Matt Case - May 13th, 2024 - 3:12pm PDT 


    A recent study, from Smart Asset, utilizing data from the MIT Living Wage Calculator, reveals significant discrepancies in the incomes required for families to achieve comfort across different states in the United States. The findings underscore the stark contrast in living expenses, painting a vivid picture of financial realities nationwide.

    According to the study, families in the most expensive states face formidable financial hurdles, with a staggering $300,000 necessary to maintain a comfortable standard of living. Conversely, in the least expensive state, a salary of over $100,000 remains imperative for family well-being.

    As of May 2024, the average annual salary in the US stands at $59,428, or $28.34 per hour, reflecting a disparity between national averages and the cost of comfortable living.

    Massachusetts emerges as the most expensive state for comfortable living, demanding a total family income of $301,184, followed by Hawaii, Connecticut, New York, California, and Washington where incomes upwards of $270,000 annually are requisite.

    In contrast, Mississippi claims the title of the least expensive state, necessitating $177,798 to cover family expenses comfortably. Arkansas, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Kentucky trail closely behind as relatively affordable states for families seeking financial stability.

    The study's methodology employed a balanced budgeting strategy, allocating 50 percent of earnings towards necessities like housing and utilities, 30 percent towards discretionary spending, and 20 percent towards savings or investments, ensuring families could meet their basic needs without financial strain.

    While a six-figure income was once synonymous with a comfortable lifestyle, recent reports suggest that in 15 major US cities, it merely qualifies as 'lower middle class', reflecting shifting economic realities and the evolving definition of financial well-being in contemporary America.