How does everyone here earn so much?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
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markesquire
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How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by markesquire » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:47 am

I'm a relatively new reader here, and I appreciate all of the wisdom and information.

Many of the threads here begin with an OP describing their situation and asking the group for input. I'm often surprised by how many of these posts come from people earning over $200k, which is a very high salary from my perspective, and I'm an attorney living in a high COL city. But that type of salary doesn't seem abnormal in the posts here.

So, are those high salaries abnormal in reality but common here because this is a financial forum that happens to appeal to high earners, or are tons of people quietly earning far higher salaries than they let on? If the latter is true, maybe I need some advice on increasing my salary. No one ever taught me how to effectively maximize salary -- in fact, the people who know (higher ups) have every incentive to keep newer employees in the dark. And since joining the workforce after the recession, in my experience the economy is a buyers' (employer's) market, where the employer doesn't need to offer raises/promotions because there's a long line of applicants waiting for your job if you're not happy. In my experience, the only way to get a raise has been to change employers.

onourway
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by onourway » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:50 am

Self selection. People who are likely to be interested in investing and finance are more likely than average to have good incomes.

How many years do you have in the workforce?

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PhysicianOnFIRE
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by PhysicianOnFIRE » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:51 am

markesquire wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:47 am
So, are those high salaries abnormal in reality but common here because this is a financial forum that happens to appeal to high earners?
Pretty much -- no shortage of doctors, lawyers, and small business owners here. There are also many who haven't had those high salaries, but lived well below their means and have a net worth that exceeds many of the doctors and lawyers they call contemporaries.

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miamivice
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by miamivice » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:52 am

Keep in mind, one can write whatever they want for their salary.

I'm reasonably convinced that there is a certain amount of fibbing that goes on in these forums. While I'm sure that some folks have high salaries, I'm also sure that some folks have regular salaries but are embarrassed to post that so they post abnormally high salaries instead.

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cheese_breath
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by cheese_breath » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:52 am

Maybe the high earners boast more about it than us others. There are many of us with 'normal' incomes but decent size investment portfolios because we've resisted the 'get rich quick' temptations.
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THY4373
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by THY4373 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:53 am

Self selection for sure.

Also folks with above average salaries even above average for here which is probably already pretty high, are more likely to post their salary than those who make less than average for here. I see it on other forums as well, not just here.

dbr
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by dbr » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:54 am

I don't think there has been a survey if income for participants on this forum for sometime if ever.

I would maintain that incomes in excess of $200K are unusual on this board but less so than across the nation as a whole for the reasons you mention. I surely am seeing plenty of posts from people not earning anywhere near that amount. I think you are victimizing yourself with a selective impression.

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by MnyGrl » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:54 am

onourway wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:50 am
Self selection. People who are likely to be interested in investing and finance are more likely than average to have good incomes.

How many years do you have in the workforce?
+1. If you are poor and use every penny, there is nothing to invest. :)

LiterallyIronic
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by LiterallyIronic » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:57 am

This type of forum naturally attracts people who invest, which is naturally people who make more money.

However, not everyone here makes tons of money - just most people. I only make $63,500 and that's after working my way up from $48,000 after finishing school in 2016, and that's after going back to school because I only made $9.50/hour after finishing school the first time in 2008.

I do see people from time to time posting a lower salary than mine, and I do occasionally see posts from people with smaller portfolios than mine. But like you said, it's rare.

MnyGrl
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by MnyGrl » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:57 am

THY4373 wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:53 am
Self selection for sure.

Also folks with above average salaries even above average for here which is probably already pretty high, are more likely to post their salary than those who make less than average for here. I see it on other forums as well, not just here.
Yup. A fair amount of humblebrag - "Can I retire now that we have three million?" :D

GCD
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by GCD » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:57 am

onourway wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:50 am
Self selection. People who are likely to be interested in investing and finance are more likely than average to have good incomes.
Yeah, take a look at the stats on how few people save for retirement. Now of that subset, how many actually put some thought into it and research it? BH is a warped pool.

I have a JD, but never practiced. My knowledge of law promotions is limited to my friends from law school. They all jumped ship for promotions. Once they became partner they even switched firms for better deals. This is in NYC.

If you want to know how true that holds for the entire profession you'll have to wait for some practicing attorneys to weigh in.

bampf
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by bampf » Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:59 am

Comparison is in some sense the thief of joy. If you are making $150K and are happy until you read that someone else is making $350K, how has your life changed in any meaningful way? You are just unhappy because it looks like you could be doing better. In reality you can't be doing any better than you actually are, so put your effort in to doing better, regardless of what those around you make or claim to make.

Put another way, don't worry about what others make. Figure out what you should make and go for that. I honestly could care less that a brain doc makes $800K, it impacts my life not at all.

Also, average ranges depend on what career you are in and the relative demand for those services. Take a look at some of the salary comparison locations on the web. You can get a ball park from that.

Gropes & Ray
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Gropes & Ray » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:00 am

I dismiss almost all of those posts as humble-brags. Sure, someone can honestly wonder if it is optimal to invest their $350k of cash or pay down their million dollar mortgage, but I doubt it keeps them awake at night. I am more interested in helping people in the $40-$150k salary range make a financial plan that has a high probability of success. And that range covers the majority of people. Only a tiny percentage make $200k or more.

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Kenkat » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:00 am

I feel poor here sometimes and I am ridiculously fortunate / financially well off compared to the average person. It seems like there are a lot of 1 percent’ers here (i.e., top 1% income or net worth). I am probably a 10 percent’er (but a saver) which is probably middle of the road here.
Last edited by Kenkat on Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:02 am, edited 2 times in total.

SuperGrafx
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by SuperGrafx » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:00 am

miamivice wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:52 am
Keep in mind, one can write whatever they want for their salary.

I'm reasonably convinced that there is a certain amount of fibbing that goes on in these forums. While I'm sure that some folks have high salaries, I'm also sure that some folks have regular salaries but are embarrassed to post that so they post abnormally high salaries instead.
I agree with you.

Nothing beats the posts from, say, a doctor with $9 million in assets asking the forum if he has enough to retire. I mean, come on! Kind of makes the rest of us think twice about posting.

dbr
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by dbr » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:00 am

I don't believe for a second that the median salary of posters here is $200k/year and above.

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Darth Xanadu » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:02 am

bampf wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:59 am
Comparison is in some sense the thief of joy. If you are making $150K and are happy until you read that someone else is making $350K, how has your life changed in any meaningful way? You are just unhappy because it looks like you could be doing better. In reality you can't be doing any better than you actually are, so put your effort in to doing better, regardless of what those around you make or claim to make.

Put another way, don't worry about what others make. Figure out what you should make and go for that. I honestly could care less that a brain doc makes $800K, it impacts my life not at all.

Also, average ranges depend on what career you are in and the relative demand for those services. Take a look at some of the salary comparison locations on the web. You can get a ball park from that.
This. In my role, I see what everybody in my company makes (we have over 25k employees) and so I learned long ago not to dwell on those types of comparisons. I'm perfectly content because I know that I am paid fairly, and I would accept this job for my salary again in an instant.
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GCD
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by GCD » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:05 am

You also have to keep in mind that salary doesn't equate to net worth. I have a good friend whose wife makes around 1.2M, but their lifestyle doesn't reflect it. And that's NOT because they are LBYM! They just make horrible financial and real estate decisions that put them into debt that they are forever trying to out from under. Despite being high wage earners they need Dave Ramsey more than BH.

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by harvestbook » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:08 am

I have to chuckle at the "Is it safe to retire at 66? I only have $3 million" posts.

I don't really care about the numbers, since I am here for the principles instead of the personalities. That said, I don't give any input to people who claim to have or earn more than I do, because I doubt they need my dubious help. I tend to look for people/posts of similar situations because their experience might relate to mine. I'm more interested in frugality and efficiency and financial independence, and there are other forums such as Money Mustache where those principles are espoused.
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:12 am

I've noticed plenty of "I finished my fellowship last year and only made $190k this year and expect to make $350k next year" kind of posts, continuing with "and my wife is a low earner, sticking with pediatrics so will only make $225 next year". So dual doctor couples who owe half a million dollars in student loans but can knock them out in 3 years.

My wife and I together made almost $200k last year. I was lucky that my employer did very well last year and paid lots of bonuses and our stock purchase plan and RDUs were very lucrative. I expect this year, we'll be at maybe $150k.
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knowledge
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by knowledge » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:12 am

a) A $200k household income puts you into the top ~5% in the US
b) There are almost 100m households in the US, so call it 5m households with income >$200k
c) Finding, reading, registering and subsequently posting on this site are all high hurdles

Further, actually posting your income makes it even more limiting. I'm going to guess that the vast majority of folks are telling the truth about their financials, it's just a highly filtered sample.

Be thankful there's no online advertising on this site.

dbr
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by dbr » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:14 am

One thing that is true is that the distribution of both wealth and incomes in the US is very wide and has extreme upper tails. It is not useful to worry about it or even to look at it.

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Sandtrap » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:15 am

1 Those with high salaries, high net worth, and/or in lucrative positions are likely to be:

. . . A. More confident in their financial and/or life status, therefore more likely to put it in writing on the forum.
. . . B. More likely to put out a "public presence" as such.
. . . C. Relatively speaking, have more of a need to unravel complex financial positions and A & B
. . . D. More likely to brag or "fudge the numbers" a bit and A & B
.................(though everyone puts up a good public personna to different degrees)
. . . E. More likely to be ambitious and competitive and A & B
. . . F. More likely to have "stories" and contribute, or show, how they got where they are at.
. . . G. More likely to seek in depth financial education. . and A & B

**Actionably and specific to your financial question:

No matter the field but especially for this with higher income streams or potential to have one, amongst the ways to increase income might be:

1. Work harder, longer. Strive for a promotion, raise, etc.
2. Lower debt through paying off existing debt, taking on no new debt, practicing frugality.
3. Maximizing one's assets via "Bogle investment basics".
4. Securing what one has already saved through #3.
5. Exploring alternate income streams concurrent to the existing via, Rental Property, etc, etc, etc.
6. Job or career, or employment, switching. (level up).

There are many examples of very high income earners who retire broke because of any or all of #1-6.

j :D
Last edited by Sandtrap on Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:26 am, edited 6 times in total.
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stoptothink
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by stoptothink » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:15 am

SuperGrafx wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:00 am
miamivice wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 9:52 am
Keep in mind, one can write whatever they want for their salary.

I'm reasonably convinced that there is a certain amount of fibbing that goes on in these forums. While I'm sure that some folks have high salaries, I'm also sure that some folks have regular salaries but are embarrassed to post that so they post abnormally high salaries instead.
I agree with you.

Nothing beats the posts from, say, a doctor with $9 million in assets asking the forum if he has enough to retire. I mean, come on! Kind of makes the rest of us think twice about posting.
Sadly agree as well. While there is absolutely some self-selection here, I would be completely shocked if a significant amount of posters don't stretch the truth a tad when discussing annual compensation. When someone who makes more than twice the median household income is accused of lying about how little they claim to make in their megacorp director-level career (it has happened to me on more than a few occasions), you have to wonder.

MnyGrl
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by MnyGrl » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:16 am

harvestbook wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:08 am
I have to chuckle at the "Is it safe to retire at 66? I only have $3 million" posts.

I don't really care about the numbers, since I am here for the principles instead of the personalities. That said, I don't give any input to people who claim to have or earn more than I do, because I doubt they need my dubious help. I tend to look for people/posts of similar situations because their experience might relate to mine. I'm more interested in frugality and efficiency and financial independence, and there are other forums such as Money Mustache where those principles are espoused.
Yeah, I think you have to balance this forum with other websites like MMM to keep some perspective. I am more interested in frugality/reducing one's wants, and there isn't a lot of that here.

Pacman
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Pacman » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:16 am

OP - Keep in mind that some of the incomes posted are household income. With 2 working adults, that is $100K a person which is still great money, but not on the same level as $200K a person. Secondly, there are alot of helpful people on this forum who never feel the need to post their own financial stats and there are others that remind everyone often that their spouse makes this much or they have accumulated X amount of money. I honestly think that the second group associates their net worth with their self-worth.

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:16 am

Here are a few ways:
1) High potential employment: work for a company that dishes out stock options like you might hand out on Halloween
2) Two individuals living together or married, each making an average to above average salary for location and occupation, add it up
3) Deferred compensation - employer offers benefits that are way above the norm but is not obtainable until you either leave employer or you retire
4) Luck - they got lucky buying a lottery ticket (Amazon/Apple) when they were literally the price of a lottery ticket and it actually paid out.
5) Economic outpatient care (from Millionaire Next Door) - family is feeding them money above and beyond what they may be able to earn on their own, think of it as advanced inheritance
6) Inheritance - post death
7) They are lying. There are always a few who will "stretch" the truth, just like they will tell you about their fully paid off Benz in the driveway. Then you enter their huge home only to find there is no furniture inside there except for a table, few chairs and a bed. They are living on debt. They spend every penny they make and then some. Big hat, no cattle.
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Calico
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Calico » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:17 am

If it makes you feel any better OP, my salary is $70k a year. I am the head of my department at work, have been working professionally (since college) for over 20 years and it took me that long to work up to that. I also get $15k a year from a trust fund so I will often say my total income is $85k (but that's not my salary, I didn't do anything to earn that $15k, it's a gift from my parents).

I live in a very high COL area too and the median salary here is $75k (so my salary is technically below the median average for where I live, even if it's high nationally). That number might be "households" and that may be two working adults though. I am single. In a high COL area, what I make doesn't go far for one household unless one is are prudent (which I like to think I am). I am also very happy. When I think of it, I have everything I want, I am comfortable, and I live below my means. I earn enough to have all my needs met, some of my desires, and I am able to save.

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:20 am

harvestbook wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:08 am
I have to chuckle at the "Is it safe to retire at 66? I only have $3 million" posts.

I don't really care about the numbers, since I am here for the principles instead of the personalities. That said, I don't give any input to people who claim to have or earn more than I do, because I doubt they need my dubious help. I tend to look for people/posts of similar situations because their experience might relate to mine. I'm more interested in frugality and efficiency and financial independence, and there are other forums such as Money Mustache where those principles are espoused.
Age 66, how about the posters who are age 27 with $5 million "what do I do with it" posts or the one who is mid 40's with $30 million? The ones I really have a hard time believing are those who post I have high seven figures, do I have enough to retire? :o
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by livesoft » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:21 am

My salary was never even close to that high, but I can understand how folks get salaries that high. My opinion why folks can earn that much in no particular order:

1. They have MDs and practice medicine after many years of not making that much money. Yes, I know not all MDs make $200K+.

2. They are in sales and bring in lots of business and money to their employer.

3. They supervise quite a lot of people that report to them.

4. They have other professional degrees which combine many of the above: They are rainmakers, they supervise, and they have unique skills in the market place.

5. They may have started a business which is currently profitable (and is probably a subset of #2 above).

6. They work in an environment where no one else wants to be or where people cannot afford to be. That could be an environment with lots of travel, lots of stress, lots of bullets, lots of deprivations, lots of high costs, and so on.
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Topic Author
markesquire
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by markesquire » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:27 am

OP here. Thanks for the input. As I expected, I think it's largely self-selection.

To clarify, I agree that comparison can kill joy and contentment, and I'm not somehow saddened or worse off because someone else earns more. What I was wondering is whether I (and many others) are not earning what we are worth; that others with similar education and experience and productivity are demanding and receiving significantly more than I am, simply because I never knew what the "going rate" was.

I was also surprised to see how often people have to agonize over what to do with $100k+ windfalls, but that's a different issue!

Also, I've been in the workforce around 8 years. My current employer usually provides annual raises, but they rarely keep up with inflation/COL, and there is not a mechanism for merit raises (instead we might get a bonus, under $1,000). I am more experienced and valuable today than I was several years ago, but I'm not earning more when you adjust for inflation and COL. That, along with the posts here, made me wonder whether I'm wildly below where I would be if I simply asked my question above.
Last edited by markesquire on Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

Hulu
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Hulu » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:28 am

That's a good question. I think learning about making/investing money will make you better at it.

It's like asking people on an Excel forum why so many of them are above average at pivot tables.

interest + effort = improvement

Though some people's natural skills yield high income the rest of us make ourselves more valuable by learning what others do to improve.

I do wonder if this forum sometimes has the opposite effect. Someone with $9 million humble bragging to strangers on a website may show people that money isn't everything. Overall, there is a lot of wisdom and generosity here...starting with comparing incomes to feel inspired/informed...NOT inadequate.

RetiredMommy
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by RetiredMommy » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:28 am

I’m newer to this forum but it sounds to me like you may be younger... it happened to us in our late 20s/early 30s. Between 2001 and 2011 we each at least doubled our salaries. Both with same companies. Husband had promotions, I just moved over and down on my teacher salary schedule. Now, in our mid 40’s our salaries are not set to jump like this again but that’s ok—I’ve left my job/retired!

In terms of these boards I do think there are some that try to be flashy and are probably elaborating but I think the majority have self selected and that means they have ample money and want to do well with it.
Last edited by RetiredMommy on Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

Cuzz35
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Cuzz35 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:37 am

I ask myself this same question when I drive around the area I live. It's littered with million plus mansions and people buy homes for $500k just to bulldoze them to build a 2 million dollar home. The 500k one was nicer than my house.

I don't care that I am not as wealthy but I do wonder how there are so many people making that kind of money and what the heck they do.

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Dottie57 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:39 am

My highest income is this year at $124k. Broke 100k 5years ago and was delighted. Still am. I can'even fathom 200k.

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Gill » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:42 am

You can imagine how it feels for most of us who have been retired for fifteen years or so. I'm often shocked at some of the salaries I see here. Also, the combined incomes of many couples, when I came from an era when many of us took pride in our wives not working and it was unusual for a woman to be working in a professional capacity. On the other hand, when I graduated from law school lawyers were much in demand. Glad I'm not coming out of law school today...
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:43 am

Cuzz35 wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:37 am
I ask myself this same question when I drive around the area I live. It's littered with million plus mansions and people buy homes for $500k just to bulldoze them to build a 2 million dollar home. The 500k one was nicer than my house.

I don't care that I am not as wealthy but I do wonder how there are so many people making that kind of money and what the heck they do.
Most of it is being financed by debt. The debt is backed by investment portfolios and/or income. Big hat, few if any cattle. Don't believe everything you see, alot of it is a mirage built on hope. I see it in my own town, folks are "renting" cars - they get a new one each year; they are running on fumes. The vacations? funded with what ought to be their retirement savings. College for Janey? - Parent Plus loans, student loans, wages, gifts from relatives (maybe?), scholarships. Money in the bank? - what's that? Do you take Mastercard, Visa, Amex, Discover? Good to go, if not, they are up the creek.
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Dottie57 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:45 am

Cuzz35 wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:37 am
I ask myself this same question when I drive around the area I live. It's littered with million plus mansions and people buy homes for $500k just to bulldoze them to build a 2 million dollar home. The 500k one was nicer than my house.

I don't care that I am not as wealthy but I do wonder how there are so many people making that kind of money and what the heck they do.
+1

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:47 am

Gill wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:42 am
You can imagine how it feels for most of us who have been retired for fifteen years or so. I'm often shocked at some of the salaries I see here. Also, the combined incomes of many couples, when I came from an era when many of us took pride in our wives not working and it was unusual for a woman to be working in a professional capacity. On the other hand, when I graduated from law school lawyers were much in demand. Glad I'm not coming out of law school today...
Gill
I would love for my wife to stay home - unfortunately most employers don't have the same "pride" you speak about in having their employees enjoy such a luxury. That's right, what was commonplace in the 60's and early 70's (latchkey kid here), is a rarity today that has become a burden/extreme sacrifice to do so. It takes two incomes to make it in many parts of the country and there is sacrifice that goes with that as well. Those who stay home today, it's a luxury and still a sacrifice, try getting employment on par with what you had after staying home for 15 years to take care of the youngins.
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randomizer
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by randomizer » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:50 am

I don’t know why people would lie on an “anonymous” forum. Unless they get a pathological thrill out of transgressing.
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Tycoon
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Tycoon » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:51 am

Apparently I bring enough value to my employer for them to pay me a big pile of money.
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by GCD » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:00 am

randomizer wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:50 am
I don’t know why people would lie on an “anonymous” forum. Unless they get a pathological thrill out of transgressing.
The phenomena of the "poser" appears in many settings. I agree that it has roots in some kind of mental disorder, but it doesn't bother me enough to figure it out.

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by madmartigan » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:03 am

Here's my fun attempt to graphically represent my hypothesis.

Image

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bligh
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by bligh » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:07 am

madmartigan wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:03 am
Here's my fun attempt to graphically represent my hypothesis.

Image
I think that is pretty accurate except for the HCOL set. I have seen a fair number of posts on here by people who are obviously in a LCOL area.

That Venn diagram makes it seem like there is no one in LCOL areas posting on this forum which is not true. :)

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by jazman12 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:08 am

harvestbook wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:08 am
I have to chuckle at the "Is it safe to retire at 66? I only have $3 million" posts.

I don't really care about the numbers, since I am here for the principles instead of the personalities. That said, I don't give any input to people who claim to have or earn more than I do, because I doubt they need my dubious help. I tend to look for people/posts of similar situations because their experience might relate to mine. I'm more interested in frugality and efficiency and financial independence, and there are other forums such as Money Mustache where those principles are espoused.
agreed++
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wander
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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by wander » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:08 am

No worries OP. I am one of those regular income earners. For me, high or low income has nothing to do with getting where you need to go financially. High income earners may not retire with $200k a year, but low income earners can retire with $50k or lower a year.

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by mattshwink » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:10 am

markesquire wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:27 am
OP here. Thanks for the input. As I expected, I think it's largely self-selection.

To clarify, I agree that comparison can kill joy and contentment, and I'm not somehow saddened or worse off because someone else earns more. What I was wondering is whether I (and many others) are not earning what we are worth; that others with similar education and experience and productivity are demanding and receiving significantly more than I am, simply because I never knew what the "going rate" was.

I was also surprised to see how often people have to agonize over what to do with $100k+ windfalls, but that's a different issue!

Also, I've been in the workforce around 8 years. My current employer usually provides annual raises, but they rarely keep up with inflation/COL, and there is not a mechanism for merit raises (instead we might get a bonus, under $1,000). I am more experienced and valuable today than I was several years ago, but I'm not earning more when you adjust for inflation and COL. That, along with the posts here, made me wonder whether I'm wildly below where I would be if I simply asked my question above.
8 years you are likely still in your twenties. I am mid-forties now and remember how "little" I made in comparison to what I make now. My first "real" job was for $48,000. Last year (with bonus and vacation pay-out) I made $160,000. I crossed 100k 11 years ago in my early thirties.

As has been said, a lot depends on your field. I am in IT. It also depends on how you view your job. Early on in my career, I switched companies/jobs a lot. There were two periods where I changed companies/jobs in the same 12 months (I am an IT Contractor, some of that was a company switch not a job switch). But part of this is also because of how I expand my skills. I almost never turn down a project/responsibilty. My repsonse is usually "I can learn that". I don't tie myself to a particular technology. I can also write and communicate, which are skills some in the tech field do not have. I also do not do a 9-5. Sure, I am in the office during "regular" hours. But at times I work late, early, and weekends (weekends were far more frequent in my early career, now they are very rare).

So the key is figuring out what you want. If you want more advancement, strive to learn more. Volunteer for new projects/initiatives, even if they do not fall in your direct skill set. And, if where you are does not have the opportunities you want, look elsewhere. Stability is usually the anithesis to advancement (and higher pay).

But an important note: if you are happy where you are and your only complaint is pay, be careful following my advice. You will probably find higher pay, but you may sacrifice happiness. That is usually not worth it.

Also, an important thing with regards to salary is how much you are saving. If someone makes 100k and saves 10% and you make 50k and save 20% you are better off (even though you are saving the same amount of dollars) as your expenses are lower. Always emphasize savings rate, not absolute dollars, and you will be fine.

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by GCD » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:10 am

Dottie57 wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:45 am
Cuzz35 wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:37 am
I ask myself this same question when I drive around the area I live. It's littered with million plus mansions and people buy homes for $500k just to bulldoze them to build a 2 million dollar home. The 500k one was nicer than my house.

I don't care that I am not as wealthy but I do wonder how there are so many people making that kind of money and what the heck they do.
+1
To build on my previous post, the 1M+ earner is an attorney, and not from a really great school either. Think Top 50 law school. This couple feels compelled to buy old mansions and fix them up and then sell them for a loss. They have no handyman skills and contract everything out.

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by Cobra Commander » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:13 am

Focusing on the second paragraph of your post, IMO what others on here earn isn't directly relevant to you given the diversity of employment fields represented here. It really only matters what you earn relative to other lawyers in your location and to some degree practice area. I'm sure you've seen the graphs to know that lawyers have a bimodal salary distribution with some on the very high end ($300K+) and very few in the middle of the graph ($100K - $200K) and the majority on the lower end of the distribution ($40-$80K). Unfortunately you're selling time which is the one widget you can't make more of so you either have to start bringing in business that other people work on for you or you need to bill more hours to justify higher pay.

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Re: How does everyone here earn so much?

Post by livesoft » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:16 am

SuperGrafx wrote:
Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:00 am
Nothing beats the posts from, say, a doctor with $9 million in assets asking the forum if he has enough to retire. I mean, come on! Kind of makes the rest of us think twice about posting.
C'mon! Does anyone really seriously think twice about posting? When I read such uber-funded posts, I usually laugh at first, then get a twinge of sympathy that those folks are so far out of it. No worries though, the twinge passes quickly.

I don't have that kind of money nor that kind of income, but the uber wealthy don't bother me at all. They have their own set of problems that could make them terribly unhappy for their entire lives.

And by the same token, I don't think twice about posting when someone who makes less than $10,000 a year wants to learn how to invest. I was that person at one time.
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