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How much money is enough? We fish come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have taken a multitude of career paths around the world. I’m curious to hear how high of an annual pretax income (cont’d)

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It depends? I like spending time with my family. Going to my kid’s ballgames. Helping out with the Scouts. Reading, traveling, running marathons. There’s no way in hell it’s possible to do all this in a meaningful way working at a private firm. So I’m in the public sector—which despite what some might think, still has me regularly working 10-12 hour days. But, if I need a week off, I’m out, and the weekends are mine (mostly). No need to worry about billables or client development. The pay is a little better than livable. But, for me, the lifestyle it allows is worth it. Also, I was in private practice for years. There has to be a study somewhere about how working in a private firm shaves x number days off your life. If I’m going to die early from my job, it’s going to be working for the benefit of the public good.

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I am 7 years out of law school. Started my own firm at the end of my 3rd year of practice. My earnings since starting my firm have been: Y1: 100k Y2: 240k Y3: 820k Y4 (this year): 2.4M My wife worked big law through Y3 and now works at a smaller shop making around 200k. We lived comfortably on 400-500k, which is what we made combined before I started my firm. Much less (during Y1) felt like a stretch. More than 1M per year frees up a lot of cash to invest. I’m 33 now. Going to keep working at an aggressive pace for another 10 years or so then work much less and only on cases that I really enjoy. I think the right question to ask is how much money do you need to have socked away so you can take care of your family but still spend most of your time not working.

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Congratulations! You’re doing well, and that is a good thing! I am curious what your practice is.

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We are collectively at about 150k in a medium-cost-of-living area. No kids (which won’t change) and no debt other than a mortgage. Felt like that was plenty until I read what everyone else was making 😂 🤷🏼‍♀️

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Very true!!

This post is making me realize people have wildly different definitions of “comfortable”

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$750-800k with bad spending habits in a medium COL. Sometimes, money gets tight. It’s embarrassing. On the other hand, a modest retirement is fully funded as long as I make it to 65.

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Good thing this app is anonymous… until it isn’t. This thread is why budgeting/personal finance should be mandatory in primary and secondary school. Folks are so out of touch, and I’m so out of time. Hopefully, the rampant spending also includes charitable contributions. How much impulse Amazon/EBay buying is going on? I mean, I’d understand all of this more if you said “stupid spending habits at Bergdorf.”

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32, HCOL, mid threes and I save *nothing*. Rent is $5k/month for a decent 1br place in my city. Parents have $25m (which is not a lot in e.g., Greenwich, Beverly Hills, Woodside, Belvedere, Palm Beach, Bel Air) so having to work for a living is a huge step down in my quality of life. Need $1m to live a nice life and save something. Also need to marry rich.

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I live in DC and you are just insane if you need $5k for a one bedroom. I live in a nice place with a gym and a pool on the roof for under $3k. This city is not SF or NY (yet). I think growing up rich AF has probably warped your view of what an acceptable lifestyle is.

Wtf are y’all doing? With a salary of $90k I lived in a nice place, could travel, pay student loans, and still save/invest ~20%.

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We live in places where $90K is an average paralegal salary. In big cities, there is a thing called supply and demand. We demand cool things to do and the city supplies it but not for free.

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I stand by at least $300K a person to have a comfy life in a big city with weekends away, good take out often, and a kid.

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Ah, now your # makes more sense.

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Sole income earner in medium-high COL area with one kid (and husband who's SAHD) making low 2's and I feel like we're fairly solid. However, we have no debt besides our mortgage, which obviously helps a lot. Our standard of living is lower than a lot of the attorneys I work with but trying really hard to counter lifestyle creep and keep saving the difference.

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We’re in the low 400s with bonuses, HCOL area, just bought a house, married with no kids (yet, but hopefully soon). We aren’t big spenders, definitely haven’t scaled our lifestyle with our income, and worked hard to buy a home with a mortgage way less than we could technically “afford”. We also have agressively saved for retirement and paid off all our student debt while child free. I think we could probably be fine in the low $300s, even with kids, but we’ll see. Should add that I really like my law firm, and I think that goes a long way in the “stable secure and happy” category, so it’s not just about the $ (but if I were somewhere that felt unsustainable I would probably need a lot more money).

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We also bought the house we needed, as opposed to the house we could theoretically afford.

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I don’t know why people are focused on income as opposed to wealth. Income is actually pretty meaningless unless you turn it into wealth. After all, even Warren Buffet is rumored to pay himself $100k per year. I personally forego the income the company I cofounded technically owes me as GC and collect equity distributions as needed.

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A16 I had no loans (scholarships in undergrad and law school, parents paid for my health insurance and helped me a bit on living expenses). So that was a big head start. And then (1) lowish expenses — single (dating at times but no kids), had no car and a roomie for several years, expensive city but not NYC/SF. I think I’ve actually saved about $700k+ since law school. That said also given away about $75k since starting, which probably makes the parents’ help in my early adult life about a wash. (2) I’ve been 85-97% stocks this whole time. The stock market has been explosive the past several years; I think I’ve made $300–$400k on that. I was down $100k at one point in 2020, but I kept buying till I ran out of money (before the bottom, sadly), and the started buying again last summer. Worked out ok.

I'm scratching my head at these numbers. I'm making $145k base in a HCOL city and am saving enough to be on track to retire at 45. Any raise in salary makes that retirement age go down. I don't deprive myself of anything I want or keep tight budgets. I'm living comfortably on way less than I earn.

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Every comment in this thread reaffirms my decision to never have children 🙏🏽😂

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There's actually a whole movement of moms who regret having children and are writing about it. Society just isn't ready for all that.

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(cont’d) you think is enough to feel stable, secure, and happy, in today’s $. For my family, perhaps low threes? We live in a medium-high COL area of the US. Double income. One kid (with another one likely in the next couple of years). We’re very aggressive savers for retirement and education expenses. No debt besides home mortgage and car payments. We’re in the high twos right now, and I feel like we’re not far off from where we need to be, which is good, because I’m a senior now and am uncertain whether I want to become a partner.

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I’m also confused on whether the reference is to salary or net worth. As you can live paycheck to paycheck on any salary, I don’t think that salary is the best indication of when it’s enough. My goal is being able to tell anyone to *uck off when I went to. I don’t want to tell people that, but I want the ability to. I have passive income that is enough to cover my base expenses. As such, my law salary is a bonus that I use to invest and maintain a bit higher standard of living. I plan on leaving my higher salary job quite soon for a job I actually enjoy (and which I expect will pay less).

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It’s all about wealth and attaining FU money, not income which can vanish at any time…

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Is high twos a reference to number of digits or leading digit? I.e. is high twos 99k? Or 299k? Is low threes 100k? Or 300k? I assume the latter?

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$250k-$300k no kids in Minneapolis. Allows for aggressive saving, with a nice single family home in town with plenty of room for travel, clothes, restaurants, etc.

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I’m single and in the mid threes. I think it’s way more than enough. When I was in the mid ones, I think I was at the perfect balance.

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I want to keep making more so I can retire sooner

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I'm about 130K in the Midwest. If I could hit say 200K, that'd pretty much set me up to be able to retire at 55, and live however I want (within reason) until/after that.

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Family of six with a live in nanny in a LCoL area as of this year. We'll make around $500k this year due to all of the special bonuses I'm getting this year. Three years ago, I was in law school and my husband was making 70k in NYC (and we were a family of four). We don't have much saved right now after buying a house and paying off a lot of high interest debt we accumulated while I was in law school. We are definitely comfortable by most measures but it doesn't feel that way to me most days. However, by next January we'll have everything except the house and my federal student loans paid off. We'll then switch into saving mode. Given childcare expenses, private school tuition, and our desire to retire young-ish. I say our current income level is enough.

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This is helpful!! It’s the private school that is going to be the biggest yearly expense I’m dreading.

Currently in the very high 2s- double income with two kids between Philly and NYC. We’re both approaching 40. It’s ok but not enough. Interviewing for a job that’ll take me into the 3s on my own and put total comp north of 4 which seems good. Aggressive savers but come from upper middle class families so we want more. Living relatively modestly right now and the increase will change the lifestyle. Goal is to have 1mm in savings in next 5 years and to be able to consider retirement once my youngest goes to college (early 50s). Inheritance will help there (I’ll inherit between 2.5 and 3mm eventually in all likelihood)

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I don't know why but I feel sad about the state of humanity after reading these comments.

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A4, enlighten me.

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