Financial Comfort Is A Stretch For Most

According to a recent USA Today/Gallup Poll, only 31% of Americans believe they could live comfortably on something less than $50,000 a year, though the median family income is now about $52,000. But 62% say they would need $50,000 or more to achieve a comfortable lifestyle.

In a 1987 USA Today poll, just 8% of Americans believed they would need $100,000 or more to live comfortably, while 56% thought they could achieve that on something less than $50,000.

Household Income Needed To Live Comfortably (% of Respondents)

Income Level

Current Actual Income (%)

Income Needed (%)

$100K or more

16%

24%

75-99.9

12

14

50-74.9

18

24

40-49.9

10

12

20-39.9

20

16

Less than $20K

17

3

Source: USA Today/Gallup, January 2011 ("How much income would you need each year to live a lifestyle that you would consider comfortable?")

In general, the lower their income bracket the more likely Americans are to say they need to earn something above that level to live comfortably. Adults with annual household incomes between $100,000 and $149,999 are the only group with a fairly sizable percentage saying they could live comfortably on something less than their current income. That figure is 40% among those in the highest income bracket, compared with 11% of those with incomes between $50,000 and $99,999, and 5% among those with incomes between $30,000 and $49,999.

Ideal Annual Income to Live Comfortably (% of Each Income Category)

 

Current Household Income

Income Needed

$100K to 149.9

$50K-99.9

$30K-49.9

Less than $30K

$150K or more

21%

7%

7%

3%

100-149.9

36

22

5

4

50-99.9

31

60

45

27

30-49.9

9

9

38

38

Less than $30K

0

2

5

28

% above current income bracket

24

29

57

72

Source: USA Today/Gallup, January 2011 ("How much income would you need each year to live a lifestyle that you would consider comfortable?")

Women aged 18 to 49 are among the most likely to believe they need $100,000 or more to live comfortably, according to the poll. The 31% saying this is nearly double the number of 18- to 49-year-old women whose current reported household income is in this range.

Women aged 50 and older have the most modest perceptions of what it would take to live comfortably as well as the lowest reported levels of household income.

Ideal Annual Income Needed to Live Comfortably

 

Men 18-49

Men 50+

Women 18-49

Women 50+

Income

HH Income Actual

Needed

Actual

Needed

Actual

Needed

Actual

Needed

$100K +

19%

23%

19%

26%

17%

31%

10%

18%

75-99.9

10

18

13

12

13

15

11

11

Less than $75K

67

54

59

55

67

52

67

61

Source: USA Today/Gallup, January 2011 ("How much income would you need each year to live a lifestyle that you would consider comfortable?")

Despite the gender differences in the amount of money younger adults think it would take to live comfortably, nearly two-thirds of women aged 18 to 49, as well as men 18 to 49 told Gallup in April 2010 that they had enough money to live comfortably. Women and men aged 50 and older were somewhat more content, with about three-quarters saying they had enough money.

Please visit Gallup here for additional information and access to the complete PDF file for full question results, and trend data.

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1 comment about "Financial Comfort Is A Stretch For Most".
  1. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing , February 18, 2011 at 2:37 p.m.

    The bottom 80% of all jobs average $30k. That is a scary number. Things have become o skewed to the rich since Bush was election (actually since Reagan but stalled under Clinton) we truly are becoming a 3rd world country.

    What will help is when the bottom 80% get used to living this way, and when the rich start suffering because there is no one to buy the goods that made them rich. Imagine is half this nation could not afford a car anymore or cable TV? We are heading there.