Honestly I feel grateful that I (and my wife) have a naturally frugal mindset because I could not imagine having the salaries some of you guys are talking about and feeling like every week was a struggle, or that I was barely eking by. But I do recognize that not everyone is like this.
I want to make clear - I'm flirting with $100k (from 2 jobs) and I am not living paycheck to paycheck. We have a fully funded emergency fund, and are relatively free of debt, outside the main home and student loans (which, for strategic purposes, I'm not retiring) - I have a slightly negative net worth, solely based on the student loans. That should drift to positive over the next 10 to 12 months.
BUT, to people that think $100k is all this money - I live in central Louisiana - about the lowest cost of living place you can imagine, and I assure you we are not "well off" - we're flat out rich compared to many of my neighbors - but that's relative.
I'm speaking in absolute terms not that "If I get to $160k, I'll think $320k is the ideal income." I would be well off at around $160k - in high cost of living areas, $250k is probably about right - that would cover you in SF, NYC, DC, etc.
The issue, you see is - housing and energy are about the only things the fluctuate wildly (some grocery items, but that balances out). Private schools can vary a little, but they're fairly stable. So, whatever you want to spend money on - once you overcome your housing/energy burden, higher incomes start to produce tangible increases in quality of life.
Yeah, if you're a miser and don't engage in expensive habits like hunting, fishing, golfing, etc., you can get by on less money, but you can also do that by limiting entertainment expenses, travel, energy conservation, etc.
I raised 3 children to adulthood on an average of about $35k per year - I still don't know how I did that. I spend that on housing (including utilities) and transportation, alone, now - and not extravagantly. Heck, just electricity and gasoline cost me over $7k now.
This post was edited on 7/29 at 1:40 pm