It Costs $130K to Live the 'American Dream'
That'll get you and your 2 kids a house, SUV, and more, per a 'USA Today' analysis
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2014 7:59 AM CDT
Living the American dream doesn't come cheap.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(Newser) – As Americans today celebrate their freedom, a USA Today analysis calculates just how much it costs to live the American dream. And its number-crunching indicates only about 13% of Americans can foot the bill, which clocks in at $130,357 a year for a family of four. Per Census Bureau numbers, one in eight US households made that much money last year, with the median income being $51,000. What $130K could, in theory, get those who made the cut:

  • A home, at $17,062: What's the American dream without one's own home? USA Today estimated the annual cost of a $275,000 home (the median price in the nation) based on a 30-year mortgage at 4% and a 10% down payment, plus a factored-in annual maintenance cost.
  • Groceries, at $12,659: A figure based on the USDA's estimate of a "moderate-cost" grocery plan.

  • A car, at $11,039: An SUV of course, and one with four-wheel drive, based on AAA numbers.
  • Healthcare, at $9,144: The paper used the Milliman Medical Index to arrive at the figure, which includes annual insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
  • Good standing with Uncle Sam, at $32,357: Federal, state, and local taxes were calculated at 30%.
  • Schooled kids, at $9,000: That covers expenses for the year plus pretax college savings.
  • A secure future, at $17,500: That's the amount earmarked as the annual pretax contribution to a retirement plan—the max if you're under 50.
  • Summer vacation, at $4,580: Because what's the American dream if you can't get away for a little while?
  • Game of Thrones, Facebook, etc., at $3,100: A figure that gets you cable, Internet, and your cell phone.
Amounts were also earmarked for dining out, entertainment, utilities, etc. Full breakdown here.

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Jeff Haugan
Jul 8, 2014 9:56 PM CDT
I've been living the American dream very nicely on half of that thank you. $11,000 a year on an SUV? Mine has been paid for, for over a decade and still going strong. A Tahoe LT that I bought at 2 years of age for $16,000.(The other car is paid for as is the boat) My five bedroom two bath house cost me $90,000 (in a nice quiet middle class neighborhood) and runs me with taxes, insurance and mortgage about $580 a month. Groceries run me about ten grand so that is at lest close, but I hardly call it moderate. We eat pretty darn good on that. You can do a lot of vacation for $4,000 a year. I have been to mainland China a number of times for a lot less than that, but of course, that was just me, not the family. At $130,00 a year, that puts you in the top 10% of income earners and most of us are doing just fine on a lot less. I almost forgot, that also includes a pension, nice annuity plus my SS which will leave me a nice little income. And yes, I will probably always work, even if only the old fart who greets people at Wally World
Jul 7, 2014 4:16 PM CDT
The American Dream. The writer has it all wrong. That dream is like success. It has a different meaning for each American. Some dream to be rich, others just comfortable and still others just want to have fun. The dream is individual and as Americans each of us get to define it because our economic system, personal and professional advancement and where we live does not depend on a class system, religious preference or determined by dictators. The dream does not include 4 kids for everyone, for those in the inner city it doesn't include a car - it varies by personal preference. What was listed above is all material. The American dream is not material its who we want to be as a person as we acquire that dream. The image of the person provided implies one that likes adoration and keeping up with the Jones - not all of us feel the need to do that.
Jul 5, 2014 2:48 PM CDT
Or just apply for welfare.