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How Much Money Do Americans Need To Be Comfortable?

Money is a commodity accepted by general consent as a medium of economic exchange. It is the medium in which prices and values are expressed. It circulates from person to person and country to country, facilitating trade, and it is the principal measure of wealth.

The question of financial comfort is a complex and multifaceted issue in the United States. CNBC’s video titled “How Much Money Do Americans Need To Be Comfortable?” explores the financial landscape, revealing that the average American believes they need to earn $233,000 a year to be financially comfortable. However, the reality is far from this figure, with the average American earning only $75,203 annually in 2021. This article delves into the various aspects of financial comfort, affordability, credit expenses, and potential solutions to financial security.

Key Insights:

  • 72% of Americans feel financially insecure.
  • Housing and inflation are major concerns.
  • Credit is becoming more expensive, affecting affordability.
  • Public policy and personal financial management are essential for financial security.


Income vs. Expenses

  • Median monthly income: $4,400 (Q2 2023).
  • Take-home pay: $3,388 after taxes and benefits.
  • Essential expenses: Skyrocketing costs in healthcare, college, and housing.
  • Rent: Median monthly rent is $2,029, accounting for over 46% of pre-tax income.
  • Mortgage: Median payment is $1,957, but advisable to spend 28% or less of pre-tax income.

Inflation and Housing

  • Inflation: Affecting individuals’ stability in housing.
  • High-cost states: Places like California and New York are driving migration to cheaper areas.
  • Food costs: Average monthly spending on food is $690.75.


  • Recommended allocation: 50% on essentials, 30% on wants, 20% on savings/debt.
  • Reality: 75% on needs, leaving little for wants and savings.
  • Interest rate hikes: 11 since March 2022, affecting affordability.

Credit is Expensive

Impact of Rising Interest Rates

  • Home purchases: Monthly payments have increased significantly.
  • Car and credit card expenses: More expensive due to interest rates.
  • Access to credit: Becoming harder for small businesses and households.

Savings and Debt

  • Emergency savings: More than half of Americans lack three months of emergency expenses.
  • Credit card debt: 36% have more credit card debt than emergency savings.
  • Total debt: Average American holds a debt balance of $96,371.

Solving Financial Security

Public Policy

  • Social Security: Needs reforms to maintain benefits.
  • Employer offerings: Encourage retirement savings, emergency savings, and insurance benefits.

Personal Financial Management

  • Clear goals: Align budget with personal goals.
  • Budgeting: Essential for aligning with goals like retirement, debt-free living, or education.


  • Acknowledgment: Recognize and deal with financial insecurity.
  • Not Alone: Many high-income individuals also feel financially anxious.

Final Thoughts

The video by CNBC provides a comprehensive look at the financial landscape in America, highlighting the disparity between perceived financial comfort and the reality faced by many. It emphasizes the importance of both macro-level solutions through public policy and micro-level personal financial management. The insights drawn from this video can serve as a guide for individuals seeking to navigate the complex terrain of financial security in the U.S., emphasizing the importance of budgeting, clear goal-setting, and awareness of the broader economic context.


Note: The article above is a comprehensive summary and analysis of the video provided by CNBC. It covers the key aspects discussed in the video, including affordability, the impact of credit, and potential solutions to financial security. The insights and data are drawn directly from the video and its associated sources.

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