CNBC make it 2024-03-28 02:00:52

The income a family of 4 needs to live comfortably in 20 major U.S. cities

A family of four needs to make more than $275,000 to live comfortably in some of the most expensive U.S. cities, a recent SmartAsset analysis reveals.

“Comfortable” is defined as the income needed to cover a 50/30/20 budget for a family of two adults and two kids. This budget assumes that 50% of the monthly income can pay for necessities like housing and utility costs, 30% can cover discretionary spending and 20% can be set aside for savings or investments.

SmartAsset extrapolated the income needed for a 50/30/20 budget based on the cost of necessities, using data from the MIT Living Wage Calculator.

Here’s a look how much income a family of four needs to live comfortably in the 20 most expensive U.S. cities: 

  1. San Francisco: $339,123
  2. San Jose, California: $334,547
  3. Boston: $319,738
  4. Arlington, Virginia: $318,573
  5. New York City: $318,406
  6. Oakland, California: $316,243
  7. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii: $299,520
  8. Irvine, California: $291,450
  9. Santa Ana, California: $291,450
  10. Portland, Oregon: $289,786
  11. San Diego: $289,453
  12. Chula Vista, California: $289,453
  13. Newark, New Jersey: $285,043
  14. Jersey City, New Jersey: $285,043
  15. Seattle: $283,712
  16. Aurora, Colorado: $280,467
  17. Long Beach, California: $280,218
  18. Anaheim, California: $280,218
  19. Los Angeles: $276,557
  20. Washington, D.C.: $275,642

San Francisco is the most expensive overall, with an income of $339,123 needed for a family of four. That’s followed by other cities known for having notoriously expensive housing costs, including Boston, New York City, Honolulu and Los Angeles.

In California, homes are about twice as expensive as the typical U.S. home, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, a nonpartisan government agency in that state. The state also has the fourth-highest cost of living in the U.S., based on 2023 Council for Community & Economic Research survey data.

Out of all 99 cities SmartAsset examined, a family of four would need a median of $226,886 to live comfortably. In Houston, the income needed drops to $175,219 — the lowest of all cities examined. But that’s still higher than the median family income in the U.S. of $92,750, according to the most recent U.S. Census bureau data available.

While employers in these high-cost cities tend to offer higher-than-average salaries as a way to attract and retain talent, housing costs can make it difficult to maintain a 50/30/20 budget.

And in large cities, housing costs often exceed 30% of a household income, leaving little room for other necessities like utilities, food and transportation. To make ends meet, families might skip out on homeownership, owning a vehicle or discretionary purchases.

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36-year-old launched a business to help her ‘move out of my dad’s house’—now it’s worth $2 billion

Amber Venz Box launched RewardStyle in 2011 with a relatively modest goal: make enough money to move out of her father’s house.

“I was in my early 20s, living at home, still eating my dad’s cereal,” Box, now 36, tells CNBC Make It.

She did that, and more. Box’s Dallas-based marketing company, now called LTK, helped pioneer the modern creator economy, connecting influencers and bloggers with retail brands’ advertising dollars. It was most recently valued at $2 billion, after a 2021 investment from Japanese investment holding company SoftBank.

In true early 2010s fashion, that journey started with an unpaid blog. Specifically, a fashion blog: After working as a fit model, an intern at Thakoon and an assistant buyer at a luxury boutique, Box wanted to build an online presence as a personal shopper.

The problem with that strategy, Box says, is that people could take free fashion advice from her blog without actually hiring her. Early fashion bloggers weren’t yet commonly using affiliate marketing technology, where websites drive traffic to a retailer’s online shop in exchange for a cut of those eventual sales.

But the concept of affiliate marketing was intriguing to Box, who saw it as a way to apply her personal shopping business model to her blog and turn it into a profitable full-time job. She asked her then-boyfriend, an electrical engineer and tech analyst named Baxter Box — today, they’re married with four kids — if he could help.

They each spent $500 to $1,000 of their own money to build a website that could accommodate affiliate links, she estimates. When they realized they could sell similar tech to other bloggers, RewardStyle was born.

At the time, Box had only ”$260-something in my bank account,” she says.

The couple scraped together an additional $1,000 from friends and family, some of which went toward renting a single-room residential apartment as their first office space, says Box.

“I told the leasing agent, ‘We’re going to run a business here. I probably will sleep here a lot too. Is that OK?’ He’s like, ‘Fine with me,’” Box says.

They hired a software engineer to help run the site and used liquidation sales to furnish their office space. “We found a defunct business in Fort Worth and drove over in Suburbans and trucks, and loaded up some chairs and some desks,” says Box. “For my birthday that year, I got a Keurig, so our sole engineer was happy that he had coffee.”

Today, LTK employs more than 800 people, and hundreds of thousands of online creators have used its platform to earn at least $2.7 billion in total payouts from retailers since 2011, according to the company. Over that time, the platform has helped 240 influencers — all women — become millionaires, Box says.

“Our mission has always been to make creators as economically successful as possible,” she says. ”[LTK] started because I wanted to move out of my dad’s house, I wanted to keep making money as a personal shopper and I wanted my friends to be able to do the same.”

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Remote workers who switch to in-office jobs are boosting their pay by as much as 30%, says new research

Getting people back to the office comes with a steep price tag — and those willing to swap their remote job for working in an office full-time could see the biggest change in their paychecks.

Salaries for fully in-office roles are climbing in the United States. Companies are offering an average $82,037 for in-person roles, a nearly 40% jump from what these roles paid in 2023 ($59,085), according to ZipRecruiter data provided to CNBC Make It.

Wages for remote and hybrid jobs haven’t grown nearly as much. As of March 2024, hybrid roles pay $59,992 on average, in 2023, that number was $54,034, ZipRecruiter reports. Remote jobs now pay $75,327, but in 2023, they paid an average $69,107. ZipRecruiter’s research is based on job listings from its platform and survey responses from more than 1,500 U.S. adults who started new jobs in 2023.

Those who switched from a remote job to an in-office job last year received a 29.2% pay bump — nearly double that of those who left an in-person job to work remotely. By comparison, job switchers who leave one remote role for another receive a 22.1% pay bump, while those who switch between in-office roles see a 23.2% increase in their salaries.

Johnny Bui, 25, left his remote consulting job in October 2023 for a hybrid position at the same level and is earning 33% more in his new role. 

Bui, who works as a product analyst at Visa out of their Austin, Texas office, says he was happy to sacrifice the ability to work from home full time for better pay.

Given how competitive the job market has been in recent months — especially for remote roles — Bui says it’s a “fair trade-off.”

“People have gotten used to working remotely since the start of the pandemic to the point where it’s become a habit, and habits are difficult to get rid of,” he says. “At the same time, a lot of people are motivated monetarily, so I think higher pay is a smart incentive to get people back to the office. It at least sweetens the pot.”

Interest in remote work remains strong even as fewer employers offer it. Despite making up less than 10% of all job postings in the U.S., remote jobs receive nearly half (46%) of all applications, according to recent research from LinkedIn. 

Wage increases for in-person jobs coincide with more companies cracking down on enforcing their return-to-office mandates. 

A whopping 90% of companies plan to implement some type of return-to-office policy by the end of 2024, an August 2023 Resume Builder survey found. Nearly 30% say their company will threaten to fire employees who don’t comply with in-office requirements.

While some companies are taking more punitive approaches to enforce return-to-office mandates, others are using bigger paychecks as a tool to lure workers back to their desks. 

“If employers can’t compete on flexibility, they’re having to compete more aggressively on pay,” says Julia Pollak, ZipRecruiter’s chief economist. “The hope is that better pay might be enough to draw people back to the office,” she adds.

It could work. Employees who split their time between home and the office say the top work perk that would get them to come in more is their company covering commuting costs, according to a recent report from videoconferencing company Owl Labs.

Giving workers higher salaries to offset the cost of commuting is one way to meet that demand, Pollak points out.

Some companies might also be using better compensation to improve retention. Turnover remains high in industries with fewer remote opportunities, including transportation, manufacturing, health care and leisure and hospitality. 

“There’s still quite a lot of churn in the industries where in-person work is more common,” says Pollak. “Employers in these fields might have experimented with short-term solutions to recruit more workers like sign-on bonuses or additional paid time off to get talent in the door, but those are just Band-Aids.” 

She continues: “It seems like more employers are realizing that you need long-term strategies, whether it’s improving salaries or introducing better health-care packages, to hold on to your best workers.” 

It’s too soon to tell if higher salaries will be enough to convince people to choose an in-office job over a remote offer. Several studies have shown that people are willing to take a pay cut to work remotely. 

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.

Don’t use these phrases in a job interview, they are ‘major red flags,’ says ex-Google recruiter

There are several tactics you can employ to impress a prospective employer during a job interview.

Tell your interviewer what excites you about the role, for example. This shows you’re a passionate person who is genuinely interested in the opportunity. Ask what problem you can solve for them on day one to start setting yourself up for success if you get hired. Nod and smile while the interviewer is speaking to show you’re confident and capable.

There are, of course, a few behaviors you’ll want to avoid, such as phrases that could turn your interviewer off. Some are “major red flags,” says Nolan Church, former recruiter at Google and CEO of salary data company FairComp.

Here’s what Church advises jobseekers to avoid saying.

‘I work too hard’ or ‘I’m a perfectionist’

To begin with, when an interviewer asks what you can improve on, don’t use phrases that make it sound like you think you have nothing to learn. These can be phrases like “I work too hard” or “I’m a perfectionist,” says Church. They’re framed as character flaws when, really, they’re compliments.

DON’T MISS: The ultimate guide to acing your interview and landing your dream job

When you do, the perception is that “you are full of s—,” he says. “You are inauthentic.” They could think you’re either not being honest about who you are as a person or you genuinely think you can’t get better as a worker.

Remember, “I’m not hiring you to be perfect,” he says. “I’m hiring you to grow with us.” Instead of these empty phrases, Church recommends giving an example of a mistake you made, what you learned from it and how you improved going forward.

‘Anything that transfers blame’ is a turn off

Don’t say anything negative about people you’ve worked with.

Whether it’s a former colleague, manager or company, “anything that transfers blame from you to someone else” sounds bad, says Church.

“The people you want to work with take full ownership and accountability” of what they’ve done in the past, he says, even if you messed up. Taking responsibility indicates you’re humble enough to admit you’re not perfect and that you’re willing to learn from your mistakes and get better.

“You want to work with people who have the self-awareness to know when they were wrong and to update their own mental models to fix it,” he says.

‘I don’t know’

Finally, avoid answering questions with “I don’t know.”

When he hears that, Church thinks, “okay, so, like, conversation’s over? You’re not going to solve these problems?” he says.

Especially as it pertains to young people just starting their careers, it’s possible you don’t have a lot experience or anecdotes to draw from and give concrete examples of what you’ve been able to accomplish. In those scenarios, “it’s okay to say, ‘I don’t know, but here’s how I’d figure it out,’” he says. Give some examples of how you’d tackle the problem hypothetically to show you’d be proactive in moving forward.

Ultimately, if you get the job, “we’re paying you to go solve this problem” they’re presenting, he says. Even in the interview, you’ll have to prove that you can do that.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.

Venting won’t help, new study shows—this is the No. 1 way to manage your anger

After a frustrating day at work or fight with your significant other, calling a friend to complain might seem like a good idea. 

Venting won’t help you manage your anger, though, according to a recent paper published in Clinical Psychology Review

Researchers studied how effective arousal-increasing activities, like venting or running, and arousal-decreasing activities, like meditation or yoga, are at calming a person down. 

They analyzed 154 studies involving more than 10,000 participants and found that arousal-decreasing activities were better at helping a person manage their anger. 

Next time you want to unload your problems on a friend, take a beat and consider meditating instead. 

Where am I placing my attention?

If you’ve never meditated before, it can be hard to know if you’re practicing in a way that will prove beneficial.

Jade Weston, a senior meditation producer at Ten Percent Happier who has been meditating for 15 years, offered CNBC Make It three guiding questions you can ask yourself while practicing:

  • Where am I placing my attention? Take note of where your mind wanders and try to refocus it on your breath. 
  • How am I feeling right now? Think about what mood you’re in. Don’t try to change it, just take stock of how you’re feeling.
  • What is my intention? Remind yourself why you wanted to pursue meditation. This can motivate you to continue.

Answering these questions can help you feel more present in the moment. 

’15 to 20 minutes will give you just the changes that you need’

You don’t have to meditate for a long time in order to see positive results, Vishen Lakhiani, a meditation expert and CEO of Mindvalley told CNBC Make It

Lakhiani recommends meditating for no more than 20 minutes a day. But, sometimes, you only need one minute to reset. 

“For most people, 15 to 20 minutes will give you just the changes that you need,” he said. “You can take a one- to three-minute dip into peacefulness, and you can see remarkable results.”

A few minutes of silence could help lower your frustration levels, more so than ranting to a relative.

Want to make extra money outside of your day job? Sign up for CNBC’s new online course How to Earn Passive Income Online to learn about common passive income streams, tips to get started and real-life success stories. Register today and save 50% with discount code EARLYBIRD.