Money, Cars and Kids: What 2,000 People Said It Means to Make It in America

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At The Penny Hoarder, we love to share ways for our readers to make and save money. But the goals people have for what they want to do with their money vary widely.

For some, it’s the freedom to travel. For others, it’s to have capital to start their own businesses.

My money goals center around the ability to one day enjoy homeownership and to afford to expand my family.

Thermosoft, a U.S. manufacturer of electric floor heating products, recently polled 2,000 people to get an idea of what it means to “make it” in America — their vision of what a successful life looks like.

The company asked people about how different aspects of their current lives — including income, employment and family life — stacked up against their opinions of how they imagined their ideal lives to be.

Not surprisingly, those polled seemed to view success with having more… or having more expensive things!

Respondents wanted a home worth an average of $461,000 and a car worth an average of about $42,000 for their ideal life. In reality, their home and car values averaged about $248,000 and under $16,000, respectively.

More education was a goal for some. Half the people polled believed “making it” meant having an advanced degree, though only 15% had a master’s degree or doctorate.

And, of course, making more money was viewed as a big benchmark for success. For those who replied that they hadn’t yet reached their ideal life situation, 67% said having the income they desired was the main thing missing.

The average person polled thought a salary of about $147,000 was the standard for having “made it,” while their real salaries averaged about $57,000.

They also defined success as working fewer hours, commuting less and having more vacation time. When asked about their ideal workplace environment, more would work from home.

The survey’s respondents viewed wealth and freedom as higher priorities above respect, fame or having less responsibility.

But having more money wasn’t all for greedy pursuits. When asked, “What’s the epitome of ‘making it’ financially?” the top responses were not worrying about medical bills, being able to loan money to loved ones and being able to donate a significant amount to charity.

And despite the desired boost in pay, 77% of those polled said they wouldn’t want more than $1 million in annual income, even if it were offered.

Having someone to share their lives with was important to respondents. Only 46% of the people polled were married, but nearly 80% said their ideal life included being married. Four out of five also said having kids was a part of their vision for the life they wanted.

The poll showed once they “made it,” people would want to spend the biggest chunk of their time with family and friends — above exploring, working, relaxing or helping others in need.

Tips for Accomplishing Your Life Goals

If you find what you ultimately want in life is similar to those who took Thermosoft’s poll, we have some posts to help you get there.

Want to make a higher salary? Here’s how to negotiate your pay.

Or try job hopping. This woman shares how switching jobs led her to a major salary boost. Here’s advice on how to write a shining resume and cover letter to land your next gig.

Do you desire a work-from-home job? Make sure to “like” The Penny Hoarder Jobs page on Facebook. We post about opportunities for remote work all the time.

Or convince your boss to let you work from home. This guide to asking for a flexible work schedule might help.

Looking to upgrade to a better home? This Realtor shares tips for navigating the home buying process.

Want to drop your dough on a new car? Here are 10 tips to keeping you from overspending on your new vehicle purchase.

Found that perfect person to spend your life with? If you’re heading down the aisle, we’ve got some helpful posts for keeping the costs down.

Get inspiration from this couple who spent under $7,000 on a 130-guest wedding. Another couple saved an estimated $21,781 on their wedding with help from eight websites. You’ll also want to check out this ultimate guide to saving money when you get married.

A budget wedding isn’t for everyone though. While your financial adviser may frown at borrowing money for the big day, here’s how one couple benefitted from a wedding loan.

Is having kids is in your vision of an ideal life? You’ll want to be aware of the cost to raise a child (and not be as clueless as some expecting parents). Start your journey into parenthood on a thrifty level with these 31 ways to save on baby gear.

P.S.: Here’s a whole bunch of free baby stuff.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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