Are you wondering how much would 6 figures be?
If you’d like to know what someone means when they mention “6 figures”, you’re not alone.
You may often hear people say “I wish I was in the 6-figure club” or “My goal in life is to be a 6-figure earner” or “I finally made 6 figures last year”.
So, how much is 6 figures and what does this really mean in practical terms?
Achieving a six-figure income is a significant financial milestone that many people strive to achieve. However, does making six-figures mean that you will be able to stop working and retire? What kind of lifestyle can you expect when you reach that six-figure goal? And does it even matter if you make six figures at all?
This article will take a look at many of the most common questions regarding six-figure incomes, including:
- Do you need to make 6 figures?
- Can you retire with 6 figures?
- What lifestyle will 6 figures give you?
- What jobs pay 6 figures?
- How can I make 6 figures after 50?
Keep reading to learn what 6 figures mean in terms of money, and what it could mean for your financial future.
Okay, so how much is a figure? And how much is 6 figures a year in dollars?
Allow me to put my math teacher hat on for a moment (because I got one of those).
You can think of a figure as a single digit. A digit is a symbol we use to form numbers in the Arabic numeral system (as opposed to Roman or Chinese numerals). These symbols are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 0.
Every number consists of one or multiple digits. For example, the number 5 consists of one digit. But, the number 853 is made up of 3 digits. And, the number 249,712 has 6 digits.
So, why don’t people say “I make 6 digits”? Actually, some do. But, using the synonym “figures” is much more common when referring to income.
With all that said, to earn 6 figures means that you are making $100,000 or more per year (thinking of each digit as a figure). Six-figure incomes go up to $999,999 before they turn into seven-figure incomes ($1,000,000).
What lifestyle will 6 figures give me?
Considering that the average salary in the U.S. is around $51,000 ($983/week), making six figures would give you quite a boost in terms of the lifestyle you could have. If you’re currently earning an average salary, then making the jump to six figures would essentially mean doubling your income.
To give you a good idea of the discretionary income that you’d have if you earned six figures, a 6-figure annual salary ($100,000) would be about $8,333 gross monthly income. Assuming that you get paid on a weekly basis, this means that your normal paycheck would give you close to $2,000 before taxes.
Since $8,000 per month should be more than enough to meet basic living expenses, you could use the excess money to fuel a pretty lavish lifestyle if you choose.
You could move to a nicer location where rental costs were previously out of reach, get a nicer car that you could pay cash for, or spend the money traveling around the world.
However, it’s important to keep perspective even when you’re making 6 figures.
Sure, you may think a 6-figure income would make all of your dreams come true. But, if you spend all of your money living an expensive life, you won’t be any farther ahead than you are now. It doesn’t matter how much you make; poor money habits can leave you in the poor house.
But how much is 6 figures after taxes?
Good question, because we all know that 6 figures could quickly get knocked down to 5 when Uncle Sam takes his share.
The short answer is it depends. Tax bills for 6-figure earners can vary dramatically, depending on the circumstances:
- Are you married or single? Do you have dependents?
- Will you claim the standard deduction or itemize?
- Do you have any tax credits?
- Do you have dividend income or any long-term capital gains?
Considering only the simplest and most common situations, your tax bill could possibly reduce your $100,000 income by $5,000 to $15,000, with single filers on the higher end.
Now, let’s move on to find out what type of jobs will give you access to the 6-figure lifestyle, with and without a college degree.
What jobs pay 6 figures (with a college degree)?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 57 out of 808 occupations offer median salaries of over $100,000. Out of those, 27 require at least a bachelor’s degree and the other 30 require a master’s.
This means that you can easily make a hefty investment of time and money in your education before earning the big bucks.
Let’s take a look at a few of the top careers that will net you six-figures:
- Actuary – $108,000
- Anesthesiologist – $208,000
- Computer/Data Scientist – $130,000
- Dentist – $158,000
- Financial manager – $129,000
In general, the fields of study that usually have the highest-paying median salaries are finance, engineering, law, and medicine. Unfortunately, all of these fields require extensive education and testing before you can even start working.
So, you’ll want to make sure you’re passionate about the field you’re entering and aren’t just doing it for the paycheck.
Don’t worry if you’re apprehensive about starting fresh in an entirely new career. There are plenty of other ways to make six figures without starting a new job.
Let’s take a look at a few of those.
How you can make 6 figures without a degree
The main problem with pursuing a high-paying career is that you’re still not guaranteed a job.
For example, you could spend years studying law and finally pass the Bar exam only to find that no firms are hiring. Or you get an entry-level role at a law firm and then have to spend several years gaining experience before moving into a position that will pay you the salary that you’re looking for.
A decision to start a new career could mean a commitment of 5-10 years before you start making six figures. Even when that happens, you will then need to use your salary to repay any loans you took out to receive your education!
Instead, you’d probably have a much better chance of earning a high income by taking matters into your own hands. These days, there are almost unlimited side hustles that have the capacity to help you earn more money.
If you can keep your day job but find a side gig that helps you earn consistent cash to supplement your income, then you have a good shot at getting over the six-figure threshold.
Here are a few profitable opportunities to earn significant income from a side hustle:
- Finding work as a freelancer. Since so much work these days doesn’t require actually going into the office, it’s easy to get started as a freelancer. To do this, you can either expand on the work you already do (trying to find opportunities outside of your current employment) or start charging for something that was previously a hobby. The two best marketplaces for freelance talent are Upwork and Fiverr.
- Digital marketing. Digital marketing is a wide umbrella term that encompasses a lot of things. A few examples of things that fall under digital marketing are graphic design, content writing, advertising, marketing, web design, social media, email marketing, and more. Businesses are always looking to hire people who excel in these areas and they can all be learned online via YouTube or sites like Udemy.
- Promoting products on your own social media pages. Believe it or not, people make lots of money on social media by promoting products for brands. If you have a social following of a thousand or more then it’s worth approaching a few brands offering to leverage your audience. You could also create your own products to offer to your audience.
Side hustles like these are preferable (as opposed to just getting another hourly job) because the jobs above all have incomes that are scalable. This means that you can set your own rate and get paid based on the value that you provide as opposed to earning a set hourly rate.
Business ideas that can make 6 figures
The absolute best way to make six figures (and above) is by starting your own business.
Business income is by far preferable to employment income because employment income is generally tied to an hourly wage or salary. Business income, on the other hand, is tied to the number of products that you sell where there is theoretically no limit.
For example, if you design and sell a product then your income is only limited by the number of these products that you sell.
- If you charge $50 for your product and sell one then you’ve only made $50.
- If you sell 50 products ($50 x 50) then you’ve made $2,500.
- If you sell 5,000 ($50 x 5000) then you’ve made $250,000
All you need to get started is an idea for a product that solves a problem or helps improve people’s lives. This could be a physical or a digital product. From there, you can use platforms like WordPress or Shopify to get started.
Best ways to make 6 figures after 50
When it comes to amplifying your income a little bit later in life, starting a business or a freelance career is your best bet.
That’s because, at this point in your life, you actually have an incredible advantage over younger people … your work experience. You can leverage this experience to start a career as a freelancer or use your industry knowledge to brainstorm a product that solves a problem.
It’s easy to sell yourself short in terms of what you know. Most people take their expertise for granted and don’t realize that there are a lot of people out there who would be willing to pay you for your skills.
Remember, you have years of experience that younger people just simply don’t have. Odds are that you have worked a few different roles in a few different industries. Use your wealth of experience and sell your skills to people in need.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Are you a good writer? There are plenty of opportunities for good writers. You can help people write blog articles, web content, resumes, cover letters, business plans, newsletters, or biographies. You could even take a stab at writing your own book (this has the potential to earn 6, 7, or even 8 figures).
- Are you good with graphic design? Tools like InDesign and Powerpoint are fairly simple to learn and there is a constant need for things like social media graphics, website graphics, logos, product marketing, etc.
- Do you like computers/coding? Even if you’re not working on Artificial Intelligence at Google, there is still a huge need for competent coders. Even an amateur coder can charge a hefty rate for helping other people.
- Do you have experience with accounting? Accounting is one of those categories that few people like to do. If you already know it or can take the time to learn, then you’ll have many opportunities to make some money with this skill.
- Do you speak different languages? There is such a need for competent translators in all different industries. In particular, many international companies will hire you almost exclusively because you can help them do business in other countries. If you don’t already speak a different language, this could start as a fun hobby that you eventually want to try and earn some money with.
It may take a few months and even years to really get the ball rolling so don’t get discouraged. Just use every opportunity to strengthen your skillset.
Also, consider the type of business you could continue into your 70s if you have to delay retirement for a while. Or, build a business that generates a passive income, so you can receive the monetary benefits even when you’ve stopped working.
How to create a 6-figure mindset
As I’ve said before on this blog, your actions begin with your thoughts. If you have aspirations to achieve a 6-figure income, you may need to do a little mental housekeeping first.
Most people that never seem to hit their big goals are often held back by their limiting beliefs. These thoughts are usually a result of past negative experiences. When your brain repeatedly cycles through bad memories (like being rejected in a relationship or getting passed over for a promotion), you start believing that your past is an indication of your future.
In other words, limiting beliefs will cause you to use your past negative experiences to define the truths you live by in the present.
For example, if you didn’t get that promotion, you may start to believe that you’re not good enough or don’t deserve a higher salary. This limiting belief will prevent you from trying again when the opportunity arises in the future. Your limiting beliefs *limit* your potential.
The truth is, your thoughts are just … well, thoughts. And, you can think whatever you want, right? Nobody can *make* you think or believe or feel anything. The way you think about a certain situation is merely your own personal interpretation.
So, why not think differently? Why not turn those limiting beliefs into ones that empower you?
If you want to make more money, maybe a mindset shift is what’s in order. Here are 5 empowering beliefs that will help you achieve a 6-figure income:
1. Believe that success is possible for you
The first mindset shift you must create is believing that achieving your dreams is *possible* for you. When you can overcome the “impossible” hurdle, you’ll open yourself up to more opportunities.
All you have to do is find someone else who is doing what you want to do. This is all the evidence you need to prove that your desired result is possible. After all, if someone else has already done it, then you can no longer say it’s impossible.
So, if you want to make 6 figures, look for other people who are 6-figure earners. If you don’t personally know anybody at this level, then look at other places such as the internet or in books. Find someone who inspires you, and preferably someone you have a lot in common with (such as age, gender, has kids, is married, etc.).
When you find that person who has already achieved your income goal, write down an affirmation that strengthens the belief that success is possible for you. It could be as simple as “Susan has figured how to make 6 figures in her 50s, so I know that I can figure it out, too.”
Keep this written affirmation with you wherever you go. Read it, think about it, and say it out loud several times a day. Do this until you feel you’ve made the “shift”, and this new, empowering belief has become second nature.
2. Believe that you’re capable
Most people talk themselves out of their dreams before they even try. This is because it’s human nature to want everything figured out before we take the first step.
Let me drop a truth bomb on you: If you knew how to make 6 figures, you’d already be making it.
So, stop letting what you don’t know hold you back. Instead, start believing that you are totally capable of figuring things out as you go along. Just start where you are, and trust that you’ll be able to jump over every hurdle along the way.
Don’t get caught up in the preparation. Stop doing all the research, asking for advice, and waiting for the perfect moment.
Do you want to start your own business? Do you want to switch careers? Do you want to reach 6 figures within the next 3 years?
Just start. And believe you’re capable of making it happen, even if you don’t know everything before you do.
3. Believe that you’re worth it
If you struggle with taking time for yourself, you may have a limiting belief that you’re not worth it. That your husband, your kids, your boss, and your church are more important than those things you *wish* you had time for.
One thing I’ve learned after a tough season of neglecting my own self-care is that I do my loved ones a disservice when I don’t make my own needs a priority. And, I really set up my future self for resentment and disappointment.
What do you need to feel fulfilled? What are your passions in life? Whatever dreams you have, you should be investing both time and money into them. Make them a priority and stop feeling selfish when you do.
Set a daily appointment with yourself that you never break. Find a dedicated space where you can work toward your goals. And start spending the money on resources that will help you achieve them.
Because you’re worth it.
4. Believe that there’s enough
If you’ve always struggled with making more money, I can almost guarantee that your mindset is partially to blame. It’s tough to break out of a scarcity mentality when you’ve been living paycheck to paycheck for most of your life.
When you’re constantly restricted by the boundaries of a tight budget, you can start to believe that there will never be enough. That you’re stuck in your current circumstances forever, and any chance you had of making a 6 figure salary is long gone.
Maybe you think the competition is too tough, the good ideas have all been taken, and there isn’t enough left to go around.
A critical mindset shift to help you reach a 6-figure income is believing there is an endless number of opportunities and resources available – at all times. You must come from a place of abundance, and operate from the perspective that there is no limit to the opportunities available to you.
When you shift from scarcity to abundance, you’re not inhibited by competition. You’re not focused on what you don’t have or scared to share with others.
Instead, you’re totally confident that achieving success is completely up to you and doesn’t depend on what other people are doing.
In other words, your success is inevitable if you don’t give up.
5. Believe that your success is inevitable
The first mindset shift on this list is believing that success is *possible* for you. This is a good first step in creating a 6-figure mindset, but you can’t stop there.
If you want to be in the 6-figure club, you must live by the belief that your success is inevitable. This empowering belief will help you in two important ways.
First, if you believe that reaching 6 figures is part of your future, you won’t give up. You won’t throw in the towel when you feel like you’re not making progress or when things get tough. If you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you will eventually be a 6-figure earner if you just keep moving forward, then you’ll stay committed to your goals.
Second, you won’t be afraid of failure or judge yourself when you think you’re not doing enough. These thoughts will only deflate your enthusiasm. When you’re totally convinced that you’ll reach 6 figures if you just keep trying, you’ll feel motivated and confident that everything you’re doing is working in your favor.
So keep telling yourself: the only reason I’ll fail is if I give up.
Video: How To Make 6 Figures
Do I need to make 6 figures?
The answer to this question is definitely a resounding no. The overwhelming majority of the population does not earn over six figures and hitting this threshold won’t necessarily change your life in any meaningful way.
As they say, money does not bring happiness and there are other things in life that are more worthy of your attention than your income.
Here are a few other areas that you should focus your energy on before your yearly income:
- Your fitness and mental health
- Your relationships with your family and friends
- Spending time pursuing your passions
You’ll find that if you’re not fulfilled in these three areas then you’ll find money meaningless. What good is having a lot of money if you’re too sick to leave your bed, have no one to share it with, or spend your days doing work you hate?
Additionally, when people start earning more money they’ll often adjust their lifestyle to match their new income (a phenomenon known as lifestyle creep). After a few months of earning and spending more money, they grow accustomed to their new life and begin to feel unsatisfied again.
All that said, let’s assume that you’re already feeling fulfilled in other areas of your life and now you want to attack and boost your income. Good for you! The extra money you make can greatly enhance the happiness you already experience.
Is 6 figures enough to retire on?
According to a poll done by Charles Schwab, $1.7 million is the magic retirement number for most Americans based on average retirement age and median salary. Unfortunately, most people don’t reach this number.
This also means that even if you do have six figures saved for retirement (even if it’s $999,999) you may still find it difficult to achieve your dream retirement and ensure financial security into your later years.
However, earning a six-figure income throughout your life will definitely give you a jumpstart towards reaching retirement sooner. By earning more throughout your life, you’ll be able to contribute more towards your retirement account to help reach your goal.
Keep in mind that how much you need for retirement will also fluctuate depending on things like your spending habits and the type of lifestyle that you like to live.
How to build wealth without a 6-figure income
As mentioned previously, making 6 figures is not necessary to have a fulfilling and happy life. The good news is, you also don’t need this amount of income in order to pay off your debts and build savings.
Here are some simple steps to work toward financial freedom without a 6-figure income:
Stick to a budget
Be intentional with your money management by following a budget. Tracking your income and expenses gives you control over your finances and helps you achieve your goals faster.
No matter what income level you’re at, a budget will give you the insight needed to stop overspending and prioritize your values.
The best way to accumulate wealth and increase your net worth is to pay yourself first with automated savings.
Here are a few ways you can make saving easy and start building for the future:
- Sign up with your company’s 401(k) with direct deposit
- Open a Roth IRA and automate deposits from your bank account
- Set up automated transfers to a high-yield savings account
If you prioritize savings by paying yourself first, you can set up your future self for financial independence without a 6-figure income.
Live below your means
To achieve the first three listed above, you must spend less than you earn. It’s the only way you’ll stay under budget, pay off your debt, and save for the future.
What are 7, 8, and 9 figures?
Oftentimes, six figures can act like a psychological barrier. Once you break it you’ll find that it can get easier and easier to make money.
Once you’ve tackled that goal you can move on to start making seven figures (1,000,000), 8 figures (10,000,000), and even 9 figures (100,000,000).
The sky is the limit!
You might think that getting into the 6-figure club will solve many of your financial problems and bring more happiness into your life. The truth is, it might.
But, a 2018 study from Purdue University found that the point at which a level of income no longer has an impact on one’s emotional wellbeing is only $75,000 a year. This means, in general, even if you make over six figures a year, you’re not guaranteed a more satisfying life. In fact, the study also reveals that once the $75k threshold is reached, life satisfaction tends to decline with further increases in income.
This is important to know before you decide to make a 6-figure income one of your financial goals. If you want to make more money, be sure you have a higher purpose than just more happiness in your life.
What’s even more critical to understand is that good money management and a healthy money mindset are far more instrumental in building a secure financial future. Because the truth is if you don’t know how to manage your money now, you won’t know how to handle a bigger income later.
Conquer your limiting beliefs.
Be purposeful with your money.
Pay yourself first.
Get rid of debt.
Live below your means.
If you can practice these habits consistently, you’ll achieve financial freedom. With or without 6 figures.