A six-figure salary is still a great income, but the quality of life it provides is highly dependent on geography, family size and lifestyle. Making a six-figure salary as a single person in Houston is drastically different from raising a family of four on $100,000 in Boston.
Here are five reasons why that prized income no longer buys the high-end lifestyle it once did.
The inflation rate was 3.2 percent in 2011 and 2.1 percent in 2012. That's significantly lower than sky-high inflation rates of the '70s and '80s, but gas, food prices, college tuition and the cost of health care have taken the biggest bites out of six-figure incomes. The latter two, plus the cost of housing, have risen faster than the rate of inflation over the past decade.
"Everyone spent money on these things 30 years ago, but they're spending a higher percentage of their income on it now, especially housing, health care and tuition," says Mari Adam of Adam Financial Associates in Boca Raton, Fla.
While the cost of everything has gone up, Americans still equate the "six-figure" milestone to wealth and prosperity. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, for a person to have the same purchasing power in 2012 as a $100,000 income earner in 1980 did, he or she would need to earn nearly $279,000.
"If $100,000 income doesn't even buy half of what it once did, it makes you wonder about people living on the median income (of $50,502)," says Adam. "It underlines the fact that times are getting tougher for everyone."