What’s the deal with 6 figures? People talk about 6 figures like it is a big deal. If you work hard enough, you may have a 6 figure salary at your full-time job. A friend may brag to you about the 6 figures he has saved up in a bank. Why is it so important, and what are the benefits of having 6 figures?
What are 6 figures?
Quite honestly, it is an amount of money that equates to $100,000-$999,999. It is a big number that people like to use to measure themselves with. Is it that important?
As you may guess, certain professions guarantee a 6 figure salary. People train, go to college, study, and work themselves up to hitting that 6 figure salary.
It can be a status symbol. There is no problem with that. The issue is how are you saving that money. I dived into some questions that come across from comparing with the Joneses.
When talking about money, people ask about how much do you make? What are your benefits? Are you going to buy a house? If you think about it, people just want to know how they stack up compared to you. One of the biggest numbers I see is that 6 figure one. So what can a 6 figure salary do for you?
Can it get you fancy cars, big houses, or lots of luxury vacations?
How much are 6 figures?
Before we talk about what 6 figures can do for you, we need to know how much is 6 figures. It is something people talk about. “I just got offered a 6 figure salary.”
Six figures are anything from $100,000 to $999,999, and this sounds repetitive, but as we consider the 6 figure amount I want to make sure we are on the same page.
Basically, you just count the numbers. Once we hit a million dollars that six figures become seven figures. Then we are in a whole new ball game.
If your salary is making anywhere in that range then you are a six-figure person.
Let’s not get carried away. Six figures come with different expectations, different jobs, and many more factors. We do not just wake up one day making 6 figures, we have to work hard, study hard, and make things happen.
College is important for that 6 figure person.
One way to achieve your dreams of hitting the 6 figure salary number is to go to college. That’s right. You need to go to college. I know there are tons of jobs out there that do not require a college degree. People are working in fields that were not even the fields that they had hoped to get into.
So why is college so important to obtain this 6 figure salary dream? That is a great question. Forbes found that 84% of the richest 400 Americans have a bachelor's degree.
Being able to study and advance with a degree gives you a leg up on the competition. There are plenty of people that are self-made millionaires that did not finish with a degree, but a good majority went to college.
Being able to go to college allows us opportunities to get into fields that pay high salaries.
Here are some good money-making 6-figure Jobs:
- Architectural Engineer
- Aerospace Engineer
- Chemical Engineer
- Computer Systems Analysts
- Financial Managers
- Web Developer
- Computer programer
- Marketing Managers
- Petroleum Engineer
These are just a couple of jobs you could work to obtain a 6 figure salary. They make pretty good money, and it requires some sort of college degree.
What Can a 6 Figure Salary do for you?
Here are a couple of ways this high salary can help you out.
Living a life with a low salary can be stressful. Sometimes you need to live paycheck to paycheck and not know how to get out of this cycle. All you need is a higher salary with that ability to help you build wealth.
If your financial habits are great then a higher salary can do wonders in helping you relieve some of that stress from money issues.
All of a sudden you can relax about money. Some of those worries that you once had will be alleviated. It will be time to take it easy and relax a bit more.
With the high income, you will need to not spend it all going back into that paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. Make sure to be frugal with your spending and save.
Financial freedom could be at your doorsteps. One thing people often say is to save more money to help reach financial freedom. With a higher salary or even a median salary, you can accumulate more money easily.
Don’t go and spend all of that money. Instead, increase your savings rate. This will help you reach financial freedom much sooner than someone with a lower wage.
Once you increase that savings rate you then go off to invest that money to help it grow and work for you.
Now if you were to let lifestyle creep and spend more due to the higher salary, you would be losing the advantage of having a higher salary.
Your lifestyle may change. There will be more money, and more opportunities to travel, spend, and upgrade your life.
When you are making 6-figures you need to be aware of the lifestyle creep. As you suddenly are making more money than you can imagine remembering to save your money.
The more money we make the more money we would like to spend. More money equals more problems. So the saying goes.
When you are in that 6 figure range beware of trying to compare yourself with other people. Someone brags about their new lake house, so you want one too. A neighbor just got a new flashy Porche, and obviously, you want to stand out as well so you get one too.
These things cost money. With more money, you may just want to spend more, which will end up having less money, more stress, and lifelong imprisonment to debt.
Do not let your lifestyle creep.
Do we need six figures?
Do we need a six-figure salary? It is not essential. People have lived long without obtaining it. There have been people living in early retirement who have failed to reach that 6 figure mark.
Even if you have not hit that 6 figure mark do not worry. You just need to have some good financial education behind you to get you to your goals.
Goals in financial planning are everything.
The Ronald Read Story:
Have you ever heard of Ronald Read? He is that janitor/ gas attendant that died with an $8 million estate that he donated to various charities.
A janitor with millions of dollars. How can this be? It certainly was not from a 6 figure salary. He obtained this from being frugal, investing wisely, and not keeping up with the Joneses.
Robert Read created his own 7 figure net worth by simple frugality and investing in Blue chip stocks.
This is the amazing story no one ever hears about. You often look at those that are rich instead of those that are wealthy. People that look rich spend their money on things to give them an appearance of being rich.
Wealthy people on the other hand save their money, invest it, and do not have the appearance of a rich person.
As you see with Ronald Read, he was just a janitor. When he died he had accumulated $8 million. This is incredible to a normal person.
We each have the ability to accumulate wealth. It does not take a 6 figure salary to do this. Just basic financial literacy can really change our outlook on wealth.
In the end, you see rich people making 6 figures and spending 6 figures. Wealthy people will make less but are better at saving and investing.
Here is my question: So what is the deal with 6 figures?
If you haven’t figured this answer out yet, there is no big deal at all. It is just a bragging point that people make. Yes, my net worth is at a 6 figure mark, but I do not go out and brag about it. I track it to keep my goals.
My wife and I do not make 6 figures. We are making about 5-figures. It would be nice to increase our savings and investment rates, but making 6 figures is not our goal. We want financial freedom.
Our main goal is to save, be frugal, and invest the rest for our FIRE life of travel and adventure.
Through frugality and minimalism, you can live a life without that 6 figure salary, and still hit your financial goals.
I do admit that 6 figures would supercharge our investments and savings.
Through tutoring, working on a blog, and doing other part-time gigs, I try to get to that 6 figure net worth a bit quicker.
Here are some ways to make more money to hit 6 figures:
1. Work Hard
It truly is amazing what you can do if you work hard. Our full time jobs are a perfect place to create wealth. Our main job is a great place to learn, grown, and achieve. This is our cash-flowing cow that everyone needs. It has stability, and it gives us the tools to help us with building wealth through an annual salary.
So being able to work hard, take initiative can get you seen by your boss. That can turn into promotions and bigger raises. This could help you in achieving your 6 figures. Don’t just float through your job, work hard at it.
2. Changing Jobs
Working hard is great, but if working hard at your current job does not reap any benefits, you can seek other options in employment.
Changing jobs is a great way to move up the ladder and seek better opportunities. You will be able to have the chance of getting more income, better benefits, and hitting some of those 6 figure salary numbers.
3. Live Frugally
Savings is something that can supercharge your net worth. If you want 6 figures in the bank you must live a more frugal life. Spending has to stop, it is time to save that money for the long term.
If you can live off less you drastically change how much money is in the bank for you. Take some time to cut what you do not value.
- Ride a bike to work.
- Cut the cable.
- Stop eating out so much.
These are all things you can do to cut on spending. Start to make savings a priority.
4. Working on Side Hustles
Working on side hustles can help you hit those 6 figure goals. Full time jobs are great, but a simple side hustle can get that money flowing.
The more money coming in the faster you can reach your goals. If you are looking for some good side hustles check out this post from Wealth of Geeks about the Best Side Hustles.
If you need more help here is a post on 17 ways to make $200 in a day. There are many opportunities out there to make money like you can make money watching Netflix. Start working on some side hustles.
These side hustles can help you earn money through gig work, freelance, side hustling, and be able to bring in extra income per month to help you.
Working sides hustles can make money for your goals.
We all might want to hit that 6 figure salary, but it isn’t as important as you may think. Gaining 6 figures to flaunt it around may not be the best. Take some time to get your goals in line, make a plan, and dive into making a 6 figure net worth instead.
More money equals more problems. If you are frugal the problems go away and the money can help enrich your life with more opportunities.
Would you want a 6 figure salary?
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I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.
15 thoughts on “What’s the Deal with 6 Figures?”
While it’s not a requirement to be financially independent, it really sure does help. A six figure salary relieved me of so much stress versus when I wasn’t making six figures. At times I still feel like I don’t get paid enough so that’s when I start to look for other jobs but six figures does feel very good.
6 figures can really accelerate so many things. I am working on some side hustles to hit that, but at my low paying job in a LCOL it may be a bit harder. My wife always says how our counterparts in Australia are making 6 figures, but I have to remind her that we live in a LCOL and we save a bit more than them. It is one or the other. Living in a LCOL saving more or working elsewhere and making more.
When I was still working, my husband and I barely hit six figures before tax. After tax, it was definitely less than six figures!
It took him very long time to reach six figures. But the interesting thing is, most of our wealth was built long before he hit that mythical number.
All the years of scrimping and saving on five figures makes up the bulk of the money that will get us to FI.
But I read David’s and your comments above, and I can see both sides of the argument. I think it does make a huge difference where you live and what your cost of living is.
It’s indeed very hard to scrape by on less than six figures in a HCOL city. But if you can find the right ratio in salary and cost of living, you can definitely do well on less.
Thanks for sharing! I think it’s an interesting, thought-provoking topic.
Thank you Chrissy,
You are right. As my wife get closer and closer to FI, it is the little bit that we have been saving up really can add up. Living in HCOL cities, 6 figures is needed just to get by. Each person’s lifestyle is also different.
It is an interesting topic for sure. Thanks for reading.
As soon as I read that 6 figures relieves stress, I went straight to the thought of ‘imagine how stressful their jobs are’. My dad used to be on a 6 figure salary, no degree, just worked up the ladder, but he traded it for a less stressful job as there was so much expected of him. As you said, more money, more problems.. Let’s hope that’s not the case for everyone out there!
We live on my income only and it is only 5 figure. I hope it becomes 6 figure as it will help us a lot in saving and investing more to reach our FIWOOT dream. But even with the current income, the saving is more than 50%. However, I am sure I will never have a 6 figures income after tax.
So, as you mentioned, it is about saving and investing more than just the income. I’d love more 9-5 income just to get rid of it altogether.
I couldn’t agree with you more. My wife and I combined have a mid 5 figure income. We do live in Taiwan with a LCOL, but if we had hit a 6 figure number we could be saving close to 80% or more in Taiwan. With our incomes, we are usually around the 60% mark. I wish we had more to save and invest so we could hit FI a bit earlier, but we take what we can, save where we can, and then invest.
Saving and investing is the key for most people. So we save and invest to have at least a 6 figure liquid net worth.
Yep, it’s not about how much you make, it’s how you spend it!
That is right. If we spend our money on junk then we will lots of junk and not as much money. If we spend it on buying income-producing assets then we will more income coming in.
It has always confused me as to why that particular target has stood the test of time. Personally I don’t know any 6 figure operators that would 35 hours a week to achieve it. I’m sure they exist but I have yet to meet them.
That’s why I think your point about side hustles is extremely relevant. I think the real target is how much net income you have per hour after core expenses. Everything else is window dressing
Lots of people may work long hours in order to achieve that six-figures. I remember growing up seeing 6 figures as that magical number. Now, I see it is all about owning enough assets to produce 6 figures.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have a six-figure income for a few years now, and yes, it allowed us to increase our savings rate, supercharge our investments, and shorten our FIRE timeline.
However, as you pointed out, it’s not about how much you make but how much you save and invest. And this is something I often see in my industry (where most people I work with make 6 figures), where people let lifestyle creep consume them, and then they find themselves trapped working to their 60s to sustain that lifestyle.
Additionally, as you pointed out as well, salary is very dependent on location. I would bet that someone can live more comfortably in Taiwan for $50,000 than someone in New York for $100,000.
Great article Steve.
Lifestyle creep is something I see with a bunch of people. I was talking with my colleague today, and he mentioned just how he use to spend so much to keep up with everyone else. At the end of the month, his money would be all gone. Now he is a doing a great job saving and investing. It starts with how much you can keep. Then you try to increase how much you make.
Could not agree with you more Steve! 6 figures is completely overrated and just used a tool for bragging purposes. It’s all about how much you of your salary that you are saving and investing! That makes the difference! Really enjoyed this article.
That is a huge difference indeed. If you are making 6 figures and spending 6 figures you will work that job for life. It is all about the savings rate, and how much you invest.