On the other hand, if you're a consultant/contractor, you're spreading the money across a number of companies. A company might not want to pay a full-time employee $200k/year, but they won't fret over paying a contractor $150/hr for a few weeks/months of work. The company is happy because, on paper, the one-time payment to a contractor is a lower number, and the contractor is happy because they can jump to the next company after this contract is up. My friends in the software industry who make the most money tend to follow this route. Or, they wrote a Top 10 Paid App in the App Store and got rich that way, but that's a little tougher :)
There is. I like to think of this in terms of income scalability. At a company, you are limited to scaling your income vertically, unless you have equity. Owning a company, or part of it, your income can scale horizontally as well.
Good consultants can get this rate year round and book a quarter million net. The trick is adapting your offering to what the company you're working for actually needs and then telling management about those needs.
I always laugh when I read people say that great developers (not saying I'm a great developer) don't care about money. Often times that's written by people who don't have children to provide for. I have no choice but to care what I make and therefore it's an important factor for me when choosing a job.
The "don't care about money" thing isn't really true; you must care about money to some degree. But there are people who would rather do things that make them happy than always go for the biggest paycheck.
Here's an eye opener: You're a mid-level employee at a medium-sized company and you realize you're as wealthy as your spend-thrift CEO who is making >10x as much as you are.
My last two tax filings showed I [edit: grossed] less than $15,000 for the past 2 years, yet I generally have more discretionary income now than the years when I was making ~$50,000/yr. I also have a wife and two kids.
I have no debt of any kind (house and car owned outright), am quite frugal, have two monthly bills (phone/internet and power), and three yearly bills (property tax, car registration, and auto insurance). Telecommuting from a rural area helps, as does raising some of our own food.
Sure, we don't live like kings, but my kids always have both parents around and we live a good, simple life. I'm not rich, but I feel quite wealthy in terms of quality of life.
I don't want to give the impression than I'm down on anyone earning (or aspiring to earn) large amounts of money. At one time I aspired to break the $100k/yr mark by age 30 (certainly not too ambitious, but it seemed doable at the time).
Obviously I had a change of heart in the intervening years, and so far I'm quite pleased with things. To each their own.
What we did was buy progressively cheaper and smaller homes, as opposed to the general trend of buying up. That, combined with a couple of modest (no more than $20k profit) real estate sales of raw land we purchased, we were able to pay everything off a couple of years ago.
I decided a long time ago that working outside the home, and working full-time at all, was detrimental to our quality of life. As such, being financially "secure" meant not owing anything to anybody and having minimal living expenses. It took almost 15 years, but we eventually achieved our very humble goal.
thrift (~= having-thrived): prosperity, hence money
thrifty: acting so as to get or maintain thrift, hence not spending much
thrift (derived meaning): the quality that thrifty people have; again, not spending much
spendthrift: a person who spends his or her thrift; hence, someone who spends a lot
spendthrift (derived meaning): the quality that spendthrifts have; that is, spending a lot.
Tip 3: Be born in a rich country with a growing middle class
So, if you are Hindu, you most likely are Indian.
Little things that you quickly grow accustomed to like taxis, dry cleaners, restaurants (plus a few big things like a mortgage or high rent from living alone in a decent apartment, car and all related expenses, etc) all add up very quickly.
I think that's one of the biggest advantages college students have when starting a company. They get a significantly longer runway for relatively less effort. It's much harder to adjust from making $200K to $20K.
Basically, there are only so many hours of outsourceable stuff in your day. Once you've made the trade for cooking (eating out/chef/stay-home-spouse), cleaning (maid/stay-home-spouse/etc), errands, scheduling, minor research, and other miscellany (secretary), local transport (owning a car) there isn't much more to do.
If you really value your time, you can fly a private jet at the cost of maybe a few thousand dollars per hour saved, I guess.
And Warren Buffet, even in his frugality, does all of these things.
... Oh, wait, by "mid six-figures" do you mean $150k or $500k? Even $150k is a very nice salary by most people's standards, but I was assuming you meant $500k. (Six figures: 100k to 999k. Midpoint of that range is $550k. Perhaps the geometric mean is more natural; that's about $300k.)
If his car breaks down, do you really think he'll take it to the shop himself and start taking a bus to work?
Define specific quality of life factors, instead of talking about a number.
In Toronto, you can get a decent detached house in a downtown blue-collar neighbourhood or (a nicer one in the 'burbs) for under 500k.
You can get a beautiful home in an elite neighbourhood for 750k.
The house I live in now is "valued" at $500K and is nowhere special, but it's awesome.
Interestingly, it looks like prices in my old neighbourhood are roughly the same, to 50k higher.
However, in the new neighbourhood things are up 150k+
Then I moved to Palo Alto. Now that's expensive. :P
Sidenote: the job market of Vancouver is much slower and lower paying than what's happening state side.
"I bought a place 10 years before the epic bubble of bubbles."
Vancouver real estate is INSANITY.
The worst part about that site: It's a year old. It's worse now.
Car? If you are in the city you cab or mass.
Classic what you own ends up owning you.
Bartender classic, makin decent doe, anyone can get stuck.
All of a sudden its a big risk to leave, with all your obligations you've acquired by making a bit, doesn't matter how much it's at every pay rate.
REF: I live outside nyc in Bergen County NJ, 30min car ride, $500 a room in a 2 bedroom. I can't grab a nyc pay? Train or bus in even with no car.
I could've easily imagined being much more frugal in almost every aspect of my life, if I actually needed to save money. But certainly by other standards I was already living very cheaply. I can think of some other things I could've spent money on, but even now that I make more, they don't seem that appealing. Maybe it's just my tastes, but I prefer brewpubs to $50/plate restaurants; you would have to actually pay me to convince me to start eating regularly at high-end places (I currently go if I'm entertaining someone, or occasionally as a novelty, but it's not really my thing). And I could upgrade from "recent, fairly nice Honda" to "new BMW", but I don't really care very much about that. Maybe I'll take more trips or something, but of course I actually have less time to take trips now than I did as a grad student. =]
I honestly am not that sure what I can do with the extra money that would really improve my life, so so far it's mostly being saved, maybe for possible future self-financing, if an idea arises that I want to work full-time on. I guess I could upgrade my microbrew hobby to a Scotch or fine-wine hobby, but again, that doesn't actually appeal that much; it feels like something I would do just to spend money "because I can".
I run a start up media company. I am 26. This year I've made over $100k. Here's how.
1) Work for yourself
2) Borrow [build a credit rating buffer]
3) Become an expert, but fake it in the mean time
4) Sell constantly
5) Hire labour
6) Fire bad apples
7) Look after key accounts
8) Charge properly, make profit
9) Be targetted in your sales/marketing
11) Keep control
12) It is a hard game
13) Give them no ammo
14) Have principles
15) Decide fast
17) Learn from mistakes
19) Embrace risk
I know many people who think that doing a job that is complex and hard automatically entitles you to money and complain about people with much easier jobs, who aren't as smart, making more than them.
I suppose those are the exception though.
side note: it is very easy to get to a point where you have no time to spend your money - and you won't know it until all of a sudden you have no time anymore for the fun stuff.
2a) on St Patrick's day, despair that you've already paid more in rent this year than your father in Montana will pay all year.
Comparable salary in San Antonio, TX $58,363
If you move from San Francisco, CA to San Antonio, TX....
Groceries will cost: 24%less
Housing will cost: 66%less
Utilities will cost: 13%less
Transportation will cost: 11%less
Healthcare will cost: 15%less
There's lots of them. And they're not all super-qualified engineers or hackers. We're talking transit employees, teachers, principals etc. Not to demean those professions, but not typically the professions that come to mind in the US when people talk about 100K salaried positions.
I hear college grads are making $80k out of school at tech companies these days. A few years of keeping your chair warm and you should have no problem getting to $100k.
1. Move to Australia
2. Take up one of many trades (tiling, concreting, wiring, plumbing)
3. Answer your phone. Respond to emails quickly
4. Show up when you say you will, quote when you say you will
For 100K you can ignore steps 3 & 4, and you'll still have more work than you can deal with.
Here's a FIFO position paying 80K + 9% retirement, plus it provides accommodation while you are onsite: http://www.seek.com.au/Job/mine-chef/in/perth/19143356
FIFO in this context means Fly In, Fly Out. They fly you to the site for a couple of weeks, then fly you back out for a week off.
It's not a bubble when interest rates are 8% and loan conditions are amongst the strictest in the world.
It's true that prices could stagnate or even drop somewhat if unemployment started to rise. But that's a very different situation to a true housing bubble like in the US or Ireland that was driven by cheap credit and easy loans.
As for actually finding those jobs? If you're willing to do consulting/contracting, ask your friends who are doing consulting/contracting for large companies. They're the ones who are most likely to be in the know about opportunities.
People who live paycheck to paycheck and/or borrow money for personal consumption drive up the cost of living. If your trying to be modest but not live someone in welfare it become instantly evident of how much you need to make. Personally I think you should target to spend about 30% of your income. So, make $100k, live on 30, make $1m live on $300k.
And I recently reread a PG article where he says he only had a gf two months in the three years he was working on Viaweb. Good to keep in mind, but I read it, and then promptly forgot. Lesson learned!
When you get to 5 years experience, then I'm guessing 100k is much more common. That said, the mean yearly income for a software engineer in the USA appears to be somewhere between 75k and 90k (according to a couple of online sources I quickly found).
Not that it always does; it depends on your dependencies, in both senses. With a wife, child and mortgage I would be pretty unhappy if my income dropped to 0.
It doesn't even have to be a skill in high demand, even a hard to find skill can be extremely valuable to an organization.
Do you take a company car into account?
Yearly stock grants?
Employer deductions into pension?
Or is it just the base salary?
Because all of this can make a big difference
The cold, hard truth is if you don't earn at least that much, you either suck at your job or suck at negotiating. Your bosses and many of your peers earn twice as much as that.
Edit: IF you work in the corporate world. Clearly if you're a lifestyle-biz/consultant working over wifi at the beach in Thailand this doesn't apply at all. In fact, congratulations, if you're this guy, you probably win the game.
If you asked a lawyer, a CPA or a banker if they'd take $100k to work their ass off for a corporate master, they'd laugh in your face.
Edit: It's quite typical of HN when this topic comes up for someone to be downvoted by people who make very little money when they come out with the cold, hard facts. This place is full of millionaires and super-successful entrepreneurs who mostly stay quiet in threads like these. Wake up and smell the coffee.
This appears to be true of the Americans I know but this level of salary is.. uncommon amongst the Europeans (particularly the British) I know. I know you weren't speaking for other countries, but salaries are a lot 'flatter' over here.
Contractors will be earning at that level without too much difficulty but for a typical full-time employee to be earning $100K in London, say, they'd need to be an experienced manager or be into the 15+ year point of their career in my experience. It's night and day from the US experience.
This is part of the reason I work for myself. If I were in the US, I could earn $100K full-time pretty easily with my skillset. In the UK, it would be really hard work getting a similar position. Self employment wins for that here since I can just have American customers used to American prices anyway ;-)
All that said, the point is that £60k/$100k isn't a common salary for this sort of full-time worker outside of management or in an early stage of their career (<10 years). Clearly people are managing on a lot less because that's what people are earning. The most common solution for the older family types is to have multiple earners in the home which, again, splits the costs down. I can't think of any British family I know around my age where both partners aren't working except for me and my wife..
Once you count those, European 'salaries' come much closer to US equivalents (discounted for regional differences etc, of course). The 'US salary' is much more 'what it costs the employer' than the 'EU salary'.
Actually, I know plenty of lawyers who would GLADLY take 100k to work their ass off for a corporate master. You must be out of touch with the state of the legal job market. Top firms have cut summer programs or significantly scaled them back which has a trickle down effect--the top candidates usually took jobs at top firms. When these top firms stopped hiring 50-100 new associates straight out of law school the top candidates had to find other places to go--the places that the less desirable candidates would often count on (gov jobs, mid level/small firms, nonprofts, political work etc).
75-90k was considered a good wage for a person coming from a decent law school with decent grades. Now you have top candidates from decent/top schools clawing for these jobs. It's really a sad state of affairs right now. Many people I know are unemployed lawyers.
That's why everyone in America thinks they are 'middle class', whether they make 30k or 500k.
Lawyers and i-bankers are a different story, but you won't find any statistic to back up your claim that pedestrian engineers who just show up regularly make 100k+.
For example, I'd consider jobs like this to be "professional" --> http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=electrical+engineer&l1=c... http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=software+engineer&l1=sea...
Low-cost of living, "Senior" developers were making ~$80-$90,000 base upwards to $120,000 base (rare).
High cost of living areas the Senior developers were making $90,000 (probably poor negotiation or "title" based "Senior" vs skill level) to $160,000 base. In higher cost of living area's the benefits and "perks" were always higher, but tended towards a lower work-life balance. The work-life statement is generalized, since it is, of course, company dependent. In lower/mid level cost of living, "breaking" $100,000 was difficult to negotiate.
I've worked with several "senior" developers who had "decades" of experience but had no idea how to write good code.
Put in in perspective from a working student:
In my 2009 taxes, I filed for 13k. 2008, 12k, 2007 15k.
Average salary of my friends is probably somewhere around 40-60k, with educations varying from some college to a masters degree.
I work at a national lab, but I'm completely within the confines of the Office of Science. I make 30k more than the Research professors I worked for at the U.
On the other hand, I'm thinking of saving up to buy a house back there and just renting it out because there's no way I could buy one here unless I was making 150+.
As a professional what? Man this place can be a fucking drag sometimes.
So if you're making $100k, you're just making what everyone else is making :-)
However if you're skilled and/or educated, getting $100K shouldn't be a problem.
Now getting $500K/year is a much more serious problem. I'm failing to get to that level by just being professional (and good). It requires more of a business type of mindset (or lots of luck).
> Funny thing is that the common silent opinion in
> academia about those like her is that they are
According to a cost of living adjustment calculator I found online, 100K in Houston is equivalent to 186K in San Francisco.
The problem with these cost-of-living adjusters is that they don't consider which goods are location-dependent and which aren't. So yes, your rent will probably be double in SF what it is in Houston. However, if you make $100K, rent is only a small portion of your income. And a dollar of savings in SF is just as good as a dollar of savings in Houston.
The way COL-calculators should work is that they should take a basket of monthly expenses typical for someone in the given income bracket, index that to the given location, and then subtract that from your salary offer in the new area. It's not a straight linear sliding scale. I would much rather be making $186k in SF than $100K in Houston, because I'd only be spending about $40K in living expenses in SF vs. $25K in Houston, and $186k - $40K = $146k is much greater than $100K - $25K = $75k.
186000 SF Income
-46497 federal income tax
- 8170 FICA tax
- 2697 Medicare tax
-15473 California state income tax
-40000 Living expenses
100000 Houston income
-21709 Federal income tax
- 7650 FICA tax
- 1450 Medicare tax
-25000 Living expenses
SF still comes out on top, so I imagine the breakeven point is somewhere closer to 160K in SF.
So that car ends up being 20-30% more expensive in NY vs. a rural area, or even vs. say Los Angeles, where a parking space runs about $100 a month. This is why so few people living in Manhattan have cars - the net cost is well over $1,000 a month and you might as well just rent all the time.
Although I always assumed that living in NYC, I wouldn't have a car. Take the car insurance, gas, and depreciation costs of the car and put it towards rent and call it even.
*) Also, BMW's only cost you the same everywhere if you pay sticker for a new car. Used cars have significantly different prices in different zip codes.
With insurance, maintenance, and amortized vehicle cost, you're probably $1500/year/car minimum. More if you want a car that's a status symbol.
Your after-tax income in Houston on $100k salary is $73k. Your after-tax income in San Fran on $186k salary is $111k.
So taxes alone reduce the initial $86k difference to $38k.
A similarly nice apartment in San Fran will easily run you $2k/mo more than in Houston, reducing the difference to $14k.
The difference will be further reduced by other location dependent expenses: property and sales taxes, food, insurance, gas, entertainment, etc. A Big Mac in New York costs 50% more than a Big Mac in Miami.* Movie tickets in New York are about $12.50 versus $7.50 nationwide. A drink at a bar is about double in New York versus in Atlanta (where I used to live).
) http://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/review/03/11/pak..., p. 24.
I'm not sure what you are thinking here.
If you make 100K, your take home pay after taxes is ~$6,000. For any reasonable place to live in SF - your going to be between 1800 and 2500 for a two bedroom.
Thats not "a small portion of your income"
Additionally - you may have health care costs of as much as 750 per month if you have a spouse and child on your plan.
Figure as much as 400 to 600 per month for a car. 100 for cable, 150 for an unlimited family cell plan. School costs for your kid, and god-forbid you. like me, have child support to an ex.
1000 kids school/child support
250 other debts
That leaves 1050 for the remainder of the month. Which is ~260 each week for expenses such as food, gas, savings, a beer with friends, date night, a bottle of wine etc...
100k is literally the bare min in SF to live moderately comfortable.
Now assuming you didn't have the school/child support, you can replace that with savings, which is great. but for a lot of people it is a 1K expense not savings.
Additionally - this doesn't account for a lot of other potential monthly expenses that are common.
Here's a typical programmer bachelor situation.
I made about $6000K after tax and contributions to retirement account in SF and NYC.
car = $0
insurance = $0, paid for by employer
other debts = $0
iPhone = $80
rent = $1000 studio or share
utilities + wifi = $250
metro card/transit pass = $80
You can fudge those numbers a bit for a better apartment/room and maybe zip car or even your own beater car, and you're still usually under $2K. I didn't put food in there because that was highly variable, even for me. I saved $24,000 a year without thinking about it, and still experimented with motorcycles, snowboards, music gear, travel, etc.
You essentially have $4000 - $4500 a month to save or spend on food + whatever you want.
Uh huh. Now, do that when you're 35, with a wife and two kids.
I think it's easy to forget that people in other parts of the country do things like raise families. Also, most people don't generally want to live with roommates past their 20s. It gets old.
I know where you're coming from -- I live a fairly frugal lifestyle, and I'm doing fine while renting an apartment in SF with no wife and no kids. But I'm also in my 30s, and I think I'm on the extreme outer edge of tolerance for the kind of life I'm leading. My friends with children tease me all the time: they wouldn't dream of living the way that I do.
That said, I'd also be going nuts if I lived like I did when I was 25. YMMV, but probably not by much.
Anyway, my parents raised my sister and I on a single teacher's salary that was a lot less than $100K. Yes, kids do cost more than being a bachelor. However, a lot of the expenses I see batted around as justification for why you need $100K just to live today are utterly ridiculous. 90% of American households get by with much less than that.
Yes, they do. In other parts of the country.
What your parents did 20+ years ago has very little bearing on the cost of raising a family in San Francisco, today. It takes more than one spouse with a sub-$100k job. Again, $100k just isn't that much money in a place where rent on a decent one-bedroom starts at $2,000 a month.
Sure, when? 15+ years ago?
Also, why would you assume that my SO also makes 100K? She doesnt, as a hair stylist - she makes very little comparatively.
What egregious expenses did I have in my post if anything? The ONLY luxury items I had in my list were a beer with friends and a bottle of wine.
The problem I think we are seeing here is that everyone who thinks that 100K is a lot of money is:
Not/has not been Married
Has no kids
Is under 35
Also, @JasonKester: "wearing monogrammed blazers to school"
You fail to understand that simply having a kid is going to cost you ~1500 in childcare expenses, assuming you dont have a stay at home SO to watch after the child.
Its not a status statement -- try looking up what freaking baby sitters/nannies cost for an infant, whom you cannot slap a monogrammed badge on their blazer and dump them off on the corner.
This is a common problem with YC/HN -- there are a lot of <30-somethings thinking they have it all figured out.
Dear god. >_<
If you were willing to downgrade your lifestyle, you could surely find an apartment for $1,500/month, DSL for $20/month (and no cable tv), a prepaid phone that runs you more like $20/month (but doesn't let you throw birds at pigs), a car that costs you less than $200/month to run (and sits in your driveway instead of commuting you to work), and no other debts whatsoever.
That still leaves you with your expensive health insurance and kids wearing monogrammed blazers to school. And an extra grand for beer money.
all that's required to earn that much is show up on time and be good at your job.
I liked the "all thats required" bit, because as it were, I am fully employed remotely, and while I don't make $100k, I seriously wake up at noon, code at 3am when I damned well feel like it, and overwhelmingly love managing myself. (oh yeah, zero commute).
So I guess you'd be right, "all you have to do is show up", ehhhh I'd much rather not show up!
I'd imagine a lot of people's idea of success involves a whole lot of Freedom so I'd hesitate to be so overly critical of people not making your "baseline" figure of $100k and then assuming it has to be because they suck.
I don't have an opinion one way or the other, just my two cents.
$100k is still the minimum professional salary for someone who has a highly skilled, technical job like sr. engineer, architect, investment banker, CPA, attorney, etc.
The income distribution tables from the last US census can be found at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032010/perinc/new11...
Where else can you convince people to pay you well into six figures to sit at home in your boxers and solve puzzles?
Of those industries, how many of them not only allow, but encourage you to work short contracts at your whim, allowing as much free time in between as you'd like to spend that massive overpayment.
A good developer can produce so much value in such a short time that companies can afford to pay you pretty much any number you can say with a straight face. And if they balk, the bad/cheap developer they hire in your place will teach them such a lesson that when they finally come back you can double your figure again and they'll probably take it.
I tell ya, I used to bag groceries for a living. It was nowhere as good as this.
While I don't disagree with the sentiment, I think you miss a couple things. First, the question wasn't geared toward defining success; rather, what was the key to your success in obtaining $100k+. Sure, the person's perception of success is defined by an arbitrary number, but that's beside the point, and meaningless in context.
Granted, strictly defining success based on income is silly (which I'm not saying you are). As you said, it depends on your lifestyle and chosen profession. Outside the context of the original discussion, successful people aren't strictly defined by just their job. For example, numerous people mentioned other professions where the standard pay is lower. Take 5th grade teachers for example. Basing success strictly on their salary as a teacher is ignorant (same for anyone, really). Successful teachers will achieve more than their base salary.
Basically, success is more than just salary, but salary usually follows success.
> It's quite typical of HN when this topic comes up for someone to be downvoted by people who make very little money
Leave the karma discussion on reddit.
Success and meaning can be found at levels other than the dude settling for $20/hr because he gets good free time to really 'discover' life and find 'meaning.'
Maybe you're hanging out with the wrong people.
I've been making over $100K for several years now and even though I recently joined a startup, I held the rate up over other offers. The key is to work somewhere that requires specialized skills and understands the value of hiring someone experienced who can self-manage their work on various aspects of a project and produce results that will win more business. Make your contributions a positive part of the bottom line and you will receive no hassles.
I tend to work with technology-first firms, avoiding business-first firms as they tend to view developers as resources, not assets. Also, in this day and age, if you don't write code or have an intimate IP unique to the product, you don't get a seat at the table and you should steel yourself for a sales job or worse.
Also, keep your skills fresh (edge, not bleeding edge) and avoid dreamers, MBA types and serial wantrepreneurs.