How Much Money Do You Really Need to Make?

Just the other day on Instagram, I asked readers how much money do they think they need to make to:

  1. Live the lifestyle they desire
  2. Retire comfortably & even early
  3. Have the ability to cover emergencies, college, & other expenses.

As the answers poured in, ranging from $50,000 per year to $200,000 per year or having $1 million to $2 million saved for retirement, however, the most common answer was “I have no clue.”

It hit me, how do you determine how much money you actually need to make per year? What about 10 years from now, how much money do I need to make in order to cover life's expenses?

Well today we will explore just that – how do you determine how much money you need to make – and it starts with reverse engineering the question!

seo how much money do i need to make

How Much Money You Need to Make

Everyone's “Personal” finances are different. This means the amount you might need to make is different than the amount your friend or family member needs to make.

Most of determining how much you need to make boils down to factors such as:

  1. Your age
  2. Family (Kids, marriage, spouse, elderly parents, etc)
  3. Your physical location (High cost of living vs low cost of living)
  4. The type of housing you desire/own, transportation
  5. Fixed vs Variable expenses
  6. Wants & Needs

And while the the list of factors that will ultimately determine how much you need to make year in and year out can go on forever, in general it's best to start with first looking at your fixed expenses.

In other words, it's best to first look at your basic needs which include housing, transportation, food, utilities, and insurance.



I drive a Kia Rio that I bought with cash in 2017. While it may not be the coolest car on the road, the red Kia is good on gas and it costs me about $80 a month on insurance. There is no stressful payment and I don’t worry about keeping it clean or if it gets a scratch or two.

How do you handle debt?

Housing, Transportation and Debt. Those three are the biggest contributing factors that will determine if you get to YOUR magic number.

Living off returns is hard to do when you have debt. Simply put.

While investing in the future is always smart and there are many differing opinions out there, my mindset becomes debt free as fast as possible. Debt freedom from credit cards, cars and student loans will increase options.

The magic question depends on your goals, contributions, and living expenses.

So I decided to play around with a compounding growth calculator to see how long it would take for Lauren and me to get to a cool million.

$50,000 a year on annual returns would mean we would have $4,166 per month to live off of.

How to make more money:

If you happen to have a shortfall as it pertains to how much you make vs how much you need, than it might be worth exploring ways to make more money outside of your full-time career.

For starters, here are a few quick ideas to help you make some extra money on the side or at work!

Ask for a Raise

Perhaps the most seldom used way to make more money is to simply ask for a raise at work. The fear of rejection stops most in their tracks from even considering this as a viable way to make money, but it doesn't hurt to ask!

Here are some quick pointers for asking your boss for a raise:

  • Know what you're worth
  • Study the market (Don't come in too high)
  • Be polite, schedule a meeting, and phrase the question in a way that it benefits your employer. Example, “I plan on staying here for a long time and contributing to the growth of this company, I wanted to know what I have to do to get a raise but also help the company prosper.”
  • If they say “No” see where you can improve
  • See if extra projects are possible

Start a Side Hustle

Launch a Blog

Sell things Online

Final Thoughts:

At some point, you will have to live below your means and make more money. Saving for kids, saving for said kids to go to college, saving for retirement, and so forth all add up.

Inevitably, you will have to live below your means and the sooner you come to grips with this reality the better.

Nearly 8 in 10 working adults live paycheck to paycheck. The obvious question is if most adults live paycheck to paycheck as it is, how many are going to be able to keep up their spending habits when they are retired?

Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $200,000 in student loans with his wife in less than four years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post and more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, helping others with their debt and recommend using Personal Capital to track your finances.