What Does a Six Figure Salary Get You?

A six figure salary has become the income number to strive for. You here the term thrown around all the time in marketing. “This side hustle makes me six figures a year.. here’s how.” So let’s take a closer look at what it’s like to earn a six figure salary and whether it’s worth the time and effort to get there.

What life is like with a six figure salary

Oftentimes when people think of a six figure lifestyle it’s filled with their dream house, fancy cars and luxury vacations. These luxury expenses however quickly eat at all your dough.

A six figure salary can give someone the feeling that they “finally made it.” Which is rightfully earned.. after all very few people end up making that kind of money. The issues start to arise when their rich life traps them in a spending cycle.

financial-peace-social-infographic-paycheck-to-paycheck | Citylight Church

Your paychecks may be larger but so are your expenses. 1 in 4 families making $150,000 or more a year are living paycheck to paycheck (according to Nielsen data). So whether you’re making $50,000 or $150,000 if you don’t know how to budget your money properly you’ll still be in financial distress. Using budget templates and other software can make a huge difference.

This boils down to people confusion between income and wealth. Income is the money you’re receiving from work and if you make a lot of it you’ll probably be referred to as rich. Wealth however is the money that you keep and grows over time with little to no work on your part. You can always use income to grow your wealth with smart saving and investing but you should never rely on income to replace wealth.

What jobs can earn six figure salaries?

There are many ways to make a six figure salary but for the relevance to this article we’ll discuss job jobs that offer $100,000 or more salaries.

Doctors and lawyers are probably the first thing that come to mind when thinking of high earning careers. However, doctors earn a median income of $208,000 while lawyers earn a median income of $120,910. Both are in the six-figures but doctors have a considerably higher median salary.

Other jobs with six figure salaries but may go overlooked are pharmacists, marketing managers, air traffic controllers and human resource managers.

If you’re like many who strive for six figure earnings but want to pass on the degree and student loans there are many side hustles now a days that can sustain that kind of income from the comfort of your home.

Cities where you’ll need to make $100,000 or more

Here is a list of six cities where you’ll need to make well over six figures in order to afford a median priced home.

  1. San Jose, California (Median home price: $1.24 million)
  2. San Francisco (Median home price: $964,000)
  3. Los Angeles (Median home price: $649,600)
  4. San Diego (Median home price: $645,000)
  5. Boston (Median home price: $507,400)
  6. New York City (Median home price: $440,200)

What’s even more alarming is you’d only be able to buy these homes at those salaries if you also could afford a 20% down payment on the home. If you could only afford a 10% or 3.5% down payment you’d need to make even more.

Factors that limit your six figure salary

Even if you make a six figure salary that’s not how much money you get to keep. Which is ultimately more important. Not to mention the other downsides to a paycheck this high. Make an effort to live more frugal get better control of your finances.


Debt plagues many a million of Americans oftentimes ruining relationships, leading to bankruptcy and sometimes much worse.

Earning six figures from a job most likely required a degree earned through expensive schooling. Unless you make a plan to tackle your student loans early they’ll always be there to drain your income one paycheck at a time.

Cost of Living

Where you live plays a huge factor on how far you can stretch your dollars. It’s well understood that larger metropolitan areas charge premiums on living and drive the cost up dramatically.

The average cost of a one bedroom apartment in New York City is $3,000 a month. You’ll be spending $36,000 to live in a shoe box. That’s already 1/3 of your pre-tax salary and we haven’t even factored in the other living expenses like utilities, transportation, food and the 8.875% sales tax.

Orlando Florida on the other hand has one bedroom apartments for $1,060 a month. That’s only $12,720 a year for rent and just 13% of your pre-tax salary.

Income Taxes

Places like California charge more than 50% in income taxes for their highest tax bracket. That’s more than half your money gone before you even get to see it.

On the other hand you have places like Texas and Florida that have zero income tax.

Just because your job offer says you make $100,000 a year doesn’t mean that’s what your paychecks will reflect. This comes down to understanding the differences between pre-tax and after-tax income.


Is it true that money can buy you happiness? Older studies showed that levels of happiness began to diminish after making more than $75,000 a year. Meaning after making $75,000 a year you’re level of happiness brought up by the amount you made becomes less and less.

Recent studies challenge this theory. They show that lower income people can be just as happy if not more than wealthier individuals in some circumstances.

The main contributor to the lack of happiness is the amount of uncertainty and stress that often comes along with low income in conjunction with a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle while being buried in debt.

You read earlier that even those problems plague those earning six figure salaries.

So, if you’re able to find enjoyment in your work, afford the things you enjoy and manage your wealth to avoid financial insecurity you can be happy at whatever income elevel.


In order to achieve a six figure income it’s not uncommon to work 60 to 80 hour weeks. This can lead to some serious issues.

First and foremost is you mental and physical well being. It can be very hard on the mind and body when working for that long.

Additionally, every minute you spend at work is one less minute you can spend with family, enjoying hobbies, traveling, etc.

Don’t lose sight of why you wanted to make six figure in the first place because if you have to sacrifice everything else to make that money it probably isn’t worth it.

Do you need a six figure salary to become wealthy?

Many strive for a six figure salary but most will never get there. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for all working Americans over the age of 16 is $908 a week or $47,216 a year.

Does this mean that it’s impossible for people making under $100,000 to ever become wealthy, or retire early? Not at all.

Building wealth is more about living below your means so you can invest the money you’d otherwise lose to expenses. This can mean investing in yourself so you can earn more, investing in stocks or real estate or maybe even buying a business.

Just remember, someone making $100,000 a year but spends their entire paycheck is at more financial risk and considered less wealthy than someone earning $50,000 a year but invests $10,000 of that to grow over time.