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How Much is Enough?

See how your salary standards stack up

By Rich_Maloof Jun 14, 2012 4:11PM

Photo: Travel Ink/Gallo Images/Getty ImagesHow much money do you need to be successful? Depends on your definition of success. See how your standards stack up against today’s survey of fellow American workers.

Defining success is very subjective business, though one desperately, upwardly mobile impression of it has been burned into our psyche. A lot of us have a vague sense of success as something that comes with well-tailored clothes, a rolling green lawn that someone else mows, and a car nice enough to make the neighbors say, “Jeez, nice car.” Ideally, those who do not say “Jeez, nice car” are still silently envious.

With the economy swirling around the drainpipe, the definition can get a whole lot more humble. When you’re forced to take goals down a few pegs, success falls more along the lines of not biting your nails to the nub at bill time, keeping the house warm in winter, and affording enough groceries to fill up the fridge.

A daunting amount of imagery about wealth and success is paraded in front of American eyeballs. It’s to our credit, really, that any of us can get up and work a normal job for normal wages when the perception of normalcy so starkly contrasts with the kajillionaires we see in the media every day, whether it’s the guys who got crazy rich on the Facebook IPO or the smirking chief of JPMorgan. Yet, a third of the U.S. workers surveyed said they are nowhere near their target salaries — but do not equate success with income.

“Often you'll see intangibles such as the ability to make a difference, a sense of accomplishment, and work/life balance eclipses the size of a paycheck in what matters most to workers,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources for CareerBuilder, who backed the survey. Some 5,772 full-time employees were polled on behalf of CareerBuilder, with results you may find surprising, and maybe even comforting.

Check out results of the survey here. Nearly a quarter of all respondents say they don’t need more than $50,000 to be successful, and three out of four workers feel they don’t need a salary over $100k. The survey also shows that men are twice as likely as women to say they do need a six-figure salary. One in ten workers needs to pull in $150,000 or more per year to feel good. To them we say, best of luck, see you on the polo fields.

Photo: Photo: Travel Ink/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Tags: MoneyNews
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