low, always spending heaps.

About 15 per cent fell into a "happy chaps" category, having accumulated plenty and maintaining the lifestyle they want, while one per cent were misers, making their money work hard for them.

Carole Spiers, an occupational stress consultant, said financial control would help make people happy because a lack of control was widely recognised as one of the greatest contributors to stress. She said: "While money alone may not buy you happiness, a lack of it can mean a more stressful, less fulfilled and ultimately less happy life."