$100,000 income: No big deal anymore
Families also face modest increases in the cost of health insurance. The Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks the costs of health insurance, found in 2014 that average annual premiums for employer-sponsored health coverage increased 3 percent to $16,834. Workers on average paid $4,823 annually toward the cost of coverage. Premiums increased by 26 percent over the past five years, slower than the preceding five years, which saw costs grow 34 percent.
No matter how much someone makes, anyone who lives beyond his or her means is going to feel financially pinched. While conspicuous consumption and blatant overspending is a problem, even those who try to keep an eye on their budget spend a large portion of their income on what financial advisers call "lifestyle inflation." Koos says these are things that may not be necessities but are considered such at a certain income level. Many middle-class citizens now see cable, smartphones, tablets, computers, multiple televisions, Blu-ray players and gym memberships as "essential."
"There's almost a sense of entitlement that we need all of these things. Maybe we do, maybe we don't, but we're just at a point in time where we consider them necessities," says Koos.
All of these subscriptions, bills and products can easily add up to more than $5,000 for a family of four. Adam says that technology and those expectations lead to higher consumption and spending for households in all income levels.
"It's a big problem we see as planners. People expect more out of life than they did 20 years ago, and the cost of those things is rising, so it's a double whammy," says Adam.