Seventy percent of millennials (ages 21-37) believe they are not saving as much as they could. The primary culprit? They blame spending too much on dining out (we cut our food spending in half btw). Many people believe the key to all their budgeting and debt woes is simply to make more money. But, SunTrust survey found that 1 in 3 making $75,000 per year or more still live paycheck to paycheck on occasion. And, 1 in 4 respondents making over $100,000 reported living paycheck-to-paycheck as well.
Tackling a related topic, Esquire wrote two pieces 4 Men with 4 Very Different Incomes Open Up About the Lives They Can Afford and 4 Women with 4 Very Different Incomes Open Up About the Lives They Can Afford. They’re both an interesting read.
Esquire’s respondents had salary levels of near poverty, $80,000, $350,000, and $1,000,000 for the women and $1,000,000, $250,000, $53,000, and near poverty for the men. For Paychecks And Balances, LLC. Marcus Garrett–author, auditor, speaker, and small business owner–reviewed the experts’ advice to determine exactly how much home, car, and total you can afford based on your annual income.
This is How Much Debt You Can Afford Based on Your Income
Let me begin this section by clearly stating: It’s your money. We didn’t help you make it. You can spend it however you want. But, if your spending habits have consistently left you with more month at the end of your money, the following tips may help you break out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.
Making more money will help you. However, the answer isn’t always more money if you just spend it all. As an example, our guest for PB51: The Financial Samurai shared his viral piece, Scraping By On $500,000 A Year: Why It’s So Hard For High-Income Earners To Escape The Rat Race.
For our analysis, we’ll use three gross incomes to estimate how much home, car, and other debt you can afford if you make $30,000, $50,000, and $100,000, respectively. To inform our conclusions, we’ll reference best practice recommendations from various industry leaders and lenders.
According to the experts, the monthly breakdown recommended for each expense category is no more than: 30% for mortgage/housing ratio (or rent equivalent), 10% for a car (includes principal balance, interest, and car insurance); and 10% for debt. For our income levels, that translates into the following breakdown:
Remember, the estimates shown above are the max allocations per category and do not account for federal or local / state taxes. In the real world, you are better off spending less in all three areas. You can find our favorite home loan (rent versus buy) calculators here. For car payments, try this calculator.
The CFPB recommends borrowers have no more than a total debt-to-income ratio (all your monthly debt payments divided by your gross monthly income) of 43 percent. If your ratio is above this amount, they will recommend you not receive a Qualified Mortgage.
How Much Student Loan Debt Is Too Much?
In the United States, the average student loan debt for a four-year public school undergraduate degree is over $30,000. LendEDU has a great searchable table covering over 300 majors that can help you estimate your student loan debt-to-income.
Banks are lenders. They are not in the business of telling you how much debt you can or cannot afford. They are in the business of telling you how much debt they can lend you while minimizing their own risks that you will pay the debt back so they can maximize their profits. That’s capitalism. It is your responsibility to determine what lifestyle you can actually afford.
$100,000 Isn’t Always $100,000 Due to Cost of Living Differences Across the United States
Only 1 in 4 U.S. households make six figures or more. Business Insider has argued that $287,000 is the new $100,000. How far will your salary stretch across the U.S.? If you’re thinking of moving or relocating around the country, we recommend you use the free CNN Money Cost of Living Calculator to find out.
Let’s take CNN’s calculator for a test drive. In this hypothetical scenario, our home-based city is Austin, Texas. Based on the Cost of Living in Austin, CNN Money’s calculator estimates the comparable gross salary you will need to make to maintain your lifestyle in other cities across the country.
As you can see, the higher the cost of living the higher your salary requirements. To maintain the same $55,000 lifestyle in Austin, Texas in a city like New York or San Francisco means you need a salary increase making over $100,000.
You should also observe that the cost-of-living can vary widely within the same state. This is why you can maintain the same lifestyle on $5,000 less if you relocate to a lower cost of living city within the same state, like San Antonio in this instance. Try the calculator for free here.
If you want an even more detailed breakdown, we recommend Bankrate’s Cost of Living Calculator. Bankrate tells you everything you need to know about cost of living changes, right down to whether you can still afford cheese on your cheeseburgers (or avocados on your toast, for the Millennials). Now that you know how much debt you can afford on $30,000, $50,000, or $100,000 visit our favorite Personal Finance Tools to learn how to keep even more money in your pocket and start to build wealth.
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