I heard a really interesting package of stories on Marketplace over the weekend, and it got me thinking. The focus was on that magical $250,000-a-year (and up) income bracket of Americans — magical because $250,000 is the bottom threshold for “wealthy,” according to the Obama administration, who wants to let tax cuts expire on the 250-and-up crowd.
Marketplace posed the question to all kinds of people: What is $250,000 a year to you? Rolling in it? Middle-class? Barely getting by? In other words, what is rich? The answers were all over the map. Some people said it was a decent but not extraordinary income (if you live in New York City). Some were truly in awe of that amount of money.
I must admit, I was leaning toward the “in awe” group of reactions. We’re talking about $250,000 after deductions. Per year. Granted, I live in the Midwest, where the cost of living is, well, in the middle. But it seems to me that my family would be living pretty high on the hog if we were bringing that kind of dough! (Obviously, we aren’t even close — hence, my aforementioned awe.) Certainly well enough off not to have to worry about paying bills, saving for retirement and taking annual vacations.
Other fascinating stories in this package talked about how our peers’ lifestyles affect our own perceptions of wealth and how the way a person gets rich affects how they handle the responsibility of being wealthy. I highly recommend them.
But in the meantime, I’d love for WMAG readers to weigh in on the initial question: Is $250,000 a year rich to you?