Struggling to Survive on $250, 000 Per Year?

Struggling to Survive on $250, 000 Per Year?

Over the past year or so, we’ve seen a lot of debate over the definition of wealthy. Much of this discussion has centered on whether or not individuals (or families) earning $250k or more per year are “rich” and should see their tax rates rise.

Without getting into the underlying politics, I think that one thing that most of us can agree on is that people with that kind of earning power are definitely not poor. Or are they? I recently ran across a story over on MSN Money that questioned whether or not $250k is enough to make ends meet.

For starters, I’ll just say this: Yes, $250k/year is clearly enough to make ends meet. As evidence, I offer the fact that less than 3% of American households earn that much, but most of use are getting by. I’d go so far as to say that if you’re earning that much and struggling, then you must be making some really bad decisions when it comes to managing your money.

And yet… When BDO USA, a national tax accounting firm, analyzed the finances of a hypothetical family of four (Mr. and Mrs. Jones and their two lovely children) living one of eight different locales, they concluded something entirely different:

It’s not exactly Easy Street for our $250, 000-a-year family, especially when they live in high-tax areas on either coast. Even with an additional $3, 000 in investment income, they end up in the red — after taxes, saving for retirement and their children’s education, and a middle-of-the-road cost of living — in seven out of the eight communities in the analysis.

They attribute these difficulties in large part to high levels of student loan debt, a pair of car loans, and a mortgage for 80% of the value of a “typical” home for a family of four. This “typical” home was a huge variable, as real estate prices varied widely across communities.

Taxes also take a big bite, and can vary widely based on where you live. And taxes aren’t the only thing that varies amongst locations. Other components of the cost-of-living vary widely from one locale to another, with groceries cost 72% more in New York vs. Idaho (for example). And those sorts of differences occur across the board in most spending categories.

Overall, the worst scenario included in the analysis was Glendale, CA, where Mr. and Mrs. Jones would wind up over $23k in the hole. Of course, this is a bit overblown, as the number crunching included $33k per year going into retirement accounts, and $8k per year in college savings. The best case scenario was Plano, TX, where the Jones family would nearly $5k left over at the end of the year.

Is $250k/year enough?

What do you think about all of this? Is $250k enough to make ends meet? If anything, I’d say that this is a perfect example of why it’s so dangerous to try to keep up with the proverbial Jones’.

Don’t break the bank paying for college, scale back on your house to reduce your mortgage payment (not to mention property taxes and maintenance), resist the temptation to borrow money for new cars (much less two of them), and so on.

Like I said above, if you can’t make ends meet on $250k/year, then you’re doing something very, very wrong.

58 Responses to “Struggling to Survive on $250, 000 Per Year?”

  1. Anonymous

    Between my wife and I we make 250k. We are fortunate to be where we are. We have 2 daughters that we are required to take parent plus college loans on because of our income
    We have not made this type of money over a long period. We were fortunate enough to increase income over last couple years. We live in a nice house albeit modest for the income and pay on a 20 yr mortgage after refinance. Roth IRA is not an option nor additional traditional IRA pre tax. I don’t play golf. My wife plays no tennis. My daughters do have their own cars. 2003 Jeep Liberty (never buy one) and a 2005 vw big (again a money pit)
    We pay for lawn care and a pool service mostly because we work 60 hours weeks
    keep it simple I’m a hamster on a wheel

  2. Anonymous

    Together my wife and I make about $270k a year. That sounds like a lot if money but in Southern California, it is not. First off we are taxed at the highest rate ~33% federal and ~10% state. I do not have any tax shelters because I lost my house in the housing bubble like many others. We are a family of 4, and my children are 6 months old and 3 years old. Daycare expenses are about $2200 a month for both kids. I have one car loan at $350 a month. My rent is $3000 a month for a single family home. The rent is reasonable for a single family home in Huntington Beach. I understand that many people will say that is too high. But any house renting for ~$2500 is going to be in the ghetto and will not be safe for my kids. My wife has about $1000 a month in student loan debt. All of our other expenses tally to about $3000 a month. This includes utilities, food, gas, insurance, entertainment, cable, cell, etc. In the end we save about $1500 a month. I used to save more a month when I was first out of college making $65k a year living in a apartment with two other guys.

  3. Anonymous

    75K base income for a single is what needed to live comfortably by most reports so yes and a 100k for a family.
    My house hold takes in about 50k a year and we vacation several weeks a year have 2 cars one with out a payment and a house with 32k left on it and go out to dinner a few times a month.
    I do not live a luxury life but mostly comfortable on that my self

  4. Anonymous

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  5. Anonymous

    My wife and I make combined salaries of just over $300K. We have two small children and our daycare cost alone is over $25K per year. We live in a nice, but not ridiculously large, home in a modest area of CT. We have two nice cars, a housekeeper, a babysitter, and we go out to dinner as we like. We save money for our retirement and college. We have some student loan debt and pay a huge amount of taxes as CT has VERY high taxes. We are certainly not complaining as we live a very nice lifestyle. However we are ABSOLUTELY not rich. We work very, very hard and YES we feel we do deserve a nice lifestyle as we have earned it and pay more than our fair share. We definitely make ends meet but saying that anyone making $250K or over is rich is pure ignorance.

  6. Anonymous

    #48, The reason people make statements that you’re not suffering or should be swimming with an income of $250k is because you spent $50k on landscaping! Are you kidding me!!! Try having a “union” job, have to retire because of a diagnosis of a chronic illness, income gets cut, healthcare cost go up, and live making the same payments as everyone else, you know, rent, car payment, charitable contributions, etc. Oh, by the way, did I tell you I do it on less than $2500., per month

  7. Anonymous

    I really don’t need $250,000.00 each year for life. All i need is that amount one time. That will pay off my debt and buy my dream home i been praying for and dreaming every day for over 20 years. Yes I’ve been hoping, praying, and lots of time crying for, for over 20 years now. I’ve been praying for $250,000.00 dollars for some time.

  8. Anonymous

    I really don’t need $250,000.00 each year for life. All i need is that amount one time. That will pay off my debt and buy my dream home i been praying for and dreaming every day for over 20 years. Yes I’ve been hoping, praying, and lots of time crying for, for over 2020 years now. I’ve been praying for $250,000.00 dollars for some time.

  9. Anonymous

    Are you kidding me?!?! …. If you can’t make it on $250K, you don’t deserve to earn it! I live on Long Island, in NY … Taxes are out of control… housing is out of control and I’ve lived very well on less then $250K… I retired at age 60. I have always lived BELOW my means, saved and maxed out my 401K, Roths etc. The key is to LIVE BELOW YOUR MEANS! I lived on 1/2 of what I earned and saved the rest … We vacationed every year. I drove a Pontiac Grand Prix, and a Toyota Camry and paid cash for them … Not BMW, or Lexus, or SUV’s. I could afford them all, but, chose not to. We went out to dinner and did plenty of take out, but, we never over indulged … We live in a middle income area even thought we could afford more … It’s all in the choices one makes!! Oh, and my wife never worked outside the home.

  10. Anonymous

    I think that making a statement that someone that makes $250k per year should be swimming in money is ignorant. I made $269k last year. I recently moved to the San Francisco area for a job promotion. We lost $65k and had to take a loan against our 401k on our house in Chicago after putting 1/3 down 7 years ago and investing another $50k in landscaping and improvements. My wife doesn’t work and we have 3 young children. Let me tell you something, you try to live in an area like San Fran, RENT a house for over double what my mortgage was, save for retirement so I can retire at 40% of the income I was earning (I am not a government worker or in a union), donate to church, charity, and college savings. I would be happy to sit down with anyone that knows better than I do how to “swim” in all the money I have left over. I am financially responsible, have my cars paid for, bought them used, and shop at Kohl’s and TJ Maxx. I don’t shop at Nordstroms and sip Opus One every night. People that think that are ignorant, uninformed fools. If I lived in Des Moines, yes, life would be much different, but I don’t. These rules need to be adjusted based on cost of living of the zip codes/metro areas. I guarantee SF, LA, Boston, NY, and many other areas with high paying jobs and high cost of living have families in the same boat as myself.

  11. Anonymous

    I can answer this question with confidence… My wife and I made 260k last year. We live in a 1,400 sq ft house and both drive used non-luxury vehicles. All said and done, a little short of half our income goes to the government in taxes and about 12k per year goes to student loans. We fully fund our 401k and have a little money left over at the end of the month for saving. Admittedly, we live in the midwest where the cost of living is low but I’ll admit we are comfortable. My concern is that most people think that all those making what we do can live an excessive lifestyle. That just simply isn’t the case. We have to watch where our money is going and make smart financial decisions just like everyone else. I’m from a low income family and worked considerably hard (8yrs of college) to get where I am today. Should the government take more from me than the 50% they already do? I don’t think so but that’s just my humble opinion. I hope this provides some insight.

  12. Anonymous

    100% agree. Although, $250k isn’t all that much money but it is definitely enough to live off of in a comfortable manner.

    Someone that makes that much a year struggling to make ends meet is just making stupid decisions. If you have student loan debt, you shouldn’t be spending money on fancy cars and getting a high mortgage. The loan just needs to be paid off first, while investing the income that is left over.

  13. Anonymous

    For all the people who have been posting on this site… Yes there are areas in the USA where 250K is just barely enough to have a nice place and live comfortably, however those places usually pay a better wage than places that only take 100K or 50K to live the same lifestyle… The main point of this article is can a family live on 250K… The simple answer is yes. They just have to adjust their budget and make the correct financial choices to live within their means. I have many family members who live on less than 50K a year in various areas of the US. None of them are living beyond their means, they have to live within their means and so should a person who makes more than 70% of the rest of americans. So should each and every american. It is our responsibility to live within our means no matter how much income we have.

  14. Anonymous

    Hello. My question is for the republicans on this page. If you have no sympathy for the 250k earners, then why do you vote republican? Honestly I make over 250k, and i feel that it is my duty to pay a little more to help drive this economy. But if you feel that it is your duty to vote against Obama to save me money then I thank you for your generosity but i’m good.

  15. Anonymous

    Simply put, as varied as all of our incomes and lifestyle choices are, so are the mean costs of “making ends meet” in our neighborhoods, cities, states, and countries. Of course it costs more to live comfortably in NYC than it does in Fort Smith, Arkansas. A lot more. If 250K isn’t the mean income to “make ends meet” in NYC now, it probably won’t be long before it is.

  16. Anonymous

    @ Jim. Yes to both. But neither are extravagent for where I live. My house is 1200 sq ft, on the smaller side for my town, but not considered tiny (which maybe it would be elsewhere), and daycare is the going rate for an infant in my area.

    The point being I’m comfortable on my salary – I’m not living hand to mouth and I’m saving for retirement – but I am by no means rich and living a lavish lifestyle.

    Chucks said it much better than I did – market salaries reflect the cost of living, and the purchasing power of $200K or $250K will vary dramatically from area to another.

  17. Anonymous

    A lot of commenters are ignoring the actual question: is it enough to get by? Cn you make ends meet on $250K? It’s not asking if you would be rich. The people cited in the article run a deficit every year.

    That is insane.

    If you have a Lifestyle to maintain then $250K/year might not be enough, but given that so many people are able to live comfortably on much less, it is obviously not necessary. You don’t have to live in an enormous house, or eat out every night, or have 600 channels, or have Internet on your phone, or have new clothes all the time, or have fancy (new?) cars.

  18. Anonymous

    I think “rich” and “making more than what a lot of us make” are two different and often distinct ideas. “Rich” implies the capacity for a sort of continual lavish, unrestrained lifestyle without ever breaking the bank. “Making more than what everyone else makes” doesn’t really translate to that. At $250k, sure, you can afford a nice house and a decent car every few years, but after paying taxes, saving to be able to afford your current lifestyle into retirement, it’s not exactly like you’re able to wipe with Berkshire A class shares. When you take into account that job market salaries reflect the cost of living, you realize it’s even more inapt to call high earners (relative to America as a whole) as “rich”.

  19. Anonymous

    What people who earn below 250K really fail to realize is how much more taxes people in the 250K and above pay. Taxes really is one of the main reasons why 250K isn’t “living large”.

    People who make $50-100K extrapolate the $250K+ income wrong and thing it’s just a one for one. The more you make, the less return you get. It’s just that simple.

    A $250k/yr family SHOULD be fine and have nice savings, but it isn’t living large by any means.


  20. Anonymous

    AllGirls said : “I earn ~$200K … More than 55% of my (aftertax) income goes on my mortgage and daycare for the youngest.”

    That must be a very pricey mortgage, expensive daycare or both.

  21. Anonymous

    Everything is relative. I see both sides here, and where you live has a huge impact. I’m a single mother with 2 young children living in the NE. I earn ~$200K and file my taxes as “head of household”. For almost all credits etc I’m treated as single and am phased out because of my income. I live in a 1200 sq ft home that is close to 50% paid for, I drive an 8 year old car and my eldest just entered KG and is at public school. My youngest is in FT daycare.

    Can I afford to heat my house, and get take-out when we’ve all had a rough day without worrying about the implications on tomorrow? Absolutely.

    Are we taking exotic vacations, flying first class or anything remotely resembling a “rich” lifestyle. Absolutely not.

    More than 55% of my (aftertax) income goes on my mortgage and daycare for the youngest. Another $5K goes in afterschool activities/summer day camps for the eldest. I do have luxuries – I have a house cleaner – working full time with 2 kids, it’s my “keep sane” gift that costs me $2600 a year. We get take out or prepared foods from the grocery store at least once a week and I fully fund my retirement accounts and buy traditional ira’s (and convert to roth). But that’s all. I buy my clothes at TJ Maxx, the kids clothes on sale or at Target, we walk if we don’t have to drive and I brown bag it at work.

    I consider myself lucky that I am able to take care of my family, and I have every appreciation for those people who are struggling on a lot less, but I don’t consider myself rich. Like I said at the beginning, it’s relative, and your circumstances and where you live play a huge part.

  22. Anonymous

    “It’s pretty much assured…”

    Pure speculation. I have no data one way or another, but it is hard to imagine that Warren Buffet or Bill Gates says, “I need twice as much before I am considered rich?” It is likwise difficult for me to believe people that make 3.5 mil a year don’t consider themselves rich. I know people who make ~1 Mil a year and would never make such a claim; however, this is anecdotal and hence not real evidence.

    Awaiting any further evidence, I’ll speak with you another time.

  23. Anonymous

    If people can’t scrap by on $250k, what must my life be like earning less than $25k? Frankly, my life is comfortable. I’ve made choices that let me live on less than $25k. And if a family can’t make it on $250k, then they really need to reevaluate their choices and decide what really is a priority for them.

  24. Anonymous

    minroad) that was a survey of people who have a life-time savings (networth) averaging $3.5 million.

    Go pose the same survey question to people who earn that much EVERY YEAR. It’s pretty much assured that half the people are going to say that “twice what I have now” is ‘rich’.

  25. Anonymous

    As pertains to the discussion of raising the top interest rate, this analysis is in error.

    “Even with an additional $3,000 in investment income, they end up in the red — after taxes, saving for retirement and their children’s education, and a middle-of-the-road cost of living”

    The $250k figure is what you’re taking home *after* taxes when you hit the top tax bracket. Taxes, and anything tax deductible (such as saving for retirement) should not be factored in. Whether you can live comfortably in certain situations on a pre-tax salary of $250k may be an interesting question, but you would have to be making half again as much before you hit that top bracket.

  26. Anonymous

    BG says, “I think that proves my point.”

    It actually does the opposite, if we are talking about the same point. You point was, “And the 10Mil earner would say that the 20Mil earner is [ricc]…ad infinitum…”

    You are incorrect, this does NOT go ad infinitum. There is a point where the rich understand they are rich, and that buck stops about 7.5 million.

  27. Anonymous

    Obviously its enough to make ends meet, but I can understand the issue of lifestyle inflation as well. People earn more and they spend more, and I had that issue as well. These days I blog about how not to go down that road. Better to learn late than to never learn at all.

  28. Anonymous

    minroad) from your link:

    “So millionaires who don’t feel wealthy say they would need $7.5 million to feel wealthy, while those who do feel wealthy need only $1.75 million.”

    I think that proves my point. There are people out there who will never be content, no matter what they have.

  29. Anonymous

    My wife (also a pharmacist) and I made about 250K for a couple of years before she quit to stay home with our boy. The first year we paid off our mortgage on a very economical home and the next year we saved another hundred grand and paid cash for a 250K house where we plan on staying for the next 50 years. We’re now on easy street for the rest of our lives thanks to those two years of income. It’s all about lifestyle. My wife and I have never been to Vegas (seems like there’s always someone I know going there for vacation) and both our cars have 150K miles on them. But, on the other hand, we’re not whining about trying to make ends meet.

  30. Anonymous

    In sports, some teams play up or down to the level of their competition. Seems like there are people who live to the limit of their income, high or low, so while 250k seem like a lot to most of us, to some people it still isn’t enough to live at their “level”. Of course, if I had to struggle I’d MUCH rather struggle to live at a 250k level than a 50k level.

  31. Anonymous

    $250K not enough? Yikes.

    I am in the military and made $18,000 last year, and my husband spent most of last year out of work because we moved across the country twice.

    I receive an allowance for base housing and food, so those expenses are partially taken care of. I am paying off my three student loans, a credit card, and my husband’s car, and we still manage to pay our cell phone bill, Netflix, and cable bill (Our biggest luxury items), and save for retirement and unforeseen expenses/taxes.

    We learned to live on solely my income, which meant eliminating eating out, shopping trips, vacations, etc. This is actually the first time we’ve had cable TV in 4 years, and we’re planning to cancel it again (I hate commercials, even with DVR!). Now that my husband is working again, his income is pretty much all extra (Added to the debt snowball!).

    It’s not that I don’t miss vacations and eating out (I do!), but we have found a lot of pleasure in trips to the dog park, lawn work, nights in watching Netflix, and watching our debt disappear as we do so. Learning to really live within our means (And enjoy it!) has been a wonderful journey for us. As our incomes increase, I hope our values and self-control continue to grow with it as well. 🙂

  32. Anonymous

    I have never lived on anything close to $250K, and my ends are more than met. If we had made different decisions five or six years ago, we’d be in a better position than we are now, but we aren’t struggling at all.

    Large houses, expensive cars, new cars (most of the time), Smart phones, cable, housecleaners, dry cleaning, restaurant meals, new clothes (most of the time) are all WANTS and don’t count in the “I need this to consider ends to be met.”

    But there is the whole problem of entitlement…

  33. Anonymous


    No thats not how it works. Taxes are based on take home profit, after your expenses. The government taxes people based on taxable income. Business owners deduct their expenses before their taxable income is figured. So if your friend has $500k in sales and only takes home $75k then he is taxed for $75k not $500k. The $250k threshold as well as any other tax bracket discussed is based on the taxable income.

    Just like anyone else we are all taxed on our income after deductions and its no different for business who have expenses that are deductible.

  34. Anonymous

    250K is certainly enough to get by on if a family is willing to be reasonable about their expectations and expenditures, but it is not as much as people think, especially when you have few deductions and live in a high-tax state. For example, a couple with no kids pays 28% federal tax on after $82,400 of taxable income, and if the income is from a business they pay an additional 15.4% self employment tax (social security and medicare, and as much as 10% state income taxes in some states. In other words past that threshold they keep less than 46% of what they make – and that’s before property taxes, sales taxes, and many other taxes.

  35. Anonymous

    I blogged this ridiculous article a couple weeks ago. Here’s the kicker for me: “Some of the expenses incurred by couples like the Joneses may seem lavish — such as $5,000 on a housecleaner, a $1,200 annual tab for dry cleaning and $4,000 on kids’ activities. But when both parents are working, it is impossible for them to maintain the home, care for the children and dress for their professional jobs without a big outlay.”

    Needs versus wants. No one NEEDS to spend $400/month on a housekeeper or $100/month on drycleaning or the endless list of things I’m sure our hypothetical couple has determined that they NEED because they work hard and they deserve it and they’re just trying to give their kids the best in life. And we shouldn’t be basing tax policy solely on the fact that the Joneses aren’t wealthy after they’ve paid for all their ‘needs.’

  36. Anonymous

    I don’t doubt that Jennifer and her family are doing well, but I am skeptical about her numbers. At an income of $200,000 in CA, the state and federal government alone will take more than 30% of her husband’s income, so there’s no way they can be saving 70%. Perhaps she meant 70% after taxes.

  37. Anonymous

    My husband makes about $200,000 per year and we live in the extremely expensive San Francisco Bay Area. We have one small child and another one on the way (due in four weeks!) and I am a stay-at-home mother. We have no consumer debt and save 70% of my husband’s income. All while enjoying a high quality of life complete with organic food and regular family vacations.

    So yes, whoever computed that it a struggle to make ends meet on $250,000 per year is without a doubt, doing it wrong.

  38. Anonymous

    #9 Ryan) You are right. Comments like #4 Richards always seem to come from people who watch way too much Fox “News”.

    A business owner who has $500k in sales is probably taking home much less than $250k (probably more around $100k). A business owner who is taking home over $250k likely has a business with close to $1 million in sales. You are only taxed on the NET, after subtracting expenses, and even that amount is adjusted for the deductions / exemptions / loop-holes that everyone qualifies for.

    To have more than $250k in Taxable income — you are earning far more than that number would imply at first site (probably closer to $325-$400k in take-home pay).

    Does anyone here truly believe that a “Joe the Plumber” would ever make that much coin?

    “A 250G earner is not “the rich”, a 10Mil earner is.”

    And the 10Mil earner would say that the 20Mil earner is…ad infinitum…

  39. Anonymous

    Anyone that can’t “manage” on $250K doesn’t deserve to earn that amount!
    I was a Regional Manager with a major Consumer Products company and managed to max out my 401K, Roths, etc. I paid off my morgage, lived nicely but below my means, and saved another 20+% of my income on top of that. I live NY where average property taxes are 9K or better! I live a comfortable life and can afford whatever I want. My wife never worked outside the home, and we retired at age 60. And I didn’t make 250K!!

  40. Anonymous

    Jacob Says: “If I had 250k a year I’d be swimming in money. I’d have my Roth and Trad IRA’s fully funded”

    No you wouldn’t, you would exceed the income limit for Roth IRA eligibility. There are all sorts of other phase-outs for “high income” people. (Eg. many deductions that one could normally take, like deducting the income tax in the high tax state of CA, are out, as AMT would hit you at this level.)

    A 250G earner is not “the rich”, a 10Mil earner is.

  41. Anonymous

    Can someone explain comment #4 further? I’m not sure I understand.

    If you have a business and have total sales of $500,000, you don’t pay taxes on $500,000. You take your sales and subtract out all of your expenses. You only pay tax on actual income, or more specifically, adjusted gross income.

    If the owner isn’t taking home $250,000 then he isn’t being taxed like he is.

  42. Anonymous

    Amy is right, it is about decisions. People have to make choices, even at $250,000. The idea that you do not have to make those decisions is foolish. However, cost living differences make a huge difference. I have lived in San Jose and now in Buffalo, NY. The same income in San Jose you could afford to rent a room, in Buffalo we were able to buy a duplex.

    Maybe our hypothetical couple should be paying off their student loans before saving for future college expenses? Or pay off one car before getting another loan. There are so many ways to cut from that budget, but it does require cut to live in certain place. having $250,000 does not make you “rich” in certain places and people need to remember COL.

  43. Anonymous

    There’s an element of truth on both sides. We were feeling like things were a bit tight around $90k — now we’re closer to $100k, and things are much more comfortable. Because of this, I can accept that there might be parts of the country where a $250k family might have a tight budget.

    I can’t accept that it’s a tight budget across most of the country. Also, we deal with making “only” $100k in our area by living further out and balancing reduced house prices with a longer commute. I doubt there are areas where that’s not at all possible, though I’d entertain the idea there might be areas where the trade-off is less substantial.

  44. Anonymous

    From Art:
    That 250k per year figure includes lots of people that file corporate taxes on individual returns.

    A friend of mine owns a small construction business. He has about $500,00/year in sales that is filed as income on their taxes. They also have labor, insurance, payroll taxes, etc. as fixed costs.

    He is not taking home 250k, but the government counts him as one of the rich people that need to pay more taxes.

    I’m glad you neighbor has a business. My wife and
    several of my brothers have businesses, and this is the
    way the rest of us have jobs.

    Your example of paying corporation taxes on a personal tax form is incorrect, however. You are confusing a corporation with an unincorporated personal business. The closest example to a business
    grossing $500K would be a business my wife started
    about 25 years ago. It grossed $200K per year, which would be about $400K in today’s dollars. The gross business income and expenses go on a Schedule C (Profit or Loss from a Business), only the profit
    then goes on line 12 of your 1040. (You also pay self-employment tax, which is just both halves of FICA.)

    With $200K gross, profits were quite low, as most of the money came in and went out (materials, labor, advertising). The business profit was about $18K per year, or 9% of gross.

    Your example of $500K gross is quite small for a business. Payroll, materials, equipment would be large and come right off as business expenses, and
    if you assume a pre-tax profit of 9% of gross like my wife had, you get $45K/yr. which is not much.

    If instead $500K is the business profit before taxes, then I’d say that he is doing quite well. The only argument he might have is that his income is likely quite variable, so he might make $500K this year, and lose money the next. Most businesses handle this by investing in equipment in the good years, to smooth profits, which works if profits are not too variable.

  45. Anonymous

    It sounds like a lot, but I’m not sure it is. I got a pretty hefty raise in early 2010, which put our household income right at $200K for the year. I was in shock to find out what deductions we lost, since we crossed several (tax) thresholds. I thought that I had planned well for tax season. But in the end, I wrote checks to the IRS and state for about $13,000. My net raise was less than half what I thought it was.

    Of course, I am not really complaining, we feel blessed. But believe me, there is no “swimming” happenng at our house.

  46. Anonymous

    That 250k per year figure includes lots of people that file corporate taxes on individual returns.

    A friend of mine owns a small construction business. He has about $500,00/year in sales – that is filed as income on their taxes. They also have labor, insurance, payroll taxes, etc. as fixed costs.

    He is not taking home 250k, but the government counts him as one of the rich people that need to pay more taxes.

  47. Anonymous

    It’s all about decisions. In those scenarios the people in them did not have to make any. Did they say to themselves, “while the kids are younger, we’ll spend more on daycare than retirement” or “Instead of two $70K SUVs, let’s spend a bit more on a nice house with a yard and good school district.” I can absolutely imagine living paycheck to paycheck on $250K, but I would be flying first class, shopping at Nordstroms for ALL my clothes, paying top dollar for private schools for the kids, have a nice car, and be funding my retirement fund with enough money to continue my lifestyle after I retire.

    It seems to me that a lot of people feel entitled about Things. “I’ve worked hard, I should be able to buy that ridiculously expensive car.” If you make 250K a year and are struggling (assuming normal medical costs and a reasonable number of dependents) I feel no pity for you.

  48. Anonymous

    My wife and I are well under $100k/ yr and we’re both professionals. We make ends meet with a child in daycare, loads of school debt, and a halfway decent lifestyle. All it takes is discipline. I do not have a lot of sympathy for those who make $250k/ yr and feel like they’re poor.

  49. Anonymous

    If I had 250k a year I’d be swimming in money. I’d have my Roth and Trad IRA’s fully funded, money to pay off the house early and contribute to my daugher’s college savings and still probably have money left over.

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