How much income do you need to live well?

posted 5 months ago in The Lounge
  • poll: What pre-tax salary do you need to live well? (not household income)
    50-75k : (31 votes)
    22 %
    75-100k : (39 votes)
    27 %
    100-125k : (18 votes)
    13 %
    125-150k : (16 votes)
    11 %
    150-200k : (9 votes)
    6 %
    200-300k : (16 votes)
    11 %
    300-400k : (2 votes)
    1 %
    400k+ : (13 votes)
    9 %
  • Post # 2
    1981 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: May 2016 - Sussex, UK

    That seems a crazy amount number to me just to have what you describe which isn’t an overly luxurious lifestyle (nice, but not luxurious). Saving for private schools for non-existent kids could be the expensive part though! Not sure how much you pay in tax but for D.H and myself it’s about 25% (UK) so that would be about £17,000/ $22,000 USD take home per month.

    1. Live well for us is currently take home of £6500/ $8500 per month. We live in South East England but outside of London.

    2. We don’t have kids yet but we only want one and don’t intend to send them to private school. Take two overseas holidays a year, under 4 hours we fly business or long haul either business or premium economy as we have loads of air miles. 4 or 5 star hotels. Not bothered about designer handbags. We probably eat out once a week and I try to cook organic as much as possible. We have a really nice 2 bed cottage with garden but we would want to move in a couple of years time, luckily we bought at a good time and have a fair amount of equity in our house.

    Post # 3
    461 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: August 2019

    We’re both in professions that will probably fall into the $50-$75K/year range (start off on the lower end, move your way up, but stay within that bracket), and it’s fine. Right now I’m in a lower-paying job (hoping it pays off after a year or two, to move into a related field), so that makes things a little harder, but we’re still comfortable. Low cost-of-living area. Honestly, our biggest financial “issue” (not an issue, really) is that we’re both pretty aggressively tackling some modest debt we each brought in, and once that’s taken care of, we’ll have more disposable income. 


    What we define as “living well”:

    -Multiple short trips within the US (long weekends to touristy places, 4-6 days at a family mountain home, visiting family in two major cities) each year. We work in higher ed (hence the limited earning potential), and vacation time (22 days/year plus 3 additional weeks where the campus closes plus all major holidays) is our major perk. 

    -One major vacation every couple of years, overseas. 

    -Each of us having a decent car (he has a Camry, I’m planning on getting a Ford Escape, so nothing fancy) that we can drive for 10-12 years. I’m currently driving a 12 year old Camry, so we’re very much “drive it until it dies” people (both for financial and environmental reasons). 

    -Small but nice home in a decent school district (public school fans, here)

    -Able to go out to eat and to movies/concerts as much as we want to

    -Able to keep up our hobbies comfortably. I like taking photos, we both like running (which adds up with shoes and races), and we’re looking to start hiking. Cooking is another hobby of ours, and it adds up fast too. 


    Once kids come in the picture, we’ll have to factor in daycare and kid stuff too, obviously, but we don’t want anything excessive for them…regular daycare and team sports will be fine (no nannies or traveling gymnastics type activities, ha). 

    Post # 4
    535 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: September 2018

    Before I married I was earning about $2600 / £2000 per month post-tax. This allowed me to take at least two holidays a year, pursue my hobbies, pay extra off the mortgage, save a lot, live in a moderately-sized house I liked, and work only 4 days a week. This is in south (not London) UK but admittedly it was only possible because by then I had a very small mortgage. With an average mortgage for the area, it would probably be more like $3500/£2700.

    Living well, for me, is being able to do the activities I love outside of work without worrying. I don’t care for shopping so don’t really buy clothes, and am happy with my 13 year-old car which is still in great condition and very comfy. But I do like being able to buy whatever I want at the supermarket to eat. I probably eat out about once a fortnight on average. For holidays, I suppose I would fly business class if I could afford it (which I can’t), but I don’t consider flying economy as not living well. Similarly with hotels – when I’m on holiday, I’m hardly ever in the hotel, so I don’t care as long as the bed is comfy and breakfast is good.

    Post # 5
    152 posts
    Blushing bee

    Our income wasn’t even listed as an option on your poll…

    Just came to say that we’re living very comfortably and within our means.  I’d easily define us as “living well”.  It’s a bit short-sighted to assume that anyone under the 50k line isnt..

    Post # 6
    796 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: January 2016

    Living well to me is more about intentionally spending quality time that recharges and refreshes you on a daily basis. The financial part is secondary. In an ideal world, enough money to take care of the different elements and needs in your life (people – food, healthcare, education; transportation – fuel, maintenance; housing – expenses, furnishings, maintenance). I’d rather have less disposable income and a higher quality of life. I hope that cost of living increases will continue to take effect in my husband’s salary – if they do, I think our current income level will continue to serve us well as long as we move somewhere a bit cheaper when we retire.

    Post # 8
    1981 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: May 2016 - Sussex, UK

    maybeee :  It’s all relative really. I mean eating everyday is ‘living well’ for some people. 

    OP, is $200k increasing to $350k what you realistically expect to earn? Can I ask what industry you work in? With my profession I’d need my own business to earn above $200k and I have no desire to do that as work/ life balance is hugely important to me.

    Post # 9
    9422 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: August 2012

    Many of the things you listed really aren’t that important to a lot of people. Idk I think it’s pretty subjective. I know millionaires that dress like hobos when they aren’t working and would never buy a brand new car because they think it’s a waste of money.

    Post # 10
    289 posts
    Helper bee

    I make a little less than the lowest option and I currently live alone.  I would say I live pretty well, but it could be better.  I own my own house in a very desirable area, have animals, have some money to buy clothes and get my hair done every month if I don’t go overboard, and eat out whenever I feel like it.  Once my boyfriend is able to move in, my household income will almost triple and we’ll be able to save more and go on vacations.  So I would consider right around 100k living very well.  I live in a lower cost of living area (Midwest) which helps a lot.  I can’t imagine needing to make 200k to live well unless I lived in a very high COL area. 

    Post # 11
    6441 posts
    Bee Keeper

    Our income is on this survey, but I would wager it’s not “well living” for some.

    Post # 14
    14940 posts
    Honey Beekeeper
    • Wedding: June 2011

    I don’t get what individual income vs household income difference is and why individual income matters if you’re talking about a family and kids.   Wouldn’t just a household income matter at that point?  Does individual income mean no kids?  

    Living well to me just means not having to worry about money and doing what you want.  For us that’s …Afford our mortgage, travel internationally 1-2x a year, and domestically 2-4x, and spend as we please (granted we’re rather frugal so we dont’ really want for much or have huge spending habits).  We don’t really care for cars and we want them to last 10+ years.  Our two cars currently are about 25k each and 5 years old… I don’t see us ever spending more than 30/35k on a car.  My clothes are usually pretty inexpensive, but nice imo (department store type stuff – mostly Macys). I am a jean and hangbag snob though and only do designer in those two categories. We don’t really like to eat out, saves so much money and extra calories, so luckily that’s not a huge expense.  Being able to save for our kid s college fund.  And our biggest “expensee”, enough extra money to put toward retirement to reach our goals of financial freedom/retirement no later than 50.

    Post # 15
    1075 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: August 2019

    I think it’s not necessarily the amount you gross each year, but the amount of disposable income you have after taxes, debts and bills come out. 

    For us, living comfortably is about $150k+ combined household. 

    I consider living well to be our current situation. Our household income is around $270k + bonuses + superannuation ($27k p.a). We have a few small debts, some student debt and a $450k mortgage, and have about $7k(ish) of disposable income per month. We live pretty well, but much of that disposable income is going towards our wedding in 4 months so we are budgeting pretty hard rn. After the wedding we’re replacing our 12 year old cars with new ones, but even then they’ll just be Hyundais, like we aren’t flashy people. Living well doesn’t have to mean buying a designer handbag and an expensive holiday – it’s about fulfilling your desires and lifestyle without struggling 

    On the flip side, just 3.5 years ago our combined household was $90k with a huge amount of debt ($50k in unsecured debt – almost completely paid off thank heavens). I also went through a period of unemployment a few years ago after I was made redundant. We know what it is to struggle, believe me, so nothing we have now is taken for granted. Maybe that’s why we keep everything on the DL despite bringing in the money we do. Better to save for a rainy day than stand in the rain. 

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