Americans say they need to earn $186K to live comfortably

Americans perceive that they need an average income of around $186,000 to achieve financial security or comfort, according to a recent survey by Bankrate. This figure varies across demographics, with men requiring more than women and white Americans needing less than Black Americans. Younger participants also reported needing a higher average income than older participants.

However, it’s unclear whether these salary aspirations are sufficient for a comfortable living in the U.S., as it depends on household size and location. Personal finance site SmartAsset found that the most affordable areas are in the South and Midwest, while life gets more expensive on the coasts. For instance, an average salary of just over $116,000 is needed to live comfortably in Massachusetts, the most expensive state, while in New York City, the necessary income is roughly $138,500.

In households with two working adults and two children, the necessary income jumps drastically in most cities and states. To live comfortably in any major city, you need to make about $96,500 annually, according to SmartAsset, up significantly from the nearly $68,500 it estimated last year. A family of four would need to make much more at $235,000 to avoid living paycheck to paycheck.

Only 6% of those surveyed by Bankrate who knew what it would take for them to feel financially secure said they were already earning that annual income. 18% of Americans feel they’ll never earn enough to live comfortably, while 31% say it’s ‘highly’ or ‘somewhat’ unlikely they will reach that threshold. If you’re concerned about living comfortably, Bankrate recommends maintaining a tight budget, living within your means, and saving for both short- and long-term savings goals.

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