How Much Money Is Enough for a Fulfilling Life? [As of 2024]

The meaning of ‘Fulfilling Life’ differs from person to person depending on several factors, such as personal values, cultural background, life experiences, and individual goals. 

In today’s world, where the benchmark for success is typically measured by the digits in our bank accounts, the role of money in achieving fulfillment cannot be ignored. 

Of course, money is not the only thing that matters, but it is one of the most important tools that give us security, opportunities, and the means to pursue our passions. It opens doors and allows us to make choices that align with our values. 

Now comes the big question: How much money is enough? 

The concept of “enough” extends far beyond the boundaries of dollars and assets. It goes deep into what we care about, what we want, and the life we want to lead. Let’s dig deeper into the complexities surrounding it. 

The short answer

Ideally, you should target accumulating 1,000 times your monthly expenses. To put this into perspective, if your monthly expense is $7,000, you need $7 million to enjoy a fulfilling and comfortable life. 

Or, you can go with another strategy called the 4% rule. It suggests that if you have 25 times your annual expenses saved, you can safely withdraw 4% of your portfolio every year to cover your expenses in retirement without depleting your savings too quickly. 

The Link Between Financial Security and Fulfillment

There is a strong connection between financial security and fulfillment, and it plays a significant role in our lives.

Financial security refers to the state of having enough money to cover your basic needs, achieve goals, and withstand unexpected financial setbacks without experiencing stress or hardship. Fulfillment, on the other hand, relates to a sense of satisfaction, contentment, and overall well-being in life. 

Financial fulfillment encompasses more than just having a specific level of wealth. It means having the freedom to make choices as per your preferences and desires, such as traveling, pursuing a particular career, or starting a business without being constrained by money-related worries. 

Achieving financial fulfillment involves finding the right balance between saving, spending, and investing. It is about enjoying life in the present while also preparing for the future. 

Factors Influencing Financial Fulfillment

There are several factors (both internal and external) that determine your relationship with money and your overall sense of satisfaction and contentment. The major ones are — 

1. Income Level and its Impact on Well-Being

Your income level directly impacts your ability to meet your basic needs and achieve financial goals. People with higher incomes have more resources to cover essential expenses like food, housing, education, and healthcare. This, in turn, reduces financial stress and contributes to overall well-being. 

However, you should know that the link between income and financial fulfillment is not linear. Beyond a certain point, the marginal utility of additional income diminishes. 

Many high-net-worth individuals experience financial stress and dissatisfaction because they mismanage their finances or fail to align their spending with their goals and values. 

2. Family Size and Responsibilities

If you have a large number of dependents, such as children or elderly family members, you may need to allocate a more significant portion of your income to meet family needs. It impacts your financial security and fulfillment. 

For example, raising a family with multiple children comes with increased financial demands for education and healthcare. 

Balancing professional and personal life can be challenging, especially for new parents. Childcare expenses like daycare or babysitters can be significant, and they can impact work schedules and career decisions. 

3. The Cost of Living in Different Regions

It varies widely from one area to another. In high-cost regions like major cities and metropolitan areas, you may need higher incomes to maintain the same quality of life as those in lower-cost regions. 

Individuals living in expensive regions may experience higher levels of financial stress as they have to allocate a more substantial portion of their incomes to basic expenses. In contrast, people living in lower-cost regions usually have more disposable income to save or invest, which ultimately contributes to greater financial fulfillment. 

However, some geographic regions have higher average incomes and a concentration of high-paying industries. People living in those areas have access to well-paying jobs and career advancement opportunities. This can offset the higher expenses. 

Tax rates and policies also play a crucial role here. Some regions have higher state taxes, while others may have lower taxes. For example, California has the highest state-level sales tax rate, while Colorado has the lowest (non-zero) state-level tax rate. 

4. Lifestyle Choices and Their Financial Implications

Lifestyle choices (such as travel habits, entertainment expenses, housing choices, and purchasing decisions) have direct financial implications. 

If you regularly spend beyond your means or borrow money to fund a lavish lifestyle, sooner or later, you will experience financial stress and dissatisfaction. On the other hand, conscious choices that align with your long-term goals, such as saving for retirement or investing in businesses, may lead to a more satisfying financial life.

Maslow’s Hierarchy and Its Relevance To Financial Fulfillment

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a psychological theory proposed by Abraham Maslow in the mid-20th century. It categorizes human needs into a hierarchical pyramid with five distinct levels.

Each level represents a category of needs that must be fulfilled in a specific order, starting from the basic physiological needs and progressing to higher-order needs.  

1. Physiological Needs include basic requirements for survival, such as water, food, clothing, and shelter. Financial security is important to meet these needs. 

2. Safety Needs include personal security, employment, health, and property. Financial security plays an important role here as well. Having a stable job, savings, and insurance provides a sense of safety and protection against unexpected events. 

3. Love and Belongingness: This level focuses on social needs, which involve friendships, relationships, and a sense of belonging to a community. While these needs are not directly related to money, having a degree of financial security allows you to participate in social activities, maintain relationships, and provide support to your loved ones. All of this contributes to a feeling of belonging and fulfillment. 

4. Esteem Needs revolve around self-confidence, self-improvement, career advancement, and pursuing accomplishments that boost self-esteem. Financial fulfillment at this stage is less about basic needs and more about achieving personal goals. 

5. Self-actualization involves realizing your full potential, pursuing personal growth, and achieving a sense of purpose. Having enough financial wealth allows you to focus on higher-level needs without being burdened by survival concerns. 

Identify Personal Values and Priorities 

Your financial goals are often tied to your personal values because they represent the practical application of what you value the most in life.

For example, if you value family and security, you will most likely set financial goals related to making a stable income, purchasing a home, or building an emergency fund to protect against financial crises. 

To set a proper goal, identify your life priorities and core values. Take time for self-reflection and ask yourself some basic questions like

  • What is most important to me in life? 
  • What brings me a sense of purpose and fulfillment?
  • What kind of legacy do I want to leave?

You can make a list of your core values and prioritize them. These values should be related to family, personal growth, career, financial security, or community involvement. 

Set SMART Financial Goals

SMART is a goal-setting framework used to define and achieve realistic goals. It is short for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Let’s break down each component. 


Be clear about what you want to achieve financially. Your goal should be precise and unambiguous. It should answer questions of what, why, where, who, and how. 

For example, instead of creating a goal to invest money, make it more specific: “Invest $20,000 over the next two years in S&P 500 index funds for a down payment on a new home.  


Quantify your goals using numbers, percentages, or relevant metrics. This will help you measure your progress and determine what and when you have achieved.  

For example, instead of aiming to reduce debt, make it measurable: Pay off $4,000 in credit card debt within the next ten months by making monthly payments of $400. 


Do not aim for what is impossible to achieve in the short term. Carefully assess your financial situation and see whether the goal is feasible. It should be attainable within your current circumstances and resources. 

For example, if your annual income is $50,000, don’t aim to accumulate $2 million in a year. Instead, save a percentage of your income that aligns with your long-term financial plan. 


As discussed before, your goal should be personally meaningful and relevant. It should reflect your overall financial plans and core values. 

For example, if you are in your early 30s, don’t start a college fund for your future children. Focusing on career and prioritizing retirement plans would make more sense. 


Determine a realistic timeframe to achieve your goals. It would be better if you put a deadline by which each goal should be achieved. 

For example, instead of saying, “I want to invest in ETFs,” make it time-bound: I will invest $30,000 in a NASDAQ within the next three years for long-term wealth growth. 

This framework makes it easier to track your progress and stay motivated throughout the long money-making journey. It improves your financial planning and decision-making process, ultimately leading to greater financial success and fulfillment. 

Balance Short-Term and Long-Term Objectives

While short-term and long-term objectives have different characteristics, they are interconnected. You have to balance both by managing your immediate financial requirements while also planning for future goals like homeownership, retirement, or starting a business. 

Short-Term Objectives  Long-Term Objectives 
The time horizon is typically one year or less Goals for the more distant future
Focus on addressing current financial needs Focus on life goals and building wealth
Requires temporary adjustments in spending Requires consistent discipline and lifestyle changes
Prioritize paying off high-interest debt Prioritize saving and investing for the future
Examples include paying off credit card debt, taking a vacation, or creating an emergency fund Examples include buying a home, saving for retirement, or funding a child’s education

Successfully managing both objectives can lead to financial stability and allow you to pursue life goals confidently. 

Let’s Do the Math 

List your expenses 

Make a list of your monthly expenses to identify all your specific monthly financial obligations and discretionary spending. This may include 

Items Cost
Rent or mortgage payment $1050
Groceries  $800
Utilities (electricity, water, internet) $750
Transportation (gas, public transit, car loan)  $650
Loan payments (personal loans) $500
Social Security contributions  $450
Healthcare $450
Entertainment and dining out $350
Miscellaneous (clothes, car repairs, vet bills, toiletries, haircuts, etc.) $600

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average American household spends $5,577 per month. That equals $66,928 per year, which is quite close to the average annual income of $78,743 after taxes. 

Take Inflation into account 

Consider the retail inflation for all your spending. Even though the yearly inflation rate is about 6%, different parts of the economy may see varying levels of inflation. 

For example, food prices have been rising faster than the overall inflation rate, while services prices have been rising at a slower pace than goods prices. 

Project future growth 

Now that you know the amount you spend every year and the average inflation, use this information to estimate your expenses for the rest of your life. 

In the United States, the average life expectancy for men is approximately 73.5 years, and for women, it’s about 79.3 years. In the European Union, these are 77.7 and 83.3 years, respectively. 

Taxes and Investments 

Take taxes and investments into account because they can both have a substantial impact on wealth accumulation. 

With strategic tax planning, you can keep more of what you earn and improve your ability to invest for the future. Investments, on the other hand, are the engines that make your money grow over time.

A well-balanced and tax-efficiency investment strategy is key to achieving long-term financial goals while minimizing unnecessary tax losses. 

Balancing Act: Finding Your ‘Enough’

While financial goal varies from person to person, it should always reflect what brings you genuine happiness and fulfillment. 

But how much is enough? Is there any specific amount? 

Ideally, you should target accumulating 1,000 times your monthly expenses. To put this into perspective, if your monthly expense is $7,000, you need $7 million to enjoy a fulfilling and comfortable life. 

The 4% Rule

Or, you can go with another strategy called the 4% rule. It suggests that if you have 25 times your annual expenses saved, you can safely withdraw 4% of your portfolio every year to cover your expenses in retirement without depleting your savings too quickly. 

The 4% rule provides a high probability of not running out of money during retirement (historically estimated to be over 90%). The rule is based on historical investment returns of a balanced portfolio (60% stocks and 40% bonds). This mix of assets is preferred for its potential to provide growth while managing risk.

As per this 4% rule, if you have $2.1 million saved for retirement, you can withdraw $84,000 per year or $7,000 per month. In the subsequent years, adjust the initial withdrawal amount for inflation. Assuming an average inflation rate of 3% per year, you’d increase the $84,000 by 3% each year.

1,000 times your monthly expense

In contrast, if your goal is to amass wealth equal to 1,000 times your monthly expenses, you’re effectively establishing a substantial financial cushion. This gives you a higher degree of financial security, especially if you want to retire early or have a more aggressive withdrawal rate than 4%. 

If your monthly expenses come to around $7,000, having $7 million in savings and investments is sufficient to cover your living costs without relying on a traditional job. 

This much money allows you to better withstand the erosive effects of inflation over time. It also provides a buffer against unexpected expenses, economic downturns, and financial emergencies, contributing to financial stability and peace of mind. 

Moreover, saving/investing beyond your needs can also enable you to leave a financial legacy for your heirs or support charitable causes that are important to you.

Revisit and Adjust Financial Goals

Financial goals are dynamic and ever-evolving. As your priorities, aspirations, and life circumstances change, you may need to readjust your financial goals. Following are some situations when you might consider revisiting and adjusting your goals. 

  • Change in income
  • Major life events like marriage, buying a home, or having children
  • Changes in job, career advancement, or starting a business 
  • Emergency situations, such as medical bills, inheritance, or windfalls

You should review and update your goals at least once a year to ensure they remain in alignment with your evolving values and priorities. 

It is important to note that financial fulfillment comes not just from achieving more money but from the process of aligning your financial decisions with your values and priorities. It’s about living a life that reflects what you truly care about. This will lead to a sense of purpose, contentment, and lasting financial well-being. 

Conclusion –  There is no one-size-fits-all model 

Since people have different circumstances, financial goals, values, priorities, and risk tolerance capabilities, there is no one-size-fits-all model. Achieving financial fulfillment is a very personal and unique journey for each individual.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How much money is enough to live comfortably?

While it depends on a number of factors, such as your location and lifestyle, you need to earn at least $68,000 a year to live a comfortable life in major cities in the United States. 

How much money is considered rich in the United States? 

According to financial services company Charles Schwab’s annual Modern Wealth Survey, you need at least $2.2 million in assets to be considered wealthy in the United States. This includes your home, cars, investments, and other assets. 

However, the number can vary significantly depending on where you live. For example, in San Francisco, you need a net worth of $4.7 million to be considered wealthy. In New York City and Seattle, this figure is $3.3 million and $3.1 million, respectively.

Can I achieve financial fulfillment without a high income?

Of course. High income isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for financial fulfillment. Financial fulfillment is primarily about aligning your financial goals with your values and managing your money wisely. It is about making the most of what you have and finding contentment in your financial situation. 

What if my financial goals change over time?

Life is dynamic — your circumstances, priorities, and aspirations evolve over time. So, it is perfectly normal for financial goals to change, and adapting your plans accordingly is a sign of financial maturity. 

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Written by
Varun Kumar

I am a professional technology and business research analyst with more than a decade of experience in the field. My main areas of expertise include software technologies, business strategies, competitive analysis, and staying up-to-date with market trends.

I hold a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. If you'd like to learn more about my latest projects and insights, please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at [email protected].

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