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  5. Making $100,000 a year might not be life-changing anymore, but 3 people share how it makes things a lot less stressful

Making $100,000 a year might not be life-changing anymore, but 3 people share how it makes things a lot less stressful

Jacob Zinkula   

Making $100,000 a year might not be life-changing anymore, but 3 people share how it makes things a lot less stressful
  • Three people who've earned $100,000 annually said it reduced stress but wasn't life-changing.
  • Higher incomes allowed them to focus on personal growth, relationships, and financial security.

When Joshua first earned a $100,000 salary about five years ago, it didn't impact his lifestyle much.

"I wasn't able to splurge or to afford luxurious things," the 30-year-old fintech professional, who's based in Georgia, told Business Insider via email.

But increasing his income to that level did do one important thing: It helped him worry much less about his finances. Joshua said the boost to his financial security also made his relationships with his friends and family more comfortable.

"There was no longer the strain of borrowing and paying back money, no longer going out to eat to get a quick meal and being anxious about if I could foot the bill," he said.

A $100,000-a-year salary doesn't go as far as it used to in an economy where the rising costs of food, housing, cars, childcare, and other expenses are weighing on people's finances. Last year, Americans said they'd need to earn $233,000 a year to feel financially secure and $483,000 to feel rich, according to a Bankrate survey conducted in June 2023. What's more, a survey conducted by the New York Fed in March found that the average reservation wage for Americans with a college degree — the lowest annual wage they'd be willing to accept for a new job — rose to a high of about $99,000.

However, for many Americans, reaching a six-figure income could still have a significant impact on their finances and well-being. As of March, the average annual salary for full-time workers was about $84,000, according to a New York Fed survey.

Business Insider asked three people who've made over $100,000 a year how becoming a six-figure-earner did — and didn't — change their lives and relationships. While it didn't make them feel rich, they said it reduced their financial-related stress by several notches. BI has verified their earnings.

Having money allows you to focus more on other things you care about

Cole H. Mattes made his first $100,000 in 2020 by selling thermometers on eBay, he told Business Insider via email. Last year, the 24-year-old entrepreneur, who's based in California, took home $250,000 as the owner and founder of the public relations agency Monarch Media.

Mattes said that making six figures "isn't really all that life-changing" but that the extra income has had two big benefits.

First, it's allowed him to worry much less about his finances and concentrate on other areas of his life.

"You start to focus on things that really matter, like traveling, dating, and cultivating important relationships," he said. "Once you no longer have to focus on hustling to pay for rent and other basic necessities, because you are no longer financially burdened, that is when life really starts because you can focus on the amazing things life has to offer."

Second, he said having money has opened doors for him in the business world.

"Successful people do business with other successful people," he said. "Money provides status, and that is the real value you get by becoming rich — not a new pair of jeans."

However, Mattes said that making more money can sometimes negatively impact relationships.

"When you become successful, you will lose friends and family who become jealous of your income," Mattes said. "Losing people might be hard, but it should really be looked at positively because those types of people don't want the best for you."

To be sure, while a $100,000 salary wouldn't be enough to put a person in the top 1% of their state's earners, it could be the difference between a financially vulnerable lifestyle and a secure one.

At least 32% of the population of every US state qualifies as an ALICE — asset limited, income constrained, employed — according to data from the nonprofit organization United Way. ALICEs are Americans who are struggling to pay the bills but make too much money to qualify for government assistance like food stamps.

For many of these people, a $100,000 salary could, in fact, be life-changing.

It can take years for the impacts of a six-figure income to be fully felt

For Maksim Sonin, crossing the six-figure threshold didn't feel particularly impactful because his income had grown steadily over time, he told Business Insider via email.

However, as Sonin's income rose well into the six-figures working in the oil and gas industry abroad, he said the benefits of his higher income have become more noticeable. He said it's allowed him to help pay for his brother's education, strengthen his finances, and enroll in graduate school — he's currently pursuing a master's degree at Stanford University.

While he's grateful for the perks and financial security that a higher income has provided, he said he wants to ensure that his children remain humble.

"They don't care much, nor are they even aware of how much money I began to earn after that pivotal $100,000 mark," he said.

Staying humble is something Joshua has focused on as well. Given he didn't grow up around a lot of money, he said learning how to wisely use his extra income has been a work in progress. While he's increased his discretionary spending a bit, he said he's put a lot of his extra income toward investments and side hustles.

Joshua, who made about $150,000 in 2023, said reaching six figures several years ago was a significant milestone, but that it took time for the benefits of his higher income to be fully realized.

"It was the consistency of earning over $100,000 that positioned me to be financially secure," he said.

Are you making over $100,000 a year? Are you willing to share your story and the impact this income has had on your life? If so, contact this reporter at

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