People Make A Lot More Money Than You Think

I want you guys to visualize a world where there is no media schadenfreude.  Imagine never reading stories debasing others out of delight in order to make the writer and you feel better about yourself.  My how nice the world would be!

The reason why there are so many negative articles out there is simply because there are a lot more people making a lot more money and doing much greater things than one realizes.  If you can’t make it on your own, it’s easier to just try and bring others down.  Don’t do that!

You know from a previous article that $60,000 to $75,000 is such a silly low range for what researchers and the media think is the ideal income level where happiness rises no more.  It’s so silly because that is clearly not the case if you ask anybody who has ever made more.  Is it a coincidence that researchers and reporters make on average not much more than $75,000?  Of course not and therefore it helps makes them feel better about their wages.  It’s perfectly rational.

THE SECRET MOVEMENT

Ever since the tech bubble downturn in 2000 there’s been a secret movement to hide one’s wealth and be more understated.  So many people killed it during the dotcom boom that they have no choice but to hide their wealth because the media went on and on about how so many people lost so much money.  It’s just not true, speaking from experience and the experience of others.

As a result of so much wealth creation during the dotcom days, juxtaposed by the disconnected reality of what the media was peddling, the wealthy had no choice but to start pretending they too suffered.  It’s so ingrained in people’s minds that most people lost so much money in the downturn it’s just not true.  Are people stupid enough to think that everybody bought at the top and sold at the bottom?  Don’t be silly.

We had another fantastic stock market run from 2003-2007, accompanied by an amazing real estate run from 2000 to end-2006 as well.  A lot of people killed it during this time period and are hiding their wealth.  Again, not everybody bought at the peak and sold at the bottom and the markets have now recovered fiercely since (S&P500 up 75% from the 2009 bottom).

SO MUCH AGITATION

People who do well are afraid of the government, the media, and bitter people all around.  They are afraid they will be hunted down by organizations who will tie you up and burn you at the stake.  You don’t know how many conversations I’ve had with people who are just so agitated they can’t spend 1/10th their income on a car because that would mean they’d be spending $50,000-$150,000, which is fancy by “normal” standards but is absolutely whatever by their standards!  Instead, they spend 1/20th to 1/50th of their income on a car because anything more than a $28,000 Honda Accord will be frowned upon.

Just the other day, I got a ride home from a tennis buddy who works at a hedge fund.  He drives a common Ford Explorer and on our way back we started talking about real estate.  He mentioned he and his wife are looking for a new house having recently relocated from Florida.  He mentioned his house in Florida costs just under a million, but is nicer than so many $3-4 million dollar houses in San Francisco.  So then I suggested instead of spending $3-4 million on a house in San Francisco to perhaps rent for a while.

He responded, “Actually Sam, I’m seriously looking at buying this unlisted house asking $8 million.  $8 million just seems like a lot though.  I’m thinking it’s worth no more than $6 million. I haven’t rented since I was 25, so renting feels foreign to me.

Boy were my price estimates wrong, I thought to myself.  “Yeah, I wouldn’t spend more than $1,200 a square feet on the house either.  Take your time!  Houses are like stocks.  If you miss one, there’s always another that comes along.

Yeah, you’re probably right Sam.  But I wonder though, b/c I bid on a smaller house at $1,200/sqft and got outbid.  I wonder if there is just that much money out there?“, my buddy vented in frustration.

There definitely seems to be.  Just wait until Facebook goes public!” I responded.

MAKING MONEY IS SO STRAIGHTFORWARD

If you guys want to make money, know that it is very straightforward.  There’s no magic formula.  You just simply have to want to do it and create enough scale.  Don’t settle if you don’t have to.  The following are conservative examples of what people make in their respective occupations according to an article I read on Bloomberg, and knowledge from my own conversations.  Many make more.

29 year old MBA student from a top 10 school: $150,000.

Oakland dockworker (Longshoreman): $120,000.

Policeman with 20 years experience: $150,000 with a 6-figure pension.

Cancer researcher 10 yrs experience: $150,000.

4 Star General: $185,000 with 6-figure pension.

Bond trader with 10 years experience: $1,000,000.

Neurosurgeon: $600,000.

Law partner $600,000.

Professional blogger with 5 years experience: $50,000-$200,000 +.

Software sales rep at Oracle, Salesforce.com and the like with 5 years of experience: $300,000 +.

Strategy consultant 5 years out of undergrad: $100,000+.

Hedge fund manager partner: $500,000-$20 million depending on performance and assets.

Google / Facebook employee with 5 years experience out of undergrad: $100,000+ with potentially millions in stock.

Entrepreneur: Unlimited!

The list goes on and on.  As you can see, practically everybody makes over $100,000 a year with enough experience and many make much, much more.

THE ECONOMY IS FINE

Have you ever wondered why restaurants are so packed, malls are so busy, and traffic is horrendous all the time despite the media droning on and on about 9.6% unemployment and 16% underemployment?  Well now you know!  More people make a lot more money than you think!  There is a serious amount of under-reporting of income, and an obsequious amount of over-reporting of how bad things are.

It’s important as a Financial Samurai reader you aren’t brainwashed by negativity and the media.  I want you to know that things are actually much better than they seem, and I’d like you guys to stay away from pessimists and those who delight in the suffering of others.  Focus on what you can do to make yourself better.  Be happy for those who are doing great because when they do great, we all do great.

At the same time please stay humble and follow the movement.  Keep your success under wraps. You will have people trying to come after you, and you don’t want that.  There’s absolutely no need to brag about how much you make and what you’ve done.  It’s just going to backfire.  The most successful people are ones who have no need to talk about their success.  They let their success speak for itself because they’re out doing something more.

Readers, what are some of the ways you balance living the good life and making sure you keep people from knowing how much you make?  Do you think people who like to tell you how much they make or show what they are worth are insecure?  Why do you think there is so much pessimism?

Best,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Bogey says

    “Have you ever wondered why restaurants are so packed, malls are so busy, and traffic is horrendous all the time despite the media droning on and on about 9.6% unemployment and 16% real unemployment? Well now you know!”

    Ha! I have this discussion with someone at least once per day. It is very eye opening. We sit around watching he news tell us how bad it is. We talk about how bad it is. Yet everyone I know had a pretty great year in 2010. Everyone who wants a job has one. My wife and I just moved into a brand new house in September…there have been about 20 lots sell in our neighborhood since we bought ours! The neighborhood is almost sold out…

    I am just not convinced that things are all that bad. The problem is that the media can only report 2 things when it comes to the economy:

    1. It is absolutely horrible.
    2. It is absolutely unbelievable.

    I’d say we are not yet to the point where the economy is absolutely unbelievable, so the media sticks with absolutely horrible. They have to have something sensational to report….but I am not buying it.

    • Jonathan says

      The media is in business to sell stories and make money. People enjoy hearing about the misery in other people’s lives, even if it’s blown out of proportion, because it makes them feel better about themselves.

      Although, I do believe most people now don’t even watch the news, or read mainstream papers. I haven’t touched either in years, its all engineered anyway.

  2. Everyday Tips says

    Well, there is pessimism near me because a lot of people have lost their jobs. HOWEVER, people are starting to hire again, and it is exciting. What drives me crazy is the mindset of some people still “I can make as much on unemployment as I can at any job I find”. Is that laziness or ignorance or both? Maybe that person needs to take advantage of the free education that unemployment offers so they are able to find a job that pays more than 350 a week.

    We took my youngest out for his birthday this weekend and the restaurants were packed. I am getting more optimistic by the minute to tell you the truth. Even small manufacturers here are starting to hire, not just the Big 3.

    I don’t really know people that brag about their income anymore. I will never forget talking to a guy from high school that would brag about how he uses all the cell phone minutes his plan offers – and that was 250 a month! I guess everyone has different benchmarks for success!

        • Jonathan says

          Depending on who you talk to, the rate goes all the way to 25% unemployment right now. I’m not sure I believe that, but maybe in certain areas of the country it’s true. The fact is, though, is that humans like to blow things out of proportion and focus on the negatives rather than the positives. Why don’t we start talking about how we have a 91% employment rate? It doesn’t sound as bad that way.

  3. JT McGee says

    I have a few comments

    1) A lot of people make a lot more than we think, but a lot of people make a lot less than what you think. I took a look at the median income for my Midwestern +/- 150k population town and the median household earnings are just above $31,000. That’s nuts!

    2) For reference: $90 per sq ft gets you a 10-year old home on the nicest side of town in the best school districts. So $1200 sq ft sounds like insanity to me! LOL I know it’s just regional price differences.

    3) The economy is definitely growing on the consumption side, but we (as a country) have got to start saving! You mentioned how people are doing just fine spending, but the problem is that much of that spending only further extends our god-awful trade deficit. Dollars don’t stay long in the US, I’m afraid.

    4) Sam, I’m not sure how involved you are in finance or where and what industry it is in which you work, but should it prove relevant, I’d love to hear what you think of the CFA program.

    • Financial Samurai says

      It depends on what you want to do. If you plan to go into money management, getting your CFA is a no brainer. So many firms I know ONLY hire CFAs or CFAs + MBAs. If you can get through all 3 levels sooner rather than later, you can then leverage the certification for that much longer.

      Go for it!

      • JT McGee says

        Thanks for getting back to me, I really appreciate it.

        My difficulty is going to be that I’m not in a top school, nor have I brought top grades. However, I know that I can absolutely smash through the CFA, and I’m hoping that at that level there are some opportunities to build over a low-hanging school.

        I guess, at some point, it all comes down to historical performance and making a name for yourself.

        • Financial Samurai says

          Since you don’t have good grades and don’t come from a top school, all the more reason toget your CFA! The CFA will give you more leverage than the straight A student from Yale.

          Do it, and don’t look back.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Indeed! I don’t think teachers get into teaching to become rich, but out of the love of educating our youth. Correct me if I’m wrong. Hence, most teachers couldn’t care less about having a lot of wealth, otherwise they’d go into another profession. Thoughts?

      • krantcents says

        Teachers enter teaching for a variety of reasons, one of which is to educate
        our youth. Some teachers enter teaching because it is secure, summer vacations,
        it is secondary income to the spouse, they majored in subjects like English, Physical Education, languages, social studies and don’t have a commercial application. These are just some of the reasons! Teaching like many professions provide a good middle class life. Unless you are successful, many professions would fit that definition.

  4. retirebyforty says

    Yeah, you just live in a special part of the country. Tech. is doing very well and money are flowing again in Silicon Valley. Other parts of the countries are still down in the dump. I think the reason people are down on economy is because once you lose the high paying job, it’s difficult to get it back. My company is still getting rid of older more experience engineers so they can hire cheap new college grad. replacements.
    I kept in touch with some of those older guys and they can’t find any job that pay as well. I told them to move to CA, but they are just too settled.

    I know a new grad. who looked for a job in Austin for over a year and couldn’t find one. He moved to the Bay Area and found a job in a month.

  5. DoNotWait says

    So true about the restaurants and malls! I noticed that so many times! And I don’t like talking about how we (me and the spouse) make a year. Not that it is an incredible amount of money. We are just fine with what we have (and yes, as every human being, we would not mind having more). The thing is, there are so many people jealous about others happiness that every single treat seems like we’re living THE life… So we just don’t talk about money with our relatives and friends. Some make less, some surely make more, but it seems we all manage money differently and so judging is quite simple and not so realistic.

  6. krantcents says

    Pessimism is coming from the media! Good news is not newsworthy. Some of what you are describing is regional. Do you think things are that good in a city where there are plant closings or an industry with high unemployment?. Not all professions are doing well! I think you are describing successful people rather than the economy. Success generally has very little to do with how everyone is doing. I go to some of those crowded restaurants too. I wonder if the sales are the same or just busy. Everyone could be spending less than before.
    Outwardly, I live a very normal life, modest home, cars etc., however no one sees my portfolio of investments. In many ways, I exemplify the characterization in the book “the Millionaire Next Door”. I also do not share the specifics of my earnings with anyone. Regarding the flashy bragging types, I do not know any them personally, however I agree they’re insecure. Why else do they need other people to praise or envy them.

  7. The Passive Income Earner says

    For the past few years, in the Vancouver area, I have not noticed any changes from an economical perspective. Housing market did not crash, it underwent a slight correction. Malls and restaurant are packed. Everyone can afford a smart phone and the new gadgets … Either, they are packing on huge debt or they can afford it.

    I have to agree with you Sam, as you get older and you get experience, if you have skills in the tech industry, there is money to be made. It’s whether or not you want it.

  8. Randy Addison says

    Actually being a blogger could be a possible stepping stone of being an employee on one of those respected blogging sites or even Facebook and Google. Online jobs are already getting on the trends. Blogging and all jobs concerning the internet is a great option for people who want to work at home!

      • Daniel says

        Sam, what do you believe the average income is? Do you think more people who make above “average” hide their wealth or is it more people below that line who probably need the money?

        • Financial Samurai says

          I definitely think leading an invisible, no showy life is in. The government and the masses are going after anybody and everybody who is making above average.

          The average income is also skewed lower by part timers and students.

          The median income in SF is $70-80,000. Yet the median house is $650,000, but really more like $1 mil for something decent where you won’t get mugged and can see daylight. The income level is what too low based in official figures.

  9. Mark says

    I suspect there’s a lot of selection bias in those numbers, ie who are you/Bloomberg asking (or who is willing to divulge what they make)? For example, Google/Facebook. Yes, some engineers at those companies are most certainly making 6-figure salaries, but the majority of those companies are not engineers and are definitely not making anywhere near that. As far as the millions in stock, that’s a total pipe dream. Sure, a few of the lucky (and super talented) engineers that got in on the ground floor may have a hefty amount of options, but the vast majority likely have much more modest amounts. Don’t get me wrong, they are both great companies to work for (I have had the opportunity to work for both at one time or another), but they’re not the millionaire-makers everyone paints them to be. :)

    • Financial Samurai says

      I will guarantee you that anybody who has worked for Facebook for 5 years has at least a million dollars worth of stock options along with their salary.

      Google, many of them earn well over 6 figures after 5 years. Most are not “Multi-millionaires”, I agree, but most do extremely well.

  10. First Gen American says

    I’m trying to book a ski house for a work outing in new england and I can’t tell you how many areas are already booked solid for the whole season. The Northeast and CA have certainly rebounded.

    I think you’re right. People resent you if you make more money than they do and I certainly think we hide it well. I don’t know though. I think it might be that rich people don’t need or want to flaunt their money. I know in my case, almost all the technicians at work have homes that are MUCH more expensive than ours. They max out how much they can borrow so they can show their peers they’ve “made it”.

    If you’re educated and have a good job, I think there’s less peer pressure to show other people that you’re doing alright for yourself. I think in the blue collar world, people care more about appearances than a lot of white collar folks. If you don’t have education or status to fall back on, all that’s left is your possessions. Just a theory based on being in both worlds, each for half of my life.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Hmmm, interesting theory on being overly revealing bc one doesn’t have “education or status” to fall back on.

      You are perhaps right, bc the more you believe in yourself, the less likely you are worried about failing.

  11. Sunil from The Extra Money Blog says

    i agree with the underlying premise, and a lot of the detail is true.

    however, i also agree with commenters on the lower end of the income spectrum. a lot have it worst than we think or hear about.

    it is true that restaurants remain packed, but how many have shut down in recent times? i look around me and i see more have shut down than have started/opened. hypothetically a 15% decline in people that dine out to eat and a 20% restaurant shut down would still give the appearance that they are all packed. But what about the 15% who are no longer dining out?

    i will also ask, why is it so bad to disclose your income? i understand the personal preference for privacy, and by all means not advocating walking around with the kimono open, but so what?

    i’ll give you an example that we have previously discussed. for a blogger/internet marketer, showing proof of payment is social proof. sure, for some it’s bragging, for some it’s both but for others it is just social proof and it is proven that it works. when social proof works, a marketer is able to accomplish his or her objectives. so what if they have to flash a 10k check to accomplish that? they are simply doing their job.

    highly interested in further thoughts . . .? ? ?

  12. SPENDaholic says

    Sam,

    Great post because it gives me hope. I keep reading about how states will default, people are dumping bonds, gold and oil is skyrocketing, etc. Then I read your article and don’t know what to believe.

    As a younger guy (26) making a decent income, I’m debt free and looking to invest in some physical silver just to hedge against another stock market downturn. Do you think this is a good move? I can’t buy a house and already contribute to my 401k, so what should I do with the money in my account?

    P.S. It’s always packed when I go to the malls and restaurants in and around Los Angeles. People seem pretty excited about Restaurant Week here too, which is strange considering California is in the dumps.

    • Jonathan says

      I actually just bought 10 pieces of pure silver for 37 bucks a piece. I’ve always believed that having a certain amount of gold and silver is a great hedge against fiat currency. Gold and silver are limited in quantity. The dollar, as demonstrated by the fed’s QE measures, is not. It’s a simple rule of economics, that the more supply of something you have, coupled with the same amount of demand, will result in lower value of whatever commodity you are talking about.

  13. Jonathan says

    I completely agree with this post. Our media has done an excellent job of freaking this country out, and it’s doing nothing but harm. I don’t even watch the news or read the papers, but the few times I glance at them, I know exactly what I’ll see. The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

    People need to realize that the media is there to sell stories, and traditionally, negative stories about other people tend to bring in the viewers (I think this is changing, slowly). By seeing people in situations below ourselves, we feel better about ourselves.

  14. Darwin's Money says

    You forgot to mention the current administration has completely villified high earners as “rich fatcats”. They should feel guilty about their earnings, their health insurance, their lifestyle, etc…while the political life is rife with corruption and greed. Just a bit too ironic for me.

    But anyway, it is a lot easier to make 6 figures than it may seem, but on the coasts, the cost of living is much more expensive as well. It’s all relative to location! Longshoremen shouldn’t make what they do – that’s a union stranglehold. Same with policemen and well…the white collar jobs as well. I read the same businessweek snippet. Rather generic titles (I’ve met bond traders who don’t make a lot; these must be Goldman Sachs specialist types making millions), etc. Very few can make it through medical school or run a hedge fund. While these are high incomes, it’s a select few who make it to the profession. All part of the bell curve I suppose.

    • Holly says

      Policemen/women make way too much money? When is the last time you volunteered to tote yourself to a gang-banger reunion armed with only a service revolver and a bullet-proof vest? It’s a tough gig in mostly unsavory environments and try 10-hour rotating shifts to boot.

  15. Mike Hunt says

    Sam,

    You are probably right in your thinking. 2010 was the best year I ever had.

    So why isn’t the FED increasing interbank lending rates? Seems a bit foolish to keep a zero interest rate policy in the face of this recovery, don’t you think?

    -Mike

  16. 20 and Engaged says

    I’ve never hid how much I make because it was something to definitely be humble and modest about. $38k isn’t that much, but it was enough to pay my bills and live comfortably. When I’m making more, maybe I’ll conceal how much but only because it’s no one’s business.

  17. Squirrelers says

    I think that people are getting more cautious about talking about their income and what their assets are. The mood of the country is just a lot different than it was back the late 1990′s during the tech boom. There are people making good money who have great savings that don’t want to share this information. A large part of that, I think, is the reality that there are many people – MANY people – who have really suffered with recent economic issues in this country. There are many areas of the country that have seen many residents just crushed by things.
    So it’s easier to alienate people now than in the past with bragging, and it’s logical why people aren’t talking. The money is out there though, it’s just distributed a bit differently now. But it’s there. Might be a different viewpoint, but it’s how I see it.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Your use of the word “distributed” perturbs me. Is as if we all have done nothing and are just getting fed by a money distribution machine :)

      People have got to get out of that mindset, and start fighting for themselves. We live in America! Peace.

      • Squirrelers says

        I think you’re misunderstanding my use of distributed. Did no mean that there’s a distribution “machine” feeding people cash . Rather, the distribution – as in statistical – is different these days. More polarization of wealth, more haves/have nots. Again, that’s based on anecdotal evidence.

        We’re on the same page with people taking care of themselves and having individual responsibility.

  18. MD says

    So I’m guessing there will be no income report on your blog any time soon lol!

    I totally agree with your points on there being no need to brag about your income. Too many bloggers these days are eager to brag about their earnings.

  19. Forest says

    I act like I am poor because I am carrying debt but I have been increasing my earnings and this year will be my 5th year blogging and I will likely get into the range you mentioned.

    I doubt i’ll ever reach the 8million is a drop in the Ocean standard probably mostly because that isn’t a goal (as you say it’s always possible) but I know I will be just fine when I get out of this debt straight jacket.

    I do think some people have too much cash and if I got to that level I would definitely start giving a lot of it away, however it’s not my place to tell them they have to give it away, that should be a personal choice.

    Do I think higher earnings should have higher tax? Absolutely BUT only under a situation where you agree with your governments policy for the most part. Illegal wars, discrimination and such things mean I don’t think there is a country in the world where I could be totally happy with giving my money to the gov.

    Great post Sam as always.

    • Financial Samurai says

      I doubt I’ll ever get to that 8 million level as well. It was just another example of how much money is out there where I am constantly surprised on a weekly basis.

      Seems like your debt is really manageable and no big deal based on your income no?

  20. Will @ HackingTheBank.com says

    Awesome post Sam. I think too often I get suckered into taking a short-term look and throwing blame on my current job for sucking. Creating wealth really is about perspective and scale. Find something that works and replicate it. Scale it in any way possible. Use other people’s time if it’s cheaper than your own. I’ve recently started implementing the use of other people’s time in my online projects and it’s going okay for now, and definitely improving. While I’m working to bring home money, someone else is working for me at 1/8th of what I’m making per hour.

  21. Charlie says

    I’m sure there are a lot of people out there with crazy amounts of money, I just don’t know any of them. :) I think the economy is doing better but it definitely depends where you are. If you live in a big city it’s easier to hear about more job openings, people getting paid better bonuses, and more hustle and bustle. I think there are still a lot of communities that are still seriously struggling, especially the smaller ones. I have relatives that live in a small town in the east coast that still has high unemployment and the real estate market is so terrible if you want to sell, auctioning is the only available option still. Ok so that’s an extreme but I hope the growth in the cities will start spreading to the smaller communities too!

  22. Money Reasons says

    When I first started reading your blog Sam, I followed the average income media mantra too. Ironically, I’ve been preaching not to follow the media and have been pointing out their inaccuracies at the same time (ironic huh…).

    After reading articles similar to this one about earnings and what people make, I too have joined your bandwagon and believe as you believe. I do think there are depressed areas where it’s tough, but in non-depressed areas, I think you are right and it’s all just make believe with respect to average income.

    For those that don’t try to make more money, it won’t come. But for those that do, I don’t see why they couldn’t make over $100,000… I’d rather try doing something extra (like blogging) to make extra money or career advancement rather than seeing someone else live their fake life like those on Jersey Shore…

  23. Steve Sildon says

    I can never figure out driving around my neighborhood how it seems that everyone can afford to drive around in an Audi or a 5-Series BMW. I mean, you don’t have to be rich to drive a nice car, but is everybody making 100K+ or is it a combination of more income than we think is out there and a lot more debt? Seems crazy to me…

    • Financial Samurai says

      I believe it is indeed the case where everybody who drives that new BMW is making 100k++. It’s perfectly rational as people pay in cash, are good creditors with cash etc. Many are following the 1/10th rule too, so 50k bimmer = 500k salary etc.

      Cheers

      • Anon says

        I disagree. I think we still live in a age where people are spending far beyond their means. Many people view have flashy cars and LOADS of debt. I do not think most people are as financially responsible as you make them out to be.

  24. 101 Centavos says

    I’ve always been reticent about disclosing my income and net worth. While on my blog I detail some allocations and share some of the trades I’ve made, I’m personally not comfortable with revealing hard numbers. In the manufacturing world though, the situation is less than optimal, notwithstanding happy talk from the ISM.

  25. yesiamcheap says

    Bad new sells and nothing sells better than doom and gloom with your money. Anyway, there are plenty of us wage slaves making far less that are content with what we make. I am not making what I want to make but I’ve made the decision to sacrifice a nice wage now for a good retirement later. Is it a good tradeoff? Maybe, maybe not.

  26. Brian D. Hawkins says

    While I can certainly agree that many of the financially privileged tend to tone down that “wealthy image”, I have to wonder if it’s not that attitude that helped bring them financial success. Is it possible that those in the upper class didn’t live beyond their means in the first place and they’re simply keeping with that trend?

  27. Invest It Wisely says

    Many people can get jealous at least to a certain extent. I think it’s better to not share the info if there’s risk of that, and you’re right, many successful and wealthy people don’t ostentatiously show off their wealth; in fact, many of the ones that do aren’t even that well-off. Of course, you do have a few that have it and show it off, too. ;)

  28. Jean says

    I’m 25 years old fresh out of graduate school making $130,000 with a degree in a specialized subfield of physics. I never tell anyone how much I make (I make “enough to get by”) and I drive a beat up piece of junk car and will until it dies at which point I will get a new piece of junk car.

    When you live in an area where the average income for an entire household is barely $30,000 you don’t do yourself any favors by telling people you are making over 4x that by yourself. Plus I could care less about stuff like BMWs (though I think I could afford something a bit more than 10% of my salary should I desire it).

  29. Jonathan says

    I love this post, as I have been thinking about how much people are making recently as well.

    I think the top earners don’t reveal their salaries because they are reluctant to share how much more they are making than their peers.

    I am personally one of these people that decides to hide their income from peers, because I am making substantially more. I was specifically asked by HR/recruiting not to reveal my salary figures to anyone.

    Salary figures that are posted on glassdoor.com, salary.com, etc. usually only reveal the average employees, and not the outstanding ones.

    (I work in the Silicon Valley in semiconductors.)

  30. Aloysa says

    Well, how about it is holiday season and people are out doing stuff they are not usually doing during the year. Malls are full, restaurants are packed, resorts overbooked because people want to get out and make themselves feel good. Maybe feel happy for a minute. Also, if you think about 9.6% of unemployment it is not too bad. Back home unemployment is at about 20-25%. Malls are empty, resorts are closing, restaurants celebrate when you come in for a dinner. Let’s talk about full malls and packed restaurants in February. :-)

  31. Sam says

    For us, we are doing well, but I’m not back to salary level of 2008, I’ve got another $25,000 to go to get back to my 2008 level. Although, my husband is making more than he made in 2008, but together we are not yet back to 2008 levels.

    I agree, as to the malls and when we go out to eat, I always say the same thing, I thought the economy was bad and then I see all these people out and about spending. We live a pretty simple life and we save up for big purchases but when we make a bigger purchase or go on vacation I have no problem telling people (if they ask). I was recently on a girls weekend and with two girlfriends whose husbands own a company together and who are doing very well (my girlfriends don’t work but they have lots o cash courtesy of their husgands). These are people with vacation homes and multiple cars, etc. We were shopping and I could not, and did not want, to keep up. I would never spend $1000 on LV shoes, but I enjoyed the free champagne.

    But in my county, 1 in 5, or 20%, public school students lives in poverty, 10 years ago it was 12%. Unemployment is at 10.3% in my county and the median household income is $45,000. But then those that are doing well are doing very well and I see them driving around in their Bentleys, Rolls, etc.

    • Financial Samurai says

      I totally hear you on the free champagne at LV, Gucci, etc when shopping! lol.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on income compared to 2008. Looks like we’re still rebounding with today’s 8.6% unemployment. Keep the faith!

  32. Jonathan says

    So I’m a little confused. I specifically remember when you posted this article nearly a year ago now, and thought that before I even looked at the comments. Yet, it appears second in your list of posts as of today. Do you re-post articles? Not that there’s anything wrong with that but…

  33. Hannah says

    Funny you post this!

    I was doing some expense reports for my boss last week and saw an excel sheet on his desktop that said TEAMSALARIES_2011. Great! Of course I opened that thing up.

    Well our team of 12 make good money! Ranging from 42k (me the receptionist) to 110k to be exact. They don’t know that I know how much they make, but it’s nice to see how down to earth and humble my co-workers are based on money conversations.

  34. BD says

    It’s so hard for me to see that people can make money. I’ve made low wages my entire life, and all my friends are dirt-poor too. Most of my friends work retail (I’m going back to school now for a degree in Accounting, and working freelance doing graphic design) and most of us barely make enough money to even survive with the most basic of things like food and rent.

    I dream that one day I will earn something decent. I’m tired of being on this earth four decades, and earning barely enough to keep a (rented) roof over my head.

  35. Phil Johnson says

    Just like with real estate it’s all about location, location, location. I live in a rural area, the difference in job opportunities and pay is staggering compared to a large metro. Myself and many others are making less than they were a decade ago, less benefits, and no retirement. There is a growing inequality gap and for most people with a decent job in a major metro are completely oblivious. They wrongly assume just because things are going great in their own little bubble world that the media is blowing things out of proportion. Lets not forget this is the same media that never seen the housing bubble and thought that the initial financial crisis would be nothing more than a blip.

    The numbers don’t lie, there are more people than ever that are using social safety nets. All those places you and others claim are packed full of people who are doing well are all staffed by people scraping by on minimum wage or slightly better. They are the people who don’t have cars, have three roommates, or live at home with parents (be sure to think of that next time you leave a tip). They are the people you never rub shoulders with because you never associate with them in your social circle.

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