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How to Make $100,000 a Year

Making $100k a year is a dream for many — but it's possible, even if the economy is down. Follow these 6 steps to start building a 6 figure income TODAY.

Learning how to make $100,000 a year is a common goal for many entrepreneurs — and why wouldn’t it be?

Here’s a list of things you can get with $100,000:

  1. An actual jetpack
  2. Country legend Willie Nelson to perform at your birthday party
  3. A private island off the coast of Ontario, Canada

There are many ways you can get to earning six figures a year. The two most common ways are:

  1. Getting a job that pays six figures a year
  2. Starting a side hustle and scaling it so you’re eventually making six figures a year

However, it’s not going to be easy. Building out a side gig so that it helps you earn six figures a year is going to take time, a few sacrifices, and sweat equity. So does up-leveling your full-time job. But what’s below is a system that has been followed by thousands of our students successfully.

BUT WAIT! Before you start building six figures …

Repeat it with me: The biggest barrier in the way of a Rich Life is debt.

The biggest barrier in the way of a Rich Life is debt.

The biggest barrier in the way of a Rich Life is debt.

The biggest — you get the picture.

Before you even think about systems and tactics to scale your earnings to six figures, you need to get out of debt.

Once you do, and you begin to earn more, you’ll find that paying off any regular debts you might have is actually empowering instead of debilitating.

“I’m surprised at how my relationship with debt has changed,” says Bonnie Gillespie, author of Self-Management for Actors. “I see student loans and credit card bills as investments others made in me and my ability to be good for the money they fronted me. When I write checks to pay these bills, in my mind they’re thank-you notes to those early investors. I know not everyone has the same relationship with debt that I do.”

You can start to actually frame your debt as an investment rather than just something you owe.

“What has surprised me about being consistently in six figures is how much FREEDOM I feel in being able to take a machete to my debt,” Bonnie says. “Writing checks for five figures to MasterCard every month to just hobble that debt feels massively empowering in ways I wasn’t aware would free me.”

If you’re in debt now and you want to take steps to get out of it, be sure to check out Ramit’s video on the topic below.

How to earn six figures a year

A while back, we spoke with two millionaires about how they made their riches.

Longtime IWT readers shouldn’t be too surprised to learn that they didn’t earn their millions through weird MLM schemes or buying lottery tickets, but through the powerful combination of saving / investing and starting a business on the side.

We regularly receive THOUSANDS of emails from people who have made six or seven-plus figures and if you asked me to break down how they did it in pie chart form, it might look something like this.

How millionaires make their money pie chart
For this article, we talked to a number of people who scaled their income to six figures and more. We found that their strategy was no different — albeit with a few idiosyncrasies.

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Set up your financial foundation

When you have a goal as ambitious as “I want to earn a six-figure income,” it’s easy to lose sight of the really important things in your life.

I’m talking about the basics: food, water, shelter, etc.

This is the “Tripod of Stability” — all of the foundational, big aspects of your life that you keep ultra-stable so you can take risks in other areas.  

“I’m a proponent of part of the Tripod of Stability,” says Naveen Dittakavi, founder of “If you have a day job, you need to ensure that it’s stable. You have to carve an ability to work on your side hustle while doing great work at your day job.”

He continues, “I lived at home for six years. My parents were really cool and helped me get by while I built out my business.”

Naveen recently scaled his hustle so that he’ll be taking away roughly $1 million this year (so you know he knows his stuff).

By taking care of your big things — your home, car, relationships, food — you’ll be able to take risks in areas like your side business. As Ramit says, when you have your bases covered, you’re not really taking risks at all.

Your Tripod of Stability doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re free of sacrifices though. If you want to devote yourself to making six figures a year, you’re going to have to change some of your habits and beliefs.

“I sacrificed a lot to build my business,” Naveen recalls. “After all, living at home with your parents for six years means you’re going to be single for six years — BUT it gave me what I wanted out of my life.”

Action step: Identify your Tripod of Stability

Write down the three main “legs” of your Tripod of Stability. These are the things that, if they remain constant, would allow you to weather dramatic changes in other areas in your life. It could be things like:

  • Your home
  • Your car
  • Your job
  • Your wife/husband
  • Your savings account

Once you know what makes up your Tripod of Stability, you can make sure you have those areas secure so you can start taking risks in areas like starting a side hustle.

If you’re worried about your personal finances, you can improve them without even leaving your couch. Check out my Ultimate Guide to Personal Finance for tips you can implement TODAY.

Step 2: Earn more money in your career

If you’re looking to build a six-figure income on freelancing with your side hustle alone, you can skip this step.

If having a job is one of the legs for your Tripod of Stability, though, you’re going to want to maximize your salary as much as possible.

Why? The more you earn, the closer you’ll get to your first six-figure year. There’s no better way to do that than to negotiate your salary.

Check out this chart that shows how much a $5,000 increase in salary can add up over the years:

How much negotiating a $5000 raise will get you over 40 years
Not only is it a BIG win, but it also sets you squarely on the road to earning more after just one conversation with your boss.

And the first step to do this is actually straightforward — but many people still forget it: Do good work.

“First and foremost, you have to deliver great results,” says IWT reader and six-figure earner Enoch Ko. “Without results, no amount of networking or relationship building can get you [to six figures]. That said, you have to build good relationships at work along with delivering great results.”

“Results and relationships go hand-in-hand,” he continues. “Once I had proven myself to be a Top Performer, higher salary was just a matter of time — having regular salary discussions with my managers and skip-level managers, working out timing with the corporate planning cycles, etc.”

Once you prove yourself to be an invaluable asset to your company, begin to build two of the most important tools at your disposal: your network and your observations. Enoch made such an impact he eventually moved on to another role that he was referred to by … his current manager.

“It was through building good, trusting relationships through delivering great results that helped,” he says.

One thing that can have a HUGE impact on salary negotiations is showing you can add even more value in the future.

A great way to do this is simply by asking questions of your manager:

  • What’s something that you would like to improve within the company — and how can I help?
  • What traits do you value the most in a new hire?
  • How can I help with your most important goal this quarter?

Not only will this show that you have initiative but it also gives you insight into exactly the kind of talking points that will grand slam your salary negotiation.

Bonus: If you just need to earn extra money on the side TODAY, check out my Free Ultimate Guide to Making Money here.

Action step: Prepare for your salary negotiation

Check out our resources all about how to prepare for your salary negotiations. A few great places to start:

You should also prepare one of IWT’s favorite interviewing tactics: The Briefcase Technique.

This is perfect for interviews, salary negotiations, client proposals, whatever! The best part: 90% of the work is already done before you even walk into negotiations.

Here’s how it works:

First, you’re going to leverage the information you’ve gleaned from observing the company and write up a 1-5 page document describing the areas of the company where you can add value.

Then, you’re going to bring the proposal with you when you negotiate your salary. When the question of compensation inevitably arises, you’re going to pull out this document and outline exactly how you’re going to solve the challenges of the company.

Hiring manager: So what’s your price range?

You: Actually, before we discuss compensation, I’d love to show you something I put together.

And then you literally pull out your proposal document detailing the pain points of the company and EXACTLY how you can help them.

This shows the company how you’re the person who’s going to add value in those areas, making you an incredibly valuable employee they’ll want to pay more to keep around.

Ramit discusses The Briefcase Technique in depth in this two-minute video. Check it out below.

BONUS: If you want more information on how to earn your Dream Job, check out our resources below to help you out.

The best time to build healthy habits was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. Download my Ultimate Guide to Habits to get started TODAY.

Step 3: Find a side hustle idea

This is the number one barrier holding people back from creating their side hustle.

After all, you’re looking for something that’s profitable and that you’re passionate about.

And the Venn diagram between those two things often seems like two separate circles.

Luckily, you already have profitable skills already. That’s what Christina Nicholson of Media Maven realized when she left her job after years of experience as a television news reporter and started working for a PR agency.

“Like many people, I didn’t have a great boss,” Christina recalls, “and more attention was paid to the hours I was sitting in front of my desk in the office instead of the quality of work I was executing.”

That all changed when one day a client came in to pay his retainer and Christina discovered that it was more than what she made in one month.

“That’s when I realized I could do all the work AND keep all the money,” she says. “I didn’t need to work for someone who caused me unnecessary stress. I didn’t need to get vacation approved or be on the receiving end of an attitude when I needed to leave the office early because I had a sick child.”

She continues, “I could also do other things, like host local and national TV segments on a freelance basis.”

So she began to build out Media Maven, her hustle to help other businesses get a handle on their PR. “After starting my business,” she recalls, “I saw what was possible and it motivated me, even more, to learn more about entrepreneurship and take things to the next level.”

That’s not the only way you can find a profitable freelancing idea either. There are actually four questions you can ask yourself right now to find an idea you can leverage for your hustle:

  1. What do you already pay for? We already pay people to do a lot of different things. Can you turn one of those things into your own online business? Examples: Clean your home, walk your pet, cook you meals, etc.
  2. What skills do you have? Now, what do you know — and know well? These are the skills you have that you’re great at — and people want to pay you to teach them. Examples: Fluency in a foreign language, programming knowledge, cooking skills, etc.
  3. What do your friends say you’re great at? Not only can this question be a nice little ego boost — but it can also be incredibly revealing. Examples: Workout routines, relationship advice, great fashion sense, etc.
  4. What do you do on a Saturday morning? What do you do on a Saturday morning before everyone else is awake? This can be incredibly revealing to what you’re passionate about and what you like to spend your time on. Examples: Browsing fashion websites, working on your car, reading fitness subreddits, etc.

Find an answer to those questions and I promise you you’ll find a great freelancing idea.

Click here to receive your very own PDF of the 30 proven business ideas.

Action step: Find a profitable idea

Spend about 10-20 minutes now writing down five answers for each of the four questions above. Once you’re done, congratulations — you now have 20 potential business ideas that you can grow into a flourishing side hustle.

For now, just choose one business idea. It’s okay, you can always change it later. For now, we’re going to just try one out and try to find a client with it.

Step 4: Get your first client

In order to start earning money, you need to find the people who will give you money for your ideas.

But the question is … how? Where do you find these people?

Naveen’s tactic? Offering mouthwatering value.

“I was really involved in a lot of entrepreneurial aspirational groups,” he explains. “So entrepreneurs would hang out there and I would find ways I could add value. I wasn’t trying to pitch or close deals. I would just say that I had a computer science degree and, ‘I can help you clarify your vision and understand what it takes to build it out.’”

“I’ve always been helpful,” Naveen continues. “I started to find that being helpful to other people builds trust and will result in sales. I was in a position where there was limited talent to execute tech projects and there wasn’t a lot of people to help aspiring entrepreneurs.”

By doing this, Naveen did two very important things when it comes to finding clients:

  • He went to where the clients lived. By going to exactly where his target market hung out, he was able to build a network of potential clients and people he could help.
  • He offered amazing value. Naveen recognized an opportunity to show his potential clients that he was the man to help them. This value-add helped him gain his first few clients.

You can do the same thing.

Ask yourself:

  • Who is my client?
  • Where do they go when they want to look for a solution to their problems?
  • Where are they ALREADY looking for solutions to their problems?
  • How can you connect them to your service?

At this point, you’re also going to want to niche down your market in order to really tailor your services and draw in customers. So think about who’s an example of a client who might want to buy your product.

A few questions to jump-start your research:

  • How old are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • What are their interests?
  • How much do they make?
  • What books do they read?

Using this information, find out what your clients need by going to the places they go.

For example:

  • Want to pitch to moms that blog about children? Go to The Mom Blogs and start with the ones under “Popular Blogs.”
  • Looking for physical or massage therapists within 50 miles of your house? Yelp should get you started easily.
  • If you want to do large dog grooming and sitting, well there’s probably a local pet store or dog park near you where owners are all congregating just waiting for you to offer them a solution.

Here are a few suggestions of some other great sites freelancers can use to find business online:

Once you find a potential client, you’re going to want to reach out to them and pitch your services.

Action step: Find a client and email them (with scripts)

Find your client using the information I’ve outlined above. Let’s say you are a video editor looking to pick up some side work. Here’s a handy script you could use (just replace the “video editor”–specific stuff with your skill):


I saw your post on X and visited your website. I noticed that you’ve recently started using videos too.

I’ve been doing video editing for three years and I’d like to offer to help you edit your videos and get them optimized for the web.

That would make them look more professional and load faster, which is important for your readers. And you’d free up time that you could use to create new content.

We can discuss the details, of course, but first I wanted to see if this is something you might be interested in.

If so, would it be okay if I sent you a few ideas on how to help?


Joe Example

A few takeaways:

  • There is zero fat in the pitch. Every word counts and is needed to help really sell the benefits of working with you.
  • Don’t mention payment. There’s nothing that will kill a potential client’s interest in you more than pushing prices on them before they’re ready.
  • Stress the benefits. This email shows the client why it would be in their best interest to buy from you in the third paragraph.

Once you get a client using this email, congrats! You just secured your first client — but it doesn’t end there. You need to actually do the work for them, and that means continually adding value.

“Being super aware of how you can help people and how they perceive you and recognizing that money will come if you’re valued by your audience helps most,” Naveen explains.

Need to find a way to work from home? Download my Ultimate Guide to Working from Home to learn all of my best strategies for the short term, AND the long term.

Step 5: Find out the true cost of earning six figures a year

You need to make at least $100,000 a year if you want a six-figure income. That means making at least:

  • $8,333.33 a month, or
  • $2,083.33 a week, or
  • $416.66 each workday, or
  • $52 an hour.

That’s simple back-of-the-napkin math. What isn’t obvious though are the hidden costs — the expenses you don’t take into account when you’re deciding how much you want to make.

“When I started out, I just took $100,000 and divided it up into an hourly wage so it came to about $52 an hour,” recalls Naveen. “That was dumb though. I didn’t even think about health insurance, retirement, vacation, or anything else.”

When you’re setting out to make six figures a year, you need to keep in mind what that actually means. Once you do that, you can set a proper goal for how much you want to make a year.

So before you jump into any system to make six figures, take into account any and all expenses you might have in a year, including:

  • Utility bills (internet, water, electricity, etc.)
  • Rent
  • Car/home payments
  • Food/groceries

Any living expense should be accounted for. Also make sure you account for your salary if you have a day job.

Once you do this, you’ll be able to get a sense of what earning six figures truly means, and you can begin to charge your clients what you want.

Action step: Charge what you’re worth

Now it’s time to do some back-of-the-napkin math to figure out exactly how much you want to charge to make six figures.

Don’t worry, it’s pretty simple. Take your expenses that you calculated above and add it to $100,000. Subtract your yearly salary and voila! You have roughly how much you should be earning per year through your side hustle.

You don’t have to go crazy with this. A ballpark number is just fine when you’re starting out.

If you really want to get into the weeds, you can even take into account state and federal taxes as well.

And while there are no set rules for rates, there are actually a few methods you can use to find one that works for you.

  1. Drop Three Zeros MethodSimply take your ideal (read: realistic) salary, drop three zeros from it, and voila, you have your hourly rate!For example, say you’d really like to earn at least $40,000. Just take the three zeros from the end and you now have your rate: $40/hour.
  2. Double your “resentment number”I love this one because it’s both really interesting and effective. Ask yourself: What’s the lowest rate you’ll work for that’ll leave you resentful of your work?Say you’ll work for $15/hour at the VERY LEAST. Just double that number, so now you’ll earn $30/hour.
  3. Do what the next guy doesThis method is incredibly simple: Go to Google and search for the average hourly rate for whatever service you’re providing. You’ll get a good sense of where to start when you’re charging your clients.

The best part is after you start charging your clients, you can start to take on more or less work until you earn the amount you want.

For example, after you earn your first $1,000, it’s incredibly easy to start dialing your prices up and charge even more money from your clients.

Start “tuning” your rates after your first few clients. Were you making $30/hour? Start charging $40 or even $50. There’s no hard and set rule for how much you should charge. Just start tuning until you find a rate you’re happy with.

Step 6: Invest in your finances AND yourself

Investments can take all shapes and forms. Let’s walk through three areas where you can start to invest when it comes to building out your six-figure life.

Investment #1: Personal finance

This is IWT’s bread and butter and an area where we have extensive resources.

It’s also a very important leg anyone should have on their Tripod of Stability.

The easiest way to get started ensuring your personal finances are in order is by automating your finances.

This is Ramit’s system of sending your paycheck where it needs to go each month (utilities, rent, cell phone bill, etc.) so you don’t have to worry about it.

“Being financially conservative, I have also automated my cash flow so that I automatically have savings and investments,” Enoch says. “I enjoy not having to think about savings and investments. I enjoy being able to spend money without worrying whether I’d have enough cash to pay for the highly cyclical quarterly gas bill or bimonthly electricity bill when they come.”

“Automation is incredibly important,” Naveen says. “At the time I was drawing a wage from my day job, it was helpful to put my trust in a system that made sense and would work out in the end. At the time, I was putting cash away in my ING Direct account and my sub-savings accounts. I was able to see that number increase and I saw it worked really well.”

Automating your finances only takes one to two hours at the most, but once you set it up, you don’t have to worry about it again.

AND it’ll save you thousands of dollars over your lifetime.

Here is a 12-minute video of Ramit explaining the exact process below.

Investment #2: Your side hustle

You’re going to reach a point in your side hustle where you’re going to have to put back some money into it if you want to grow.

That could take the form of hiring employees, buying a website domain, or getting a mentor / coach as was Christina’s case.

“It sounds cliche, but working smarter instead of working harder is how I reached six figures,” Christina explains. “How do you work smarter? You surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and have already achieved what you’re working for.”

So she hired a business coach and found someone to help her build out her business.

“I really did my homework,” she says. “I hired someone with a team of people, all of which were successful entrepreneurs earning at least multiple six figures, many of their clients were earning at least multiple six figures, and the coaching team had a very high retention rate, which told me they must do something right!”

That’s just one example though. You can find many ways to put money back into your business to help it grow.

One great way to invest is to seek out mentorship or purchase a product or a book — which brings us to …

Investment #3: Yourself

Possibly the best investment that you can make is putting money in developing yourself both career-wise and on a personal level.

“My biggest investment is self-care,” Bonnie says. “The first thing on the calendar each month is Pilates, pole fitness, massages, day spa visits, couples therapy, quick getaways to Desert Hot Springs, and so on. If I’m not my best self, I’ve got nothing to bring my clients. It’s just stupid important, as investments go.”


This is exactly in line with Ramit’s abundance mentality. Who cares if this seems like a luxury? Who cares if people might scoff at the idea of getting a massage? What matters is that YOU want it and that YOU are willing to work for it.

The best way to get started is to begin investing in yourself.

Now, one thing that you will find very common with people who have not taken the time to invest in themselves and learn how this stuff works, is they will create what’s called levels of abstraction.

Rather than just going directly to what they want, they will create all these different levels of abstraction — like making a Facebook page or a blog — that make them feel good, but that actually don’t require them to do the hard work.

So, they’ll spend six, nine, twelve months doing something frustrating and then give up because they never spent time buying a couple good books or buying a course.

That’s why we want to offer you a proven system that’s helped thousands of students earn tens of thousands of dollars a month — for FREE:

The official handbook to 6-figure freelancing with zero experience
You’ll discover:

  • The three fears you MUST overcome if you want to make it as a 6-figure freelancer
  • How to become a highly sought-after expert (Hint: It has nothing to do with credentials or degrees)
  • How to figure out if an idea is profitable before investing time and effort
  • The six parts to an email pitch that clients can’t refuse
  • The Briefcase Technique that’ll make potential clients choose you over anyone else
  • And much more!

Enter your name and email below to get the free handbook.

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  1. avatar
    Ben P

    I’m 27, and I’m an attorney practicing in a medium-large midwest city.

    Honestly, not much has changed from how I lived when I was a law student. (aside from hours worked on a weekly basis) The only major increase in my living expenses was that my rent increased significantly when I moved from a college town to to the city I work in. But I’m also presently focusing on paying off student loan debt as fast as possible. At the rate I’m paying I realistically expect it to be gone in another 2-3 years.

  2. avatar

    I’m 31, and I earn about $120k a year. It can vary depending on bonus, but it’s never less than about $105k. I work for a Fortune 100 Property/Casualty. I can honestly say that I am no more “happy” than I was when I made $30k, but more money does take the stress out of paycheck to paycheck living (it does raise the stakes of lost income, however).

    It doesn’t really present problems with friends because I don’t live a $100k lifestyle. I doubt they have any idea what I make.

  3. avatar
    Zac M

    I’m 23 years old and I am an international drilling engineer working in remote and hostile locations.

    For me it was a night and day transition. In college I was burdened with bills such as rent, utilities, cell phone and internet with ZERO income. Upon graduating and starting a job overseas I have nearly no expenses as everything is provided for me yet now I am making over six figures. Having expatriate status also dramatically reduces my tax burden.

    In terms of hanging out with friends, the situation has changed. Since some of my friends are still jobless since graduating I’ve offered to fly them to meet me for Vegas trips or football games.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      How do they react to your offer to fly them out?

    • avatar
      Erica Douglass

      I’m curious as to how your friends reacted, too. I didn’t realize how offensive this was to some people. To me it was like “Hey, I’d like to hang out with you and this is an easy way to do it.” To many others it reads as “You’re rich and waving money in my face and bragging that you can do this.” This was NOT what I intended and it made me a really unhappy camper to have it interpreted in that way. Money is a touchy subject for a lot of people–particularly when you don’t have much.


    • avatar

      Erica, this is good insight. Sometimes, it’s not even about perceived bragging, but rather a feeling of indebtedness to the friend footing the bill. That can be pretty uncomfortable despite the good intent!

    • avatar

      Yayyy, reading your post made me smile =)
      I’ve always said and do dream that if I was finacially able, I would do things for my friends just as you do yours.

    • avatar

      “International drilling engineer?” This guy is so full of it. Guaranteed.

    • avatar

      Full of it? Sounds like someone is both jealous and ignorant of starting salaries of drilling engineers, especially oversees. I, on the other hand, am quite familiar with them and he is not full of it.

      People never used to believe me when I told them I was a 22 yr old chemical engineer making 50K (this was a LONG time ago).

  4. avatar

    I’m 31 and together with my spouse we make 60K (although most of it goes to daycare..if Obama REALLY wanted to help the middle class he’s do something about the daycares haveing to be insured up the like a doctors office incase a kid falls and a greedy parent sees it as a free payday)

    I work in the health care industry doing Stop-Loss

    My friends DO make a lot more than we do (over 100k like yall) but their spending/saving habits are so horrible that they are always broke while we have no consumer debt (I love apartments!) so we live much more comfortably. It evens out so no friendship suffers

    Side note though-Sometimes I want to just shake the hell out of them over their spending. How can you make 100K p/yr and have no 401K or IRA-nothing??! How can you NOT keep the phone bill paid? Oh what I could do with 100K!!!!

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Chances are you wouldn’t behave much differently than they do

    • avatar

      Daycares are forced to have insurance for the same reason you are required to have car insurance: if you hit someone, he/she can collect from you (or your insurance carrier on your behalf) to pay for his/her injuries; if a kid is injured at daycare, his parents can collect from the daycare provider (or its insurance company) to pay for the kid’s injuries.

      As much as you complain about the high cost of daycare due to required insurance, I’m sure you’d be more angry if your kid got injured at daycare and you couldn’t collect because (1) the daycare was judgment proof (i.e. had no assets) and (2) was uninsured.

  5. avatar

    I’m 29 and a government attorney (local government, not Federal). In January I’ll be crossing the 100k threshhold.

    I’ve been making decent to good money since I’ve been out of law school. Since then, I’ve bought a condo and put away good hunks of money toward retirement. My lifestyle costs have gone up, but a lot of that comes from leaving the midwest and returning to the NY metro region, which is a fairly costly place to live. The rest of that comes from being engaged (not that it necessarily increases lifestyle costs per person, but the cumulative effect increases things). I haven’t really upped my lifestyle that much, so I don’t think there’s a significant growth in lifestyle inflation (although now I have furniture).

    I do make more than most of my friends, but it doesn’t really present problems. Most of them didn’t go to college (outside of community college), so they never accumulated the student loan debt that I did. Besides that, we still pretty much do the same stuff we did before — occassionally we get together to eat out, usually we hang out at someone’s home watching bad movies, sports and bsing.

  6. avatar

    I’m 37, I am a GM of a 3-star restaurant in NYC. I make around $120,000 but it could be a little more or less depending on this year’s bonus. When I first got to the $100,000 mark, I felt like all my years of hard work finally paid off. As a reward to myself for living on way less for a really long time, I literally take 40% of my post-tax pay check and put it into savings…as what I always used to complain about was that I didn’t make enough to live in NYC and save for a wedding or real estate or IRA’s. Now, I do… My friends make less than I do. It’s not really a big deal because I live as if I make less and save the rest…so I’m not sure they get that I make much more. But, perodically when I really really want something…I do let myself get it and it’s usually pretty luxurious and I do see it in their eyes…they probably think I put it on credit but I don’t.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Hmm…a 3-star restaurant? You do know I just moved to NYC right

  7. avatar

    I’m 32-year-old engineer, and I make just over six figures, not including bonuses and stock incentives. Like Jason, I don’t live the lifestyle one associates with six figures, so it doesn’t really affect how I interact with my friends.

  8. avatar

    DH and I are attorneys and make a combined 270k. It is very, very nice not to have to worry about all the little things that eat into your savings. By the end of this year, we’ll have no debt (graduate loans are all that remains) but our mortgage, which isn’t extravagant by any means–we bought the house when we made way, way less money.

    We haven’t really increased our day to day spending since we’ve been making $$. Our main vice is traveling and staying in nice places and I don’t apologize for it. We can afford it and someday soon, it’ll be difficult to arrange with our kids in school and our busy work schedules.

    Most of our friends do well in the salary department, but they’ve all upgraded their houses, cars, lifestyle etc. Now they’re stuck on the treadmill. I don’t think we’re anywhere near jumping off and saying adios to the work world, but a lower time required job with a corresponding lower salary is truly an option for us in the future.

    • avatar

      This is very similar to my wife and I. We live in a tiny 1bd/1ba apartment, but will spend quite a bit on travel each year. Also we’ve decided to put some of our hard earned money towards eating better thus increasing our expenses there. All in all, we spend about 40% of our earnings on our day to day expenses as well as travel and food. The rest is put away towards 401k, IRA, and building a cash horde to make sure my wife’s business will weather any storm with relative ease.

  9. avatar
    Ryan B

    I’m 32 years old now and jumped over 100k in April 2000 (185k/yr today). My current title is “IT Architect”, which simply means that I decide how computer networks are going to be setup but don’t have to do the actual setup work.

    My salary went from ~90k to ~120k within days of passing a certification exam that was in high demand at the time (Cisco CCIE). I was more excited about the prestige of the certification than the bump in pay. My parents, on the other hand, loved telling people about their 22 year old kid making over 100k/yr.

    The only thing that really changed is that the more money I made the more I wasted. Bottom line is bad money habits don’t go away as you make more money. Though, an increasing salary does let you fix mistakes.

    • avatar

      So you’re an IT Architect? I’m 28 and thinking of starting to go back to school and IT Architect was one of the things i was considering…I work as a Hardware Infrastructure Support Tier III right now and are at about 67k. (Yearly bonus included, 62 base) I live in the Tri-State area and with the costs of housing here as well I know I’ve got to do some more to really up my salary if I plan on getting married, buying a place and having kids.

  10. avatar

    I’m 32, and have made $100k+ for the last 4 or 5 years. I work in Search Engine Marketing and my income comes from a combination of salary, freelance projects and various other side projects.

    The first year I did over $100K, there was a lot of patting myself on the back. Since then, it’s just the norm.

    Most of my friends have no idea how much I make, and I like it that way. I’m driven in my earning, but endeavor to keep my spending at levels more in line with someone making half as much.

    • avatar

      Err … Are you sure you don’t want your friends to know how much you make ? Why put your website ?

    • avatar


      How did you get into this field ? What sort of background would be useful and what sort of companies would pay this kind of salary ?

      Are your side projects also in SEM ?

  11. avatar
    Michael H

    24 years old, 110,000 a year working as a computer engineer. Have my masters and undergraduate degrees in computer and electrical engineering.

    I just got my big raise and it honestly has not hit me yet. I am excited about the money I am earning but other than buying a new TV nothing has changed yet. I have been focused on paying off my student loans and have only 5k left.

    My friends make significantly less than myself. Other than picking up the occasional bar tab it has no effect on what we do.

    • avatar

      Michael H…
      Where do you live? (what state)
      where do you work?
      And how many hours do you work?

  12. avatar

    27, Sales. To be honest it still doesn’t feel like enough. My month to month pay check is still the same as when I was making $50k, but my quarterly bonuses are now significantly larger. Consequently I still feel like I’m living paycheck to paycheck, and I wind up just socking most of the bonus away in index funds or padding the savings account. Maybe I just keep good company, but most of my friends actually make more than I do, some just a little and some by 2 or 3x.

    Being that a job is still a job, I still don’t feel like life is “comfortable” because if I decided to pack up and move tomorrow the income would be cut off. It’s more important to me to own a source of income.

  13. avatar

    26 years old

    Consultant Aerospace Engineer (around $140k a year)

    I was worried that my days of earning a 6 figure salary would be short lived due to an increase in outsourcing of engineering jobs to places like India and Russia for a fraction of the cost of a domestic engineering firm. Now I realize that great engineers will always demand a premium, afterall, someone has to oversee the work of the outsourced engineers for the domestic companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. It’s the less than stellar performers and new grads here in the US that will likely be on the losing end of the new global economy.

    My 6 figure salary came all at once, more than doubling what I had made the year before. The only thing that changed once I started making over 100k 3 years ago was that I paid off every cent of my debt and have built up lots of savings and investements, and fast. When I more than doubled my salary I decided I would continue to live on what I was making before and save and invest the rest so I could retire asap.

    My husband also makes 6 figures and most of our friends have no idea how much money we make unless they work with us so it’s never been an issue. We still live in our 1400 sq foot house we remodeled ourselves, we still drive our cars we bought used and I still buy clothes from places like Old Navy, Target and Marshalls. They’d probably be shocked to find out that we have over $20k saved for our kids’ college and we don’t even have any kids yet!

    • avatar
      Dan CaJacob

      Hi Jessica,

      I’m an engineer too, building small satellites. The company I work for is quite small, so I don’t have access to a real mentor. I would appreciate any advice you could offer – I make quite a bit less than you! Thanks.

    • avatar

      Jessica, you are a woman after my own heart. I am a few years older than you, and just as responsible. I have a 529 in my own name, which will be transferred to my child (once it is actuallly conceived!). Good for you, especially as a woman in a field that is so dominated by men!

    • avatar
      Financial Samurai

      This is great! 26 years old and making $160,000. How can people think the economy is bad with this type of income? People are silly.

    • avatar

      @Financial Samurai: helloo, this is certainly not the majority of people that are engineers. it does not have any link with the economy.

  14. avatar

    I’m 32 and a software developer for a finaicial firm and my salary is ~$105K.

    When I first started working after college, I was making about the same as all of my friends. Maybe a little bit more. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that my salary grew significantly more than my friends. I also was the by far most frugal of the bunch.

    I came from a background where we didn’t really have much money, and the company I kept never spent extravagently, so me wanting to do things that were more, you know, spendy was never much of an issue. I save about 50% of my after tax salary and my splurges on frivilous things are few and far between.

    A thing of note, since I know I make signficantly more than most of friends, I’m hyper-sensative to the cost of things when going out. I almost go out of my way to find inexpensive things to do because I don’t want their opinion of me to change because I’m more well off financially.

  15. avatar

    I’m a 28 year old Software Manager making 100+

    Feels good to make this much, but it’s not without time costs. One of the huge differences I’ve noticed is I don’t have time to take care of the little things, like the dishes, laundry, yard work, etc on my own anymore. The added expense of needing someone to take care of this stuff for me is not exorbitant, but it does require me to think about making even more money to offset the costs if I want to continue to save more.

    Most of my friends earn comparable salaries, but even for those who don’t our lifestyles are still similar, and we all hang out together on a regular basis. It seems that income discrepancies have less to do with lifestyle than having kids and other responsibilities.

  16. avatar

    I’m 26 and a software engineer. First broke $100k cash this year. When I first passed the limit, I felt initially great – it’s a milestone, of course – but then realized it was just the result of a steady climb in salary over the past few years, so it lost its impact. I’ve focused on paying off debt from my poor college student days and rewarded myself getting it all taken care of this year with a new car.

    A lot of my friends indeed make a *lot* less than I do, and it does present problems – nobody is outright hostile with envy or anything like that, but sometimes I’ll get an offhand comment about my lifestyle or belongings that suggests it. I feel guilty sometimes because I’m constantly wanting to go do things (whether it just be going out, getting some food at a nice restaurant, etc.) and I think sometimes my friends feel pressured to “keep up” with me. The more time I’ve been affluent, the more this becomes a problem, because I’ve stopped worrying about money on that scale and it just honestly doesn’t occur to me that others can’t always join in. I also have problems in the sense that I feel bad for getting excited about things that involve a lot of money; for instance, it’s hard to share excitement over a stock price jumping or debating which luxury car I should get when the other person is making that much less than I. I don’t want to come off as gloating or make them feel bad, so sometimes I feel I don’t have any peers, so to speak, to feel comfortable with in such discussions.

  17. avatar

    I am 29 years old, I work for an Intelligence Company overseas, and make about 120k (I am a contractor and only doing the gig for one year).

    It feels great seeing those paychecks coming in, knowing that I can build a huge nest egg in a short period of time.

    The biggest change was how much I could save (and the fact that I had to move to the Middle East for a year). I started in October last year, and was able to max out my company’s 401k and my Roth for 2009 and 2010 in my first six months on the job. I had very little debt (a few grand on my credit card), so all of my money has gone into savings or investments of some sort. I also allowed myself some spending money for a two week vacation to Portugal (my first real vacation).

    As far as friends. I generally hang out with people who are like minded when it comes to finances. I haven’t seen a difference in my relationships. I spend like I make 25k, not 100k+. Family is a different story. Once they heard I was starting this job, some asked to borrow money, some told me about investment ideas they wanted me to go in on them with (because they couldn’t afford it on their own) and one even asked if I could co-sign his student loans.

    • avatar

      How did you handle it with your family?
      I’m not making that much this year, it will probably be the case next year.
      I have lots of friends in Africa who are making 3x less than me still working a lot more than me. Some asked to borrow money, some to invest in their businesses and others to pay their rents.
      At this time, I always said that I don’t give money and that I want guarantees because I don’t want them to become assisted like so many are.
      I think this is going to become increasingly hard as I will earn more money so I’d like to know how others handle this.

  18. avatar
    Elizabeth Polis

    I am 29, and own and operate a small physical therapy private practice. Patients are seen for wellness concerns as well as acute and chronic injuries. They are treated primarily with an array of manual hands on techniques and instructed in exercises plus lifestyle modification. The practice is cash based and therefore we don’t deal with insurance (patients can submit if they so choose). Doors opened 11 months ago, and we just cleared 100,000. The practice is in a northern Virginia suburb outside of DC.

    I feel really blessed to have had a successful year. Plus I have made excellent connections with other holistic practitioners. This I feel is the greatest achievement, in that advancement of conscious living, and healthy lifestyles are a valuable part of our future.

    I would love to share this knowledge with other physical therapists. I think many dont feel comfortable taking on a business persona. But to speak and learn from someone who has done it, ideally in a mentor capacity can be valuable to the clinician and the public. By increasing the types of practices like this, I feel that people will have improved access to services and thus get better quicker! (no prescription needed in most states)


    • avatar

      Hi Elizabeth,

      I’m halfway done with my schooling to become a licensed massage therapist. I am thinking of starting my own practice and incorporating more holistic practices. I would love to touch base and have a mentor who has been through the process.

      Thank you.

  19. avatar
    Nick M

    I’m 22.

    I’m a photographer.

    My earnings are due to royalties on a reasonably successful iPad app, and it’s really weird. My cost of living is less than $20,000. I use to pride myself on discipline with money, but now that seems pointless as I just throw half or 2/3s of each royalty check into savings/investments and that still leaves thousands of dollars each month in money I can do whatever with. The idea of not being to comfortably afford something only comes up with cars and houses. My actual tastes haven’t actually changed, I just buy more of the same things I enjoyed before I had all this money. For example, I travel more often, but still stay at youth hostels.

    A lot of my friends don’t realize just how much I’m earning, and I’ve had relatively more money than most of my friends for years. This doesn’t really change things.

    • avatar
      Nick M

      Also, Ramit, I’m a perfect example of the importance of negotiation. When my boss asked me to completely drop my life in order to get this project done I insisted on a better cut of the revenue for the sacrifice. It turns out that was worth many tens of thousands of dollars.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Nice job

    • avatar

      Ramit, I know you left location out of the equation, and that your focus tends towards the YUPs, but cost of living is a huge part of the equation.

      I make 100k+ and so does my wife, but it sure as hell doesn’t leave us a lot at the end of the day figuring in housing/commute and daycare (whinge whinge whinge)

    • avatar

      This “Nice Job” reply is suspicious. It keeps following me down the comments page!

    • avatar

      I should mention that your book helped me get to where i am. (amongst other things)

    • avatar
      Dominique Brown

      My salary is 80% based on my negotiation skills and 20% on my ability to do the work… I know people who have so much more talent and skills than I have. But, they lack the ability to sell themselves so their income suffers.

    • avatar

      Hey, Nick, may I ask how the iPad app happened? What kind of work do you do? Thanks!

  20. avatar

    i’m 35. i currently make $63,000 as a designer in NYC (worked hard to get those bonuses and pay raises at the job!). it’s pretty good pay for someone 4 years out of grad school and compared to peers in the same profession who make less or are unable to find employment in the past year. i had started at $43k. i have $150k still left to pay in graduate student loan debt and about $7k in credit card debt (from grad school days). previous to grad school, i was working in finance and my salary increased more than 2-fold in a 4 year period from $40k to just a smidge over $100k. it’s funny to see how different industries work. my starting salary AFTER a very expensive graduate degree was only a tiny bit more than my starting salary after a bachelors degree.

    only in the past year, i started opening my eyes to getting better control of my finances with the advice of this blog and other personal finance blogs out there. which is unfortunate, but better late than never. during my finance days, i squandered away all my money and still felt broke all the time. today, i’m still broke all the time and make far less than in my finance days, but now have a process and path to paying off my debts and trying to save some money. i hate to say regret, but i regret not having been smarter about money and not having saved more money when i was earning more. i don’t think i would have so much grad school loan debt to begin with and living off of $63k wouldn’t be such a struggle…

    there is a huge disparity between what my old finance colleagues earn/spend compared to my status now. i personally have a hard time trying to hangout with them, especially since many have gone on to be super successful (>$250k) AND smart about their personal finances, and find myself bowing out on several occasions because i’ve learned a cheap dinner for them is $75, while a cheap dinner for me is pasta that i make at home ($3). but i try to make exceptions and save “play” money for special occasions – i’ll still skip the birthday dinner and give no gifts, but join in when they get drinks later. but i’ve had to be upfront and honest with them about my financial situation in the hopes that they understand why i am not hanging out with them as much as i used to and it’s not because i hate them. they also attempt to do less cheaper activities – but like i said, their version of cheap is different than my version of cheap.

    the frugality thing is annoying, but a necessity right now. i am trying to find ways to earn more, too, but after trying out a lot of random side jobs since i left the finance world, i realize that i might be better off continuing to increase my credentials (get licensed, etc) as a designer to increase my salary cause i would rather do that than random side jobs i find tedious or boring or not worth my time for a few extra bucks, and many extra hours of my time. it could also be that i haven’t found the right gig that i would want to pursue or invest more time into. i do think if i continue to get more real world work experience and extra credentials, in a few years i may be able to exploit that with consulting or freelancing on the side. but for now, i’m sticking to the full-time job and paying off my debts.

    one thing i don’t regret is changing careers, despite taking a huge paycut for it. getting closer to finding out what i like to do and that’s my sob story.

    • avatar

      That’s just an amazing story.
      To have a courage to quit your lucrative job is quite a hard thing to do!
      I hope you’ll find your way, good luck!

  21. avatar

    I’m 31 and just hit $100,000 in February with my latest role at a Fortune 10 company. I think my husband is more excited about “the number” than I am; to me, it feels like pressure. Suddenly I’m looking around and thinking, “we should have nicer stuff – I make $100K!” or “it’s pathetic not to have more saved – I make $100k!”

    So, yea, not nearly as awesome as when I first hit $85k – or $50k (that was a big deal for me). Now, my natural cheapness feels bad. I make more than most of the people I know personally, more than my parents, more than most of the people I encounter, even, but I won’t fork over the money for a new car, hate throwing things away, and buy the cheapest version of most things. I debate for months whether I should buy an iPad and still don’t pull the trigger.

    My lifestyle changed when I moved from NYC to Chicago to TN more than when my salary changed. We drive inexpensive cars and spend our money on our rental house. We live in a house we bought for slightly more than $100k two years ago and we hang out with our neighbors, so we tend to do things that don’t highlight incomes.

    Essentially, the big change is in my perception, not theirs. They knew I was a corporate manager all along.

  22. avatar
    Adam P

    I’m a 33 year old CPA in the insurance industry, making over $100k for the last few years. When I hit 6 figures I didn’t really change much of anything but save more, I haven’t experienced a great deal of lifestyle inflation (yet).

    A few friends of mine that work in call center type “jobs” rather than careers can be resentful of vacations or shopping sprees I go on from time to time, and I would definitely say travel is the biggest area of contention.

    If you want to go on a trip with your buddies, and they don’t have enough money to stay in the nicer places that you can’t live without, it can be an issue. Generally you don’t take friends to super expensive dinners (that’s for special occasions with romantic partners) and everyone can afford a decent meal out once in a while.

    But a trip to Cape Cod for the weekend? Not so much.

    I’m mentoring now to become CFO in a few years when my boss retires, and I could see a huge upswing in income of 200 or 300% when that happens. At this point, I’ll be making 6 or 7 times what some of my close friends make, and that could become a bit ridiculous if I allowed lifestyle inflation to take hold.

  23. avatar

    My husband hit 100k this year, so with both of us working, our net pay is probably 150k. We’re both private government contractors, and he does have a Masters in his field (with no loans!). Once he got this job, his pay increased dramatically, and several good raises later meant he crossed the threshold this year. Our student loans are long paid off, and our frugal ways allowed us to pay for a lot of expenses this year in cash. This included a $12,000 wedding (with support from parents), a $5000 2-week honeymoon to Japan, 75% down on a new car (old one was totaled after an incident with a wild animal) and almost 10% downpayment for a house in the DC area. We’ve prepaid over half of the car loan, but we’ve slowed the prepayments because we need the cash reserves. My goal is for us to live on his salary and save all of mine in 401k and general savings.

    Keeping our expenses in check meant that we could handle several pretty big emergencies (totaled car, our rented house being sold out from underneath us) without too much hassle. Luckily, we borrowed a car while we were figuring what car to buy, and our new temporary lease with the new landlord is costing us less rent and allowing us time to save and find a house.

    Our friends are a mix-some unemployed/low paying jobs, some are high. Generally, we do low-key get togethers, and only the occasional high-cost events. I think they might be surprised with what we make.

  24. avatar
    Double A

    How old are you?
    – I will be 23 in a few weeks, and I make between 100K and 120K, depending on the non-guaranteed portion of my bonus.

    What do you do for a living?
    – I’m a software developer.

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    – Initially, I couldn’t believe it (it happened a few months ago). Now, I have grown into the idea that I make $100K, and other goals seem within the realm of possibility ($250K and beyond).

    What, if anything, changed?
    – Nothing really. I am burdened with a significant amount of student loan debt (at about 60K right now, down from about 100K), so I’m working on paying that off. I did get a parking garage for my car though (I live in NYC).

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    – Sometimes it does. I don’t spend a lot of money because I’m focused on paying down student loan debt, and sometimes my friends think I should pick up the whole tab when we are out because I make more than them.

  25. avatar
    Cornelius Aesop

    I doubt that I’ll ever make 100K+ but I’ve noticed a difference in friends of mine who make closer to 70k a year while my job pays under 30k but if there is a strong enough friendship the differences between income will only cause an initial problem. Ways to enjoy each others company without making one feel in debt to/bitter or the other feel like they need are obligated to pay for everything will likely prevail as long as both are mature enough to appreciate their friendship.

  26. avatar

    28 (female)

    Government Employee (I do some really cool stuff—I’ve written you before, but I haven’t had time to compose how I got where I am with my career—one of these days. Let me sum it up with I took risks and gladly so).

    Accomplished—and awesome. Hello, put myself through college with no help from anyone financially (except Mr. and Mrs. Subsidized and Unsubsidized Fed loans).

    What’s changed??? A sense of security. I more or less left home prior to turning 18 and haven’t gone back. I’ve kept my nose to the grindstone and not settled. It’s nice knowing that I have a “3 legged stool” for retirement…(10% in my TSP (goal is to max at 15k in the next 3 years —matched at 5% by uncle Sam), maxing out my roth IRA, and that beautiful pension plan….not to mention, I still have about 30 years of service to give (and I’m happy doing it, again, I do cool shit for the gov’t)….and I’m already towards the top of the GS level….these baby boomers are going to leave and I’ll get to step in. My retirement should easily be 6 figures a year… So yeah, it’s nice knowing I’ll be able to do more of what I love when I turn 58 (teach ESL and play ice hockey—yes, I’m going to play when I’m 50+ god willing). Things I do even now.

    Ooooh, with friends. Well, it’s no secret what I make because most of anything is public in DC. When hanging out….I don’t always go along with the “let’s just split it x ways”…UM, NO. I didn’t get beer and by splitting it, you’re practically doubling what I would be paying, no…not happening. So it’s viewed as a little stingy on my part, but damn, I didn’t choose more expensive dishes and alcohol.

    My friends are often baffled when I say I’d rather cook at home than go out or drink prior to going out … but they also know, I’ll have a ‘good’ time once in a while and I may even treat them from time to time…but I’m more likely to buy the guy hawking newspapers on the street on a cold dec morning a cup of coffee than beer for a friend already wasted.

    Also, keep in mind, most of my friends are lesbians…lesbians aren’t like gay men (I’m generalizing here, if others read this and take offense, get over it). Gay men typically do better in the work force where as lesbians tend to lean toward blue collar jobs (firefighters, emt) or teaching gigs (gym coach)….yes stereotypes, but oh so true. That puts em at 50k (I know, another generalization). I take home more in a year than their base salary. It can get awkward, but I’m more likely to talk about my sexcapades than my salary for that very reason. (btw, I’m an anthropologist by trade and am exploiting stereotypes…literally, with the license to do so.)

    I tip the 100k with my side gig of reffing hockey. Great excercise and pay. Can’t beat it.


    • avatar

      It’s funny/weird seeing Government employee in this prestigeous 100K club. Most people don’t picture government employee making that much money. I too am in government – federal engineer. I’m soon-to-be 26 but joined Government about 16 months ago. I’m still well below the 100K club, but hope to climb up fast within next 3 years with my accelerated development program and master’s degree in engineering. It’ll be nice if I get to ref Soccer for some extra pocket money too =)

    • avatar

      Hey Josh,

      As a fed engineer you’ll definitely be there soon. And, if you’re in the DC area I can put you in touch with a soccer ref coordinator. 🙂

    • avatar

      I’m in a government field, too (state, not fed). I’m 23 and just started my career in forensic science, and my starting salary is just shy of $65K. MANY of my coworkers make over $100K, so I definitely know it’s not UNcommon for a government employee to make that kind of money.

    • avatar

      What is this cool shit exactly?

  27. avatar

    Ramit- WRONG. So you think if we made 100k we’d rack up debt and mismanage $ even though we currently do not have/do either? Does making 100k mark the begining of the stupid meter?

    • avatar

      …but maybe I WOULD start reading and comprehending responces. Sorry Ramit, I thought you were saying we’d turn into my friends given the chance.
      Well, time for more coffee..

  28. avatar

    I made over 100k back 4 years ago when I was 23. I hit the mark but had to sell all my time to get there, traveling like crazy working way too many hours. The money was nice but it didn’t make me happy. I’ve now switched careers and since getting to 100k once it seems far easier to do it again. Like others said above the money is nice, but 100k isn’t going to solve your problems its better to focus on what makes you excited. There are millions of ways to make money, you can never buy your time back.

    • avatar

      Tim, can you elaborate on your story? I’m in a similar position where I earn a big paycheck (though not quite $100k), but have had to make some big sacrifices and compromises to get it. Ultimately, it’s not a sustainable situation, and I want to make the leap to something completely new…but that would mean taking a $25-$40k cut in annual salary based on my outreach to prospective employers. I want to take the leap, but just can’t bring myself to walk away from that much coin. Can you tell us how you broke free of the golden handcuffs and how you got your salary back up to a comfortable level?

  29. avatar
    Mike C.

    Dear wife, attorney, makes $125K. I make $5K.

    Thankfully she still hangs with me. If not, I’ll sue the bitch.

    All jokes aside, we have no debt. She wants a Holland cruise on our 10th anniversary. I’d better start collecting bottles.

  30. avatar

    anon simply b/c I don’t want any friends that read this site to realize who this is

    How old are you?

    What do you do for a living?

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    Initially good but now trapped as in “how the hell am I supposed to make more either here or on my own?” There is also a greater fear of “what if I lose my job, how will I make this level of pay again? especially in this economic climate?” Sometimes I feel like I have to FORCE myself to enjoy my job (which generally I do) simply because I earn so much.

    What, if anything, changed?
    Not much, I bought a house when I was making $50k/year. Just paying a little more on it, finally bought a used car for the first time in 4 years or so ($8k). My girlfriend gets more spending money and my savings is growing much faster. Other than that still living the same lifestyle as I was 2 years ago earning half what I do now.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    I’m not sure any of my friends realize how much I earn. If they did though I guarantee many of them would be awkward/put-off by the fact. Some probably wouldn’t care. It actually bothers me sometimes, I’ll pick up the tab at least a few times a month for several people just because I know for a fact I make double or triple their income.

    • avatar

      Can I ask what specifically you do in IT?

  31. avatar

    How old are you?

    What do you do for a living?
    Work for a Bank, in a LDP program (just graduated with an mba in may). It’s mostly general consulting type stuff and project management so far.

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    Am married, and went from ~110k per year and then quit my 60k/year sales job to get an MBA (full time programs rule!). Then got a 110k job upon graduation. It was pretty awesome to think “wow I am almost doubling my old salary”. I was also pretty stoked to land a job in banking in one of the worst financial times in a long while. I felt really really proud.

    What, if anything, changed?
    The wife and I kept the student life style (or at least semi-student since we still had her income). Now that I’ve got a job that matches our original income, she quit her job and we’re back to the original cash flow amounts. Life is awesome when only one person in a couple has to work!

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    We haven’t gotten to experience it -yet-… My suspicion is that if it does cause real problems we’ll stop hanging around with those people (or they’ll stop hanging around with us…). But really the only big conflict I could think of is if our friend network went to dinner a lot, or bar hopping and maybe high cost places came into play… But our friend group doesn’t really do that too much… However I’m very interested to see what happens between my family and my MBA friends. Some got jobs with a much lower salary, and a few got jobs similar to my own… but some of them have their spouses work. So now I’ll be possibly able to view it from both sides of the fence…

    I would think that in most friend groups you revert down to the level of the person who is constrained by budget the most… unless you are grossly unaware of differences in income. Or people just opt out of expensive adventures, but do show up for pot luck dinner nights.

    I hope this helps give you some of the social behavior information you’re looking for.

    • avatar
      Financial Samurai

      Full time MBA must be awesome, but part-time MBA is the best if you’ve already got a career and don’t want to skip a beat!

    • avatar

      or you could be crazy like me and do FT work + FT grad school…

  32. avatar

    I am a blogger from Brazil, and I am not using my real name for obvious reasons. I have a big blog in the car business and I am 28 years old.

    Broke the 100k barrier this year. It wasnt easy. Takes around 2 million visitors per month to get there, here in Brazil.

    If I was in the US, writing in english, would be making a lot more, twice or more.

  33. avatar

    I’m 29 and I work as a recruiter/headhunter. I live in the UK, and my annual earnings are about £80k, which is about $125k. Of that only £30k/$46k is salary, the rest is commission, although I earn at that level pretty consistently.

    My problem was that I acted like I earned that sort of money when I first started out in this industry six years ago; I saw all of the big earners around me living the high-life, so I spent stupid money on credit cards and got myself into a huge hole of debt. Not good. Now I have the debt under control but that came about through being much more careful about my spending. So for me, I actually lived much more extravagantly when I was earning less!

    Things are more balanced now: I just got back from a holiday and I spend money on going out to eat, but I also put significant money into my pension pot and savings and think carefully about which things are worth spending on, and which aren’t. Travel and eating out are things we care about and are happy to spend money on, whereas designer clothes and expensive cars don’t really excite us, so we don’t bother: I spent £55 on a jacket a couple of weeks ago, and that was the most I had spent on any item of clothing in about two years!

    Most of my friends earn less, although the gaps vary from a bit (say, 10-15%) to a lot (maybe 70% or more). I am quite private about what I earn, so it has never really posed a problem, although there have been occasional comments from people who come to stay at our house. We also spent quite a lot on getting married in Italy, and a few people made jokes about it being a royal wedding, but it was all good-natured (I think!). It never gets in the way of being friends though; we don’t usually live the lives of people who earn a lot of money, which probably helps to avoid problems.

  34. avatar
    Gal @ Equally Happy

    I’m 36, I’m Director of Product Management for a small internet start up and I also do some side projects (thanks for the inspiration Ramit). I make around 150k a year.

    I didn’t feel any different when I passed the 100k mark but I did feel a little odd a few years ago when I realized how much I was making. Just seemed like an odd number and one I never would have thought of when I was younger.

    Most of my friends make a lot less than I do which does present issues, mainly around travel. I can’t go on trips with them because they can’t afford it but I’d really like to. For example, in a week or two, one of my friends (the only one who has a decent income) are going to Hawaii to run a marathon and scuba dive. Would have loved to have the rest of them with me but no chance of that with their salaries (one of them makes $13 an hour…). Luckily, my tastes in things other than travel are pretty cheap so a trip to Taco Bell and an evening of Rock Band is just fine for hanging out with them. I have fun, no one spends money and we’re all happy.

  35. avatar

    How old are you?
    I’m 32.

    What do you do for a living?
    I’m a Software Engineer

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    While in school never thought that I’d make this much, but once got into industry that viewpoint changed when I started studying everyone’s salary. Came across a job posting that was paying double of what I was already doing, so applied, got an interview, did well and got an offer. Gave my resignation, but my company matched the offer. I was more happy about the awakening than getting $100k. I bet many are sleeping not knowing their true worth!

    What, if anything, changed?
    A lot has changed. We (family of 4) started into this country with $160/- After 13 years, I’ve no debt at all. Fully paid house ($163k, 2700 sq. ft. newly built), 3 0-mileage fully paid cars. All rooms in house are fully-furnished.
    We all donate 15% of our full income(includes all income even interests on our savings) every year. This was true even entire household income was $27K. Currently we are bringing in ~200K between 3 people. Mom looks after everyone and she doesn’t work. Sister moved out and my wife took her place. We live normal lifestyle. Extra money now goes in our savings. 401ks and IRAs are being maxed out and rest goes in stocks+CDs and Savings. We don’t have kids yet, but first kid will born next year with $100k saved for him for sure. Does it mean we skimp on fun? Nope. We do spend money where it matters and on things we like. My spending goes on tech/outings/movies, wife’s on starbucks and clothing and outings/movies, parents’ in traditions.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    No. First we never discuss earnings, though everyone sort of has more or less idea about one anothers’. We all do things where everyone could have fun w/o breaking their wallets. To me it matters more that I drink McDonalds Frappe w/ my friends and have jolly good time rather than $20 coffee @ some 5star restaurant in my solitude. At times, we help out friends by loaning them interest-free. We all friends have a pact that if anyone needs money, rest will give him interest-free money so that our group’s money stay in our group rather than go to some outsider.
    If I work hard, I’d get even $200k, same is not true to get good friends, so I’d rather not loose them for more money.

    • avatar

      I love this :
      “If I work hard, I’d get even $200k, same is not true to get good friends, so I’d rather not loose them for more money.”
      I think there is no better way to say it.
      Thanks for the eye’s opening comment.

    • avatar

      I hate to be the person who says this because I want the story to be true but…

      I’m calling BS on this story. I think this is just someone’s fantasy. Although I don’t discourage fantasies this guy isn’t there yet. Keep working buddy.

      What tipped me off was the “3 0-mileage fully paid cars.” comment. So you’re telling me you have 3 cars with 0 miles on them in the garage. Meaning you JUST bought all 3 of them? Nobody buys 3 brand new cars at once.

      On top of that you’re telling me you bought 3 brand new cars but you only buy coffee from McDonalds? Highly unlikely!

      I loved the story though, keep working towards your goals, mine aren’t that much different, thanks for the inspiration.

  36. avatar

    I’m 30 years old. I’m a finance and data analyst. I started out 2010 making $45k a year doing an incredible amount of work for a company which was not profitable.

    In May 2010 I started freelancing. In the month of August 2010 I billed for just under $4,000 and accepted a $60k a year full-time job. So, effectively in July of 2010 I was making $45k a year and in August just over $100k.

    It hasn’t really sunk in yet and may not be legitimate. I have to see how the side money continues. The nice thing is I only need the $45k to live on, so any extra can be used to pay off student debt, make a nice purchase or do something charitable.

    As for my friends, there are challenges within my group. Often times certain people want to go to nicer restaurants or take group trips and it ends up being a struggle for those who make less. We seem to do pretty well, though. Chipping in on life events like bachelor parties and making concessions in other areas (i.e. taking a trip but renting a house instead of multiple hotels so the per person rate is cheap for lodging).

    • avatar


      I’m a Finance and Budget Analyst and make $35,000. Can I ask what kind of freelance work you are doing? Is it in the finance field? I’m still trying to get an idea of what to do. Btw, congrats on the new job!

    • avatar

      Hi, I would also like to know how you began freelancing in finance. Can you give any advice or pointers? Thanks in advance!

  37. avatar

    My wife and I are both 27. I work for a large financial firm and she is a teacher. Together we make about $125k per year. It’s been really nice having extra income available to pay off cars and juice up our savings. It’s also nice to be able to go out to eat or go on a trip and be able to enjoy ourselves instead of worrying about the cost.

    One thing that concerns me is that we are planning to have a baby in the next year or two. My wife will most likely shift from full to part time work when the baby is born. I’m estimating that we’ll be earning at least $25k less, plus adding on extra expenses that come with having a baby. I’m going to try to attach this from two angles: saving more and earning more. We’ve basically begun living like our income is reduced, and socking the rest in savings. I’m also trying to find ways to bring in more cash. My wife is writing a children’s book, and I’m working on doing personal finance coaching along with a blog.

    The key to major life changes is accurately anticipating the consequences. I think that changes can be good, also. We’ve become comfortable with what we have, and we aren’t stretching ourselves much. After the baby comes, we’ll have a renewed focus that may end up bringing us more wealth after it’s all said and done.

  38. avatar

    I’m a 28 year old college dropout. Busted my hump in sales for a well-known beverage brand then decided I wanted to run an ecommerce business for the same company. Pitched it, got it, rocked it.

    Was making $90k, asked for $125k last fall…got it. I’m never satisfied (that’s the hustler in me) so I always want more. Living in SF makes the earnings seem like less so I don’t feel all that different. The main difference is that I’m able to pay my bills. On time. That feels good.

    The challenge is I’m looking to move on and though I’m very valued by my current company, it’s tough to get in the door in other places without a degree. I’ve been a terrible saver so I’m not yet ready to leave on go on my own, but I’m getting there.

    And yes, most of my friends are in the $50k-$60k range so we clash a bit. I’ll be willing to pay for a taxi, they want to walk. They still do a lot of things like college kids, stuff a lot of people into a vacation house, drive 8 hours when you could just fly, seek out every single happy hour in the city just to save a buck. It causes occasional issues but we make it.

    • avatar


      Have you tried to interview at other places, or is it a self-imposed barrier – that you’ve heard it’s really difficult to get in the door without a degree, so you’re still working up the nerve to apply? I only ask because I’m at a bit of a crossroads myself. The job I’m in now is nice but not terribly exciting. However, it is a really small company, and I think I could earn a lot (although I’m not earning very much right now). I’m 24, but I do not have a college degree. I’m trying to decide whether I should go back to school or if I should just keep working, and trust that if I ever do want to leave, my track record of accomplishments at this company will be far more attractive to potential employers than any degree. My email address is on my website. I’d love to hear about your progress and how you plan to go about making this transition.

  39. avatar

    I’m 33 and I earn $100k after bonuses working as an analyst for a not-for-profit. My wife also earns a very good salary.

    Not much has changed in our lifestyle. The biggest differences has been an increase in how much we allocate towards investing and how much we give in our religious offerings.

    Our family, friends and acquaintances don’t know how much my wife and I earn although they have a sense that we’re doing well for ourselves. I’ve have noticed that the older generation (parents) always refer to my wife and I having “lots of cash/money” while my (and younger generation) refer to us as ‘financially savvy” – to rephrase :actually having a lot of the asset (cash) vs knowing how to manage our assets

  40. avatar

    How old are you? 36

    What do you do for a living? IT consultant, also own two companies

    How did you feel once you earned $100k? no difference

    What, if anything, changed? no debt

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    Cannot relate to their money problems

    “The penalty for success is to be bored by people who used to snub you-Nancy Astor”

  41. avatar

    Just turned 24 working in the Pharmaceutical industry and make just over 100k with 401k matching and bonuses. When I first got my offer, it blew my mind. Now, it’s warn off and I almost expect it just because I know exactly where all the money will disperse. It’s not like my checking account is overflowing, it all gets quickly divided into rent, gas, food, and most importantly SAVINGS! My friends don’t know how much I make because I don’t live any differently than I did when I was in college. I still share a 2 bedroom apartment with 3 other guys and own the same old car. I always buy generic brands at the grocery store and the best deal at any restaurant we go out to. The only difference is I can be comfortably spontaneous whenever friends are going out for dinner or a trip somewhere without having to worry about how much money I could be saving by staying home and eating Ramen.

    I chart my savings every month to make sure I’m exceeding my savings plan as much as possible while I’m young so that if/when kids and a wife ever show up (or times turn) and the savings slow down, I’ll be ready.

    Living the life of the rich-and-famous isn’t for people making over $100k anymore, that’s more for people making over $1M/yr. There are too many blatant examples of people who blew their money irresponsibly to still live frivolously. (My favorite story: Antoine Walker – NBA basketball player – look up his finances, it will blow your mind)

    • avatar


      What kind of work you do in the pharma industry? Sales, R&D, Regulatory affairs, etc.. What’s you education background? Where exactly do you work? I live in Canada and I’m looking for job opportunities in the biotech/pharma industry and would love to make a descent salary. At my previous job I was making 45K$ and I feel I could make a lot more.

  42. avatar
    Paul S.

    How old are you? 30 (started making just over $100k when I was 27-28)

    What do you do for a living? Enjoy Life to the Fullest. Seriously though…I am a Program Manager for a Large Defense Contractor (youngest PM I know…Salary ~$110k) and I own my own real estate firm (youngest broker I know…2010 Income ~$80k). Sad thing is I am more productive dollar per hour doing private residential real estate deals than I do for my full time job. But I love them both and each job allows me to stretch different parts of my brain and soul. Plus I am so risk adverse to feeding my family off of real estate commissions. Risk/Fear are crazy things.

    How did you feel once you earned $100k? Happy to reach the mark, but it has only spurned me to reach for other goals (and not all financial).

    What, if anything, changed? Nothing changed. Spending habits remained the same. Setting life goals for savings, property down payment, retirement, etc.

    I live by the following rule…If you can’t say “yes” to both of these questions then it’s time to find something else to do….1. Do I feel needed? 2. And am I personally growing (mentally, spiritually, etc.)? If you can answer yes to both of those then you are probably doing the right thing…and often money/success/satisfactoin comes with that.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out? Not usually. I am pretty frugal and do not like to splurge. I’d like to involve more of my friends in business, but that’s really hard for a few different reasons.

  43. avatar

    I’m 34 and @ 150k

    >> What do you do for a living?
    Software Dev (management)

    >> How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    I thought it would feel great and be incredible. Truth is, since my expenses were mostly inline with my increases it felt no different than before. I’ve started scaling back expenses now so it’s starting to get pretty nice, but I still have plenty of work ahead of me.

    >> What, if anything, changed?
    Better vacations and more toys (iPads, iPhones, Kindles) but that’s mostly superficial (except for the vacations).

    >> If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?

    They always seem broke and not willing to do anything to increase their income which drives me nuts. Same goes for cutting expenses (though I’ve been bad here myself).

    One last comment:
    I’m working towards bringing in enough revenue through my product to leave the job once I hit 40% of my income. I’m a 1/3 of the way there and I’ll absolutely be leaving once I hit that number — doesn’t matter what I have to cut to make it work.

  44. avatar

    I am 38 and I make 130K and my husband makes about the same. We own a company that performs background checks for employment purposes. We’ve owned it for 11 years now. Our salaries doubled several years ago when we finally figured out what the heck we were doing. There is a HUGE difference in our lives now with savings and 401Ks and investments. Sometimes it still ‘feels’ like paycheck to paycheck but the truth is so much of our money is automatically directed to savings or investments that even when there’s only a buck in my checking account, there’s money elsewhere. If I didn’t make it automatic, I think I might just spend it!

    I don’t really notice too much of a difference in day to day life with friends, but I definitely notice a difference when it’s vacation time. My sisters and their husbands earn quite a bit less than we do and it’s gotten to where they expect us to pick up the tab A LOT. They aren’t rude. It’s really probably more my fault for doing it so much in the past that now it’s just expected. But it’s awkward and I’ve yet to figure out how to put an end to it.

  45. avatar

    ***How old are you?
    34 (but I didn’t enter the workforce until 6 years out of school, which is average for my position)

    ***What do you do for a living?
    Accounting (no CPA yet)

    ***How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    It was a great psychological boost. I’ve had 100k+ plus as my income goal, in that I felt if I hit that mark and could maintain it (adjusted for inflation) I would be able to live a comfortable lifestyle.

    ***What, if anything, changed?
    Having reached that point my focus is to continue to improve things by increasing net worth and reducing the amount of time necessary to maintain that income so that I have more personal time. Also, it really has made me take a hard look at what 100k gets me these days as a homeowner and father of two children. In practice, it has given me more breathing room in the budget which I’ve used to increase my targetted spending accounts for savings, “toys”, and vacations.

    ***If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    No issues, but when I hand out it tends to be oriented around inexpensive activities, beer, bicycle riding, family outings, regardless of the income level of the friends.

    • avatar

      doh for #1, meant to say that I didn’t get my BS until 27, so average time from graduation to reach my position is roughly 6 years (acheivable by a 28 yr old)

  46. avatar

    I’m 26, and make a little over 100k as a software developer. There was not much of a change in feelings once I broke the 100k barrier, as I started there in my first job out of university.

    For the most part, the amount of money I make compared to friends and family has little impact, with two exceptions. My sister is my “roommate,” and in over a year she has offered a partial payment with the rent exactly once. The other is one of my best friends, who I will occasionally help out by investing in his film projects. Otherwise, my lifestyle is not all that extravagant, and there are probably a few friends who think I make closer to 50k.

  47. avatar

    I’m 28 years old and I’m an optometrist earning $110K. Earning more money so far hasn’t made a huge impact on me because I keep my cost of living very low to continue to pay off debt, however I will be using it as a tool to retire with dignity and hopefully early. Just found your blog today and I plan on reading your book!

    • avatar

      Finally someone in the medical field! I’ve been reading all these comments and as a pre-med, graduating from college in a year and starting the medical school application process… started to sound like I’ve picked the wrong field! Of course it’ll be years before I’ll actually be making anything but since medicine is all I ever wanted to do – so I’m sure it’ll be worth it. 🙂

      I’m glad optometry has worked out for you! Definitely read Ramit’s book, I love quoting advice from it to my friends!

  48. avatar

    Wife and I make over $160K a year. Both are in the software engg. field. Once we earned over 100K, we
    1. upsized to a 2 BR 2 BA apartment from a 1 BR 1 BA. It cost us $200 a month more. This was because family was visiting us. We have a lot of visitors since we live in Socal.
    2. Changed both cars. Old cars were $700 and $2200. We switched to 2 new(er) used cars with low miles by paying $4000 and $5000 in full because commute increased for both of us
    We ramped up our savings/investments to $3K a month. The rest we use to pay rent, credit cards in full every month and commute. We commute a lot here in Socal. If anything remains, we use it for an exotic vacation which happens once a year.
    We don’t like to buy “things”. We prefer buying experiences

  49. avatar

    I’m 32 years old and I am a Marketing/Sales Manager for a large equipment manufacturer. I will make about $115k this year plus benefits. My wife is 29 and works for a major department store retailer and will make over $70k this year making our combined income just under $190k.

    Our combined income has been over $100k from the time we started dating seven years ago. We live way below our means and save over half our income yearly and have not changed our lifestyle much. We have upgraded our home with a recent job relocation and we have taken some nicer vacations than we probably would have ten years ago.

    We still hang out with the same group of friends that we have hung out with for the last seven years. I know some of these friends are earning considerable less than us as teachers and social workers but I have never sensed any problems due to the income gap. We all still sit around and discuss how we could be happier in our lives and find work/jobs that we actually enjoy doing. I know that we are no happier than our friends earning significantly less than we do. The main benefit is that we have been able to build and continue to build a financial security cushion that allows us to weather the ups and downs better than others.

  50. avatar

    How old are you? I’ll be 50 this year. OMG, half a century! I think I might be the oldest commenter on this post.

    What do you do for a living? I work in international trade compliance.

    How did you feel once you earned $100k? It was a milestone number for me, I was pretty proud to reach it since I’ve been working full-time since I was 17 years old, didn’t finish high school (GED), and am just now going to college. It’s funny because the position that I have required a college degree, however, my specialized experience got me the job. At this level of my career, I probably need the degree to go further. I’ll be a CPA in a few years, hopefully.

    What, if anything, changed? Life got easier financially, I’m the major breadwinner in our family. I make around $112,000 plus bonus, my husband makes around $25,000 in a good year.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out? No. I really don’t share that information with friends, although if someone asked I’d probably tell them if I felt comfortable with them. We live a really simple lifestyle, small house in a more blue-than-white collar neighborhood, one car paid off and one almost paid off, we don’t eat out a lot, etc. We took a big loss on a house a few years ago and it took a few years to dig out of that financial hole; that’s always in the back of my mind, and I also like to sock money away for retirement. We also have a 5 year old (I’m a very young almost 50, LOL) and a child in college, so there are those expenses.

  51. avatar

    I am a 31 year old attorney in a large firm in Los Angeles. I make approximately $170k per year, my wife is a stay at home mom. I honestly wonder where all the money goes. I max out my 401k and also our HSA. After that and taxes, $500 for car payment, $2000 for rent, $1600 for student loans (combined) and then various amounts for all the other good stuff like cable, phone, gas, electric, insurance, baby stuff, food, a little entertainment… I feel like we are living paycheck to paycheck.

    What do friends think? Those that make less think we are “rich” and those that make similar amounts or more, understand that it doesn’t go too far these days.

    • avatar
      Financial Samurai

      I hear you 100% on making 170K and then wondering where it all went with house/rent and all that stuff! Where it goes is to good old Uncle Sam that’s where! 🙂

    • avatar

      Michael, We were in your shoes for many years. See my post below. You can stop feeling this way! 🙂

  52. avatar
    Sunil from Extra Money

    30 yrs old.

    I recently rejoined corporate America as a Senior Manager. I have responsibilities developing internal capabilities over various functions, offshoring / outsourcing as well as over E-commerce. I also maintain several niche websites and a blog. Everything combined, including bonuses and options my annualized salary is $310,000

    I first made over 100k when I was 25 – I used to work in Mergers & Acquisitions.

    Nothing much has changed, except my investment portfolios (stocks, real estate, investments in small businesses) have risen. I still do not own my house (not a believer as yet), and no kids so don’t really need a big space. I am still just as financially responsible now as I was back then.

    Majority of my friends earn less. Is it a problem for me? Never has been. I do sense the animosity sometimes, or some resentment amongst certain folks (in certain situations, not all the time). This is especially true when around some family – most of who are older, more experienced but making a lot less.

  53. avatar

    I’m 32 and I make the equivalent of slightly less than $200K as a freelance IT strategy/integration consultant – I also have some very small online income streams.
    Nothing really changed dramatically in terms of lifestyle as it’s been a slow upwards progression – I’d say it’s just given me the benefit of allowing me to do the things I want and have the freedom to turn down work I don’t want and have quite a comfortable nest egg for a rainy day.

    I probably make the most out of my immediate group of friends, though I have some friends in the same ball park. Generally I avoid the subject of finances unless I am talking to friends of similar means.

    I would say though I’d be happy making less than half of what I make now if it gave me complete geographical freedom in terms of where I could make my money location wise, as I’d like to travel more, my current level of income is very oversized compared to my spending habits and lifestyle, so I’d happily exchange some of the money for even more autonomy, independence and freedom.

  54. avatar

    31 years old, 150k. I work in technical sales for an IT company.

    100k was a huge personal milestone for which I felt very proud and privileged. But in reality its just a number.

    What’s changed? I’d like to think not much, except that we have more money to take trips, fund retirement, and generally not have to worry about watching every nickel.

    The luxury of knowing that our bills are paid each month is something I don’t lose sight of, especially during times of +10% unemployment.

    We don’t talk money with friends for the most part. I don’t think any of them know how much we make. With that said, it never presents any problems. We drive $10-15k cars and clip coupons, so I’m confident they never think we’re ever flaunting our income.

  55. avatar

    I’m a 29 year old homemaker. My wife is a 27 year old attorney making $170K/yr. When she summered in 2004, she was offered $140K. Her firm was so competitive and growing that by the time she started her first year in 08, they raised her to $160K. Meanwhile, I got laid off in 08 and was only making $35K/yr. Even though I made beans, I managed to max out both my 401k and IRA every year and still support my then girlfriend through school.

    We certainly don’t feel like we have a large income. We rent a modest apartment and drive our old cars from college/high school, but my wife spends about $25K/yr on clothes. shoes, and handbags. We travel on the cheap, but to really fun places. While I have a lot of money in investments, we don’t feel like we have too much because literally half of the income is taken by taxes, health/dental insurance, social security, and our various charities.

    Not much has changed; however, my wife does admit that there’s an unintentional pressure to keep up with the Jones at work. She’s the only attorney driving a beat up 94 Acura Integra. The other day, a visiting partner from DC asked her for a ride from the courthouse to his hotel. He joked and questioned if they’re paying her enough after he got in (but he’s just a funny guy and we’re very friendly with him).

    We do feel odd sometimes when hanging out with our college friends. Most of our friends are finishing up grad school, some were recently laid off, and some finished school at the worst time possible. We often pick up the check and we host most of our get-togethers. There’s never a problem, but we wish times were better for everyone.

  56. avatar

    @ CC September 1, 2010 at 9:30 am

    what did you do on the side to take in income, as I am also a Financial Analyst and wouldn’t know how to apply my Corporate Accounting/Finance skilsl to freelance.

    @ latestarted September 1, 2010 at 11:31 am

    How did you make it to $100K + in 7 years without earning a CPA? Did you make it to management level and consider yourself lucky in the right place at right time or did you search and were hired makingthat much money?

    I’m asking because I find it hard increasing my income as most Corporations do not pay well until upper career and management. Anyone working in Corporate Finance/ Accounting below management level making $100k+? Seems rare from my experience and perspective in New York.

    • avatar

      short anwer: I did well enough/was lucky enough to make it into Big4 accounting despite it taking me 10 years post high school it figure myswelf out and finish a bachelors. Only took me 5 years post-graduation, not 7.

      Did 3.5 years in Big4 (Tax) and got RIF’d Dec 2008. Good news is that I had a ton of goodwill and picked up a new job with a good firm as a senior accountant. Pay bump in private put me over 100k (financial services, San Francisco) still working hours similar to public accounting though. Figure I need to get my CPA, and make the jump to a manager position with a firm that doesn’t burn quite so much midnight oil. Like I said in my original post a major goal now is to maintain the income level with less time spent grinding away so I can focus on personal projects and family.

      Public Accounting – it is hard work but it can help our career with a rapidly rising trajectory.

  57. avatar

    26 years old Electrical Engineer. Trying to get a raise to $80k this month.. Thought I was doing pretty good, until I see these comments.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      I like that. It’s always good to be around people who make you feel like you’re not doing enough. It’s motivating for me.

    • avatar

      Motivated… same here. Really surprised to see so many young people making such great money. It’s awesome to see and it’s motivating. Hopefully the Earn1k course and promotion next year will help me get up around some of these numbers.

  58. avatar

    I have made over $100k for the last 3 years, I’m 25 and am an engineer with a small/midsize oil company. I actually am going to break $250k this year, Obama would call me rich i guess.

    It was a big change, leaving college broke to this…It’s pretty cool. No one really knows. When I get a big bonus i wish i could tell people but i am afraid of what they might think. My last bonus was bigger than what my dad makes in a year. My brother and mom and dad know i make over 100 and they are happy for me but i have made so much this year i was worried about telling them. my wife and i are debt free and saving up for a house. I think we will put about 30% down and pay it off in the 1st 5 years.

    As a Christian, I feel that I can take no credit on my own I have been given a fast brain and an ability to convey my ideas effectively to others. i feel very blessed and hope that i can share my wealth and be a positive influence on my friends, family and those in need.

  59. avatar

    > How old are you?


    > What do you do for a living?

    Own my own software business. I do custom development and sell my own software.

    > How did you feel once you earned $100k?

    I had no idea so no feeling…

    > What, if anything, changed?

    My wife and kids have a better standard of living but not by much. Still no TV. Though I would argue that lack of a TV improves your life.

    > If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems
    > when hanging out?

    Nope, I’m cheaper than a college student.

  60. avatar

    PS: You didn’t ask how much, but I earned $250K in my business for the last two years running.

  61. avatar

    Actually, the first month where I made more than $20K, I was having lunch with my accountant and related this milestone.

    At that time, we were buying a new car (yeah, I know, I know) and was fretting about the cost. He told me I was insane for worrying as I could pay it off with two month’s revenue.

    I never thought about it till much later but it was a pretty good feeling to be able to say “I can cover my year’s living costs in 3 months, how about you?”

    Though I never said that.

  62. avatar

    I’m 27. I’m a resident (doctor in training) and a software developer for iPhone and iPad apps. As a resident, I make $45k; my wife makes about the same. As a developer, which I do in my spare time outside my 60 to 80 hour a week at the hospital and clinic, I made ten times my resident salary in the past 12 months.

    When I crossed the $100k mark, I knew I was going to able to achieve one of the goals I set for myself at the start of medical school: Pay off all the student loans by the end of my internship year. I’ve done that and more – fully funding my SEP-IRA, buying a new car when we needed one with cash instead of financing, and generally being comfortable with the savings plans that I’ve fully automated thanks to your book, Ramit. [12 ING subaccounts!]

    Other than that, life is mostly only different in that we go out to eat a bit more extravagantly – but not more often – and feel free to do what we choose on vacation – which is rarely, given my schedule. Oh, and I upgraded the Glenlivet I keep at home to enjoy and share to 15 year instead of 12 year.

    All my friends earn quite a bit less, but it hasn’t generally been awkward. I try to sneak in buying the odd-round-out of drinks or picking up the appetizers at dinner, and I think some of my friends notice it and understand; generally we don’t live a flashy lifestyle and everybody wants to make their own way, so it’s not a big deal. I do get questioned sometimes when people realize that I make some unknown (to them) amount on the side, and that can be a bit uncomfortable…

  63. avatar

    Surprised that you didn’t ask for location, although I guess the thing you were looking for was how it affected their lives and their relationships. I agree with the comment a couple of posts up about location being important. $100k in NY and $75k in the middle of Nebraska are probably about the same.

    Agree with Motivated’s comment that it’s useful to see what other people are earning. It’s also pretty clear that people don’t really talk about how much their friends make.

    It’s sometimes strange to have family that makes less than I do. My sister asked one time and I say, yeah I get paid like $35 an hour. She was kind of shocked, although I said that it wasn’t _that_ much after student debt.

    I am mostly happy to pick up the tab at restaurants in these situations, just because I know it won’t break the bank. Just happy to spend time with them when I get the chance.

  64. avatar
    John J

    I’m 34.

    I’m a software developer.

    When my salary crossed that 100k milestone, I felt a sense of accomplishment. Nothing life changing, but it was nice. My favorite milestone was hit subsequently when I hit the maximum Social Security contribution and got a bigger paycheck in December. I didn’t even know such a thing happened until it happened to me. Now I use the month that I max out Social Security as my benchmark. September nowadays, for what that’s worth.

    As a practical matter, not too much changed from an outward observable standpoint. I still drive a ’99 Honda Accord and live in the same nice house I bought 10 years ago. The only difference is that I have quite a bit of “rainy day” money – not having a worry about “paycheck to paycheck” concerns is pretty nice. Oh, I guess my one luxury is my child goes to a (modest) private school… that would be tough to make happen on a 5 digit salary.

    I’m married with child, so (heh heh) I don’t worry about hanging out much. When I do, as you might imagine coming from a man with both 1 year of spending money in the bank and a car with 140k miles on it, my lifestyle is compatible with a lot of people.

  65. avatar

    I’d also be interested in location. My husband makes just over 100k as a software engineer (finally — we’re in an older age bracket than most), but that salary is harder to come by for that occupation in the city we are in. He even has a MS and is published, etc. At first I thought it was because he prefers to work for startups (low on funds) and open source, but after asking around find the lower salaries hold true even for the big companies around here.

  66. avatar

    I’m 24. Make c. $100k in base plus bonuses on top in investment banking

    Felt good to make over 100k but comes at a price. The biggest change was a loss of time more than anything else. I’m aslo less concerned about the smaller expenses and not tracking every dollar spent as I did at university. More focus on the big wins and making sure money’s going to the right place / allocated correctly.

    No, can’t say it has affected my relationship with friends. My lifestyle hasn’t really changed – spending is still about the same.The only thing that’s really different is when going travelling – bit more lax on taking flights and ‘living it up’

  67. avatar

    How old are you?

    What do you do for a living?
    – freelance architect / developer

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    – stressed

    What, if anything, changed?
    – didn’t like the bills I had accumulated with it

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    – no. They spend a lot more than I do. If anything they are mad I’m cheap and make money.

    Ps- I have decided not to make that much anymore. I’m at about 70 now and my wife and I are much happier. We just spend less now, it feels great to get rid of that overhead.

  68. avatar

    How old are you?

    What do you do for a living?
    IT Architect

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    Proud – it seemed like a major milestone

    What, if anything, changed?
    I spent more… At the time my wife was also working and combined we were making about $140k, but she stopped working to have kids shortly after, and we never dialed back our spending. It meant we accumulated a lot of debt in the 5 years following until we got a windfall stock option payout that allowed us to pay it off. We took that as a signal to move out of our expensive and greed-driven city to somewhere more laid back and start fresh with fresh habits. I make a little less now (still over 100k) but actually save and have some left at the end of the month, and my wife is still able to stay home with the kids.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    My friends typically make more, but a lot of it is because their spouses have returned to work and their kids are raised in daycares. I don’t regret that we have to make sacrifices to have a stay at home parent, and don’t really miss the junkets to Vegas, NYC or San Francisco that they take fairly often.

  69. avatar

    I turned down >$100,000 y so I could get a PhD and do basic research in medicine and infectious diseases. I’m only making $50,000/y as a postdoctoral researcher at a top institution. It can be bittersweet when I think back on the consulting and i-banking invitations I got after college and in the first few years of grad school (and when I see where some of my non-academic friends are now), but we only have so many hours in life, and this is my contribution to the world. My parents were unhappy lawyers earning well over $400,000/y, and I didn’t want that. One of my obstacles to earning more money is knowing that any sort of free-lance work I might do takes time away from making progress on my research. Ramit, I’m not sure you’ve ever addressed this kind of psychological obstacle. Might be an interesting challenge. (I read this blog occasionally because the financial anxiety can be slightly distracting. I’m trying to find the right compromise.)

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      I always thought it was crazy for college people I knew to take jobs that would provably, predictably make them unhappy…just for a little more money. And most of these people had no student loans. In fact, this is why I wrote my first book.

    • avatar
      6:00 p.m. Anonymous

      You’re right: many of us make career choices based on little information. My mother grew up in a cash-strapped household and with a drive to “succeed” (as defined mostly by others); my dad grew up in a legal culture and thought it would naturally lead to politics. Both had parents who worked reasonable hours and were pretty happy, or at least hid their disappointment. Neither of my parents had a good sense of what law would be like decades later, and their attempts to exit were unsuccessful. I grew up in an area with ridiculous amounts of pointless wealth (our local magazine was called “Gentry”)–this isn’t to say all wealth is bad, but I saw that it comes at a cost. I thus focused on making a positive impact and am now running up against the realities of limited financial resources and an exceedingly demanding career. There’s a certain predictability to our mistakes.

  70. avatar

    I’m 29 and a software engineer. When I crossed the threshold it was kind of an ego boost since most of my friends were earning half that or less. I’m from humble roots so I usually end up chucking most of my extra cash into savings or investments, but if I want something I really don’t hesitate buying it. With my friends, what we do as a group kind of level-sets to the lowest common denominator, so my earning more money has no effect on what we do as a group. What’s a bigger hang up for some of them is that I earn more and I’m one of the least formally educated in the group (I have a bachelors degree, most have masters).

  71. avatar

    Hi Ramit,

    I am a pastor making a meager salary but I have supplemented it with commercial real estate investments. We are approaching a 6 figure income now from the cash flow on those. I can say that having the ability to save 50% of our income for investments is a nice feeling. We live comfortably and my kids are able to experience so much more than I did as a kid. Money doesn’t really buy happiness for us. but it does give us options that most of our friends do not have.

  72. avatar

    26 year old/EVM Specialist (Project Management), yes I love my job.

    What, if anything, changed? – Don’t feel guilty buying larger Pot Belly sandwiches once in awhile but still get cup of ice and bring it back to my office to drink with my soda can. I’ve only grown frugal throughout the years.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out? – No doesn’t matter, we’re still frugal. I encourage us to eat out at places that takes coupon or I tend to cook ramen noodles.

  73. avatar

    I’m a 28 year old software engineer.

    For the last 2 years I was working for the Omypics in Canada in a non-engineering position for $40k, just enjoying the experience. Earlier this year I moved back home to Australia to work on the old career and, after a couple of months searching, I got a job earning ~$110k. This is a big jump in salary for me – last time I was in this country I was earning only half of that. Best of all, I’m never working more than 40 hours per week.

    Two things changed for me, but they’re more about internal realisations than external lifestyles changes.

    1) I’ve realised now just how ingrained my frugal money habits have become over the years. I know frugal is a bad word here on IWTYTBR, but this mindset takes no effort for me to maintain, and I never feel like I’m sacrificing anything I really want. I keep seeing things and thinking “Hey, I can afford that now… eh, but I don’t really want it.”

    2) As a result of (1), I’m now accumulating a lot of available cash that I can move towards savings. Except I haven’t started. I’ve set up an awesome online savings account, but no transfers yet! So I’ve realised that although I’ve stopped getting in the way of myself from *earning* more (and I thank you for that, Ramit), I also have to understand that I’m worthy of *saving/investing* more. Of actually securing a future for myself. Because if I’m not spending it – and I’m not saving it either, then what the hell am I doing this for? 😛

    Realising this has been a major kick in the pants for me, as I now understand that my excuse of ‘I don’t earn enough to save’ was complete BS.

    So what’s changed for me mostly is self-awareness.

    No problems with hanging out with friends, even though I only have one friend earning in the same range as me. In fact, many of my friends are still students. But I don’t have expensive tastes, so there’s no real gap between our lifestyles. More travel might be on the cards for me, but it’s a priority for my friends too, so I think we’ll still be able to share those experiences together. And if not, I enjoy travelling independently just as much. 🙂

  74. avatar

    43 – Senior Engineering Project Manager.

    When I first broke six figures, I would giggle whenever I thought about it, mostly because I am a high school dropout without a technical degree. But other than my own amusement, nothing changed. Over the years, I’ve certainly spent a little more than I would have otherwise but in 2008 I quit for 12 months and that year of earning NOTHING was the best year of my life.

    My friends, other than coworkers, have no idea what I make. Most are under 100k and I know that because they occasionally brag about their salaries. 🙂

  75. avatar

    I’m 24 and just graduated last year from Pharmacy school. My base salary is around 120k, and it felt great to finally be off my parents “payroll” and providing for myself. The only thing that changed was being dumped into the real world having to work full time instead of hanging out all the time, being in class, etc. I’m enjoying the financial freedom of not living on a very tight budget, although loans are still looming over my head. Most of my friends are in the same profession, so it doesn’t feel weird hanging out with them. But some are not and still struggling, so we try to help them out, (pay for things when we go out, etc).

  76. avatar

    I’m old (38) and dev enterprise and web content management systems. I only make 80k but pad that with up to 20k in side income so I’m over the 100k barrier in some years and slightly under it in others.

    It didn’t feel much different breaking 100k because the extra 20k goes into savings. So I’m still technically making only 80k if you look at my lifestyle. I’m pretty frugal but like to travel. I’ve got three kids so expenses will be going up. Because I’ve got my financials well in hand, though, I’m not worried about them having much of a negative impact on my current lifestyle.

    Most of my friends make more than I do. Strangely, there are only a few that are actually more “well off” in terms of their financial position. Most are resigned to working into their 70s to deal with their debts. The one couple that is clearly a little further along than I am make a good 60k more than my wife and I do and acted on my advice to get their financial crap together.

    “Hanging out” at this age is a little different. Since we’re not hitting bars or going to Vegas we tend to sit around over dinner and drinks and shoot the crap. One set of friends is markedly less well off but there are no problems to speak of. They come up for supper and bring a bottle of wine just like everyone else.

    Some friends occasionally wonder how we manage to go on trips so often but no one really gets into the details.

    I use STFUDF sometimes. A lot of them are into housing as investments. I can talk myself blue in the face and they still don’t believe that their house is a lousy “investment.”

  77. avatar

    DH is 35 (I’m 31). He is a doctor in the Navy and I am a stay-at-home mom.
    I think he makes about $140K if you include the tax-free housing allowance we get. He’s been making good money for about five years, but I I was a recent law school grad with about $80K in student loans when we got married (3.5 years ago). I certainly don’t worry about whether I can pay my bills anymore. But honestly, I do not feel anywhere close to rich. I am furnishing our home slowly with items from craigslist and I shop for clothes at Goodwill. I wish we had the money to shop at retail stores, but there is just nothing left at the end of the month. We NEVER eat out and I make all of our food from scratch at home. We own one very old car and really don’t have any splurges. We have money in savings and retirement, etc., but can’t seem to have anything leftover from our paycheck.

    p.s. we live outside DC.

    • avatar

      Wow, nicole… With my very first full time job, making 38K a year, I was able to save half my salary living exactly the lifestyle you describe. How do you do it not to have anything left at the end of the month ? No offence, but it blows my mind.

  78. avatar


    Private Equity Operations

    I felt it was not a significant milestone, that “6 figures” technically describes a very wide range 🙂

    When I hang out with friends who make less than me (most of my closest friends are financially strapped), I do things that are financially comfortable for both of us; if it’s borderline, I try to fill in the gaps in small ways. Most fun things don’t require much money. Company more important.

  79. avatar

    For me it’s meant freedom — Me and my wife are on about $200k between us and we manage to save 80% of our take-home pay for the last few years (we were both graduate students for a long time and those old but good habits are proving hard to break.)

    As of this month we have enough in savings that we can live on our current expenses forever (assuming nothing catastrophic happens) without any income coming in.

    This has meant a dramatic change in how we see the world — her grandmother is sick and probably won’t make it through the next couple of years — we’re discussing quitting our jobs and going over there to spend a year or more with her. We couldn’t have done that without the backup.

    My company has just announced that they are having ‘cash flow problems’ and have been late with pay deposits. This is terrifying some of my co-workers, but isn’t bothering me at all.

    However, the big thing for us is the low expenses (not out of denying ourselves, more out of habits and lifestyle.) That means that a nest-egg grows rapidly with a good income, and a relatively modest nest-egg will suffice to keep us happy.

    Now here’s the kicker — we have no problems with some of our friends on $60k combined because we are living a very similar lifestyle as they are, having out at house parties and bbq’s rather than other more affluent hobbies… I doubt any but our closest friends realise that there is a significant income gap.

  80. avatar

    How old are you?
    – 23 Years
    What do you do for a living?
    – Soon to be a pharmacist, graduating next year.
    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    – I have not earned $100K. But I have a offer that states if I work 52 hrs/week (13 to 14 hours/day), I can make $140K/year.
    What, if anything, changed?
    – Not to long ago I realized that I don’t want to practice pharmacy. I feel miserable today because i wasted 6 years of my life and this offer makes me more sick.
    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    – Some of my friends do make less money but they are happy. I on the other hand will be making alot of money and I envy them. When we hang out now days I feel like a failure.

  81. avatar

    34 years old, frelance game developer. I felt nice when I reached 100k and made me more ambitious, it also made me spend way, way more on my lifestyle so I became more attached and dependant to the money . When I hang out with friends that earn much less than I do, I end up busting balls and having mini fights about theirs excuses and me trying to push their boundaries about whats possible. It made me to dislike people in new ways.

  82. avatar

    I’m 24 and just crossed the $100k mark. It felt wow the day I got to it but since most of my finances are automated (401k, savings, bills, etc and I’ve added a new savings account to fund my MBA), I don’t think I’d see more than a few hundred dollars difference in my account. I now have more money to play with and I usually buy something nice (like clothes, books, treats, etc) once in a while. Most of my friends are in the same category and all of us are responsible spenders. So, we don’t go overboard with spending. So I guess there is not much “peer pressure” either ways. Now looking forward to the next milestone of $200k…

  83. avatar

    Soooo fascinating to read through these comments. I love that most of the people who make over 100K think that there is no issue with their friends. I bet if you asked their friends, they would have completely different answers ( I make a whopping $0 as a student, and then get paid in monopoly money at a startup).

  84. avatar

    @ abbelani: As one of those people who don’t make $100k, I can attest to one thing–it means that you never ever get asked for money 🙂 However, being close to several people who make more than $100k isn’t really so bad. Then again, we have weird tastes and don’t follow any of the trends, so envy doesn’t really compute. And sometimes you get really nice presents 😀

    We straddle an interesting income divide: some of our friends make a lot more, and some of our friends make a lot less. Frankly, I think being at a higher income level is more stressful than being at a lower income level, because then it falls on you to pick and choose the activities that you can both afford.

  85. avatar
    David Brown

    I am 22 and still a student. My dad is a Doctor and he makes well over $100k. Can’t really say how he felt when he reached that mark but he looks happy enough right now. Most of my friends are in the same category; so money is not really an issue. I am about join the race soon and I do hope to make $100 sooner than expected. However, I believe it won’t make me feel any different. Money alone cannot change your feelings in a major way. It a combination of things that do.

  86. avatar

    My wife and I both, 28 and 27, make around $103,000/year. I am a commercial lender and she is marketing manager. It certainly takes the stress away from worrying about the monthly bills, but with one kid and one on the way, there is always more expenses on the way. We purchased a home and use our excess cash flow to pay down debts aggressively so we are never cash heavy.

    We try not to flaunt our money/financials to our friends. We try to keep it real and just have fun. The harder relationships are with family members that have not done as well.

  87. avatar
    Dustin Sanchez

    I’m 32 and was making a nice chunk of change as a nuclear engineer. Then I read The 4HourWorkWeek and quit my job. Haven’t figured out what’s next, but I’m way below 100k for the next month or two.

  88. avatar

    First, congrats to all you young folks making over $100k. Here’s some perspective – I’m late 50’s and retired on well over $100k living in a low-cost, low-tax part of the US. I just looked it up, and $100k now was $35k in 1979, so in inflation-adjusted dollars I crossed that line then, mid-20’s (computer pro). I have made over the equivalent of $100k every year since, but actually crossed the $100k line in nominal dollars in 1991, when I moved from software engineering to management. It made no difference as I’m an extreme saver (money hoarder) and did not change my lifestyle, just invested more and paid off my house. My friends mostly made that or much more and live the life, so they’ve always had nicer houses, cars, etc. Here’s the kicker – I am the second wealthiest with $4mm+ net worth (the silicon valley CEO has a lot more, the professionals, even an MD’ and a dentist, a lot less). So, point is, control spending, save/invest, and you will ultimately win the real game – high net worth, not high income and debt!

  89. avatar

    I’m 32, no college degree, and broke the 100k mark at age 23 (I work as a Network Engineer). I am now averaging about 180k a year due to bonuses (last year, I made about 220k). It took a long time to notice a lifestyle difference, since so much of the additional income goes to 401(k), taxes, stock purchase, etc. I have, however, been able to purchase more than one property in expensive cities and have amassed a fairlyl sizable nest egg for both retirement and short/medium term goals.

    The friends who work in my industry are making about the same as me, but other friends are struggling to get by. I make it a point not to discuss money with someone unless they are in the same income bracket, but I suspect that my friends realize that I am doing well. I often feel obligated to pay when we go out, which does bother me sometimes. I am very willing to live without “luxuries” so that I have money to spend on what I deem important, but I see these same people spending extravagantly (NYC nightlife can be very expensive) and then asking me to borrow 5k because they don’t have a dime in their savings account.

    My goal is to produce enough investment income from properties or other sources, so that I can get out of this rat race. Having a decent income allows me to have the spare cash to invest.

  90. avatar

    I’m 25.

    I guess I’ll make about $110K in the next year in an area of the country with a very low cost of living. My base salary is only $50K but I am making extra on the side as a freelancer (writing/web design). It’s nice, but I still live the same I did when I was making $10K/yr on unemployment. When I met with my financial planner this year, she told me I should have an emergency savings fund and to put 6 months of expenses, so I asked her $5K? and she laughed.

    My parents have not been making much money due to the downturn in the economy and the loss of revenue from their business so I try to help my parents and siblings when possible (one is still in high school, the other is out of school and working but not making much $). I’m putting aside money for my siblings’ college educations which is great because it won’t count against them for financial aid purposes since the money is still in my name. I want to endow a scholarship at my alma mater too so that’s definitely a long-term savings goal. I will probably buy a duplex next year and work on getting positive cash flow on that.

    My friends don’t notice because I’m still living the same way I was before I started making money.

  91. avatar

    26 and a software engineer, married to an analyst 4 years older. Together we make around $200K. Both retirement accounts are fully funded. We live in a tiny cheap apartment and save about 2/3 of our combined take home pay so spend less than friends making $40K-$60K. Partially we like this lifestyle – we enjoy the thrill of saving the way others enjoy the thrill of shopping. I think it mildly annoys or confuses our friends who have a vague idea of our combined earning power when we don’t want to eat out as much as they do and bow out of things that cost more than we’d like to pay (usually this is partially because the expensive activity in question isn’t something that is worth the amount to us).

    We also live in a high COL area and don’t yet own any property. We’d like to be able to fund our monthly mortgage on the lesser of our two salaries (just under $100K) to be comfortable but we don’t want to sacrifice for a long commute to get that. Those who know are situation well agree with us that it seems nearly impossible.

    Like latestarted and nicole, we don’t feel like our salaries get us much. Somehow when the 1000 sq. ft. houses are the only thing in your area of interest that is in your price range, it’s awfully hard to feel rich.

  92. avatar

    Hey Ramit,

    First, thank you for the blog.

    How old are you?

    What do you do for a living?
    Lawyer, but I don’t know much or feel like I add much value. The only reason I get paid so much is that I went to a top law school, graduated at the top of my class, won every conceivable award and academic accolade, and can BS with the best of ’em.

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    Like I didn’t deserve it, and I felt like it could be taken away at any time. I saved every penny–didn’t pay off loans–and then quit my first miserable and traveled for two years. Now, I’m back to being a miserable lawyer, earning less, living frugally, saving, slowing paying down my only debt (student loans) and feeling unhappy.

    Psychological studies show that $50k is the benchmark that “buys” happiness. After that, increases in happiness only move up in very small increments. If I had known that before law school, I never would have enrolled in a private school, even on a 1/2 scholarship.

    What, if anything, changed?
    Very little. I still drive the same car I’ve had since high school. I still haggle my ass off for everything, and I still lunch on delicious fifty-cent tacos every Monday.

    I saved every penny–didn’t pay off loans–and then quit my first miserable job and traveled for two years and felt incredibly fulfilled. Now, I’m back to being a miserable lawyer, earning less, living frugally, saving, slowing paying down my only debt (student loans) and feeling unhappy again.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    Not really. Most of (or at least a lot of) my friends earn way more than me and often offer to pay for things like flights, hotels, etc. They offered that even when I made a lot more money, because I am pretty frugal–not to particular–and they have specific, expensive tastes. I figure if it’s worth it to them to pay to hang out with me, then I’ve added value to their lives in some way. Honestly, I am a riot!

    I would give my left #&@ to figure out a way to eke out a decent living working 20 hours a week from wherever. The problem is I am afraid to “invest” in any further programs of education, because my gut tells me that they are loss leaders and I will need to purchase XY and Z on the back-end, infinitely, with no end in sight to really create a system that (never) works.

    • avatar


      I hear you on the bit about feeling the anxiety about investing in the further education programs. However I did take Ramit’s E1k program (as well as a quarter of the B1k program) and will definitely attest that it’s some top notch content. It’s not right for everyone but if you are looking for some way to get into freelancing or ‘being your own boss’, it’s a legit program and worth checking out.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Well…that’s not really true, Wayne. I can’t speak for other courses, but Earn1k is a standalone program that works. I do have backend programs, but they’re supplementary, not mandatory.

  93. avatar
    Feelings of Inadequacies | I'm a Money Grubber

    […] always felt like I was doing OK for myself but reading this post over at I Will Teach You to be Rich just left me feeling kind of […]

  94. avatar

    I am 31 and make about $150k a year. I have owned my own engineering business for the past 5 years and have 2 technical engineering degrees. I’m pretty frugal and invest most of my money back in my business. I make more money than most of my family which is where the problems come in (I feel I have to help support them), my friends really never talk money to me. I have taken my family and friends on trips with me that I know they cannot afford and that is fulfilling for me. No one has ever been offended when I offer.

  95. avatar

    Ramit, I’m guessing you have something up your sleeve for asking these questions other than pure curiosity, but I’d be interested to know what everyone’s work/life balance is at this pay level and also if everyone truly enjoys the work they do.

    I hold this belief that the more you make, the less of a life you have. I’ve witnessed my coworkers get raises and disappear into the oblivion of long Corporate hours with little to show for it other than bags under their eyes.

    But perhaps I’m wrong and this belief is another barrier cropping up…

    • avatar

      He’s censusing the readers/customers with cash. Looks like a bunch of code monkeys.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Classic money barrier — believing that people who make a lot are sacrificing tons of other stuff and, implicitly, that money is evil.

    • avatar

      In all fairness, Ramit, earning lots of money can *easily* entail a deeper moral compromise. What the market demands and what humanity needs aren’t completely aligned. I do worry about people who focus on earning $X without thinking about the broader impact of their activities. Not all activity is good activity, even if it makes you rich.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Agreed. Nobody should blindly earn more money. But just simply saying that people who earn more are unhappy isn’t correct, either.

    • avatar

      Did you look at the article? It didn’t say anything along the lines of “… people who earn more are unhappy.” That is missing the entire point.

      It says that earning more money and happiness are almost perfectly correlated, but at 60k the marginal utility of money in regards to happiness is very small.

      I agree that you shouldn’t set your goal at 60k then stop. I earn over 60k and I plan on earning more. Knowing that the extra money wont make me happier has shifted my priorities slightly to help me enjoy life more.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      I wasn’t referring to your comment, but the “classic barrier” one above that talked about money and co-workers.

      In any case, I somewhat agree with the happiness research, but there is also something to be said for the intellectual curiosity of seeing how you can be the best. Whether that’s money, or influence, or whatever…happiness is one measure, and there are many routes to it.

    • avatar

      Agreed. It’s not money in and of itself that creates the happiness. It’s the knowledge of achieving your goals that creates it. Being at the top of a field is a huge accomplishment… it just happens to come with a nice pay check.

      As for the question, I do not earn more than 100K. I’m 25 and I earn about 45K/yr. However, I’m the first person in my family to ever attend college and I make as much as all my siblings and my mom put together. It’s been an interesting transition to go from poverty when I was growing up, to now being middle class. Bad money habits followed and I’ve been working on eliminating them. After seeing these stories I know that I could easily command that kind of salary. Time to get my ass in gear.

    • avatar

      As I had said earlier, I’m just getting to the 100k level, but my work-life balance is good. I work about 40-50 hours/week. My weekends are my own, other than maybe once or twice a year when I’m coming up on a court deadline.

  96. avatar

    my questions is….if all these folks are making over 100K/year, why are they on this website?? i don’t want to start any trouble but, 100K is a lot of money and if you’re making that much a year, i think you’ve pretty figured out how to be rich. am i wrong??

    • avatar

      Curious, if you read the comments, you will see that 100k is not really impacting people’s lifestyles that greatly.

      The truth of the matter is that money comes to money. People who care enough about earning money want to take their earnings to the last level. The amazing thing about this country is that pretty much anyone can earn money if they *really* want to.

    • avatar

      couldn’t agree more you more anon.

      its about perspective. anyone making 100K (or even 30K, 40K) is considered filthy rich if you compare on a global scale. yes, everyone’s case is different, but you can’t deny the fact that we are incredibly blessed to live in a country where we can make as much we want to. sadly, there’s a lot of unhappy people, regardless of how much they make. even skimming through the comments here, 100K seems to not be enough.

      i guess my question is for ramit. what was the purpose of this blog post??

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      I am curious and wanted to know

    • avatar

      Depending on where you live, 100k isn’t really much. I know my mom and her boyfriend combined make a bit under 300k after bonuses, and they really don’t consider themselves rich–just upper middle class. For the most part, people who make more tend to spend more. She has a nice house and a new baby, he pays 3,000 a month in child support, etc. My mom occasionally buys lottery tickets. Because she wants more money–to buy a better house (she needs the space), to help my grandmother out, to save for my brother’s college fund. Sure, they are not struggling, and can take nice vacations and go to nice restaurants and buy new electronics. But they are far from not having to worry about money. Living in NYC (as we do), 100k is really not much. Combined, my bf and I make about that much (maybe a bit under since he’s current on unemployment) and we can’t even afford the luxury apartment we would want to live in.

  97. avatar

    I’m 34 and work in IT security. Job pays about 140k, but I make another 20k or so freelancing. Hit the 100k mark about 4 years ago.

    Being in the NYC area, I don’t feel rich. I went to buy a new car a few years ago, and opted for a certified pre-owned with 17k miles and saved about $10k. My goal in making money is to reduce the time I have to work, so most extra is saved or reinvested to earn more. Things like nice used cars and gourmet coffee purchased at Marshalls will not change. Similar to you, my motto for spending money has always been “pick your spots.” My big expense is my condo in a luxury complex, and the corresponding maintenance payments, but I have never regretted the money spent for a second.

    I don’t really hide what I make, but I don’t flaunt it either. I make no excuses for not making more, and I make no apologies for not making less. It just is what it is. Most of my friends do OK, but make less. My housing expenses normalize the rest of my spending, so there isn’t much of an issue– and I am open about having people come by in the summer to enjoy my complex, so I don’t get any complaints.

  98. avatar

    Some on here are including bonus / stock options etc. I am really curious if we can get a breakout of base salary vs options and cash bonuses etc.

    My base isn’t where I want it to be but the bonuses and stock make me go wellover the 100k mark quickly. I guess the thing that’s changed for me is that I can walk into a restaurant, order anything I want on the menu, and then not have to worry about it later.

  99. avatar


    Check this out. Once you hit 60k, any added income adds negligible amounts of happiness to your life.

  100. avatar

    Ah, sorry, didn’t catch that.

    I agree with you about being the best you can be. I think that the main thing that pushes me to get out of bed before 10am is the quest to take my family’s business as far as I can. Hitting lofty goals is important. I am just starting to believe that people are unnecessarily attaching too much of their self worth and happiness to the money involved in being the best the can be as opposed to being the best developer/salesman/manager/writer they can be.

    I don’t know if you have watched the TED speech the article cites, but the speaker mentioned that happiness is more heavily linked to the relationships one cultivates than income (after the 60k mark that is.)

  101. avatar

    Hmmmm… My last comment doesn’t seem to have gone through… Can you see it or is my computer on the fritz?

  102. avatar

    How old are you?

    What do you do for a living?
    physician researcher. Post-doctoral fellow

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    Earning 100K wasn’t the key for me. I felt really pleased when I saved up my first 100k rather than when I earned my first 100k. I had saved up 100k at 34. I save 50k per year.

    What, if anything, changed?

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?

    Nope. I live frugal. I don’t have extremely high tastes. I enjoy reading and watching cinema–my pleasures are mainly things of the soul or mind. I do like travel and I can do that without thinking twice. My girlfriend and I can eat whatever, wherever we like.

    • avatar
      Another postdoc

      Wow. Is the income from clinic work? The NIH and NSF (and HHMI) practically mandate that postdocs earn only ~$39,000-45,000/y. Curious how you pull this off.

    • avatar

      I’d have to agree, having saved 100k seems a huge accomplishment rather than earning 100k (but really who am I to judge as an unemployed student)

      Were you debt free when you hit this benchmark in savings?

  103. avatar

    I’m 25, female, and I work as a consultant electrical engineer. I recently got a new job and a big promotion, jumping from $76k to $127k/yr plus a $10k-13k annual bonus. I didn’t make any major changes in my spending habits. I live very frugally and I’ve always saved roughly 50% of my income. The biggest shock with my promotion was looking at my new pay checks and thinking to myself “what am I going to do with all this money!?” I honestly didn’t know how to spend it. So far, I’ve put most of it in investments. I finally caved and bought a data plan for my Blackberry (extra $15/month). My lease also ran up in July and I ‘let myself’ move to a new place that costs $100 more per month, but it’s much nicer.

    Most of my friends make significantly less than me, but it has never really effected things. Only a few close friends know what I make, but I’ve had more money than most of them for years, despite earning the same or less. I was always a tad bitter and looked down on my friends who got handouts from their parents in college (some still do) while I did everything on my own. I now have over $100k net worth from my diligent saving and most of them still cringe at the thought of spending $300 to take a trip together. A friend my age who makes about $75k and whose parents paid his way through college recently saved for over a year to buy a $5000 engagement ring for his (now) fiancée. I still can’t fathom why it took so long, at his income, especially when I would have no problem coming up with that kind of money at moments notice.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Good writeup. Some great insights in this, Ko. Thanks.

  104. avatar
    Creative Image

    My wife and I are 31 and will be doing 250K this year. I’m a Electrical Engineer and she’s a Medical Sales Rep for Los Angeles area.

    We make more than our friends but we put away most of our money so we only see in very little due to Automation through ING and use Wellsfargo as primary. We have our own tab when we eat out with friends and throw bottle service from time to time.

    When we made our first 100k, it was only money to pay off previous debt from school, but when we made over 200k, money just made life easier.

    I use AMEX Costco to charge everything and pay all at the end of the month and get a return of $1600 cash back at the end of the year. Have no debt, but rent has increased to 2600 for a 1000sqft high rise apartment near the beach. Most of my wife’s business gets expensed like, telecom, car, gas, and parking. That’s why she’s driving a BMW X5 and I still drive my BMW 528i from college and have 190k miles on it. Driving this car to ground is more of a game to me now to see when it will actually croak. Don’t want to buy a home because it’s not the right time to buy in the area I want to live in. It’s still cheaper to rent and put more money into savings.

    What I learned about money: Makes life easy, get the things you want, don’t keep up with the Jones will put more money away, people with the most money are not flashy, pays for life experiences, and helps out the parents.

    • avatar

      Hey Creative Image,

      Do you or your wife have any advice for someone looking to get into the medical sales industry? I’ve got almost two years or account exec work, but have been trying to learn more about sales in that industry. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!


    • avatar
      Creative Image


      Go to and look there and pay for the services. If you want to get into this industry, my best bet is to get to know who the head hunters are and get in touch with recruiters. It’s hard field to get into but the answer again for any field is based upon on who you know.

      Most people start at pharma then get a break at medical.

      Good Luck!

  105. avatar
    Sam Patel

    Hi, Ramit – I am a gujju and an investment banker in Chicago. I make north of $125k a year excluding bonus. I was born to hard-working parents (farmers) in India and I walked 9 km each way to school up until the 9th grade. My parents couldn’t afford to buy me a bike to go to school. I self-financed my entire education including my MBA. In short, my life has been a struggle in the beginning years. Honestly, I don’t think my life has changed a bit. Majority of my friends don’t know what I make, since lot of them judge me by the life I live. I rent a condo with my wife and my little girl. Due to my sheer gujju virtues, I have been able to negotiate my rent at least $200 below the market rate. Ever since I started earning, I religiously save 55% of my take-home pay. I tell myself that I never earned that money. I have seen my parents do that from my childhood so it wasn’t a difficult task for me, per se.

  106. avatar

    I’m an engineer in the military making about $150K a year.

    …not really, I make about $52K a year including housing allowance and stuff.

    So do I make $100K yet? No- but I’m building a side business to get there so that hopefully by the time I can get out of the military I can work for myself full time.

    If for some reason that doesn’t work, I’ll probably get some kind of corporate job. All you engineers my age or younger making over $100k make me sick 🙂

  107. avatar

    How old are you?
    I’m 40 years old.

    What do you do for a living?
    I’m a project manager for a Fortune 500 company.

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    It felt surreal. I’d been way under that bar for so long, I felt like I’d finally “made it”.

    What, if anything, changed?
    It made it a bit easier to pay the mortgage and start to pay down some of my debt. Unfortunately it wasn’t a drastic change — even just recently I had some emergencies (medical bills, etc) that had me literally scrounging for loose change all over the house to try to make ends meet until my next paycheck. I can see how people can become bankrupt so quickly, all it takes is one emergency to start the downward spiral.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    Only rarely. For the most part we do simple get-togethers — potluck dinners, movies, etc… I would love to do the occasional “big spend” night out with the girls — amazing foodie dinner, martinis, dancing — but none of my girlfriends could afford it. Same with vacations, I’d love to go on a big group vacation somewhere but my friends can’t afford them… so my BF and I go by ourselves. My long-time BF makes half of what I make, which comes with its own issues… sometimes I get frustrated picking up the tab for our dates even though I know it’s the right thing to do.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Very interesting. I know some women who earn a LOT more than their boyfriends. It presents unique challenges.

  108. avatar

    I started making $100k when I was 32. I’m a project manager for a technical consulting firm. Honestly, not a lot changed because it was a slow and steady climb toward that number. But, once I got there I reevaluated my life and realized I wanted to become a mom.

    Since I was single, I wanted to be free of any and all bills once I had kids. I paid off my car, credit cards and socked money away like crazy. When I had to do IVF to get pregnant, it was no big deal because I had a great financial cushion. When I found out I was pregnant with twins, no big deal again. Now that I’m paying for daycare x 2 things are a little tighter, but if I didn’t have the salary I do, or the financial knowledge, I can guarantee I would be in credit card debt up to my eyeballs.

    Most of my friends earn around the same amount, but we also all met at our first job, so we’re all in the same industry.

  109. avatar

    34, engineer, just under $120K. Spouse is 40, has a similar career, makes about the same.

    Sure, our lifestyle inflated when we began working. We moved to a higher COL area closer to our jobs. We bought a car. We had a child. We have iPhones.

    We have no debt, max out our retirement accounts, save and invest on top of that, travel frequently to visit family, and live in non-extravagant middle class comfort. Day to day, our lives are not substantially different from the time when we were on graduate student stipends.

    The main difference is that the amount of money that would make a significant difference to us has gone way up. When we were in school, an extra $100 saved was important. Now, for example, the gap between the housing tier we can currently afford and the housing tier that would suit our family is another $100K on the down payment.

    We are lucky that most of our our friends are in a similar demographic with a similar, reasonably frugal mindset.

  110. avatar

    1. I’m 37.
    2. I own small business. Sales and marketing.
    3. I was 28 and felt like I had hit one of many milestones. I was working for another company at the time.
    4. I made bad decisions. My debt went up incrementally with my earnings. The first year I made 100k, I had more debt than ever before, and not from buying a house or car.
    5. No, my debt and spending habits kept my actual cash flow or wealth accumulation similar to many of those who earned less. I actually was the one avoiding doing things I would have liked to do. My friends wished I would have been around more. I blamed it on being a single parent and child support, but it was really my bad decisions that created it.

  111. avatar

    I’m 29, and am an attorney practicing in a private practice in a small midwestern city. I make about $110,000 in salary plus bonus, which doesn’t include perks paid for by my firm.

    Last year was the first year I earned over $100k. It felt like I’d reached a milestone, and made me feel very proud of myself.

    My earning power has never made me feel uncomfortable or unconnected to a friend. I tend to be as generous as possible, and if a friend doesn’t make as much as me, I will foot the bill for a dinner out.

  112. avatar
    Jonathan Atkins

    28 years old, Systems Analyst for Mutual of Omaha
    2008 was the first year I broke 100k and it felt amazing, I was regularly working overtime and on a contract basis. 2009 I became an exempt employ but now that I knew making $100k/yr was possible, found consulting opportunities and have been doing them along with the day job since to stay above 100k. I am on track again this year as well and try to meet or exceed my previous years earnings. I make more than all of my friends but it doesn’t cause any issues, I am frugal and still live within my means!

  113. avatar
    6:00 p.m. Anonymous

    It’s funny how depressed this thread is making me. I feel like I sacrifice a lot to try to do meaningful work that will help many people in the long term. I work 50-60 h/week (sometimes more) on science and spend money on mostly organic groceries because I feel it’s usually the right thing to do. I worry I might not have enough to retire or comfortably reproduce; jobs in my field are high risk, and grants have a ~10% funding rate. I’m doing this because it’s awesome to feel like I might contribute to solving important problems, but it’s not without a hefty personal cost (that today borders on overwhelming). It makes me sad that the kind of work I do is not valued more in monetary terms by society. I don’t mean to sound sanctimonious or whine–I’m just struck by how different many people’s implicit or explicit goals are from mine, and I feel like a huge outlier. And not necessarily a better one.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      You’re not an outlier. I specifically asked for people making over $100k, so naturally those people are responding. If I asked for people who took a science job, or a non-profit job, or an academic job, we would get a totally different turnout.

    • avatar
      Anonymous XY

      I’m with you, depressing reading, especially when I see the age of these people. I’m happy for them, but I’m not too happy about my own career path. Jobs that I enjoy doing are not of those that are well-paid. I really wish I like to do engineering, was in the field for a short time, not long enough to make the 100K mark, but good enough salary. Unfortunately, I could not stand being alone in a cubicle. Having big salary but being depress didn’t feel good to me. Having little salary does not feel that good to me either.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Keep in mind you can also do good, and make money. Often it just happens on the side based on skills you have. For example, I know someone who works at a non-profit doing some great work. I am working with her on building her side business, which I’m confident can generate $3,000/month easily — on the side.

    • avatar
      6:00 p.m. Anonymous

      I’m increasingly convinced I need to earn more income on the side too, since my financial worries are interfering with my normal work. There’s no industry option for my full-time research job–I’m sometimes doing the research that industry *won’t* do (because it threatens their bottom line) that nonetheless needs to be done from a public goods perspective. I’d be really excited to read a series about the kinds of lucrative work people in non-profits or non-profitable research do on the side. It’s especially tricky in academia because we have to be very, very careful about conflicts of interest. Thanks for all your comments.

    • avatar

      You have no reason to feel sad. Your work IS valued by people, and many of us in soulless industries wish that we had the courage to quit and work on something meaningful. I think about it every second, but I will admit that I have become spoiled by the income.

      It is our society that is warped when we pay celebrity athletes and the like some obscene amount of money, and PhDs can be making 50k.

      Thank you for what you do.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Agreed, thanks for the comment Kristin. If I had any emotions, I would have said what you said

    • avatar

      Ramit, did you know that if you reply by clicking the “REPLY” link, then your comment will appear immediately under the post you’re replying to – instead off many screens farther down the page, like this one.

    • avatar
      Frustrated, Curious and Mad

      I read every single post with rapt interest. But like my name, I’m Frustrated, Curious and Mad and quite frankly, unhappy, after reading the comments here. Now listen, this isn’t a sob story; I just need a few good suggestions. Have a look:

      I’m 25, live in a rural area in the southern US and work in a family HVAC business where I perform day to day duties as well as filling the VP role. Often times, I practically run the company. Lots of responsibility here.

      In my younger days, I felt trapped and wanted -even tried- to leave but was practically shamed (inside and outside) into staying. This stemmed from my father having a mid-life crisis (he was one of those guys that helps feed America, think> farmer) that plunged him deep in debt. (And yes, Ramit, you would probably refer to me as a ‘hick’ and laugh behind your hand, which is fine. This post is about MONEY, in case anyone forgot.) He thankfully didn’t melt down mentally or file for bankruptcy but chose to get up and go back to work, this time in a new career in HVAC, as a new business owner.

      Fast-forward 15 years, we are doing well in business, turning nice profits and are comfortable but I’m simply not happy. I ~say~ I want more progress (i.e. money), but am not sure it would do the trick. I’m the most aggressive in my family and think maybe what I need is to break away, although the security I’ve come to feel here is hard to think of leaving. I am married (1.5 yrs) and we now have a child on the way. Amongst this all, I’m feeling the obligation to provide security and safety for my small family but at the same time feel stuck in a rut. Not much here excites me.

      On the fiscal side, I lived on air in my younger days which enabled me to buy my first investment property at 19. I have since grown that side business and am up to 7 properties (buying foreclosures.) The hvac company pays me 41k (last yr) and I make 35k in rental income for a total of 76k. My net worth is a touch over 200k, for whatever that’s worth. While this is really good compared to most of my friends, I still feel like I’m coming up short, especially after reading the comments!

      My friends know I do ok, but they don’t know any numbers. Ever since about 18, I haven’t really been a hang-out type of guy as I was always working. Seriously. (I first read Rich Dad, Poor Dad at 15, been on a roll pretty much ever since.) I did, however, socialize just enough to meet someone who agreed to marry me!

      My wife and are very frugal, drive used cars and live in a rented upstairs apartment (unheard of in the spacious country) but hey, I only pay $350/mo rent including all utilites. On occasion we dine out (1-2x month) but are otherwise very careful. Our savings are enough to weather us through tough times, everything else is poured into another savings account for/or applied directly to investment real estate loans/property maintenance in some way. (Yes, I know, I love real estate but only the income-producing kind so according to my math, I’m better off to save and invest than to purchase a home, although I plan to do so in the near future because my wife wants one.)

      My job pays for phone/internet, transportation, pays all car insurance (yes, personal cars that are somtimes used for biz), gives me a CC for discretionary spending, and allows other monetary advantages aka fringe benefits too numerous to mention.

      There are other family members in this business but I would be next in line to spear-head the company when my father wants out/retires in the next 10-15 years.

      So now for a few questions and comments, if anyone is still reading this post:
      -I’ve considered switching careers, going into IT, preferably networking but would have to go back to school (college dropout, less than 1 year) to get my degree. I’m not opposed to this, just need ideas/suggestions.
      -I love real estate but a r/e career seems too risky for at least 5 years (or longer, nobody knows) yet.
      -Granted I live in the country (free-range, plenty of space) is it worth the trade-off to move to the city (if I can break my family vices? Hey Ramit, got any scripts for this?) hmm.. I love not being penned in by pavement, compact cars and claustrophobic living quarters.
      – Would it be better to stay put, work at a growing HVAC company while growing the real estate venture? My options for side work are rather closed, as most anything “extra” would be viewed as a conflict of interest by other family members. (My real estate venture already causes a bit of strife but I’ve cut other family members in to pacify them; otherwise, I’d make even more.) To my credit, I DID sign up for the Earn1k course and loved it but haven’t really been able to utilize the rich content. Again, Frustrated but Curious but Mad.

      I have to say that I envy those ppl that are making 100k+ as I _really_ want to break that barrier for myself. I’ve read a ton of books to further raise my income (and it’s helped) but a career change almost seems iminent.

      Sorry for the rambling post, now a penny for Your thoughts. I just wanna make a 100k.

    • avatar
      Dominique Brown

      I think you can take from many of the posts.. 100k isn’t all that special. It’s like a new car. You’re happy for the first month, but after that, everything is status quo, and you go back to living your life. It seems that you have reached great success within two lines of business. Many people would kill for the ability to have two substantial streams of income.

    • avatar
      6:00 p.m. Anonymous

      Kristin, thank you. Really.

      XY, I hope we can find a middle ground.

      Ramit, I understand the selection bias in these replies. They’re also echoed by where I work (expensive city) and the paths of many acquaintances and friends. Together, these anecdotes don’t approach a random sample, but they still seem to be a lot of the ‘outside world.’ It’s odd. I worked in a very poor country years ago and saw firsthand how much I have, but I still compare myself mostly to peers with similar background (or web users with similar browsing habits). Not good!

  114. avatar

    Thank you for this post Ramit. I will be graduating with 2 degrees next may (Finance and Real Estate Development) and it’s encouraging to see so many people doing well in fields that I am interested in. Though we don’t have money to speak of now, my fiancé and I have goals and a financial plan which will (hopefully) start us out on the right foot.

  115. avatar

    Ramit, reading these are motivating indeed. I’m curious tho. Why did you leave out the very important question “where do you live”? If I moved from Florida to California with my same job I’d easily be over 100K. Cost of living is a big factory in salary esp for cubicle dwellers.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Cuz I don’t really care. I care about understanding the type of person who has the skills, motivation, and luck to earn 100k — not about where they live. This is about the person, not just their financial #s.

  116. avatar

    How old are you?
    What do you do for a living?
    Software engineer fulltime. Started a real estate investing business on the side.

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    Just hit that mark but didn’t really notice the $100k. Felt good though seeing the big chunks of debt I was getting rid of each month :).
    What, if anything, changed?
    I sleep better at night due to the huge payoff of my debt.
    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    N/A since most of my friends seem to make more. One of the primary reasons I started a side business to catch up with them. Talk about motivation.

  117. avatar

    I’m 29 and I develop leading iPhone games. I just recently broke through $100k by changing jobs (from PC Titles to iPhone, negotiating hard, and working with a recruiter. The biggest change for me was a great sense of validation. I know I’m the best at what I do, and to have someone back that up with cash feels better than all the encouragement from friends and family ever did. Even on the worst days, I feel that I am a highly valued contributor.

    Now that I make more money than I need to be comfortable, I find that spending time with friends is more relaxed. I don’t know how much they make, but (maybe just because of our age) proving our generosity doesn’t seem to matter anymore (e.g. we don’t squabble over trying paying the check at dinner even though we’re asian). We just do stuff and have the expectation that everyone can afford whatever. I have, however, been in less contact with some of my more toxic friends and no longer enable their pessimistic attitudes.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Your last line is profoundly important: “I have, however, been in less contact with some of my more toxic friends and no longer enable their pessimistic attitudes.” Anyone who gets more successful has to deal with this.

  118. avatar

    I’m 28 and mobile app developer.
    Last year I was a associate producer making 42k and now I make 109k. It was exciting at first and then i realized how much I would pay in taxes. So i set my goal to be at 219k by the end of the year. I’m pretty sure I’l hit it or come close.

    So far nothing has changed since I was making 42k except I work a lot less. Before i was working 40 hours and now I work about 10.

    2/3 of my friends make as much or more then me. Even though we make about the same they spend so much more then i do. But it’s not really ever a problem. And the one’s who make less. Aside from my nice apt in NYC there is not much difference in the way we live our lives. I’m moving to Nebraska in a little over a month because of my gf and I imagine that will be huge difference in living standards. From one of the most expensive places in the world to live to one of the cheaper in America.

  119. avatar

    I’m 31 and make $175K+. I work part-time for a nanotech startup and have a manufacturing/consulting company on the side. I’m a physics PhD on a semi-academic track and was worried that I’d be stuck in a low pay grade forever behind my peers who jumped ship after undergrad. I doubled my salary last year after deciding to quit my job at a premiere firm that paid peanuts for the level of work its employees did. This was a big jump psychologically but it put me in a position to control my work more, make more money, and build a new peer group.

    The biggest thing that changed was that I became infinitely happier with my work and have full control over my schedule. The funny thing is that the work is so rewarding – working only for myself and toward something I care deeply about – that the pay seems secondary. And ironically perhaps my hourly rate is not that much different because I work 80 hour weeks regularly (and voluntarily since I love the work!).

    My spending lifestyle changed very little, though I’m a lot more frugal now. Mainly this is due to having less time to spend on activities since I’m having so much fun at work. I feel a lot better about paying my way through some of life’s problems, like house cleaning and maybe getting a virtual assistant, though I have found that I’ve become very worried about loss of earnings through reasons out of my control, as a previous poster also noted. I made a bunch of money in the market bull run last year and am obsessed with not losing it and the recent excess savings I’ve been able to accumulate, but my logical mind cannot deny the time value of money so I keep investing it.

    Most of my close friends were making more than me, but for the friends who make less now I guess I buy more lunches now. Most of the time I try not to make it known how much I make but to them my job sounds like sailing the high seas and most of them are more envious of that than the income delta.

    • avatar

      Nanotechnology sounds so cool, I’ll bet it is fun.

  120. avatar
    Follow Finance Friday: Labor Weekend Links

    […] at I Will Teach You to Be Rich had a short article asking the question “How many of you earn over 100k / year? ” It generated some great comments and […]

  121. avatar

    I disagree with the general feeling like “more money more problems.”

    I make more than six figures and very happy. The only thing that changes is as the money increases so does the responsibilities and you need money for those. 100k at 22 yrs is fun but soon is very less when you compare with the mortgage, student loan, marriage, kids, etc…..

    So one needs 100k+ money. so that he/she can enjoy and move on to next stages in their life. If you didnt even have 100k+ you cant enjoy all those pleasures easily.

    I dont think there is an apples to apple comparison with the time when you make 100k+ with when you made 60k for example.

  122. avatar

    I’m a 37 year old working with my family contracting business. For the last two years, we have had a good run and my total compensation has hovered between $120k and $150k. But I hate the work and recently made the decision to move back into the wine industry, a move that will more closely align my vocation and my avocation but will result in a dramatic reduction in income.

    Based partly on my decision and partly on some factors in our industry (increased regulation, more aggressive competition, reduced margins), my family has decided to sell our business. This will put some cash in my pocket that I intend to use to subsidize my income until I am able to get back into the $100k + a year range.

    Psychologically, this is a very interesting transition. I feel like a moron for walking away from so much income but am confident that the long term prospects for the business are mediocre at best. Conversely, I am thrilled to be dedicating my time to learning more about an industry that I am very passionate about. I look at it as an investment in my education and career, akin to an MBA. Having been to $100k once, I am confident that I will be able to do it again.

    Being above the $100k mark has mostly affected me through the retirement of debt. In the past three years, I have finally put my student loans to bed, eliminated credit card and vehicle debt and built my savings (though they are still not as large as I would like them to be. I’m interested to see what the upcoming changes will be like and how they will impact my beliefs and attitudes.

  123. avatar

    I’m a Web Developer in the south. This year I will make well over $100k. Next year, there’s the potential to make much more than that. It was my goal to make six-figures, so it makes me feel good that I will accomplish it.

    Nothing changed though…I still work everyday like everyone else…

    I don’t show off making alot of money when with friends. I’m not that kind of person. Besides, even my best friends don’t realize how much i make!

  124. avatar

    I am Research Scientist in a federal national laboratory (GS14). I’m in my 12th year of service. In addition to the normal grade/pay increases, scientific staff have an independnent “merit systems promotion board” that evaluates technical performance of your career. This is how most scientists move up the scale rather than through yearly performance evaluations.

    I’m accomplished, frugal, and financially independent. Money is simply a tool. I’m wealthy in many intangible ways.

  125. avatar

    I am 41 and recently hit the 6-figure mark. To be honest, it sort of crept up on me. I work in Information Security and got a big bump in salary after another company made me an offer and my company decided to counter. Not long after that my company introduced a bonus program and a couple of years later that pushed me over the mark. When I saw it on paper I was like, “Wow, I’m making 6 figures.” I came across that piece of paper again the other day and still am amazed. I have some college but never finished my degree…but I have had many, many IT classes over the years and gained various certifications and built my knowledge through that and self-study.

    I don’t live much differently than I did when I made less, my car is paid off and I plan to drive it as long as possible, I have no credit card debt, and my husband and I are making extra payments on our house with the goal of paying it off in 10 years. (We did buy a bit bigger house than what I previously owned before we were married, but it is still modest.) Since I paid off my car I now make “non-car payments” to myself and put it in the bank to save for maintenance and repair and to eventually buy another car when this one wears out.

  126. avatar
    Steve M.

    I’m a 27 year old Operating Engineer in IUOE Local 94 in New York City. I didn’t really realize that I had a 100k a year job until I entered all my salary data into a spreadsheet, saw 100K as the final number, double and triple checked it, and went “Holy Cow, I’m making just over 100k annually.”

    It instantly changed the way I felt about what I do for a living and killed any desire I had to change jobs after I earned my bachelors from Thomas Edison State. My white collar envy evaporated. At the I was considering jumping ship to the white collar world and after I realized how much money I was making I finally realized just how much my experience is worth and just how much of a hit I’d take if I were to throw it away.

    Certain problems come up, especially when hanging out with white collar worker bees my age. They usually make 30-50% less than I do and get upset about this if I let them know just how much I make. They also carry around a lot more debt than I do (I have none) in the form of student loans, car loans, a mortgage, etc. I live below my means though, so when it comes to enjoying activities together we generally end up in the same ballpark expense wise. I.E. I’m not out there doing the paycheck to paycheck thing and blowing all my money on expensive crap.

  127. avatar
    Six Figures « Two by 4

    […] September 3, 2010 Kevin Leave a comment Go to comments Ramit Sethi’s blog got me thinking how our life would be different if we earned over $100,000 per year. We currently […]

  128. avatar

    Happened to stumble across this thread- first thing that is striking to me is the number of people in their 20s making well over $100K.

    I’m 32, work as a Program Manager for a large defense contractor, with a base salary of $125K and a 5% bonus target. Together my fiance and I are just under $200K but amazingly in the NYC metro area it doesn’t mean an extravagant life. We both have student loans, are paying for 100% of our wedding (poor families), and everyone knows what a drain a house can be.

    For some perspective, I was making $60K in 2002 as a software engineer and crossed $100K in January 2008. At the time, I felt it was quite an accomplishment but the older you get, you realize that happiness is less about money and “things” and that relationships are everything.

    With that being said, I still enjoy a great steak from Morton’s and good red wine!

  129. avatar
    Welcome To My Journey

    […] I got inspired by all of these young people commenting about making $100K+ (click for the post here).   My current income (see next post) is nowhere close to the magic number but I know reaching it […]

  130. avatar

    You should have also asked where we live. $100k/ year in South Carolina could be $200k/ year in San Diego or Boston.

    I guess the number is kinda arbitrary to begin with anyways.

  131. avatar

    22 years old, single, making just over $80k before bonus in petroleum engineering.

    Many of my good friends were not in engineering or business and most of them do not have full-time jobs, living off parents or boyfriends or tips. Now that I’ve moved, I’d like to fly them out, but I feel conflicted–like they’d prefer $300 cash, if they were going to take any giveaways at all.

    Given the industry I went into, I’m making around 30% more than my classmates, who are by all accounts just as smart and hard-working. We’re all making way more than anyone “needs” to live on though, so it hasn’t been weird. I do want to send them all copies of your book though! One friend told me he didn’t have a 401k because he didn’t trust the government with his money… I didn’t even know what to say.

    • avatar
      Financial Samurai

      The problem with engineering is that you will cap out at around $150-200,000/yr. I’d think about changing roles eventually if you plan to make more by 30.

  132. avatar

    To Ramit’s comment on Crystal :


    Correct me if I am wrong here….but what I have seen is this. If you are savvy with money (save, invest etc.) you will do it whether you make 30k or 100k. It’s like a habit. However, if you are used to living beyond your means when you make 30k, it will continue even though you make > 100k. I think it all comes down to your financial “personality”. So if Crystal makes x amount of dollars, and she says she would do a lot more in terms of investing if she made more, I tend to agree with her. I doubt her financial personality will change when she makes more. What are your thoughts?

  133. avatar

    100k is not lavish. “6 figures” doesn’t mean what it used to mean. People in the DC area easily make a 100k. In fact Arlington county has one of the highest concentration of 25-34 yr olds making 100k.

    What I found funny was the person who posted that she sold her company for 1.1 million at 26 and retired. haha! I hope you are planning to move to Nicaragua.

    The fact is if you want to 2-3 standard deviations above the norm LIFE STYLE wise you need to make at least 250k+ a person. Hence, why the administration wants to tax these people. If not I think a strong argument can be made that you are giving up a lot of free time to join the rate race and will most probably join the masses in incurring debt to continue to fuel the need to have a 100k, hence lowering your true quality of life (i.e. Rich Dad poor Dad)

    You’re just an educated Joe who played his upper middle class cards right at a 100k.

    10 million and I would retire.

  134. avatar

    I’m 38, an academic and earning ~$150k/year. I left home at 18 to join the military because my family didn’t have/want to spend money on college (I’m first generation college). I went to classes 4 nights/week for four years in the military, working around deployments, to get my bachelor’s degree, then used the GI Bill to help pay for my PhD. My PhD isn’t in a traditionally big bucks area, but I changed my research area slightly so that it’s within an area designated as high interest to NIH; I obtained a loan repayment grant from NIH, and they paid off about 70% of my student loans. A move to NYC boosted my income (from about $65k/year before), but resulted in increased expenses and a now-underemployed partner. I’m currently working on increasing my consulting business and my savings, while steering around conflicts of interest as another poster mentioned. I really enjoy my day job at the university, and getting paid as a consultant to help others with their research and career development is fulfilling.

    Moving to NYC changed everything, but like many of the others, making >$100k with no debt has been very liberating. I previously felt like I would be poor and struggling forever, and now I’m seeing that work pays off, and my persistence can be used to increase my quality of life, not just to keep me from sinking. It’s become a game to see how much I can make for doing things I enjoy doing! I work a lot, but I don’t think my relationships have suffered. Friends make all different amounts, and we just choose activities according to what we can afford without it being a big deal.

    • avatar
      6:00 p.m. Anonymous

      Jane, would you be comfortable divulging a little more about what area of academia you’re in? I don’t know in what field one pays for a PhD. Sounds like you’re tenure-track assistant prof? What percentage of your income is from grants? How close is your consulting to your research? As a 30-y-old postdoc, I’m trying to figure out what earning prospects are. Seems they vary enormously between institutions. Most state universities won’t pay their top profs above $120k.

    • avatar

      6 p.m. Anonymous: A lot of medical/health care fields like mine do not provide paid PhD training. I’m an associate professor (as of this year); 75% of my salary is from grants and 25% is from “hard” funds. I also make an additional $25-30k/year in consulting. I work at a private university, and I crank out grant proposals, which increases my value to my department. I believe The Chronicle of Higher Education provides annual reports on salaries by field.

      My consulting includes some work directly relevant to my research (i.e., helping other organizations write grant proposals, set up research programs, conduct their research, etc.) and other work that comes from the “business” side of academic research, such as providing mentoring/research consultation to individuals in my field. Hope this is helpful!

  135. avatar

    I’m 32 and make around $110K. I’m a Freight Train Conductor for the Railroad. I’m pretty frugal (save $48,000.00 every year) and live a modest lifestyle. I don’t think anyone has any idea how much I earn and just assume I’m a low paid blue collar worker. I’m more interested in having a few million in assets by my 50s than wasting money on fashion and depreciating status symbols.

    I used to be a Prison Guard and made under $30K till I was 25. When I started making $100K I just kept spending like I was still in law enforcement. I wouldn’t say I’m any more happy but I’m definitely less stressed financially. I’m also much more positive about my future since I’ll be financially independent in 10 years.

    As far as friendships I don’t let them know how much I make and probably won’t in the future. It’s easier to appear “common” especially when so many of my friends are struggling financially.

  136. avatar

    I don’t make 100k. If I worked my butt off at my company I probably could achieve it in less than 5 years. I’m 23, and I am a home based employee at Ramit’s favorite bank. I graduated from college last year with a degree in marketing. I make under 30k but have good benefits and the perks of working at home everyday (I work in my boxers!). I would be much happier making 50k and having the freedom to work anywhere in the world than making a 100k in New York or San Fran and being stuck in my job. I’m trying to make some online niche businesses so I can live anywhere in the world. I’m also looking into mobile app development and it seems like a great business based on some of the comments here.

  137. avatar

    Age: 29
    Industry: Sales
    Income: ~115k

    Feelings: When I first hit the 100k mark, I really didn’t know what to do. I grew up dirt poor – food stamps, thrift stores, missed meals, the works. I worked my way through college, and didn’t graduate till I was 25. So when I finally realized I was going to be making more than anyone in my family ever made, I cried. And then I opened up a savings account. I’m still flabbergasted. True story: sometimes I open up my online bank accounts to just stare.

    Friends: they don’t really know. I’m kind of afraid to buy anything new or fancy. My family never really got out of the Great Depression, so being a spendthrift is who I am. I have made sure my parents are well cared for, though.

  138. avatar
    Financial Samurai

    This is why I’m bullish on the economy. Everybody makes over 100,000 a year! It’s such a farce when the data says the median income is only $50,000 per household.

  139. avatar


    I think you need another question on the list. How many hours a week on average do you work for that >$100K salary?

  140. avatar

    Combined with bonuses/options etc, and small investment income back home I made slightly more than $100k last year.
    I’m 26, software developer.
    I went to making somewhat less than that, and then that 2 years ago; before that I made about $35k back in Russia. I only feel good once when income goes up, as a token of worth, in normal life I don’t feel any difference between the two; I don’t spend even half of it (and if I didn’t pay outrageous rent it’d be like a third) and I dunno what to do with the stuff, other than invest it.
    Some of my friends make less; I just have to be careful not to bring this stuff up in conversations (e.g. when ppl discuss product choices based on prices, etc).

  141. avatar

    I am 45 and have made over 100K for several years. The money allows to have more choices. I have been able to take risks, in investments and small startups. I work long hrs. and have capped out my income ability. I sell cars for a living. The money has allowed me to send my kids to amazing private schools that I feel are more empowering than the to local public schools. I had the money pay for good legal representation without which my kids would not be living with me. I was ill and unable to work for a year and I had the reserves for my family to not suffer financially, and I was able to pay for doctors that are better than what the “in network” doctors provided. I am likely only alive and totally healed because of the income. I was also able to take a year off from work after a divorce to heal and pursue some life long dreams because of my income. I live below my means. My goal was to retire by 40. If I had not had the illness, the divorce and two expensive custody battles I would have. Because of the income and simple life style (except private school) it looks I will be able to retire in the next 2 to 3 years. many of my friends make less than me because I live simply. I have been able to help some of them when they were in a tight spot. I have always given not loaned money to friends. Some decide to give it back when things are back on track. Some have not and it does not matter to me. Most of the friends I have from our kids school are more affluent that I am, and my income limits my ability to hang with them because I don’t choose to spend money to go the expensive events they often attend. I like have friends that make much less and much more than I do. I believe If my income was not over 100K I would be sick or dead, seldom see my kids and be miserable and bitter. Or maybe it is not the money that has made the difference but the personal development that I invested in, that allowed me be a person that can earn 100K and choose to have a life I love, and love the life I have.

  142. avatar

    Age: I just turned 23.
    Although I don’t make 100k/year (I make roughly 40), I make as much as someone making 100k makes per hour because I only work 15 hours a week (Around $40-50/h).

    What I do:
    I edit scientific and medical papers as a contractor for a firm in India. I started freelancing shortly after reading Ramit’s book with little experience. I quickly realized I was underpricing myself; after quadrupling my rates, I saw an increase in business! Shortly after, I cold emailed for contract jobs with firms and got a job!

    How I felt:
    Once I realized I could do everything I wanted because I had the freedom to, I had a hard time accepting the fact that I wasn’t broke (this is my first real job). I feel like I got where I am on my own terms, because I didn’t believe in putting up with work I didn’t like for the chance to maybe do something that suits me later.

    What changed:
    I’m planning to live abroad because my job is online. Also, I am using my excessive free time to develop my skills as well as more side income. I plan to go to graduate school because a PhD allows me to charge triple my rate. I never even thought this was a viable career until a few months ago. My spending has hardly increased after 4 years of being a student — I really don’t need a lot.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    It’s almost not so much the money I earn, it is the job itself people are jealous of. The fact that I work 15 h/week, have no set schedule, no nagging boss, and don’t have to be anywhere in particular makes people pretty green. It also upsets them when I tell them how easily I got into it with so little experience. I don’t think anyone is truly spiteful, but most of my peers from university are struggling to find anything.

  143. avatar
    Tim Rosanelli

    I am 39. I’ve reached the 100K mark in two capacities that were totally different. First, as a Regional Customer Service Manager then as a Martial Arts School Owner. The corporate job was totally stressful and long hours. I hated it and it left me drained mentally, emotional, and spiritually.

    Then, I started a Martial Arts School owner. I decided to quit my soul draining corporate job for alot less money to pursue my martial arts business. I had to make huge sacrifices to my lifestyle to make it work, but found that the reduced stress and working less hour (about 4hr per day) was worth it. Now, three years later, I earn more than my corporate job in a job that I love and fuels my soul with much less hours.

    Did it feel different making 100K? Not really. Because with the 100K came a wife, kids, and a house. I had much more spendable money when I was fresh out of college earning $30,000/ yr and living with my parents. One thing I noticed with all my friends is that spending habits are spending habits. I saved 10% to 20% of my earning for retirement when I made $30,000 and do the same now. While some of my friends spent all their money then, they expanded their lifestyles to spend all their money now, regardless of income.

    As for friends… You would never guess that we earn 100K because I drive around a cheap car. My wife and I don’t want to spend money on a new car because we have the goal of investing in commercial real estate for our business and don’t want any lifestyle barriers to accomplishing this goal.

    One thing I do notice about friends that don’t do as well as you… If I am very excited about the things I am doing in my Martial Arts School and I try to talk about these exciting things, they act like you are bragging, when you just want to share some exciting news with a friend.

    • avatar
      Tim Rosanelli

      One more thing I forgot to mention… Income in my business is worth more than my corporate salary. With a business, you can move many personal expenses to business expenses. These expenses are paid on pre-tax dollars so my earnings go much further.

  144. avatar

    I am 29 working in the medical field. I hit the 100K benchmark this year. 60K from my salary and another 60K in dividends and capital gains from investments unrelated to my work.

    I must admit that I only realised that I crossed the benchmark while reading these comments. It feels weird, since my lifestyle has not changed much at all (I made a humble 38K when I started working full time at age 25, which has grown gradually to a total of 80K with investment income last year). Now, I just add larger sums to investments and saving accounts each month and my debts are paid off. I love the snowball effect it creates.

    What changed over the years is that I gradually started to worry less about the little expenses that gave me nightmares when I was a broke college student. I am also more willing to invest in myself or splurge once in a while to relax and have fun. For example, I plan to go on two vacation trips this year instead of one (still off season to get the best deals). This change in mindset is also partially due to the book I read recently called The Way We Are Working Is Not Working, I am always looking for ways to increase my productivity, and it made me realise that working harder and longer is not the way to do it.

    We rarely disscuss finances or income in my circle of friends. Unfortunately, I have much less free time to hang out that many of those who earn less.

  145. avatar

    36, project manager, in a small, international market research firm. Usually in SoCal, currently working from SE Asia for a few months of my own volition. (Great way to save money while getting to see something new!) I was on track to break 100k about 8 years ago in another field, then quit, and just now broke it this year thanks to a bonus I “negotiated”.

    I didn’t even think about breaking into six figures until this post. The only thing that changed is I got a jump in my savings and felt a little more secure.

    As for friends — folks probably make from $30k-200k but we’ve mostly kept the group activity tastes we all had when we made $25-50k, even if other tastes have gotten more expensive. Anything considered obligatory (like birthdays) are pizza and beer, bowling, or BBQs. It’s really fortunate that everyone I love continues to be sensitive and considerate about these sorts of things.

    The only real jealousy issue I’ve seen aimed at me is actually about time and quality of life. While I could be making a more money elsewhere, I selected to stick with a small company, deny any attempts to promote me or make me do things I don’t want to do, and just enjoy my job. Friends who have worked with me, or are higher up the corporate ladder, understand completely the trade-off I’ve made. They know what I am capable of and the value of it. Meanwhile, friends who are more technical or creative, so don’t really understand my skills, could be a little snarky in the past. To them, it seems I get paid around the same as them to do less work that I enjoy more, and it must be luck. It’s hard to explain the value of what I do without making it seem like I am devaluing what they do, so I just let it slide. This isn’t a “lucky” break — this is me and my employer making a calculated compromise.

    But, as quibbles go, it’s a minor one!

  146. avatar


    I just turned 25 a few days ago and just passed 100K yesterday. I was hired as a junior interaction designer three years ago, but I have been doing work above and beyond my pay grade and title for at least the last year. Your posts on earning more led me to successfully negotiate my salary and (more importantly) my position up. Thanks for the push.

    The first change is that I finally got the courage to enroll in Earn1K. No matter how much you make, it never hurts to invest more in yourself.

    We’ll see how it goes with my friends…

    • avatar

      Hey Will, I’m trying to work my way to your current position and would really love the chance to exchange some emails. If you got the time, it would be great, if not, no worries.

  147. avatar

    I’m also late twenties with an engineering degree, so I could expect to earn $100k as well after a few years, but unfortunately the field is just not for me. I think I’m doing the right thing by trying out different jobs/careers, and I hope I’ll find something I love one day. Though, I get serious doubts when I compare my $30k with what people of my age and education say they earn here. I try to make up for the difference by saving like mad, and I’m rather successful at that. But it still bothers me, not because I’d like to spend more (I frankly don’t care), but because it’s ego-related.

  148. avatar

    I’m also late twenties with an engineering degree, so I know $100k is within easy reach. Unfortunately the field is just not for me. I think I’m doing the right thing by trying out different jobs/careers, and I hope I’ll find something I love one day. Though, I get serious doubts when I compare my $30k with what people of my age and education say they earn here. I try to make up for the difference by saving like mad, and I’m rather successful at that. But it still bothers me, not because I’d like to spend more (I frankly don’t care), but because it’s ego-related.

    • avatar

      Education and income are two pretty separate things. I heard that a study of Princeton graduates found that the smartest fraction of the class (ostensibly measured by GPA) made significantly less than others below. I see this all the time.

  149. avatar

    How old are you?
    – 35

    What do you do for a living?
    – SAP at a Fortune50 company

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    – I had been earning $100K/year since grad school and starting on an SAP career. The income had a sense of accomplishment because I came as an International broke graduate student on a tight funding to the US. Also it proved one of my Profs wrong as he had predicted none of us who graduated could expect a 100K salary!

    Income dropped 20/30% since switching from a consulting role to a full time position in ’08 but it’s still over 100k not including bonus and esop. Thats a small price for escaping the tumult of the last 2 years in the economy.

    What, if anything, changed?
    – My wife and I are frugal in our spending but knowing that we could spend on anything we like is a great feeling. I think I have developed a better sense of personal finance, budgeting and saving compared o the pre 100K days. Also I am gratefull.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    – Friends & I do not really discuss our incomes although we might talk about finance and investing ideas. Generally the friends I know are doing well for themselves or maybe we are a set of like minded folks.

    For the folks reading this – earning 100k is not as difficult as you might think. BUT a 100K income is not a magic pill to solve all your money problems if you do not watch out for life style inflation.

  150. avatar
    WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT LINK POSTS? | Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance

    […] How many of you earn over $100,000/year  It’s all about the comments! I Will Teach you to be Rich […]

  151. avatar
    Some European

    This whole stack of comments is just a huge tease 🙂 I make about 20k yearly with my salary and side projects included. I can only guess how nice it is when you dont have to worry about all the small things, just to get trough the month. But then again, I’m rather doing what I love, no matter the cost. 🙂

  152. avatar

    Currently, My wife is a 4th yr med student and I work in IT. We make about 70k with student loans. When she is a resident we plan to pay off all the loans within 3 years once she is working. When she starts practicing her income will be within the mid 200k to low 300k. At that time I plan to finish my PhD. I think nothing will change outside of moving into the city once we poay out debts and current morgage. So far we have: 80k morgage and about 150k in student loans…hopefully when we start making 100k+ we will be debt free…

  153. avatar

    I don’t earn 100K, but since this post seems to be about money and relationships, I thought I’d post from the other side of the coin. We are a family of five living on one income, a modest one at that. As far as friends go, I have always assumed that we are on the lower end of the income scale, though we don’t have the debt load they do, so I think it somewhat evens out. The only time I’ve ever had an uncomfortable experience is with my brother, who earns well over 100k. He was getting married, in a foreign country (where my sister in law is from), and all of us were in the wedding. It involved passports, expensive dresses/tuxes for the wedding party, international flights for five of us, a week in a hotel, plus meals out all week for our family. The grand total came to about 5k. Now, this is their wedding, and it should be what they want and not planned around us. But, I will say that it was incredibly frustrating to have financial obligations put upon us. I wouldn’t have missed his wedding for the world, and it was a fabulous trip, but I don’t think he or his wife have any idea how much of a financial strain it was for us at the time. (As an aside, at least we knew far in advance and were able to pay cash.)

  154. avatar

    How old? I am 28 and my husband is 31.

    What do we do? My husband is a CPA and I work for the federal govt. We make $130,000 combined but I only work part time. If I worked full time, our salary would be $170,000.

    How did it feel? CRAZY. When I was growing up, I just assumed that if you made $100,000 + then you had to be a doctor or other high paying field. And here we are. We don’t feel it though as we are living WAY below our means to completely eliminate our debt. So far, we have paid off both of our cars, almost all of our student loans, all other consumer debt and are working on our second mortgage this year.

    What has changed? Our lifestyle has decreased as we attack our debt. We were sick of making all this money but never feeling it. So I read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and it has changed our life. We would have continued to spend it on stupid stuff if we haven’t made changes.

    Friends? Most of our friend make more than us and live better. However, the day will come when we will increase our spending and actually feel our money! 🙂

  155. avatar

    How old are you? 30

    What do you do for a living? Lawyer ($170k/year right now; will be $210k/year starting in January)

    How did you feel once you earned $100k? Happy to be out of law school!

    What, if anything, changed? Began paying down debt rather than accumulating it.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out? No – most hanging out involves restaurants with entrees under $20.

  156. avatar

    Financial Samurai September 3, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    This is great! 26 years old and making $160,000. How can people think the economy is bad with this type of income? People are silly.


    You must not be too much of a financial samurai if you think that one 26-year-old making $160K has anything to do with whether or not the economy is bad.


    • avatar
      Anonymous 2

      Well said.

    • avatar
      Financial Samurai

      Maybe not, but there are 200+ comments here saying that they do make over 100k, so at least I’m not blind 🙂

      It’s obvious the majority of people make over 100k. Even I made over 100k in my early 20’s too.

    • avatar

      “It’s obvious the majority make over 100k…”

      You mean the majority of people replying to a poll asking them how they felt about making $100k?

  157. avatar

    I’m 29 and a sales manager for my company. I crossed 100K at the age of 26. The “moment” that I finally reached the 6 figure mark was kind of cool, but the euphoria lasted no more than a few minutes. Practically speaking, very little has changed, except I spend a whole lot more on golf than I used to. My friends know I do well, but none of them know my exact compensation. It is important for me to keep it that way.

  158. avatar

    I’d have thought there would be more replies from folks in financial services – mostly IT and engineering.

    • avatar

      I don’t think most people in finance would bother reading a blog like this. They have access to megabucks through their work. Software/Engineering types have more freelance opportunities.

  159. avatar

    What happened with me is that my friends dont feel any obligations about me buying lunch or drinks or whatever, they make as much as I do, maybe even more. What happens is when the bill comes around, they all look the other way, or give the ole “left my wallet at the house” excuse. That’s why I dont have friends any more…….

  160. avatar

    I am 23 and recently moved to a new city. I am intrigued by everyone’s comments about what happens when you cross the 100K line. I just graduated undergrad with a supply chain management degree and am making close to 50K including bonus. With student loans, rent, living expenses, and some money to maintain a social life I am finding it difficult to save. I have decided to find a part time job to help pay the bills, but I also feel as though this will further delay my dream of starting my own business and possibly getting my masters degree in the next few years. I am somewhat confused at this point trying to figure out what the most beneficial next step is and also trying to read everyones comments so I am prepared when I finally do make a six figure salary. Any feedback is appreciated!

  161. avatar

    30 year old
    I am not sure if I count, but I’ve been making more than 100k for the past 2 years with the combination of stock investing and my own salary. Obviously the real number varies because of my stock returns, but it is always well over 100k. Things might be changing though since I made the most in 2008.

    Most of the profit is reinvested in income producing securities that doesn’t fluctuate with the market, so as I make more profit, my base non stock income increases as well.

    Lifestyle wise, nothing changed. I’ve never had much personal debt except for a mortgage and this year, that was sold for a profit (about 10k after all expenses). The only pat on the back I gave myself was a 3 day road trip with two girls when I doubled my net worth in one week and my now current workspace with 3 monitor a desk.

    Some of my closer friends knows my situation and sometimes when we go out, I felt the difference between us. Cost of fun never factors into my decisions while it does factors into theirs. It never influenced my relationships, if anything it stregthened some because people want to learn how I manage my money. They know that I still live like a cheap bastard and sometime suffers from Post-Cheapo-Traumatic-Disorder where I’d debate about whether or not I’d buy something that cost $10 more with better materials.

    tldr: 100k+ from stock investing + day job. No debt, no mortgage and lots of saving.

  162. avatar

    I’m 37 and work in Sales in the Financial Services arena. I first made over 100k ten years ago, and I was certainly proud, as I never thought that I would earn that much. It hasn’t changed my relationship with my friends, who all make a decent living as well.

  163. avatar
    Steve H

    I’m 32 and earn around 100K a year which to mind isn’t that significant (call me spoiled). The reason being, that as your salary goes up, your tax increases accordingly, so really, it’s maybe a $25K increase over what your salary was when you were on 50K.

    Admittedly, I’ve learned to avoid 95% of income tax (through investment properties) but I still feel as if there really isn’t that much in my pocket at the end. Even when I was on 40K, things were fine as I scaled my spending according to my salary. I’ve always followed a rule that your rent shouldn’t account for more than 25% of your salary …and I’ve stuck to it. I’m now handling four investment properties on my salary and still have 5K left over each month.

    When it comes to my friends, some of them are jealous but I ignore that. They could quite easily be in a similar position that I am if they worked on the right things in their life. I live a relatively frugal existence and don’t like to spend on things which don’t earn me money, so cars and such are last on my list of must-haves.

    My aim is to retire in 3 years ..and I’m doing everything in my power to make that happen, including creating my own website service on the side. With drive anything is possible.

  164. avatar
    Jen Gresham


    I saw your tweet about salaries for government workers. It’s not hard to earn over $100K (when you take tax breaks into consideration) as a government worker, especially as an officer in the military. I was a LtCol in the Air Force (active duty) and was surprised at the salary I needed to command as a contractor to match my military benefits. Pros and cons to either approach. I eventually left (and joined the Reserves) for the flexibility, which was important to me.

  165. avatar

    How old are you?

    What do you do for a living?

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    Happy that the number on my paycheck had increased, but so did the amount in taxes.

    What, if anything, changed?
    I earned over 100k because of some bonuses. With the extra money, I was able to help my parents pay off some of their mortgage and put more money into my 401k.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    Not that much changed. We don’t usually hang out as much, but when we do we don’t really spend that much money. It’s almost the same as in college…hang out at someone’s place and play board games.

  166. avatar

    How old are you?

    What do you do for a living?

    I’m an attorney at a large law firm

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    I felt like I had finally justified all of my hard work in school, but more importantly, I felt relieved that my own personal life-long recession (I come from a low-income family) was over.

    What, if anything, changed?
    Just the immense stress of not having any money. I’m not a different person, I just don’t worry about how to pay for car repairs (I still have a 15 year old car and will probably drive it for another couple of years until I pay off my debt).
    The first thing I did was pay off all of my credit cards (approx $7,000 piled onto cards during law school, mostly for medical expenses and car repairs). I save almost all of my money, buy my work clothes (I have to dress pretty formally) at deep discounts, and am working very hard to pay off all my student loans (I’m six figures in debt from law school). I recently got married, and my husband and I paid for the $15,000 reception ourselves, splitting the bill down the middle. He is very frugal also, and he keeps me in check to make sure I don’t squander my money!

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?

    Not really. I keep my income a secret, but it’s pretty well known what lawyers at big firms make. My husband and I are low-key, so we’re happy with meeting friends for a pizza or starbucks.

  167. avatar
    That SEO Guy

    How old are you?

    I’m under 25.

    What do you do for a living?

    I own an internet marketing company.

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?

    That was 3 years ago, but when I first made it, it felt pretty damn good considering I hadn’t even graduated at the time.

    What, if anything, changed?

    I got a nicer car, saved most of my income and didn’t drastically change my lifestyle. My mind set did change however – I learnt how to think big, set goals, and measure my progress towards achieving them.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?

    No, other than my wallet being a little more friendly to paying for an odd meal. Although we know there are stark differences in our incomes, we’ve never let that get into the way of our friendship.

  168. avatar

    I’m 23 years old and live in India. I never finished my graduation.
    I work in a job that pays just over $ 6K (and check this…) annually!

    Sometimes I wonder how much more worse can it get, really?

    • avatar

      I earned $6k per year in a developing country in my early 20s. You get a lot of value for that much money–there’s no use comparing it to what people make in the U.S.

  169. avatar

    I’m 28.

    I run a web app development company in the Southeast with a take home of a little north of 300k.

    What changed? After crossing the $200k mark, I got my first brand new BMW. I began to socialize regularly with other similarly aged higher earning friends enjoying $100/person dinners a few times a month. Eventually the dinners with the same group got old as I missed socializing with my larger set of friends. I reduced the frequency of my premium priced dinners so that more friends could join in. Today most of the restaurants we get together at cost each guest $20 or less.

    I recently experienced an uncomfortable conversation when I wanted to take my best friend, who is a MD resident in Chicago (earning $45k/year), out to dinner at Alinea ($430/person inclusive of tip). When he found out that the restaurant’s bill was going to be quite high, he refused to join me for dinner even though it was my treat and I wanted him to enjoy this experience with me. He gave me the run around as to why he was backing out but eventually told me the truth. He said, “maybe one day when I’m finally working and earning but for now, even though we are best friends, I’m not comfortable with you spending that kind of money on me as a gift.”

    • avatar

      Yeah, I could see that as being rough for your friend… and it’s going to take him many years (assuming he is in debt from med school) to be close to dropping that much money on a single dinner. It might also be very rough for him emotionally to see you spend money like that if he is working with people who don’t have health insurance, or whose health is in poor shape because they can’t afford basic care. The injustice might hit him hard.

  170. avatar

    I’m 29. I’m in IT – Sr. Systems Analyst for a Government Consulting company in the Washington DC area. Making 6 figures was everything I always wanted, but after I got it — I was like now what. I haven’t changed my spending habits. I save a lot more now. I thought I would buy a better car – have not done that. I’m still driving the same car that I bought when I made 65k.

    My friends dont know how much I make (most of them) and those that do know, it doesn’t matter to them or myself if they make less and I make more.

  171. avatar

    I’m going to say that 95% of the comments are BS.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Heh. I’m guessing you say that because you have (1) negative views about money and (2) don’t know many people who earn $100k+ in their 20s. I know plenty of people like this, and these comments resonate as extremely true.

    • avatar
      Financial Samurai

      Dude, any 22 year old kid who joins finance/management consulting/VC makes $100,000 his or her first full year!

      Guess what happens when these 22 year olds turn 28? They are making $300-500,000/year.

      If you are a late starter, any 28 year old MBA grad who joins those same industries and more make $200,000 their first year.

      You living under a rock my brother? 🙂

  172. avatar

    I am 47, and work as a Technical Project Manager. I started making over $100K about 10-11 years during the Y2K/Dotcom boom, and I worked primarily as a contractor only for part of the year (the rest of the time I took vacations). After 9/11, there was a dry spell, and I was unemployed for a couple of years; so, I went back to school. A few years ago, I decided to take a job with a smaller company that doesn’t pay as much as the big boys, but we’ve also not had any lay-offs and still got small raises. Unlike my husband’s company that has had 3 pay cuts (10%, 10%, and 7%) in the past two years, no longer pays for vacations or holidays, and doesn’t contribute to 401K. They have laid off a lot of their work staff, and stated that they foresee things being this way for some time to come.

    When I first started making $100K, I thought it was nice, because I could do a lot of the things I wanted to do. However, I live in the SF Bay, and the money doesn’t go as far compared to living in the middle or southern part of the country. Since I was used to living on less for such a long time, I haven’t really changed my lifestyle. I’ve lived in the same house for 15 years, we bought newer used cars a few years ago with cash, and plan to keep them until they fall apart; I still use carpool and bus for commuting though. We still travel on a budget, and I am good at finding bargains, so our vacations seem expensive, but usually cost a fraction of what many people would pay. I shop with coupons, and almost everything I buy is on sale or is from Craigslist.

    The biggest wealth retainer that I have found was cutting subscription TV and my landlines, and changing my cell phone plan. We save a couple hundred dollars a month after making these changes.

    Many of our friends have a combined income similar to ours, but they have poor spending habits. As a result, they have more debt than we do (we have a balance on a 0% credit card for home renovations that we need to do), and spend more of their money on daily household purchases than we do, because they don’t always shop for the best deal.

    At this point in my life, I don’t want to chase more money, and can live comfortably on the amount that I earn. I enjoy working only 40 hours per week, and don’t want to go back to the 60 hour work week anytime soon. The money I used to make was fantastic, but I don’t need it to make me happy.

  173. avatar

    I’m a 23 year old software engineer. When I graduated in June, the company I was interning for hired me full time, bumping my pay from 43k to over 100k with bonuses/stock.

    When I received the job offer I was in shock for a good few days and considered all the crazy ways I could spend the money. Since then I’ve calmed down. My girlfriend and I no longer have a third housemate and our current goal is to save $1000+ a month to build up a down payment on a house.

    Most of my current friends are coworkers who have similar salaries. I definitely notice more focus on material things (home theaters mostly) now a days than I did in college.

  174. avatar

    I’m 24. Options trader.

    Will be around 250k after bonus this year.

    Nothing really changed for me that wouldn’t have changed otherwise because I came straight out of college making over 100k. It felt absolutely fantastic to sign the offer letter. It was my goal in college to be making over 100k my first year out, and I achieved it after working very hard in college to put myself in the position to get the exact job I wanted.

    Most of my friends know that I have a good salary but don’t realize just how much I take home in bonus. I’m not the richest of our circle of friends, either. So it’s not really uncomfortable or awkward. I wouldn’t hang out with people who were intimidated or turned off by my earnings. And I don’t do things to flaunt the fact that I make a lot.

  175. avatar

    I would be curious to know if the story is consistent for those making more than 250k a year?

    Did anything change?

    More importantly, If you go from making 2x or 3x as much as what your friends are making to 4x to 6x times, what is the deal? any problems then?

  176. avatar

    31 years old, $170K: 123K Base salary, 27K in housing allowance and 20K yearly bonus.

    Petroleum Engineer, expat, Working for a service petroleum company in a Marketing related position.

    Not much of a change after crossing the line of 100K. More expenses related to housing and entertainment (travels, bars, etc). Some bad desicions with stock options erased my savings. Regarding my frieds, well, they expect me to pay for the bill every time we go out.

  177. avatar

    I’m way late to the comments on this one but figured I’d chime in anyhow. I’m 30 years old and just broke 100k for this year and for the first time. Although I haven’t made much less than that the past three years. So it mostly just feels good to finally jump over the line. I’m also a self employed web developer so it feels really good to generate that income all on my own. My wife also makes a comfortable living so I’m definitely familiar with the comfort of having that much money and more. There is no greater peace of mind than not living paycheck to paycheck.

    As far as friends and family go… for all they know I’m broke. Web developers have wide disparities in income so they have no idea what I make. And it will stay that way. Most of my family is far worse off and I’ve never found handouts to help. But I have found that they will ask.

  178. avatar
    Jim E

    Sad to stumble across this post so late, was on my way back from China when posted.
    31 now, wife and I have combined for over 100k for several years.
    I’m a project manager (construction trade), she’s now a professor on tenure track
    When we hit 100k we were glad cuz we’d just moved to SF and it’s easy to have a 2k+ rent. At the same time that’s when I started doing alot of research on wealth and income in this country. For starters all of the middle class 100k people out there, sniff some of this. In 2008 taxpayers reporting over 113k were the top 10% of wage earners in the USA. Coming from a background where my parents had a successful business that failed I saw both sides of the “middle class” coin. Travelling regularly to countries like India and China (for work currently) has really made me appreciate the income I make now (and winning the lotto that is being born in America). Getting back to Ramits point of motivation though, for me it was financial security born out my parents failed business. For my wife it was financial security born out of good upbringing with parents that taught her about money (military family, officer, not enlisted).
    Our financial success was achieved through our college education and for the most part all of our college friends now make similar amounts so there is no pressure there. Amongst family though there is definitely angst that comes from “success” and how “lucky” some of us were to get there. Any friends that can’t handle our incomes pretty much aren’t our friends anymore. If someone’s willing to let money get in the way of a friendship, I figure they were looking for an excuse.

  179. avatar

    Ramit, I think an interesting followup to this poll would be surveys of liquid net worth. Wealth vs. income kinda thing. I know too many $100K earners saddled with so much debt I’d never consider them rich.

  180. avatar
    Andrew K.

    Q: How old are you?
    A: Just turned 27 in May of this year.

    Q: What do you do for a living?
    A: Medical Device / Operating Room Sales and own a Real Estate Investment Co.

    Q: How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    A: I hit 6 figures 2 years ago. The visceral feeling is one of accomplishment and relief knowing that my skill-set of “survival mode” can now evolve into a new skill-set of “wealth maximization / successful business building / financial freedom / make a difference in the world with my abilities”

    Q: What, if anything, changed?
    A: I became even better at budgeting and am much more focused and less distracted by “survival”. (I live off an envelope system, practice intelligent fiscal fitness and live pretty well off of $3500/Month).

    Q: If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    A: I surround myself with mostly older/more successful people so that I’m the “little dog” in the pack but when hanging around my “social circle” I keep pretty low key about my successes and failures to date. (People who “settle” or feel “less accomplished” tend to have a mental mindset that’s not congruent with success and attempt to emotionally justify their present place in life). It can be conveyed as jealousy, resentment, bitterness, or all of the above. I take it upon myself to do 2 things:

    1) Be humble
    2) Be helpful

    Everything else works it’s own way out. (i.e. Karma)

    If our current “financial places in our life” present problems in our friendship they tend to be their own internal issue, not mine and they either deal with it or we are no longer friends and hang out less.

    It all goes back to the classic quote from the famous and recently deceased personal development speaker Jim Rohn, “Your income will be the average of the 5 people you hang around with most”. Simple, yet true…

    • avatar
      Andrew K.

      One small thing I wanted to comment on was a great statement a mentor of mine who built up a $50M/Year Company from scratch and sold it to a Private Equity Company, they tanked it and he bought it back on the cheap and is currently rebuilding it to it’s former self once said:

      “Each time I move and change Zip Codes I lose 5 Friends”

      Although I haven’t personally experienced that yet, I’m sure it might eventually happen.

      and P.S. – Despite what could be considered my decently successful story to date (relatively speaking), I did not come from money, did not come from parents who were business owners or Entrepreneurs, nor did they pay for my education, cars, etc. growing up. (I’m from the hillbilly cows and cornfields of Ohio). It’s strictly from dedication, focus, and continual real world education. (Plus it’s fun to climb up the mountain of success. There are very high highs, and very low lows, but during those peak moments are what the journey is all about…learning about yourself, truly living, and enjoying the journey).


    • avatar


      Really appreciate your inspirational words of wisdom. I would like to know more about what you do in Real Estate since I am just getting into the investment side. I am also 27 and constantly looking for young entrepreneurs with similar mindsets.

      How can I get in contact with you?

  181. avatar

    i make roughly around 100 k a year and im 16

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Come on. No you don’t

  182. avatar

    How old are you?

    What do you do for a living?
    Management consultant in the Middle East.

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    Right before grad school, I was making a grand total of $600 / month in Pakistan. After grad school, I moved to Dubai at around $80,000. Within three years, my compensation jumped to around $110k – not counting per diems and bonuses which add up to another 10k / year. This is all, of course, tax free. So, in a nutshell, it felt GREAT.

    What, if anything, changed?
    While before, I had to think and plan extensively before making any serious purchases, and basically couldn’t afford international travel, the idea that I can now buy anything (figuratively, ofcourse) or travel anywhere is quite empowering. Of course, I still wait for sales and look out for good deals.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    Not a problem. Almost all my friends are at the same income level.

  183. avatar

    My husband and I are both 25.

    I’m an environmental engineer for the federal govt and he is a transportation engineer for a small private firm in Denver.

    We will have crossed the 100k mark this month and it feels very surreal.

    Not a whole lot has changed. We’re very frugal and are taking our raises to put towards retirement. We’ve been saving about $4k a month to eventually buy a house, but we’re not in any hurry yet.

    Usually problems arise because our friends want to spend more money than we do and are still living a Joneses lifestyle.

  184. avatar

    I made $750k playing online poker and other online games.

    Ship it.

    Ps. I dont recommend it to anyone. You are expected to lose at first.

  185. avatar

    I’m 39 and work in an engineering position. Hitting $100k didn’t directly change really much of anything about my life. My income had been increasing gradually so it was just another step up. Money hasn’t caused issues with my lower income friends, except we’re careful not to be too flashy with our spending or talk about money too much so we don’t accidentally hit a sore spot with them.

  186. avatar
    Sophie Western

    I am 30. I started making over the $100k mark a few years ago when I became an attorney and now I make about $150k. Before law school I only spent one year working full-time, during which I made about $30k. My priorities are the same as they’ve ever been: pay down my loans, max out my retirement fund, and put aside enough savings to feel comfortable. For the first 2-3 years of lawyering I concentrated on aggressively paying down my loans, then I spent the last year saving to buy a house, and now I’m back to focusing on the loans. Once those are paid off I plan to focus on savings – to help my nephews/nieces with college, take care of my parents in retirement, etc. I’m not majorly frugal but I guess I don’t have very expensive tastes. During my year making $30k I developed the habit of tracking every dollar, which I continue to do to this day. I have no problem hanging out with friends who make less. However, I do feel odd when I think about the fact that many of the other attorneys I work with daily are multi-millionaires.

  187. avatar

    I’m a 34 year old former sysadmin, who now manages a team that runs the front-end applications for mid-size internet sites. I’m at 115k now and have been over 6 figures for about two years now.

    Breaking into 6 figures was a nice milestone, but I didn’t really want to tell anyone about it for fear of being the jerk who makes so much money. I think the main cool thing about it was registering on theladders

    I feel a bit less stress about making my mortgage payment and I can give more to charity. But I generally spend my time wondering if its really worth all the stress at work.

    I don’t tell most of my friends how much I make. I easily make double what most of my non-work friends make or what my dad made when he retired.

  188. avatar
    La la la la la Link Love « Grumpy rumblings of the untenured

    […] link surveying people who make over 100K/year is over a week old, but the comments are fascinating.  Neither of us makes over 100K/year, and […]

  189. avatar

    How old are you?

    What do you do for a living?
    IT specialist. 14yrs experience. 8-5 job.

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    I don’t make this much yet. I am well educated and experienced in what I do but still dont make 6figures. I feel like I am in another planet after seeing all these posts. I am definitely doing something wrong. Perhaps I spent too long at one company.

    What, if anything, changed?
    Together with my wife, we make in 6figures. We can’t afford to live any more than a normal middle class life. After kids and stuff there is only a small percentage left for savings. We don’t do anything extravagant.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    I don’t have any idea what our friends make. My guess is that they make similar to us or a little bit more.

  190. avatar

    I make just over six figures and am 22 years old as a reservoir engineer.

  191. avatar
    Rita S

    I’m 34 and work at an int’l media company. I now make slightly over 100.000, nothing really changed when I started making that. None of my friends/acquintances make even a third of that, but when we go out for fun, they are the ones who want to eat at pricey restaurants and I insist on Subway or a Taco shop. Since I’m the cheap miser, no one remembers how much I make and it doesn’t cause any problems. They usually whine about me being a cheap miser.

    Most of them are broke and living well above their means, I don’t. I downgraded my lifestyle and cut down a lot of expenses. I started making residual income from some online projects and I intend to get out of the dismal corporate cubicle, even if it means making half of what I make now.

    Making 6 digits means nothing if your only or greatest source of income is the cubicle prison and you are at the mercy of the corporate tycoons. I’d much rather make 50k from freelance projects or online sources and be free from the rat race and the cubicle hell.

  192. avatar

    How old are you?

    What do you do for a living?
    I am an UX Designer in New York

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    Felt like a milestone. My salary increased like these:
    2005 – intern – 15K/year
    2006 – 2007 – 35-65K/year
    2007- 2008 – 85K/year
    2008 – 2010 – 102K/year

    But here is the interesting this, even though my salary increased, my expenses stayed pretty much same just like my college years. Coming here as a foreign student, I know how hard it was for me to come to this level. So, I stayed frugal all these years to save as much as I can. My rent is still to this day only 400/per month. I live in New York with 4 other roommates in queens.

    Because of my saving habit – soon I will be proud owner of a 9 complex apartment building back home – cost about half million in USD. Its not how much make but how much you save.

    • avatar

      Congratulations on avoiding the costly trend that so many American-born people get sucked into – the spiral of “I make more now, so I should have nicer stuff / a bigger apartment / a better house / new clothes” !

      I see that so many “new arrivals” in the US have the “save, not spend” ethic when their salary increases. Travel more, have a nicer (but still good-value) car, but don’t feel the need to blow all your extra income just because you monthly check is bigger now. And don’t just let that savings sit in a CD or a savings account, but put it into an investment which will provide superior returns – an apartment building, for example.

      Many of us could learn a lot from you!

  193. avatar

    Age: 27

    Occupation: Software Engineer

    Pre-tax income for 2010: About $130,000

    Changes: Nothing changed in my lifestyle once I started earning $100K. In fact, the only thing that did change was that now more money was going into my retirement and other investment accounts.

    Friends: Hanging out with friends is never an issue.

  194. avatar
    Ché Ché la Femme

    48-yr-old female, freelance photographer, $300,000/yr.

    No difference when made $100,000, due to taxes and living and professional expenses decimating most of it.

    Most large financial goals can be achieved with relative ease now, however, at $300,000 annually (paid cash for three homes and a car). Ton of discretionary income allows more fun, particularly floating the expenses of freeloading friends who can’t otherwise afford trips, meals. Have a peace of mind that didn’t have previously (feel “safer” because have huge cash cushion). Enjoy having money earn money, kind of like an unpaid employee working for free.

    Dating is impossible, however. Men tend to fall into two categories: those who wig out and feel their salary is inadequate in comparison and those who freeload. Also, hard to find peers who can advise or relate to the problems inherent to this income level.

  195. avatar
    Dee Kumar

    Actually not to much changes except you stop worrying about money so much. I travelled a heck of a lot more and loved my job also. All in all it was good times.

  196. avatar

    I’m 23, aerospace engineer contractor. I make 120k. I still leave frugal to reach my financial goals. I invest heavily in equity, stocks, Roth IRA, etc. After everything i put away, and the mortage on the my new house, i live just about the same as i did in college. Things are the same with my friends because besides the house (which i say i’ve only obtained through skillful financing) i really don’t have extra money to blow. I wanna retire early.

  197. avatar
    Her Every Cent Counts

    How old are you? 26.

    What do you do for a living? Social media marketer & content strategist

    How did you feel once you earned $100k? Well, I haven’t earned $100k yet, but I’m on track to hit that target this year due to some successful consulting projects and a well-paid contract gig. This is even with two months of unemployment in the year. How do I feel? Terrified. I feel like I’ve set this minimum wage that I can accept which changes my career prospects greatly. Of course if I can’t find anything that pays that well I’d have to accept something that paid less, but it really feels like I’m in a different ball game now. Three years ago I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed to negotiate for a $60k salary. Now I feel much better about myself knowing that I’m asking what I’m worth in this area. It’s just that not everyone can afford to pay that so I may also be missing out on some opportunities. It’s such a catch 22 because when I was making a lower wage, no one would interview me. Now I get interviews for all the lower paid positions that a few years ago I would have done for pennies.

    What, if anything, changed? I’ve made less random purchases. I feel more in control of my money, mostly because I can see my networth grow significantly instead of making ends meet and trying to save $100 a month. Saving $1000 – $3000 a month changed me a lot. I’m overwhelmed by the savings. On one hand it seems like a huge amount (which it is), on the other hand the cost of life (with local houses costing $1M and higher) seems impossible to ever be able to afford. Three years ago $60k seemed like a great salary, $100k seemed “rich.” Now I feel like $250+ is rich, or maybe even middle class. And that still feels unachievable.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out? Sometimes. Most of my friends earn less than I do. My boyfriend earns a lot less. It’s good, though, because I’d rather spend time with people who don’t want to run out and blow a lot of money on a night out. If I did, I’d never be saving this much. So I prefer it this way.

  198. avatar
    Sunil from The Extra Money Blog

    a common theme that has surfaced in this discussion is the increasing expenses with increasing income trend, and in some cases almost disproportionately unfavorable to the income earner. i am not surprised by this. speaking strictly from a financial perspective (not happiness or any other variable), the bliss is in exponentially increasing the top line with a mere incremental increase on costs. easier said than done?

  199. avatar

    Crossed the 100K mark at 26. 60K salary from job as a Network Comm. Engineer and 60K in earnings from side-work. Now, three years later, at 29 my wife and I are at a combined income of slightly over 250K. (My wife works a 50K salary job, and my side work has become a side company.)

    When I first hit 100K I was on cloud nine. The next morning I woke up and wanted to feel what it would feel like to make 200K. It’s almost addict-like behavior.

    What changed? I work nearly 12 hours a day, pretty much am not around to watch my two year son old grow up, and my health has gone to pot. I don’t have time to do any of the normal chores in life (mowing a lawn, painting a room, etc) so I basically just pay people to do them. What little relationship I have with my wife I make up for by buying overly expensive gifts occasionally.

    I really never try to let friends know how much I make. Even family members. From my experience, it just opens up a whole can of issues.

  200. avatar

    I’m 43 and I finished college in 1992. I’ve always been interested in saving the max possible and also spending wisely when I really want something.

    When I graduated, I got a job at a small start-up company in a small city for $30,000 per year (a good paycheck for a new grad at the time). After 2 years I left when I got a position at a high-profile management consulting company in NYC. With bonus, my comp suddenly jumped to $60,000.

    The move to NYC meant a higher cost of living – though I was able to spend about half of what my 22-year-old colleagues did, by living in a nearby suburb and commuting in to Grand Central instead of living in Manhattan.

    The firm was a real pressure-cooker – 70-hour weeks (yuck), rapidly increasing levels of responsibility, and constant travel (85% of the time spent on the road). Everyone pretty much had to get a 15% raise each year or they would leave. My salary jumped each year to 74K, then 79K, then 85K, then 94K. After 5 years they fired me and I got a job at a competitor for $115K! A year later I was laid off – but bounced to another company for $125K, which went bankrupt 6 months later. A year of unemployment and I took an $80K job (out of desperation) but after 2 years there I found a $140K position at another firm. that lasted 3 years and then after a year of unemployment I found a $150K spot at another firm – though that job only lasted 6 months.

    Due to the rapid increase in my salary, I never went to business school. That was a BIG mistake – those former colleagues of mine who went on to one of the top 10 B-schools are now making over $200K – and I can’t even apply for jobs at their companies, due to not having an MBA!

    My college friends who became doctors and lawyers, however, are doing best of all. And unlike those of us who went into finance, hey never risk prolonged unemployment. If I had it to do over again, I would have gone to law school asap after college – or done an MBA (but only at a top-10 school) as early as possible (optimally, 3 years after graduating).

    Over the last 20 years I’ve owned 4 cars (2 Volvos and 2 Toyotas) each of which I have bought when it was 3 years old and had about 60,000 miles on it. At that age and mileage, I can buy the car for about HALF the original sticker price, even though it looks like new. I keep each car until it’s 9 or 10 years old, by which time it has 150,000 miles on it. I must have saved at least $80K over the years by doing this, when compared to my colleagues who always have to have the latest BMW (or at least they think they do, based on their 6-figure salary).

    SECOND big saving tip: When you have the urge to buy a house, buy a 2-FAMILY HOUSE instead of a single-family – and rent out the other side. Buy in a GREAT neighborhood – even if it means you have to buy a run-down house. You can always fancy-up the house as you have more money – but if you buy a nice house in a mediocre ‘hood, you can never improve the neighborhood, and you’ll likely have to move when you get married or have kids.

    During my years of 6-figures, I stayed in my cheap apartment for several years beyond when I could have bought a house, in order to spend less. I always maxed out my 401(k), but I didn’t save much aside from that. I “used” my disposable income I used it to travel all over the US. I used some of it to earn my pilot license ($6,000) and to buy a used airplane ($50,000) which has held its value. (Seems extravagant, I know, but I love to travel, and doing it in your own plane is SO much easier and faster than using the airlines! I can pop out from NYC to Chicago on my own schedule, regardless of whether it’s a holiday weekend – and I can get to Vermont or Maine in 2 hours, not 6 or 8!)

    Mostly what I am proud of is that I took that big salary I was earning, and used it to qualify for a mortgage on a house – and a year later, on another house, and two years after that, on two more houses. So now even though I’m currently unemployed, I’ve got checks coming in every month from my tenants.

    (if I had been smarter about which properties I bought, and how much I paid, those rent checks might even be enough to pay the mortgage+tax+insurance on those houses! Unfortunately they’re not – each house currently costs me about $400 per month beyond the rents that come in. Still, I figure that with real estate appreciating at a 20-year average of about 5% per year, I’m still making at least $1000 per month per property – and getting a big fat tax deduction every year on the post-depreciation “losses” that my rental properties show.)

  201. avatar
    Alex Dumitru

    I’m 21 and I earn about $500k a year from my online business. I have a few blogs and affiliate marketing websites. I also have a company that takes care of all our internet assets with about 20 employees.
    Fortunately, I don’t have to do barely anything, because I’ve organized my company very well and set a very appropriate person as manager, so I can spend my time doing what I want. Most probably, I learn, research and test so I can develop my business and earn more.

  202. avatar

    God has blessed me. I make just slightly over 100 K. I still live like I did when I was a grad student making 1300 per month. I’ve been able to to invest a lot and max out my 401K. Money DOES NOT make you happier. I’m the same smuck, working 60 hrs a week. I may eat at mediocre restaurants instead of shopping at Aldia’s but that is mostly because I work so darned much that I just don’t have time to shop & I live in hotels/motels. As most of the other posts have mentioned: My friends don’t know how much I make b/c I don’t want envy. I can afford to help my parents and there really isn’t any thing I want/need b/c I mostly live in motels. I have not spent over a 100 on myself since I got my job (2 1/2 yrs ago). College education really does pay off. My philosophy has always been: If you are willing to do the things others won’t you will be able to do the things others can’t…
    Get your Masters Degree!!! (or Phd) if you don’t know what to do – go to school

  203. avatar

    23 years old- I T4’d (Canada’s W2) for ~106k in 2009.

    I’m an IT professional, currently working in change management for a large portfolio at an energy company.

    The biggest difference I noticed was the steep increase in work, hours and stress required. It was nice making 75k and working 9-5 but I wasn’t challenged enough.

    Haven’t noticed too much difference RE my friends. I have noticed though, that I have made some new friends that are older and in higher income brackets.

  204. avatar

    I’m 23 years old – working in Finance in NY. Interesting part: I graduate college about 2 years ago. My first job out of college paid me $20/hr (it was a contract position) from there I went to $45K/year a few months later, then I got about a 50% increase a few months after that, and now I just landed another 20% inrease. Another 20% increase in the next year or two will put me at the 100K mark.

    Doubling my salary in 12 months, I can say not much has changed. I live in the same apartment I lived in 12 months ago (though I am looking for a more expensive place in the city now). My friends are the same. I do like spending money on fancier dinners and buying gifts, but I still budget my money. I have a color filled Excel spreadsheet and use to track my goals. I think the more money you have, the more things you have to budget for — like paying off those student loans.

    I can definitely say that it’s my new relationship with my boyfriend, the happiness in my parent’s eyes that I have a job when many of my fellow graduates don’t, and the hustle and bustle of my work that keeps me happy more so than the money. Then again, I can’t wait to hit the 100K mark.

  205. avatar

    I am 27 years old and am an attorney in a midsize southern city. I have been making at or over $100,000 since I started practicing law. At the moment, my husband and I are focusing on reducing our student debt and therefore live like we make a whole lot less.

    I don’t advertise how much money I make nor do I bring it up around friends that aren’t in similar careers. If they bring up that we make a lot of money, we counter it by reminding them that we have the equivalent of a beautiful home worth of debt…which brings them back to reality =). Even our parents forget that we have more financial pressure than they did at our age.
    However, I do talk about debt repayment, savings, etc. because I think everyone has an opinion about it and its interesting to discuss.

  206. avatar

    Son in law- 23- no college- will make $100,000 this year after making $18,000 for the last five years. They are debt free. While he overseas, our daughter and grandson will live with us. Should be interesting since their income is about triple ours:>) We are delighted to have them home!
    Their plan is to put a major downpayment on a house. They are in DC and one never knows when contracts will dry up. If they do dry- they will go to school. He has the reputation for being the best in his department- but since he does not have a degree- he is unable to work civil service in his area (which he would prefer)… go figure.
    Their friends make all salary levels. Most of them are frugal with thoughts of putting away as much as they can to be ready for the next phase.
    My nephew, 27- BS degree, is in technical sales. He hit 100,000 last year. He spends lots on partying and giving money to “friends”. He was broke before his bonus this year. His “friends” abuse his money.

  207. avatar
    Mike Stankavich

    I know I’m WAY late to this friend, but I’m just catching up on my reading again after taking an expat job in Manila, Philippines for a bit over 100k USD base. I was already near there with my base salary and went over with t-comp in my US role as a DBA/developer/architect. I’m 45, and I’d guess the W2 went over six digits for the first time a couple years ago.

    It didn’t seem like a big deal to me when I got the six digit W2 as I was busily outpacing my income with bad real estate investments 🙁 Now I’m walking away from everything I had in the US and starting over on an all cash basis. The only remaining debt is to my parents, which will get wrapped up within the next year or so.

    I’m also working on bringing up some side businesses so things could really kick into high gear on the income side over the next year or two. If I can keep my expenses flat I should easily have enough saved for major flexibility to travel, start up a business, or whatever within the next 2-3 years.

    • avatar
      Enrico Talbot

      100k+ in Manilla ? Where do I sign up ?I'm a programmer in trading system here in US and hit 150k USD base in my 3rd year of work but that means nothing with the very high cost of living and excessive taxes.

  208. avatar

    32 Years old, no degree, work in sales. Earn 36K but live in Mexico which makes them seem like 50K because of the USD/Peso difference. Also work from home and have the freedom that comes with it. Looking to hit six figures soon hopefully and report back.

  209. avatar

    I am MUCH happier now that I earn over $100k. I grew up in a trailer park for a while, and in really awful cheap rural housing among welfare people and drunks the rest of the time. I wanted out, and I worked my butt off to get into a top 10 USN&WR college because I wanted some kind of tangible indicator that I belonged in a different group. I got a good job straight out of college as the marketing director for an e-commerce company. It was creative and fun and educational, but the pay was only average. Still, I viewed it as an investment.

    I took that knowledge and started earning a side income as an affiliate and consultant, and I quit that job within a couple of years. Now, I earn a very healthy income on my own, and I’m on track to cross the $250k mark next year. I travel when I want, I fly my family members out to visit me, I sent my parents on a great vacation, and I don’t think twice about picking up thoughtful little gifts for family members (but I’m careful not to go overboard). I got full benefits for myself, and I feel secure in a way I have NEVER felt in my entire life because my parents were always struggling.

    Prior to now, I didn’t have a lot of friends outside my family. The people I grew up around always seemed so hopeless and weighted down – everything was “impossible” to them, and that attitude felt like such a drain on my own motivation. I’ve always been close with family, though, and I continue to keep them close, even as my income has surpassed that of everyone in my family. I go back home for weeks or months at a time just to get in quality time.

    Since I’ve started earning more, though, I’ve found myself in a whole new circle of people. I’m hanging out with more entrepreneurs, and I finally feel like I’m in the right place. These are people who earn great salaries, give back to the world, try new things, and generally have a positive outlook about life. They’re the ones who ask “Why not?”

    For me, money felt like the last thing to finally click into place so that I could be in the life I always wanted. It’s not that I want to spend extravagantly, because I don’t. If something doesn’t make me extremely happy or contribute to my productivity and improved income, I’m probably not going to buy it. For example, I just moved into an expensive luxury apartment complex. Some people would say that’s silly, but I feel safe here and it’s extremely quiet and convenient. Everything I need is accounted for on-site, and I FEEL like a success living here. My productivity has already improved. On the other hand, I own just ONE handbag that I bought for $20 at a Kohl’s store last year…and 5 pairs of shoes, none of which were over $50. Those things just don’t contribute to my overall happiness or feelings of success.

    In the next year, I’m looking forward to crossing quite a few more things off my lifelong to-do list, contributing a significant amount of money to my favorite charities, and building up my savings, which I sacrificed in my mid-20s to get the cashflow I needed to build my business (I’m now in my late 20s). I’ll also be working seriously on my credit score, since that took a major hit when I took the calculated risk of letting some bills slide when I needed cashflow early on to keep going. Luckily, the credit score hasn’t been a problem in recent years because I’ve been able to buy whatever I need.

  210. avatar

    I think it’s interesting that many of the jobs in here are contract jobs. What would be the de-rated income with benefits included? Also skewing matters are the petrochemical industry jobs, I for one work for an engineering consulting firm that specializes in the petrochemical and chemical industry. These 100K offshore rigging jobs look great on the outside but they are only skin deep.

  211. avatar

    I am 33 and make $129k with bonuses that bring me close to $145k year. I’m in the consulting realm and most of our clients are entities within the Federal Government. My >$100k salary came very quickly: I went one from company making $68k and got offered a new job (same area) making $112k. Amazing. As a point of reference, my first job out of college (1999) was making $12.50/hour ($26,000 annualized).

    Like many of the writers here, it hasn’t changed too much: I am still fairly frugal, I put a lot away into savings; etc. However, I have to say it’s nice not to be living “paycheck-to-paycheck” as I did. Am I happier than when I made $40k? No; but I am more comfortable. I donate more, and can travel more, and treat to more dinners (although I don’t do that too much, ha).

    My concern is about the “golden handcuffs”; what if I leave this field and do something completely different? Will I be able to drop down to $90k, $80k, $70k, even $60k?

  212. avatar
    Dominique Brown

    How old are you?

    I am 26 years old. But, I’ve been over six figures since I was 24. My wife is 27 and makes over six figures also.

    What do you do for a living?

    I’m am a IT security engineer that provides information assurance services to the government in Washington, D.C.

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?

    I absolutely felt great when I made over 100k, it was a huge milestone for me especially at 24. Then after the new paycheck smell wore off I felt exactly the same. But, I realized that we can achieve our financial goals much faster. I also felt as if we had to learn how to manage our money effectively and we owed it to our future selves to become wealthy.

    What, if anything, changed?

    I became more business oriented and read a lot of books. In particular Dave Ramsey – Total Money Make over, Elizabeth Warren – the two income trap and your book.

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?

    Only a few problems when it comes to impromptu trips. My wife and I have a lot more flexibility in our budget than many people. But, when we give our friends adequate time to plan and prepare usually we don’t have an issue.

  213. avatar
    Early Retiree

    My wife and I had set a long-term (and audacious) goal early on in our marriage of accumulating enough in cash flow generating investments so that income from those investments (dividends, interest, municipal bond income, etc.) could more than pay for our expenses (that to me is the definition of “enough” for retirement). This was during a time when non-dividend-paying tech stocks were all the rage, and in fact my nickname at one of the firms I worked at used to be “old man” because I only bought investments that paid me dividends or some form of income.

    By doing this aggressively and early on in our careers, we thought we might be able to put ourselves into a position where we could theoretically enter and exit the workforce as we saw fit and without regard for the income we earned from working. That to me is the definition of freedom. We didn’t know exactly when it would happen, but back in my mid 20s I built a few spreadsheet models using a variety of savings assumptions and investment return assumptions and calculated we might be able to hit $1m in net worth somewhere between my 37th and 43rd birthday. Highly precise, right? Well, as it turned out I was off by a factor of two.

    So here are my answers:

    How old are you?

    What do you do for a living?
    Currently retired. Was a financial analyst for three different investment firms/mutual fund companies during a 12 year career on Wall Street.

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    I didn’t feel the slightest bit different. We kept doing what we were doing, which was to relentlessly save as much as we could. It actually turned out to be a far more crucial step for us to hit $100k in net worth than $100k in income, because that $100k level in net worth made us begin to realize that we could do something completely atypical with our careers, which was retire early and do what I talked about above. By the way, we first had to pay down about $95k in student loans before even getting to “zero” net worth.

    What, if anything, changed?
    Very little at first. We kept our expenses at nearly the same level as they were when we both finished grad school (we lived in a one bedroom apartment, drove old cars and commuted to work–while most of our friends and colleagues bought houses, and in some cases second houses, and ramped up their overall spending significantly).

    In the last 6-7 years of my career, my income went up dramatically, and we saved ALL of it. Bonuses, base pay, everything. Like I said, we were relentless. We were living on less than 20% of our take-home pay, which meant that each year we were saving the equivalent of four to five years’ worth of expenses. Note: if you can sustain this for, say, five years, you can pretty much retire (and don’t roll your eyes: if you’re creative this can be done at a surprisingly broad range of income levels).

    The one concession we made to increasing our spending was to get a tiny studio apartment in lower Manhattan during the last couple of years of my career to help me manage my awful commute (and even then we shared the expenses of that apartment with another person who lived there on the weekends while we lived there on weekdays).

    If your friends earn a lot less than you, does that ever present problems when hanging out?
    In some cases yes, but only with the friends that have money issues or who give their power away to money. We just don’t bring up the subject at all with those friends.

    Great post idea Ramit, it’s edifying to read everyone else’s input. Hope that my story can add value to your readers.

  214. avatar
    Patrick McCrann

    Ramit, this is great. Thanks for sharing….I am 36, self-employed, running several online communities for athletes. Been at this for four years now, broke $100k last year. Earning 6 figures meant nothing, getting almost debt-free (aside from car, house) was what really changed things for my family. We lead a much less stressed life; work-wise I am more motivated to spin off into other areas for sure. I don’t think the money is an issue for my friends; I do work from home and have a great life with my little girls 3x a week (wife works full-time); I think that might be more of a struggle for some of my friends crushing it in a full-time job.

  215. avatar
    Andru Edwards

    29 years old, earned my first $100,000 when I was 26, now earn about 220k. I run a blog network, and have been doing so since 2004 as a hobby, and turned it into my full-time gig in 2005.

    I don’t generally flaunt how much money I make to my friends with any sort of number, but I did buy a nice house at 27 and drive a luxury car.

    When I earned my first $100k, there wasn’t really more of a feeling than any other time, except that I felt a bit more “comfortable” – like I could relax a bit on penny pinching and could more just enjoy life and not focus so much on the money.

  216. avatar

    I’m a 28 y/o college drop out… make a little over 140k writing software.

    100k was felt really great when I got there, but it was more like “about time!” since my other coder friends where already there.

    What changed? Nothing… I was 24 y/o when I reached 100k ($111k to be exact). I was already pretty reckless in the way I spent money, purchasing a $35k used AMG-Mercedes while earning $60k.. so $100k just allowed me to continue being young and stupid.

    Most of my friends make a decent living, but for the few that are still struggling to 50k, it’s kinda weird. Mostly because they share the same “don’t care about money” mentality as I do, but have a lot more limitations.

  217. avatar
    Not what I expected

    I hit $100k at 24 just a couple years after dropping out of college. I’m now 27 at around $200k as a Director of IT & Software Engineering. I’m on track to hit $300k in the next couple of years, more if my side start-up continues growing as it has been.

    For me, hitting 100k in my early 20’s was devastating. I came from a lower middle class upbringing and it really alienated some of my closer friends. I hid it for a while, just saving money and living the same kind of life I always had. It started getting awkward when I finally caved in and bought my first new car – a high-end luxury sports car. Then came the house and my wife and I started doing and having those “nice” things that most of my friends looked at as nothing more than distant dreams. It is especially awkward with my wife’s family who are lower middle class and look at us differently than they used to – some are just flat-out rude about it now.

    I’m at the point where I am extremely private about what I do. I tell no one anything, but people still notice the material things that my wife and I own and make the usual assumptions. It’s frustrating and I see now why most people that I know that make hundreds of thousands don’t talk about it.

  218. avatar

    I’m 37yo and work as a Business Development Manager for a nutritional supplement company that manufactures products sold exclusively to doctors. I make a little over $100k from my day job and then an additional $20k from a little side business I run myself. I can’t say I’ve really noticed anything different after I crossed the $100k threshold but most of that has to do with getting wiped out in a divorce, ha ha. But with every year that passes I do see more and more of the “lifestyle” since I’ve cut my debt drastically. My friends all treat me the same and some make more than me but we all keep each other in check if anyone starts developing an attitude 🙂

    A personal thank you to you Ramit…your book completely changed my outlook on money and how to save/invest. Conscious spending really made a difference in my life especially after going through divorce. Combining my salary with my side biz that really only takes up about 4 hours of my week allows me the freedom to do what I want, when I want 🙂

  219. avatar

    I am 27, just left the military after 4 years enlisted, and make equivalent of $102,000. I say equivalent because some of my income, mainly my ~$1,000/month of disability comp, is non-taxable. My income now, even accounting for the tax advantages of being in the military, is about ~2.5x greater than my military salary; that is a HUGE jump.

    My friends know that I make a lot of money, but none know that I make 6 figures. In fact, someone asked me point blank if I made 6 figures. I lied and told him “no”. I feel that even my closest friends really have no business knowing how much I make, especially since many are in low-paying jobs such as teaching, ER nursing, and service sector. While some might say true friends don’t care about other friends’ wealth, I, at least for now, don’t even want to bring that into the equation.

    I do find that I, for now, find myself thinking about money a lot more. But it’s not thoughts about how I can spend more; rather, it’s about how good it feels to not live paycheck to paycheck anymore. Money may not bring you ultimate happiness, but it absolutely gives you more stability. I think, at least for myself, earning this much after having a wee bit of life experience will definitely keep me from being stupid with it, especially since I live in a rather expensive area (DC metro).

  220. avatar

    I’m 33 and I work in the medical field. Earning 6 figures definitely gave me a sense of security. Conscious spending and automating finances has allowed me to increase my net work faster than most of my friends, a lot of whom are in the same income range (They ask me for help with their finances so I know some details) But I guess I am one of those people who are never satisfied, and I am signing up for another part time job. The income is secondary to the learning opportunities and further career opportunities – BTW, I used the earn1k techniques to get this job – it just took longer than a week :).

    Some of my friends earn much less than I do. When finances do come up, I tell them that this country give people opportunities to advance in life, but they have to do something – like get another job, increase their marketability by increasing their skill sets, reevaluated their priorities, open up a side business or what not. I then ask them if they have an action plan and help them create a rough draft. Usually, they already have a pretty good idea on how to improve, but hopefully they will implement it. Being a concerned friend, I usually follow-up in regular intervals, unless they tell me not to. Doesn’t work for everyone though. Some people just have crab mentality. Those people don’t last very long as friends.

  221. avatar
    Michael R.

    I just turned 27 years old.

    I own a small retail business.

    I earned my first $100k at the age of 25 and it felt great. I felt like I was on the right track and going to accomplish my goal of being a millionaire by 30.

    My expenses have changed drastically. I had been living the high life for the past couple years because I made over $150k in 2009 and this year so far. After my 27th birthday passed, I realized that I should have had a lot more saved than I did. I have been making as many changes and cutbacks as I can because so far it has been the more I make, the more I spend.

    Most of my friends make pretty good money. The ones that don’t usually expect me to front the bill when we go out but that’s my fault for spoiling them the past couple years!

  222. avatar

    I actually left the easy $100k jobs to pursue passions and travel and learning to build businesses online. Where I came from in Canada is essentially the most oil in the world and everyone makes $100k minimum just for driving trucks. That’s what my parents did. It’s tempting as he’ll and sometimes depressing since I haven’t earned that having left 7 years ago. Most people though spend it on all kinds of toys and are probably no better off than me except formaybe a nicer car and house. I still aim to make money from something I enjoy thatgives me time and mobility to travel and experience life. I suppose one day I could alwas go back if need be. Though with an average house price of $700,000. It makes it tougher. When I was there, just$200,000. Ouch. 🙂

  223. avatar

    My Wife and I are early 30s, make a combined $320- $330 range. Careers are both in Management in the Pharmaceutical industry. We have no children, company cars and work pays for food each day as well as phones, internet .etc
    We have been reading you for a while and have numerous funds set up with automatic investing. We like to help our friends and take a trip overseas once or twice a year. Also, the circle of friends we keep we are at the low to mid end of earning. My neighbor is a 34 year old specialist MD with two lamborghinis and a porsche all the flashy stuff, another is in the Medical device industry and made $600 last year. I also have a business that I am ramping up with help from your website and knowledge. I am am from Australia and have been here for eight years- the opportunity here is immense if you work hard and put your hand up so to speak.

  224. avatar
    Michael R.

    I responded to this forum before reading most of the posts. It’s really interesting to see that most of the over $100k earners are some sort of engineer or IT manager.

    It’s been a pretty consistent uphill journey for me. Since the age of 16, I have made more money each year. When I was 21, I bought my first investment home. I was also making $45k at 21 working full-time and going to school full-time.

    At 23, I bought a townhouse for myself and from 23 to 25 I was making over $60k/year while still in college. I majored in Finance, but was originally an accounting major.

    My story is crazy because my mother suggested I invest in a small retail business when I was making good money in my last year of college. She agreed to watch over the business while I could focus on my studies and my full-time job which was tied to real estate (wasn’t selling loans or homes). When RE took a plunge, my options were to sell my business because I hated its location (suburbs, an hour from LA) or take a job with a financial firm making $70k/year plus bonuses. I took a few weeks out of everyday life to think it through and decided to start running my business after buying my partner out.

    I’m glad that I made this decision. Taking the corporate route would’ve made me work 80+ hours/week to possibly make $120k/year. In the first year of running my business, I was working about 80 hours/week because I realized that there was a lot of untapped potential that my ex-partner had not seen. I worked day and night running it, remodeling it, marketing it and creating systems. Now, it is on autopilot and I am only there about 30 hours/week.

    I also retired my mother, moved her to Sydney, Australia to join the rest of our family, and bought her a beautiful home there in Sydney.

    I realize that I am pretty accomplished for being 27 years old. I own a few homes, paid-off car, my mother is comfortable, will make over $200k this year, and on and on. I have always been very hard on myself which has pushed me to accomplish so much. My mother and I were really poor and went through some really bad times when I was younger. I promised myself at the age of 14 that I would never be “poor” again and have kept that promise.

    Even at such a young age, I can confidently say that money cannot buy happiness. Having freedom, the ability to travel, and inspiring others is what really makes me happy. Being so accomplished has its downsides, because I am afraid of losing everything and the little accomplishments don’t mean anything. I now have to find the inspiration within me to push myself to accomplish something BIG so that I feel good. I’m concerned that I am losing the appreciation of the smaller, enjoyable things in life. The challenges for fulfillment are tougher now and I am more of a machine trying to “make it”.

    I realize that doing something you love is the key to success with happiness. I am successful, but my business isn’t a passion of mine and therefore the unfulfilled feeling.

    I hope I didn’t bore you with my story, but thess are just a few angles to making over $100k.

  225. avatar

    There is something to be said for absolute vs relative income. I believe the argument is that someone earning 100k, working 80 hrs/wk is no better off, compared to another earning 50k at 40 hrs/wk. Unless you are passionate about your work, a job is a job, and personal time is a premium.

    Ramit, I’d find it more interesting to know how many hrs/wk they’re putting in…

    Great post BTW!

  226. avatar

    As a computer science student, I’m glad to see how many 100k earners are in computer-related careers. If I ever manage to get a 100k salary, I’ll be one of the people who’ll try to save most of the money. I recently discovered the blog, and the author managed to retire within a few years of leaving grad school by saving most of his income and investing it.

  227. avatar

    Damn, all these stories make me *almost* want to drop my ventures and find a job.

  228. avatar

    Hi, i’ve been reading your blogs for a while now.

    How old are you?

    What do you do for a living?
    Currently bartend and go to school full time

    How did you feel once you earned $100k?
    I started working at a bar about 3 years ago i showed great work ethic and responsibility for someone so young. long story short became promoted really fast and make about 90,000 tax free a year. work on average 3-5 days a week. Although I don’t want to have this as my career i am studying to become a CRNA and i hear the average salary is about 100k out of college and average 200k where i currently live.

    What, if anything, changed?
    Im pretty reasonable with my money my bills only total 2000 a month including food and gas. No one knows how much i make (not even my sister or parents)

    If anyone is a CRNA i would love to hear your story though please comment back. 🙂

  229. avatar
    Midwest Engineer

    I’m 24, manufacturing engineer in a town <5k people, and make ~$50k with day job + the occasional side project.

    $50k doesn't sound like a lot, but out here that's pretty good, well above average. Once I started making this much money after college, life got a whole lot better. I no longer live paycheck to paycheck fearing that a trip to the doctor or auto mechanic will have me eating ramen till next payday.

    Now two years out of college, I live modestly and am 100% debt free, own my 3 year old compact car that I bought new, have ~$10k in IRA/401k, and am sitting on a $10k savings balance. At the rate I'm saving I could buy a house with cash in another 3-4 years.

    My next goal is pumping up my income via freelancing and developing passive income streams so I can take control of my schedule. I will not spend the rest of my life giving 10 hours of every weekday to work+commute. I will travel, spend time with my spouse, enjoy my hobbies, and maybe raise some children.

  230. avatar

    I am 44, and run, of all things, a national non-profit. I started making over 100K maybe 8 years ago. I also do some consulting.

    I have not substantially changed my lifestyle and am working on saving and paying off my mortgage. However the living expenses can get higher as you get older – kids and parents.

    Most friends are not aware how much I make. I still drive a 14 year old Toyota, and I rather like the fact that I am not overextended. I do tend to pick up the check a lot when we go out, and I donate a lot to charities. And I try to travel internationally a couple times a year.

    It is odd to be in such a fortunate situation when many people in the US (and around the world) are experiencing the worst economic times in the past 70 years. It is also strange to have friends gripe about how their boss (or bosses boss) makes so much money and I know that they make less than I do.

  231. avatar

    So I’ve been reading through all these and I will admit I’m nowhere near 100k yet. I see a lot of people take their spouse or partner’s income into account or supplemental income as well. Interesting to see that base salary isn’t the be all end all, bonuses, raises etc all contribute a bit more to the total.

    So I’m 28, 6 years out of college and a Hardware Infrastructure Support Tier III. I make 62k a year, contribute about 10k to my 401k which is matched at 8% (my salary I believe). I get a bonus of about 5k and the yearly raise is usually about 2k. So figure I make about 69k total income, and with the 401k match maybe about 73. I live in New Jersey which is ridiculously expensive but for the time being I don’t have many bills. No rent, only food, cell, car and student loan payments (about 10k left).

    I’m saving up to 5k for an index fund investment, and I’ve got about 10k in savings and another 5 across spread out ING-sub accounts. (Like engagement ring savings, House down payment, frivolous spending etc). All my bill paying is pretty much automated except for the car and student loans.

    I just went to my 10 year hs reunion and I’m strongly considering going back for a Masters, MBA or some certifications. I want to hit the 100k limit simply bc I know a wife and kids one day will require earning much more than I make now. I think if I made it to 90k I’d even be happy and supplement with investments or outside ventures/side businesses.

    My biggest confusion lately comes from the further education path I should take! I don’t know whether my career would benefit most from one or the other. I’m trying to confide in a “mentor” within the company (my branch is here in NJ, but the company has a few different bigger more important sites across the country) who was a former IT Architect and makes about 160k now. Hopefully will touch base with him soon. The one thing they don’t teach you about Masters or certs etc is what exactly you can do with them!

  232. avatar

    Hey Ramit,

    Great article as always. I have gone through most of the articles on how to automate your finances and I have also gone your videos on the topic.

    But living in India, I can't seem to find any bank offering the kind services you spoke about in your article.
    I have tried many ways to automate my finance by setting up auto-debit payments for various this. But the problem is for each sub-saving account I want to transfer my money, I have to either open a new bank account altogether or I have to open a RD (recurring deposit) which eliminates the flexibility in saving money.

    Since you are from India, I was hoping you would better relate to my problem here. According to you, what is the best possible solution for this problem? Are there any other ways which I am missing out?


  233. avatar

    Great post, you have pointed out some great points , I also think this s a very excellent website.

  234. avatar

    I'm past 40, been making 6 figures since my late 20's working for a large global company, in NYC. Some luck got my foot in the door, but hard work and developing survival skills kept me here, and flourishing (it's about discipline, not motivation). I've bought, sold and held rental real estate, which helped pay for my current home (I'm now married). I have traveled all over, often sleeping for free with friends/family, but will splurge when traveling with my wife. I'm an avid news reader, podcast listener, etc. Being informed about a broad swath of topics shows my intelligence way more than my master's degree does. I no longer party (I don't miss any of it), I get plenty of sleep (no kids yet!), and I don't fret about spending a few extra bucks on affordable luxuries like a good meal (I'm too comfortable with myself to try to impress others with a $5k watch). (BTW I still use the same hotmail account since college 😛 ).

  235. avatar
    Enrico Talbot

    Reading all the comments, I'm shocked by how underpaid a lot of people are, specially IT people.100k is not that great if you live in NYC/SF but great in mid-west.

    I make about 140k base as a Software Developper on Trading System here in SF with only 3 years of experience and while that's above average its not that great with cost of living and taxes.Sure getting these job are harder than the average job but you cant expect to have great salary by being average.

  236. avatar

    I don't agree. Read: Sincerely, Tenesha