General Question

wundayatta's avatar

What is the minimum annual income that you would consider to be a good income?

Asked by wundayatta (58693points) June 16th, 2009

What are your expecations about income? When do you think you’ll think you’re doing well? Who do you compare yourself to? Where do you think your standard comes from, or what is it based on?

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32 Answers

augustlan's avatar

It’s all so relative… the cost of living where you reside, whether you are supporting a family or just yourself, your age, your education level. Years ago, I thought $35 grand a year was a king’s ransom. Now it’s not enough.

Jack79's avatar

Depends on where you live. And of course “good” is a very general term. Right now I own the place where I live, and I need very little for food and stuff, so I’d say even 500euros a month (something like $7000 a year) would be enough. But that’s not including another $10,000 or more on lawyer costs and the $17,000 I still owe for the car I smashed.

When I lived in Poland with my daughter, we spent around 3–4000 zloty a month, which in dollars would be $15,000 a year. And lived quite comfortably.

I generally need a lot less than anyone I know for day-to-day expenses, but have found myself in extraordinary circumstances recently, which meant I had to quit my job and get a loan instead. I’ll pay it off someday though.

Bri_L's avatar

I was making enough for a family of 4 to live on. Not extravagantly.

Then, when I lost my job and had to apply for assistance. I found out my salaried wage, with 13 years experience, and 60 work weeks, was considered well below poverty level.

I think that speaks to the bullshit employer I had.

kevbo's avatar

According to happiness studies and experts, the magic number (in the US) is about $40k. Enough for comfort and some luxury.

Google Don Schrader. He lives on less than $4,000 a year and is happier than most.

The most I’ve made to date is $42k. I had enough money and felt like I was finally making in the ballpark of what I was worth but still didn’t have enough happiness. I’ve been a lot happier (and happily saved more money) on far less.

YARNLADY's avatar

We live in Northern California and were fairly satisfied with $75,000 when my son was still living at home, but now, with helping him make the payments of his house and my Grandson living here, and other family members who need help, we are glad he is doing substantially better.

However, $100,000 would not be enough to keep our standard of living if we moved to San Diego, which is where we would prefer to live.

Could we live on less? Yes, of course, but we are currently the ‘go to’ people in our family.

whatthefluther's avatar

I don’t seem to have too much trouble spending $75K tax-free without being employed (it’s called Long Term Disability Insurance and I made a very wise choice many years ago). That excludes what sccrowell earns at her full-time job plus commission. The cost of living is high here in Los Angeles, but we are very comfortable. Not having to worry about income is a blessing considering the health problems I have to deal with every day

Bri_L's avatar

@whatthefluther – That is a blessing. Health concerns are a terrible thing to deal with. I wouldn’t wish them on anyone.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

For what I want to do conservatively and simply, it would be about $50k

SirBailey's avatar

Six figures.

filmfann's avatar

Money is like a freeway. The more lanes you make, the more cars fill it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Given my educational background, my work experience, I would say that a good annual salary, for myself, would be 60K but I’ll settle for 50K (not including the benefit package)

casheroo's avatar

My expectations are not high, since I have no higher education and I can only work certain hours because I’m the one in charge of taking care of our son. I have to revolve my work schedule around our son. (that’s why I go in at 530am and my day is done usually between 1030-Noon)
With an education, I won’t take anything lower than 45k.

My husband has experience, but no education. He was offered a 39k job, and refused it. Which sucks for us now because it would have been steady money, but he didn’t want to take it. He will only take above 40k jobs.
Not a lot to some, but we don’t live extravagently, and don’t live inside the city. When making that much we can pay bills and have money left over.
52k for my husband would be ideal. He had that after our son was born, and I was able to stay at home.

Phobia's avatar

For me? About 20k right now. I live in a studio apartment, single with no kids, so its plenty for just me. My previous job averaged 50k, but after my company lost their contracts, I had to find another job. 20k is alright, 50k was NICE.

aprilsimnel's avatar

At least $60K, given my level of experience and education.

EmpressPixie's avatar

For me, right now in Chicago, I would say $24K after taxes. That’s $2K a month—enough for a nice place to share with my boyfriend, enough money to spend on basically whatever I want, and some money to put away for a rainy day.

By “after taxes”, I mean, after all the taxes are gone that is what’s left.

I mean, it’s not an income I’d shout from the rooftops, so proud of having made it. But it’s an income that would honestly let me do basically anything I wanted to do within reason. Including the occasional trip and regular “luxury” (ie, what I consider a luxury). It makes me happy. And it isn’t an impossible idea of a salary.

Darwin's avatar

$75 K for us, but then we live in a relatively inexpensive town. That amount, though, would let us save enough that we don’t have to do car loans, and assumes that we are still paying a mortgage (which we aren’t).

I have quite happily lived on much less when it was just me (about $10 K in Miami, Florida), but children mean larger housing and many more expenses.

Zaku's avatar

Money is just a number, a score in a game I don’t like much. What matters is if I have enough for my needs and what I want to be doing, which depends on where I am, what I’m doing and whom I’m spending time with. If someone gave me room and board in a lovely location (Rome please, or someplace else lovely and soul-soothing in other ways), I don’t really need much else to be happy, since I take most pleasure from talking with people, creating and playing games, exploring on foot, reading…

However work, and having to go to a regular job at a location and worry about a company’s product, etc., is a major happiness hit for me. In the interview I had Monday, I asked for $100,000 for a full-time job, though I’d be happy with less. If I’m spending most of my productive time and energy on someone else’s cause, I want to be rewarded so I can afford to do my own thing later, and/or support other people I love who aren’t earning as much, or whatever. If I were on my own in a nice Western Civ city doing work that I completely loved, I’d just want rent + food + medical insurance + some money for travel and appreciating things, say… $20,000 plus medical could be ok, though that’s just covering expenses, not saving anything.

drClaw's avatar

$60k here in Seattle is what seems most comfortable to me, but I am also supporting my wife while she goes back to college. Oh, and a dog, can’t forget the dog.

kenmc's avatar

Right now and right here, I’d be fine making $20,000 in a year. I could afford to rent a one bedroom, afford groceries and bills, and probably still have some money for fun. And since I’m going to a community college, I could probably afford to be a part-time student with that, too.

RedPowerLady's avatar

It’s so interesting to read everyone’s responses. The question then should be what would it feel like to you to live off of half your standard? Perhaps many are already (like me, haha).

I can’t answer the question though with my own opinion. However, I do think the 40–45k makes the most sense however after reading other people’s responses, for an “average family/couple” (whatever that is).

wundayatta's avatar

For comparison purposes, here are some data about median income. Median is the number where half the respondents have higher income, and half lower.

According to this website (a realtor website), median family income in 2007 was $58,480. This number is the earnings of all the individuals in a family combined. Based on the Census’ Current Population Survey, median family income in 2007 was 61,355. Yet another study from the Current Population Survey put the figure at 50,233. I don’t understand why these figures are all over the place. They may use different age groups (all ages, vs under 65, vs over 18, etc).

Median Individual income was 26,625 in 2007.

From the American Community Survey for 2007:

Median Household Income: 50,740

Median Earnings in the Past 12 Months of Full-Time, Year-Round Workers 16 and Older by Sex: Men: 44,255, Women: 34,278

Yet another table from the ACS—a three year rolling average from 2005 to 2007 (the link won’t display properly):

Median Household Income: 50,007

Median Family Income: 60,374 (why is family income higher than household income?)

Median Married Couple Families: 71,187

Median Non-Family Households (is this individuals?): 30,350

Ok, a non-family householder is a householder living alone or with non-relatives only.

So, the interesting thing here, is that most of you would consider a good income to be an income less than the median income. I have no idea what to make of that.

Zaku's avatar

Perhaps we were responding as individual wage earners rather than entire families?

Darwin's avatar

I was responding as a household, citing total income wanted.

bea2345's avatar

In the West Indies, except in high income places like the Bahamas, American retirees live very well on their Social Security – in fact, the US Embassy in Port of Spain processes a lot of these pensions. I suspect that Social Security is an significant part of our GDP.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I was responding for my entire family of 4

casheroo's avatar

I responded what I expect to make and my husband. And the ideal, which would be total family income.

Nullo's avatar

Around here, $50,000 is considered to be pretty good, if you’re middle-class and single. A complete household in the upper end of the middle class would be pulling down about $100,000.

plethora's avatar

At least 1,000,000 USD after taxes

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It’s interesting that since I answered this question, I have a different answer. Now a good income for me for my family of 4 would be at least $100K.

zensky's avatar

Here, about the equivalent of your American dollars would be $2500 for the national average income. Quite high, but you can’t really save anything and most people require double incomes just to finish the month (the c.o.l is very high, higher than New York even – and mortgage rates are in the sky. The reason there was no collapse here vis-a-vis is because there is no Freddy and Fanny et al. It is what it is – no bank lended money to someone who couldn’t pay it back.)

This is the Middle East – but American and Western in flavour (my word). The affluent seem to keep putting Cayenne’s and BMW’s on the road – and boutiques and malls pop up like mushrooms after the rain.

One in five is poor. Dirt poor. Food stamp poor.

So the middle class doesn’t really exist; there are rich and poor, and those making a really decent living – who can’t finish the month.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

A good living will be when I can buy a fully loaded Lamborghini with as much effort as I would buy a dollar burger at McDonalds. A good living is when I have so many $200,000 sports cars I can drive 14 days straight, minimum, and not drive the same vehicle twice. A good living is when I have a house so large I forget where some of the bathrooms are. A good living is when my yacht is so long it spans two time zones, and has its own helicopter. Good living is when I can earn 150 more when I am sleeping than I can spend when I am awake, even if I am buying Ferraris for a demolition derby. A good living is when you have so much cash, you are never know how much cash you really have. A good living is ”What he doesn’t own, he doesn’t want.” Corinne “Moonraker” (1979). A good living is when you can have your own private island. Anything less is just faking it until you make it.

zensky's avatar

All that is necessary for a good living?

. A good living is ”What he doesn’t own, he doesn’t want.” Corinne “Moonraker” (1979).

That’s your quote to back all that up?

It means the opposite.

I actually believe that I do not want what I have not got. I honestly do not want to bring anything else into my house/life. I am content with what I have and try to throw out something every day.

The Bible says he who is content with what he owns is a happy person.

Neil Young said; give me things that don’t get lost.

A big, fat Oy vey.

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