This is an amazingly astute question. Here's the answer: It depends on what lifestyle you think you need. Here are some questions to ask:
1. Where do I want to live? (Cost of living varies as well as career opportunities)
2. What activities do I like to do? (Hobbies, pets, travel,)
3. What size/ type of home do I want? (Five bed, three bath in a fancy neighborhood? Two bedroom condo?)
4. What size/ type of family do I want? (No kids, six kids?)
5. What kind of career interests do I have? (Tech, Medical, Finance, Retail, Construction?)
6. What are my monthly expenses probably going to be (rough estimate) and how much salary do I need to make to achieve that goal and be able to save for retirement/ emergencies? (How much do I need to have coming in per month to "make it" - pay for mortgage, utilities, gas & elec, food, etc.)
By the way - question 5 is the least important in figuring this out in most cases - mostly because if you really want a specific type of lifestyle, then you can find a way to achieve it in most fields of work . If you have a specific area of career interest, then find a low-paying, entry level job in that industry in a company that has a good reputation for ethics and see where it takes you. I see many young people trying so hard to map everything out perfectly when that's not really how life works - especially since by the time you map some career path out, the entire field has shifted by the time you get a degree- degrees aren't necessarily good nor bad, but frequently totally unnecessary.) Once you get in, your work ethic, humility and connections tend to gain you success - not some perfect college degree or perfect resume.
I hope this helps.
Perhaps your should think of wealth as :
- your time with family
- working at a meaningful and rewarding job for you
- contributing to community
- culture and travel
- creative and learning... achievement
- income ( hey it should be PART of your success goals)
- how cool your car is (... ok I might be a little superficial ... )
The salary goal depends on what stuff you want.... if you want to live on the beach in L.A. you may require a tad more income than rural Midwest... So a cost of living index effects what is reasonable salary. You need to make at least 4x your average rent or mortgage... as a starting point... so about $4,000 per month, perhaps $45,000 per year is a starting point. if you want to provide for a kid or two, add $15,000 or so. you like a nice car and some cool things , add another $15,000 , Travel is another $5,000 ... so it adds up fast.
So by the time your peaking out in salary, perhaps $65-$75 K is a salary to plan for. As little as $35K will get ya by if your single and frugal.
Rich "and getting Richer...." Wolf
Stop stressing! You will have various options available to you, hopefully. Many of us went through what I like to call the "ramen noodle phase." You don't normally start out doing well!
Ways to nip it in the bud, right now:
1. keep a good relationship with your parents. It really helps to be able to stay at home from about 18-25, and saving up money!
2. if you buy a car, look for a good used model. I am 58, and have had only 4 cars, all of them used! A car is a mode of transportation. It is not necessary to get one to impress other people, unless you are a realtor or otherwise use it in your job.
3. Think about school. 4 yr degree? trade school? what? There are some employers who have tuition assistance programs (HEB?). If you can work full time, and go to school part time, it would take about 6 years. It's great to have others help in paying for it. Military option?
4. Watch your spending. Live within your means. Learn the difference between "wants" and "needs."
5. Learn about credit, interest rates, paying off loans, insurance, etc.
6. learn about disability insurance. It will pay part of your salary if you are unable to work. It is pretty inexpensive if purchased through an employer plan, or even on your own, if you are young and healthy.
7. start saving! Get the best interest you can for your money, while still being able to get to it if you need to. This is usually in money market accounts.
What does all this have to do with your question? Simple. I have known people who earned a 6-figure salary, but they were flat broke, living in their mansions, with their swimming pools, etc. So, a lot depends on lifestyle!
As you do your calculations, a good number to know is 2080. That is how many working hours are in a year. There are 4.3 weeks in a month. Remember to include money taken out for taxes. I don't know Weatherford. But, this website will help you get a more realistic picture of living expenses. I usually figure it takes at least $15/hr ($31,200 a year) to live on your own, IF you watch your money closely, and do not have a pet. Pets are extremely expensive! Unexpected expenses can set you back, so you want to learn to save. (car repairs, medical co-pays, etc).
here is another page to look at
I encourage you as you start out on your own to learn to keep records of your expenses, as it helps you to see where your money is going and where you can make changes in your spending. Having recently retired, with limited resources, it is what I do. I log each and every expense, even breaking down my grocery receipt by household, personal, food, tax. . . . The better habits you start out with, the easier it will be!
I hope this helps a little. Please check out the links - they provide a lot of useful information!