Making a six-figure income can be a serious game-changer for your family, your finances, and your future financial health.
Of course, there are numerous factors that can determine how far that money can go — but it’s a huge milestone for most to achieve in their lifetimes.
In fact, as of 2019, only 9% of Americans are earning a six-figure income according to some data from Yahoo Finance.
While making this much money might not seem like an exclusive club, you should be proud if you are a part of this statistic or when you do hit this milestone.
Below I’ll explore more about six-figure income and tips to get you generating more money this year and beyond.
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Is Six-Figures A Good Salary?
A six figure salary is an impressive milestone for anyone to reach during their lifetime and can be revolutionary to your finances. However, pending your lifestyle, environmental factors, and career — it might not greatly impact your happiness and finances as much as you hope.
Generally, earning a six-figure income is an amazing feat and for many pending life choices, can take a bit of time to achieve. Yet, there can be a few challenges with making more money, if you aren’t careful.
Challenges with six-figure income
First, is something called lifestyle creep. Earning more money is great, if you can keep your cost of living relatively the same.
However, many start to upgrade their lifestyle — thus needing more money to cover expenses and luxury items that might not be necessary. So you might be earning great money, but spending just as fast — falling into a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle.
Another challenge is environmental factors, like where you live currently. A low six-figure income won’t get you very far in places like San Francisco, New York City, and other major cities.
For example, according to SmartAsset: “The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $3,108, which is an incredible $1,933 pricier than the $1,175 national median.” Wow.
The other challenges that affect the power of your six-figure income include if you have a high amount of student loan debt if you are working long and tough hours for this income if you even enjoy the things you do to earn this money and stress.
Your ultimate goal should be able to earn six-figures through multiple outlets, find a good work-life balance, and work on your financial health to ensure that the income can really go to work for you.
Ask Yourself Why You Want to Earn Six-Figures
Before I get into how you can achieve six-figures a year, I want to explore the “why.”
Why do you want to earn six-figures? Really ask yourself this and write down what it can mean for you, your family, and the future of your overall financial well-being.
Do you think it will make you happier? Is it so you can buy more stuff and impress others? Or is it to help you pay down debt, build financial freedom, and maybe not have to worry about money?
I think it’s important to understand your motivations and what a bigger yearly income can do for you. Without thinking about those goals, you may work towards an increased income and be unsure what to do with it all or get into bad spending habits.
Personally, I wanted to reach this goal to never have to worry about money, even if I were to experience a job loss or some emergency.
Plus, even having a lower six-figure income I knew could go a long way for me personally because I practice some basic frugal living and have an aggressive savings plan.
And I knew based on where I lived, my needs and cost of living, and my money habits — that I could achieve my goals just by increasing my income.
How to Make A Six-Figure Salary
When you think about a six-figure income, you probably think about it just from your full-time job or a specific career. Of course, that is the common way most people can hit their first six-figures.
But it also does not just have to be from your career. I like to look at generating an income from a combination of areas — or multiple streams of income.
While you can rely more on your career for earning power, that can disappear faster than it took for you to work your way up to earning that.
Unexpected layoffs, downsizing, economic troubles, or company bankruptcy can happen, and putting all your eggs in one basket can ensure you lose that income.
There are three main areas to work on that will help you earn a six-figure income:
- Side Hustles
I’m going to dive into each area below with tips and insights.
Naturally, your career is the first place to start. Honestly, you may find yourself quickly achieving a six-figure salary and hitting your goal to earn $100,000+ a year.
Even if that is the case, you’ll still want to diversify your income streams. But let’s explore more about earning potential in your career.
Common six figure jobs
Whether you plan on attending college or not, there are many options to consider when you are younger about career choices.
But don’t worry, even as you get older, you can certainly pivot your career too and find something you love to do but also can pay well.
For most, earning a six-figure salary takes time, more experience, and hard work to move up. It took me almost 10 years after graduating from college, pivoting my career completely, and constantly learning to be in the position I am today.
But there are plenty of jobs that pay six-figures, some popular choices include:
- Physician Assistants
- Human Resources Managers
- Personal Financial Advisors
- Construction Managers
- Computer/Information Systems Managers
- Marketing and Sales Managers
- Software Developers
Many of these won’t pay you $100,000+ right away as you get started, but others like lawyers or being a doctor certainly can. But not everyone is interested in those career options (not to mention the schooling costs and rigorous education to pass).
Ways to increase your salary
Remember, even if you do not get to a six-figure salary, the income can still play a big role in you generating over $100,000 a year.
Here are a few ways to start to increase your salary.
Ask for a raise
Naturally, the best thing you can do is ask for a raise. It’s important in your career to keep track of the average pay scale based on your experience, job title, and work.
Many times you get a small annual raise or other times you may not at all. It’s going to be on you to ensure you are paid fairly and accurately.
Use sites like Glassdoor and Payscale to keep tabs on industry and job trends and also keep track of your milestones and achievements. If you want to learn more, get our tips on how to ask for a raise.
Negotiate salary offer
Sometimes a company you might work for just is not going to pay you well. Unfortunately, many managers or executives will play games with you as well. Hopefully not, but it does happen.
If that’s the case, then it might be time for you to look at different job opportunities out there.
Connect with HR managers on LinkedIn, monitor job boards and companies you are interested in working for, and pending your industry — you could even cold outreach to someone at a company you like via email (I’ve done this before and had some great conversations).
And as you are interviewing and maybe get offered a job, make sure you take a step back before immediately agreeing. You probably have room to negotiate (unless they are paying above normal and offering amazing benefits that are above industry standards).
Most people are afraid to negotiate a salary offer, but it can increase your income quite nicely just by countering. If you are new to this, here are tips to negotiate your salary offer.
Yup, sometimes the best thing you can do for your salary and happiness is change careers. Naturally, this becomes a bit more challenging as you get older but there are opportunities to do just that.
I went to college for graphic design and had a minor in communications.
However, I found I was not in love with the work nor was I very skilled compared to others I saw in the field.
I was fortunate after graduating to get a job quickly at a well-known publisher. It didn’t pay well, and it was a combination of email marketing and graphic design.
After four years, I was slowly discovering digital marketing and really enjoyed it. I decided to take free online courses and learn as much as I could. From there I worked in a marketing agency to learn more and accelerate my earning potential.
Not all career shifts are as easy and may require special certifications, education, or experience. But by sacrificing some of your time now, you can set yourself up to a much more enjoyable and well-paying job you like.
2. Side Hustles
During your career, you might never get to a six-figure salary or it may take quite a bit of time and experience before you’ll end up with that income. But remember, you can still make $100k+ when you have multiple streams of income.
You may have heard this before, that researchers have found that most millionaires have an average of seven streams of income. That means the bulk of their wealth and income is not just coming from one source like a job.
One income stream you can create for yourself is starting a side hustle, side business, freelancing, etc.
Some of these ideas can be great ways to earn more money and others could be businesses you start that may one day replace your full-time job if entrepreneurship intrigues you. Even your hobbies can make money, which you might never have really thought about.
Nearly half — 45% — of U.S. workers earn additional income outside of their primary career, a recent Bankrate survey found. And tend to make an average of $1,122 per month from their part-time work.
Here are some side hustle options you might want to consider (some will require more work and time than others). These can make you a few hundred dollars a month or an extra $1,000+ per month.
Start an e-commerce store
The e-commerce world has taken off in the last few years and it’s easier to get started than ever.
But remember, doing this does not guarantee you’ll make money right away. This is more of an online business you can do on the side, but will take work to grow.
If you are interested in starting an e-commerce business, I recommend using Shopify.
Start a blog
Most money-making articles always include that you should start a blog. I’ll preference this here: blogging is tough and can take 12-24 months+ before you make any money.
That said, if you treat your blog like a business it can be great additional income and turn into a valuable asset you can eventually sell.
You can easily get started with Bluehost or Siteground, which makes it easy for beginners.
Flip stuff on eBay & Craigslist
Another way to make side hustle income is by flipping stuff on eBay, Craigslist, or sites like Craigslist. Maybe you have collections of stuff you don’t need, want, or use anymore — then sell it for some cash!
But you can also find items that you can get for cheap that people are selling at garage sales or at antique stores — and flip them online for profit.
I know a few people who do this and make an extra $1,000+ per month.
Sell your arts and crafts on Etsy
If you have a talent for being creative — like drawing, painting, crafting, etc. then you might want to look into selling your stuff on a site like Etsy. You can create your own store and start uploading your work for sale.
Like any side business, don’t expect to make thousands right away. But if your art is good and you build a nice rapport with the audiences, you can make some good money.
Start an Amazon FBA business
Another side hustle option is starting your own Amazon FBA business, which also can be quite lucrative.
Similar to starting an e-commerce store with Shopify, instead Amazon handles the storage and shipping of your products for you.
There is stiff competition and some legwork involved to make this work, but it can generate some nice extra revenue for you if done right.
Offer your skills as a freelancer
Pending what your skills are, you might be able to freelance on the side of your full-time gig. Are you good at marketing? Maybe graphic design? Do you know how to program and code?
Whatever it may be, there are plenty of businesses and local companies looking for freelancers or part-time consultants. You can reach out to local businesses, monitor job boards, or sign-up for Flexjobs that gives you access to quality freelance work.
Take part in the gig economy
Sometimes the gig economy can get a bad reputation for being underwhelming in pay. But if you are just looking to make quick money on the side consistently, this might be the way to go.
There are tons of gig economy jobs to consider, but it’s what interests you and where you can make the most for your time. Think TaskRabbit, Instacart, Rover, Uber or Lyft, etc.
Work random under the table jobs
Another way to make some cash, is finding some under the table jobs. Meaning, you are doing random or odd jobs for cash.
Maybe it’s fixing appliances for people, cutting grass and doing yard work, etc. There are plenty of tasks that people will pay you to do because they don’t want to, may not be able to, or don’t know how to do.
While you might be investing in a company 401k, I’m not counting those investments towards your six-figure income since that is for retirement. But, investments outside of your 401k or IRA can count towards your income goals.
Don’t worry if you can’t afford to invest much or at all right now. However, this is something to keep in mind as you build how much you make and are looking for passive income.
Investing is one of the smartest money moves you can make, especially if you want to build wealth overtime. Compound interest and reinvesting your investment income can be huge game changers for you financially.
Most likely, your investment income will not be a huge contributor to helping you reach a six-figure income. But the more money you invest and the more time goes by, you’ll see this income rise as well.
Certainly, there is also more risk involved too. With any investment, make sure you can afford to lose some money and understand how any investment works. Here are some investing tips, if you want to learn about the basics.
So, how can you make some money investing outside of your 401k or IRA? This can happen in a brokerage account, money market account, or even crowdfunding companies where you invest.
One way to make money from your investments is being paid dividends.
If you are investing in stocks, this would be the amount a company pays to the shareholders based on their amount invested. These can be paid monthly, but could also be quarterly or yearly.
Some people focus on dividend investing, picking companies that have a long history of consistent dividend payouts or tend to increase their payments to shareholders.
You can learn more about dividend investing here.
Real estate investing
Another popular option among millionaires is investing in real estate.
Whether the goal is to rent out the properties, buy to fix and flip, or own commercial real estate like apartment complexes or for retail stores. Many people take on real estate as another way to generate a nice stream of income.
However, real estate investing can take time, knowledge, and money to get started. That’s where you have options like a REIT that you can find with your stock investing.
Or you can choose real estate crowdfunding platforms as an investment. Instead of dealing with owning properties, management, maintenance, etc. you can invest in real estate and collect your dividends without doing anything.
Some of the best ones to consider are:
While investing in the stock market and real estate will get you more consistent income, you have some additional options as well.
Alternative investments are anything outside stocks, bonds, or cash. Technically, yes real estate is an alternative investment but it’s such an important option that I separated it above.
However, most alternative investments aren’t going to pay you monthly dividends or income. But, the returns yearly can be considered part of your yearly income.
Note: If you don’t have much money to get started investing, that’s okay! You still have options to get started and start earning passively. Check out and consider using apps like Acorns or Stash, that allow you to invest in fractional shares or even invest spare change from your purchases.
Earning a six-figure income can have major benefits for your life and future. But if you want to build wealth and happiness, you have to find a balance in your life.
Many people have built wealth on much less income, so it’s more about your personal lifestyle and where and how you live.
But if you have the right mindset and have specific goals for yourself, making $100,000+ each year can do wonders for your finances. You can even find ways to reduce your taxes if you get into the mid-six-figures or higher (in case you were concerned there).
The important thing to remember is it does not just have to generate just from one outlet. Your career might be the biggest earner, but you can get to a six-figure income with a combo of your full-time job, side hustles, and investments.Are you generating a six-figure income yet? If so, how did you get there and what tips do you have for others? What’s something you learned when making that much money? Let me know in the comments below!