The Happiness Threshold of $75k

Some say that once you reach an income of $75,000, your level of happiness tends to stay the same from that point on. If a person makes $75,000, they will have the same level of happiness as someone that earns $250,000. Is this assumption actually true?

The happiness threshold can be debated in multiple ways. I wanted to discuss the following factors that can disrupt this idea to where it may not actually be everyone’s threshold for happiness. Those factors include Location, Debt-Income Ratio, and Lifestyle.

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Location is huge factor to consider when applying the happiness threshold of $75k to the U.S. population. An income of $75k is typically considered a great income overall, however that is not the case for people that live in HCOL (High Cost Of Living) areas. A salary of $75k in St. Louis, MO is drastically different from a salary of $75k in San Francisco. HUD (United States Department of Housing and Urban Development) defined “Low Income Limits” in San Francisco as $82,200 for an individual and $117,400 for a family of four in 2018. This salary is not sustainable in a city like San Francisco due to its high costs. You would need multiple roommates to afford rent, while in St. Louis you could comfortably live on your own due to its LCOL (Low Cost Of Living). An income of $75k in St Louis, MO would put you over the 75th percentile of earners.

Debt- Income Ratio

An income of $75k or more is excellent for those who have no debt obligations. They are free to do as they please with their money because they do not owe anyone anything…as long as they stay within their means. What if a person has a salary of $75k , yet they have $35k in student loans, a $10k car loan, $6k in medical bills, and their usual bills like utilities, food, housing, etc. This person could still be a high earner but they live pay check to pay check. These people would most likely have different patterns of happiness in their daily lives. (I have lived both and I definitely prefer the debt-free lifestyle).

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We all have a particular current lifestyle and some of us are working towards a better lifestyle. Some people prefer traveling and experiences, some prefer material items, and some like doing nothing and saving all of their money. Does an income of $75k allow you to buy and save the way you want to with no worries? For some, it is enough. Some of examples of that can be found throughout YouTube of Millennials who retired early and they made no more than $75k a year. These types of people typically saved over 40% of their paychecks and did side hustles to increase their savings and investing accounts. For others, this amount is not enough. Many people like to buy large homes, wear designer clothing, eat at fancy restaurants, and much more. We see the lifestyles of many of our favorite celebrities and influencers and typically want the same for ourselves. This type of lifestyle usually requires a lot more income than $75k to keep up with in the long run. Determine what your goals are and work towards the income of your dreams. Start with investing so that your money is always working for you during the process.


The happiness threshold of $75k is probably some bull**** created to keep people in a box. It works for some but we will always have that hunger for more in life. Am I happy now? Yes. Do I still want my high-rise condo overlooking the city? Also, yes. I believe the happiness threshold doesn’t exist because it is natural to strive for more. The goal is to enjoy and appreciate each milestone you hit and continue to move forward. They say more money equals more problems, but I will just find out for myself.