How Much Money Do You Have To Make To Be Considered Successful in 2024?

Just how much money do we need to earn to be happy nowadays? The answer is a bit more than the often cited $75,000 per year. In a 2023 paper published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal, key findings suggest that earnings up to $500,000 boost and buy overall happiness. 

With that in mind, let’s look at the salary it takes to be financially content in 2024.

Find Out: How Much Does the Average Middle-Class Person Have in Savings?
See More: 6 Genius Things All Wealthy People Do With Their Money

Why $75k Isn’t Enough — and The Shocking Amount You’d Need To Earn To Be Rich

It wasn’t all that long ago that Dan Price, founder of credit card processor Gravity Payments, made headlines announcing he would spend three years raising the salaries of all employees to $70,000 annually. Price started this process in 2015, inspired to raise salaries after reading an academic article on happiness. If we do the math, this would mean all employee salaries were at $70K no later than the close of 2018. 

Inflation has since been the answer as to why there has been a massive jump in happiness earnings. Media outlet Morning Brew calculated that the $70K to $75K figure frequently cited in 2010 for happiness earnings would be $103,000 in today’s figures.

Which still isn’t enough, depending on your financial goals. 

If you want to feel financially healthy, CNBC reported that Americans said they need to earn $122K annually. 

If your goal is to rank in the top 1% of American wealth, data from the IRS said you’d need an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $540,009 on your individual tax return.

Check Out: 5 Ways To Live Like the Super Rich Even If You’re Middle Class

Six Figures: Less About Financial Health, More About Safety and Security

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make $540,009 annually. Truth is, we don’t know yet how happy, or not, those high earners really are.

According to the PNAS paper, there’s a lack of comprehensive data available for those who earn more than $500K a year. While noting most people do experience happiness with higher financial earnings, PNAS said it’s “quite rare” to find participants above this income.

GOBankingRates previously spoke to David Frederick, former director of client success and advice at First Bank and now the senior manager, private client tax services, at LBMC, on the topic of six-figure incomes. 

Frederick said earning a six figure income is built by a combination of our need for a little bit more money and love of round numbers. Frederick cited the average U.S. household income in 2021 which was $79,900. 

“Everyone making around this income level would like just a little bit more money to feel safe, secure and happy. A little bit more money could be saved for the kids’ education, a little bit more money could be put into a retirement fund, a little bit more money could fund those long put-off home repairs or a little bit more money could let us take a nice vacation,” said Frederick.

For those earning around $80,000 a year, the little bit more they would need to earn to be happy would be $100,000. This amount, with its next zero at the end of our income, aligns with the data presented in the PNAS paper.

The Key To Financial Happiness? Having a Financial Plan

The true path to financial happiness, Frederick said, is a well-constructed financial plan. 

This plan helps individuals identify any threats to their finances and take steps necessary to address them ahead of time. It’s also a plan which individuals at all income levels, not just those earning $500,000 or more, can construct and use. 

“While a financial plan for a person with a six-figure salary may look different than a plan for someone with a lower income level, the financial plan can still help someone with a lower income achieve a sense of security, financial health and happiness.”

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This article originally appeared on How Much Money Do You Have To Make To Be Considered Successful in 2024?

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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