High Earners Struggle to Make Ends Meet Amid Financial Pressures

Last updated: June 28, 2024

a_dollar_bill_in_a_cageIn a surprising twist, even Americans with six-figure incomes are fretting over their finances.

A new survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reveals that about one in three high earners are worried about paying their bills.

The survey highlights a sharp rise in financial anxiety among those making $100,000 or more annually. Over the past year, the percentage of these consumers worried about making ends meet has notably increased.

Many affluent Americans are tightening their belts, cutting back on dining out and entertainment to manage their budgets.

This trend underscores the persistent strain of inflation and elevated borrowing costs, which are squeezing budgets across the income spectrum.

Specifically, 30.8% of those earning between $100,000 and $149,999 are concerned about making ends meet in the next six months, up from 21.3% last year.

Similarly, 32.5% of those making $150,000 or more share this concern, a jump from 21.7% previously. These figures outpace the 23% worry rate among those earning $70,000 to $99,999.

Overall, 34.9% of consumers are anxious about their financial stability, up from 28.7% a year ago. Younger Americans, aged 18 to 35, are feeling the heat more than older individuals, with 41% expressing concern compared to just 22% of those over 65.

Long-term financial worries are also rising.

For instance, 32.3% of those earning $100,000 to $149,999 are concerned about making ends meet in the next 7 to 12 months, up from 26.5% a year ago. The worry rate among those earning $150,000 or more surged to 33%, up from 19.8%.

Despite these concerns, there’s a silver lining. An increasing share of high earners expects their incomes to rise this year, with 40.8% of those making $150,000 or more feeling optimistic, up from 20% last year.

This optimism may partly explain why Americans are still spending heavily on travel. The TSA screened a record 2.99 million people at airports on Sunday and anticipates a record-setting summer travel season.

However, to cope with financial stress, 43.1% of consumers are slashing discretionary spending on entertainment and dining out. More than a third (37.1%) of high earners are also cutting back.

Some are even reducing spending on essentials like food and medical care, with 23.5% of all Americans and 17.1% of high earners doing so.

Other strategies include taking additional jobs (15.3% of high earners), borrowing more (10.2%), and dipping into retirement savings early (14.3%).

In these challenging times, even the wealthiest are feeling the pressure, reminding us all that financial stress knows no income boundaries.

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Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Jon Morgan, MBA, LLM, has over ten years of experience growing startups and currently serves as CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Venture Smarter. Educated at UC Davis and Harvard, he offers deeply informed guidance. Beyond work, he enjoys spending time with family, his poodle Sophie, and learning Spanish.
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LJ Viveros has 40 years of experience in founding and scaling businesses, including a significant sale to Logitech. He has led Market Solutions LLC since 1999, focusing on strategic transitions for global brands. A graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Communications, LJ is also a distinguished Matsushita Executive alumnus.
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