HomeFinance NewsPersonal finance100K Salary: Not Enough to Live the Dream

100K Salary: Not Enough to Live the Dream


Why a $100,000 income no longer buys the American Dream in most places


In today’s economy, achieving the American Dream, which traditionally includes homeownership, family life, and financial security, has become increasingly expensive.

Over 50% of Americans believe they need an annual income of at least $100,000 to feel financially comfortable, with 26% requiring $100,000 to $149,000 per year.

This benchmark of a six-figure salary, which once represented financial freedom, is now often insufficient to cover expenses and secure a middle-class lifestyle.

The cost of living has outpaced wage growth for decades, making it harder for many families to realize their financial goals.

To illustrate this, a study found that all 50 states require an annual income exceeding $100,000, with 38 states needing more than $140,000, for a family of four to secure essential expenses, own a home, a car, and a pet.

Compounding the challenge, many millennials and Generation Z individuals are burdened with significant debt upon entering adulthood.

Student loan debt and credit card balances can eat into their income, limiting their ability to save and pursue their financial aspirations.

As a result, even high-income earners are struggling to make ends meet, eroding the traditional notion of financial freedom.

Debt growth has become a substitute for income growth, creating a ripple effect that impacts generations.

This financial reality necessitates a reassessment of what constitutes the American Dream and a recognition that financial security and well-being are becoming increasingly elusive for many.

  • Overall sentiment: negative
  • Positive

    “The American Dream — which for many people involves some combination of owning a home, getting married, having kids and making enough after expenses to save for retirement and spend on leisure — is becoming increasingly expensive.”


    “Unfortunately, what has happened is that wages haven’t kept up with the cost of living, by and large, for the last 50 years or so”

    “It becomes increasingly hard for many families to be able to attain that sort of middle-class lifestyle, that American Dream”

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