Nearly 40 Percent of Americans with Annual Incomes over $100,000 Live Paycheck-to-Paycheck – so says a survey

  • Nearly 40 percent of those with annual incomes over $100,000 live paycheck-to-paycheck, including 12 percent struggling to pay their bills.
  • Fifty-three percent of those who make between $50,000 and $100,000 annually live paycheck-to-paycheck, with 18 percent struggling to pay their bills.
  • Seventy-two percent of those who make less than $50,000 per year live paycheck-to-paycheck, with 33 percent struggling to pay their bills.

Source: Nearly 40 Percent of Americans with Annual Incomes over $100,000 Live Paycheck-to-Paycheck

Do you believe that? Not me. I have no doubt the people answering this survey have a unique definition of how they live P to P.

Struggling to pay bills when earning over $100,000 a year? What bills? This paycheck- to – paycheck thing is relative. It’s not what you earn it’s what you spend and baring extenuating circumstances, spending can be managed so that living P to P is not a thing.

What you spend should always come after what you save … for emergencies and the future. If meditation space it really sounds comfortable sitting on the floor this P to P living were accurate, how do we explain tens of billions spent on gambling and lottery tickets? How can $50,000 plus pickup trucks be the largest selling vehicle in the Country? How can 57% of households afford a dog or cat that on average costs $1,000 a year to feed and maintain?

Spending several hundred dollars a year on lottery tickets can make a big dent in your budget. Especially if your paycheck isn’t that big to begin with. Yet Americans earning less than $30,000 admit to spending about 13% of their income on lottery tickets, Bankrate found.

Yup, it’s all relative. Living paycheck-to-paycheck means many different things, most of which are a matter of choice and priorities.


  1. Our debt economy is one BIG SPENDING problem. You see it with individuals, companies, and governments. We have to realize with easy credit, come hard payments, that is why many live paycheck to paycheck. I lived P to P most of my life and it was never a problem, as long as I made the payments and that is how most people look at it. I am just lucky nothing major like loss of job, or illness happened. Paying high interest credit card bills is one way to stay living P to P. Now retired at age 65, I can live on $2,300 per month and save $1,000, no longer working for the banksters.


  2. If you read the study, it confirms that only 12% of those earning $100,000+, are having difficulty paying bills. That percentage increases to 18% for those earning $50,000 – $99,999, and to 33% for households with earnings < $50,000. My 50 years of work experience suggests that's not that far off. It is confirmed by another survey, the American Payroll Association's annual survey, Getting Paid in America, where every year for the past many years about 2/3rds of survey respondents (30,000+ most years) admits that they would have some or significant difficulty meeting their financial obligations if their next paycheck was …. DELAYED ONE WEEK! Not missed, just DELAYED, and just DELAYED ONE WEEK!

    And, I have to believe the survey is pretty accurate when it confirms that about 1/3 of those surveyed have $1,000 or less in cash savings. Don't forget the Federal Reserve Bank Survey of Household Finances, that confirms, in each of the last five years, that well over 30% of households couldn't easily meet a $400 unexpected expense.

    Guys, it is the Ant and Grasshopper – as old as time…

    The Story:
    A Grasshopper spends his summer singing and dancing while a team of Ants have worked hard all summer collecting, saving up and storing food for winter. The Grasshopper doesn’t understand why the Ants work so hard. When winter comes, the Grasshopper finds himself dying of hunger. He sees the Ants enjoying the fruits of their labors and begs for food. He then understands why Ants work so hard and save up.

    The Lesson:
    There’s a time for work and a time for play! A time to store up and to save … to prepare. The fable attempts to teach the perils of improvidence (lacking foresight, neglecting to provide for future needs). Even the Bible’s Book of Proverbs commends the Ants.

    Just because something isn’t important right now, doesn’t mean is should be ignored or put off. For workers and their retirement preparation, the lesson is “pay yourself first”! Always prepare for what’s ahead.

    We would need a different fable for the cynics who believe preparation for retirement is too difficult, improbable, even impossible; or for those who have seen others whose sacrifice and preparations go for naught.2

    We might try the Thirsty Crow and the Pitcher.

    The Story:
    A thirsty crow comes across a pitcher of water. When the crow puts its beak into the mouth of the pitcher, he can’t reach the water. He tries and tries but fails each time. Giving it some thought, he comes up with a solution. He drops a pebble into the pitcher, then another, and another, and another and another. The pebbles displace the water so that it rises to the top and he can drink and quench his thirst.

    The Lesson:
    Necessity is the mother of invention, and with a little planning, you can gain what at first may seem impossible. For retirement preparation, little by little will do the trick. Slowly, steadily add to the accretion and you will slowly, steadily achieve your goal.

    1 Disney, Silly Symphony the Grasshopper and The Ants, 2/10/34:
    2 J. Henson, Muppets, 11/4/77:;


  3. Anyone managing his own personal finances needs accurate information and must be honest with himself. Many of our elected leaders wish to avoid alienating voters and so rather than mention inconvenient facts, like some listed in this article, they prefer to scapegoat a smaller group of voters, “the wealthy who don’t pay their fair share”. Some may start with a valid point, but lose their credibility by exaggerating and by citing unreliable statistics.


  4. We know somebody is buying all those lottery tickets but at 13% of $30000 that would be 3900 per year. What would be left for beer and cigarettes ?

    I think these surveys are flawed but they do at least hint at some truths such as who does buy lottery tix. These folks see the lottery as their only ticket out of a crappy job and life.


  5. It is 100% true that I lived paycheck to paycheck when I was still working while making over $100k. Even now in retirement I live pension check to pension check. If there is any money left over at the end of the month after paying my bills and savings, I spent the rest living my life having fun until there is no more money. If I do it right, there is no money left only a day or two before the next check.

    I do know people who struggle paycheck to paycheck just to pay for the true essentials of food, housing, utilities. These people are barely surviving paycheck to paycheck. There is a big difference between barely surviving and living here.

    I also realize that certain markets, real estate prices and rents are sky high. But you’re right. It is mostly a spending problem. If you earn too much and do not qualify for any of the government tax credits or free this or that program and you say you are living paycheck to paycheck, you better look in the mirror for you have a spending problem.


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