100 grand a year: The new minimum wage?

To most people, a hundred grand a year might sound like a pretty nice income.

But these days, it’s barely-getting-by-money, at least according to one Florida couple.

Laura Cone said her family in Tampa figured they’d be set when they crossed the six-figures annual threshold, which they recently did, but then reality set in.

She detailed their salary and expenses in a first-person piece for Yahoo.

She writes: “My lifestyle isn’t extravagant. We are spending less money on clothing, entertainment and anything that is not a necessity. We don’t have money to burn because of the high cost of gasoline, car insurance, groceries and college tuition. We also have a high tax bill every year.”

Cone said the family got burned by the housing meltdown and the stock market decline, and that its costs, most of which seem pretty normal, aren’t going down.

The one good thing, she said, is they avoided debt, so their heads are still above water.

She notes: “Although I admire people who live on fixed incomes or minimum wage, I have no idea how they do it.”

So, what’s your thinking: Is 100k a year the new minimum wage?

41 comments Add your comment


March 23rd, 2012
11:38 am

If you always spend more when you make more, it will never be enough.


March 23rd, 2012
11:45 am

I need a lot more money than the chump change I’m making now at this dead end job ($47,000). After all these taxes and credit card payments, I can’t afford to buy anything good.


March 23rd, 2012
11:57 am

The only way for a raise or promotion to be felt financially is to keep your expenses flat.

If you get a bigger house, join the country club, send the kids to private school, always increasing your expenses as your income rises, you are building a house of cards. As soon as you hit a bump in the road, you are F’d and then you will come onto the Employment section and whine about how you lost it all and no one will hire you….


March 23rd, 2012
2:23 pm

The key to Laura Cone’s article is “college tuition”. Putting children thru college is very expensive….I understand why she is having a hard time!!


March 23rd, 2012
2:34 pm

I made $28,000 the first year of my career (2009). I had $14,000 of that in the bank at the end of the year. I do not understand what these people are spending all their money on. Do I live in the nicest apartment, no. Do I eat out every night, no. But I have a fine quality of life and I can’t imagine spending $100,000 in a year.

Poor but debt free

March 23rd, 2012
2:39 pm


If you did not pay the bank interest each month, you would have more money. Cut up those credit cards, and pay them off as quickly as possible. I cut mine up a few years ago, and with all of my money from crappy part-time jobs I paid them blood sucking bankers off, and now I own them zero. Life is better without credit cards.


March 23rd, 2012
2:46 pm

If you can’t ‘get by’ on $100k, you’re spoiled rotten. Beyond rotten, in fact. Fools.


March 23rd, 2012
2:50 pm

@ Drew, I concur

re: MoneyMax

March 23rd, 2012
2:53 pm

Ever think about spending less than you earn?


March 23rd, 2012
2:57 pm


How is that even possible? I don’t think one can live on 14 grand a year without living at your parents house and eating Ramen every night. I’m 26 and make over $100 k. I am getting by fine now, but I don’t own a home or have kids. I can’t imagine affording a mortgage and paying college tuition right now…..


March 23rd, 2012
3:02 pm

Minimum wage is really minimum employment. The question is what is the minimum qualification for employment. If you rase the rate to $15 per hour how many will still be employed, I have employees who make 8 to 12 per hour and are growing and improving their lives. I have other who make much more and are flushing their lives away. They will soon lean what no employment is about.


March 23rd, 2012
3:07 pm

We could all live like Buzz. Although we’d probably be living alone…


March 23rd, 2012
3:08 pm


Lived in an apartment with roommates- ~$300/month in rent, we conserved utilities, I drive a car I bought in 2003 and own outright, I do my own auto maintenance, I spent around $60/ week for food and toiletries, I buy clothes rarely and at goodwill or walmart. I eat out only on special occasions… I wasn’t trying to spend so little, but I just lived frugally and it happened, it’s how I was raised.

I’m married now and have a house, so I don’t do quite that well with savings anymore, but we still live well within our means and have a great quality of life on much less than $100K.

Say it aint so!

March 23rd, 2012
3:17 pm

Why not only partially pay for the kid’s education? I had to pay my own way through school. The kids are probably not working to help with the family expenses like may of us older generation had to do. Cry me a river to the family. No sympathies at all.


March 23rd, 2012
3:18 pm

That’s awesome Buzz. Good for you

Tiny Violinist

March 23rd, 2012
3:20 pm

“We also have a high tax bill every year.”

Floridians don’t even pay state income tax! Some people, including the Cones, are just horrible money managers.

Not White

March 23rd, 2012
3:20 pm

If you have not earned more than or close to $100k, when you do, you will realize it is really not that much money. You are still living paycheck to paycheck. You still can’t afford anything amazing.

Not White

March 23rd, 2012
3:21 pm

The Cone’s—
Expenses: Our fixed expenses include $350 a month for utilities, $300 for car insurance, $175 for Internet, cable and phone. We owe $1,222.02 a month on our mortgage and $300 on a car loan. We have no other debt. We save 10 percent of our income for retirement. We spend at least $500 a month on gasoline and an astounding $1,000 a month on food. I’d feel rich if I was eating at upscale restaurants or buying gourmet foods, but our food budget just provides the basics for four people.

Middleclass Millionaire

March 23rd, 2012
3:29 pm

My 2 cents:

The high costs of higher education are pricing students out of the equation. College professors expect a cost of living increase in salaries every year, when the rest of the world is having to cut back.

$100,000 isn’t what it used to be, but if a family is VERY frugal it can work.

Not White

March 23rd, 2012
3:32 pm

College is a scam. I’m a college dropout and high school graduate. If I had finished the career path I was going to college for I would only be earning $65k a year at the most right now. I would have spent about the same amount for that educate.

After realizing I could do better on my own, I dropped out of college and I now earn $100k a year.

Too bad college isn’t what it used to be.


March 23rd, 2012
3:36 pm

Anybody saying that 100K isn’t a lot of money needs some serious perspective and budget counselor. First world problems, what a joke this is.


March 23rd, 2012
3:37 pm

I earn slightly over 100k. We live a very tight lifestyle, although our kids want for nothing. That is just how we chose to live. If my wife were working, we would then have “free” money. Saving for college, student loans for Masters, paying mortgage, cars, etc., is very expensive for anyone wanting better for their children than they had it . I wholeheartedly agree that 100 is the new middle class. Paycheck to paycheck……


March 23rd, 2012
3:39 pm

As Not white points out adding up the stated expenses and 10% for to 401k there is still about 2000 dollars a month that is not accounted for unless that for an edumacation.


March 23rd, 2012
3:39 pm

Here is a novel idea. Tell your college age kids to get a job and pay for all or some of their tuition. I, along with a billion other college graduates, had to do it. It can be done. Not impossible!


March 23rd, 2012
3:40 pm

$1,000/mth for food ?!?!?!? Way too much. $300 car loan? Pay it off and drive that thing till it drops. Cars are much better made these days and will last for 300,000 miles if well-maintained. Saving 10% for retirement is a luxury, not a necessity. Millions of people would love to be able to complain about putting aside over $800/mth for retirement.

Tech '10

March 23rd, 2012
3:44 pm

$100k/yr is plenty. Should you disagree, I’m sorry but you are just a spoiled dolt who can’t manage their money.

Middle Class

March 23rd, 2012
3:49 pm

It just doesn’t go as far as you would think. I always thought once we got to six figure’s, we would have “made it”… Well, were there and it doesn’t feel that much different. We (wife and I) gross about 125k, pay about 30k in federal/state/social security/medicare… Pay another 5k in property and advelorum tax…Put 8% in 401k’s (10k), another 10k in long term savings and were already down to 75k.

I’m not complaining, we are doing fine but we don’t do fancy vacations, don’t have a huge house, we both drive 2005 cars that are paid for, don’t do a bunch of fancy dinners..

I just thought there would be more “perks” after hitting the six figure mark. I don’t feel like it’s a minimum wage situation but I sure don’t feel wealthy either.

Rik Roberts

March 23rd, 2012
4:01 pm

They need Dave Ramsey.


March 23rd, 2012
4:05 pm

1st world problems, ya’ll. Why do you need a $1,200/month mortgage? Plenty of houses out their for much less. Why a car payment? Get a used car and drive it till the wheels fall off. Cable TV? Read a book, get an antenna, and watch Netflix or Hulu. Drop the smartphone and use a prepaid dumphone. Learn how to cook and quit getting takeout and eating at restaurants. Folks need to learn how to budget.


March 23rd, 2012
4:10 pm


You make $28,000 and save $14,000 in 2008. That means some how you only spent $14,000 that year. Imressive. How???

$3,120 — Food/Toiletries
$3,960 — Rent/Util
Leave you $8,800 dollars???

Buzz, questions for you:
Car insurance?
Car repairs where you needed parts?
Car gas?
Car tag/emission repairs?
Phone Bills?
Medical anything?
Dental anything?
Student Loans?

This also kills
Girl Friend / ProteinVitamins / LA Fitness / 400 Toll Booth / Renter’s insurance / ?

***Please hit me back. Thanks.


March 23rd, 2012
4:13 pm

You have $8,800 remaining before you pay all the other stuff I mentioned, but it you pay 35% in taxes ($9,800) you won’t have any money for a car/cell/medical/dental/StudentLoans/GirlFriend/etc


March 23rd, 2012
4:22 pm

If you can’t make it at 100K/year, you’re doing too many things wrong. One of them is money management.


March 23rd, 2012
4:23 pm

$100K is nothing these days. I’m an IT Engineer making 97K and I live in a 200K house. Have 2 cars….paid up 2005 avalon, 2010 altima I’m paying 4 more years on. I am clipping coupons every week and shpping at Kroger……the cheap family’s grocery store. I have like 10K in CC debt, but got a decent saving b/c I’m cheap on grocery and conservative on utilities. CC debt is at 3.25% or else I’d make a bigger payout for it.

I see people driving BMWs, Audis, Cadillacs, etc…..I couldn’t afford any of those……100K is just OK…….cannot splurge w/ that.


March 23rd, 2012
4:24 pm

just to clarify; $100,000/yr certainly does not make anyone rich, not at all. But to imply it’s the “new minimum wage” is pathetically laughable.


March 23rd, 2012
4:30 pm

I forgot to mention i put 12% into retirement…which takes a hit but it’s for a good cause, and lowers my gross pay for tax purposes.

Blessed in GA

March 23rd, 2012
5:32 pm

I dont know what some people’s problem are, you who make 97K a year and have a 200K house…that’s living outside your means. My wife and I netted just over 33K last year and we have a 10 month old son. We are renting but currently lookng for a house. The only thing we owe on is my 2003 truck that I bought last year. We have enough in savings that we could go ahead and pay it off right now which is what we will do when we do actually buy a house.

I am going to go back to school to finish my associate degree in computer support (I have a year left). I’m a veteran so I will be able to get the GI Bill and also get a part time job. Now we understand that this probably will affect us getting a house and that’s ok.

Right now we aren’t able to put anything into savings. For the guy that is putting 20K a year into savings and is complaining about shopping a kroger, I don’t want to hear it. That’s over half of what we net in a year. The only thing we spend money on that we don’t need is we both have an iPhone 3Gs with the data package and we have internet, which is how we watch our tv shows.

We still managed to do Christmas for her big family and my big family (she is one of 7, I’m one of 6) and have an anniversary dinner a month later that was like $120-140.

Buying a brand new car for your son to go to college is not a need. Your son having a part time job in high school and letting him buy his own car is what you should have done. For some reason a lot of parents in this day and time don’t want to say no to their kids, don’t want their kids to want for anything and still think their kids are better off for it. You are who you are because you weren’t given everything you wanted and you are much better for it.

Hark Cloward

March 23rd, 2012
6:46 pm

“I have like 10K in CC debt, but got a decent saving…”

Unless you’ve invested your savings and are beating hedge fund managers’ returns, you should probably pay down your credit card debt.

Road Scholar

March 24th, 2012
9:31 am

In the past I have made presentations about a career in engineering, and of course the question about salary comes from the young adults. When I tell them that beginning salaries are about $50k a year, they scoff at the number…one student bragged that he would take less than $100k.

Inexperienced…book learned… people skills challenged..yeah right, esp in this economy.
Boortz (I know, consider the source) said the other day that upper mgmt leaders were contacting him saying that their children want no part of the family business due to the regulations in place. That they would not work to continue the business. This was after he stated that 50 % of the people in the US has no clue and are “mamby pamby” about defending this country or becoming active in their community, government decisions, etc.

Do they really have a clear…and accurate understanding about business, responsibility (both personal and business) that their opinions are accurate?


March 24th, 2012
11:14 am

Some of you people are nuts. Struggle on 100k? Ha! The only reason that is happening is because you are living beyond your means. I make 48k a year and my wife makes 33k. We enjoy our lives. New car, a year old house. Our two kids have stuff. We are not rich but, we are happy because we make the most of our dollar. We dont pretend that one dollar is two. Get real people. Make some real life decisions, cut back and live within your means.

Dan Williams

March 25th, 2012
8:40 pm

If Laura Cone is looking for some sympathy, it is not going to be found here. Please, you got a case of the “meitis”. Life is not about what you “own”. The prove is when you stated you would “buy a home twice the size today in a better neighborhood.” It is all about you! You are not happy with living within your means. You stated you spend $1000 a month on food for four. What do you eat, Steak and Lobster every night? Hamburger helper is good too! You are part of that group that thoguth your house was some kind of ATM, but that blew up in your face.


March 26th, 2012
12:53 am

“100k the new middle class” wtf r these people smoking. Never made over 25k a yr in my life…still got close to 100k in various investments/assests! As a highschool dropout/convicted felon/and father gettin hit w/ child support….if you can’t make it on 50k a yr(let alone 100k a yr); you’re lacking in 10 times the common since of sum1 of my background! Stop b*tchin and shut tha F*** UP!