What Salary Does It Take to Be Comfortable? Here's What Americans Say

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  • A new report from Personal Capital pegs a financially secure salary at more than $100,000.
  • If you're not happy with your earnings, you can try to increase them by asking for a raise or even getting a new job.
  • Bumping up your professional skills or picking up a side gig can also help.

The number might surprise you.

If you're satisfied with the amount of money you earn, consider yourself fortunate. Many workers these days are woefully underpaid, and at a time when living costs are soaring, that's not a good thing. But even if you earn a more generous salary than the average American, it may not be enough to get you the lifestyle you want, or to allow you to meet goals like buying a home or building a solid nest egg for retirement.

So how much money does it take to be able to live comfortably? According to data from Personal Capital, it hinges on earning a $107,800 salary.

But whether you agree with that assessment, it still pays to do what you can to grow your earnings. Here are some steps you can take to achieve that goal.

1. Know what you're worth

It may be that you currently earn $90,000 a year as an IT professional. That's a nice salary on paper. But if the average person in your city and industry with your skill set earns $110,000, then it means you're actually getting shortchanged.

Spend some time researching salary data online (you can use sites like Salary.com) and see how your earnings compare. If you find you're underpaid, that's an easy argument to bring to your boss.

2. Boost your job skills

The more valuable an employee you become, the easier it will be to make the case for a raise. Spend some time taking courses or practicing what it is you do so you're better at it on a whole.

3. Look for work outside of your company

Sometimes, jumping ship and going to work for a new company is the easiest and most efficient way to grow your salary. If your current employer is unwilling to raise your pay, dust off your resume and seek out work elsewhere. Right now, the labor market is booming, so chances are, if you apply for jobs you're qualified for, you're likely to land an offer.

4. Get a side gig

Even if you earn a nice wage, it may be that you could use an income boost to grow your savings or pay off your credit cards once and for all. To that end, it could be worth getting a side hustle, even if you only do it for a short time. Just as the labor market is strong right now, so too is the gig economy, so you may find that scoring a second job isn't so difficult.

Do you need a $107,800 salary to live comfortably?

Some people can live comfortably on $60,000 a year. Others might struggle to get by on a salary of $150,000 (which, to be fair, isn't always a lot of money in major metro areas, especially for those with dependents).

Rather than focus on that $107,800 number, take a look at your financial picture and see how satisfied you are with it. You may feel that you could use a salary boost even if your income exceeds that mark, and that's fine. The point is to focus more on your personal needs and to recognize that everyone's expenses and goals are different.

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