We earn over £100,000, so why don’t we feel rich?

3 min read

New NatWest research shows 25% of people earning six figure salaries no longer consider themselves ‘rich’. Polly Dunbar asks three women what’s going on…

EVIE * IS FULLY aware that, to most people, her life is enviably comfortable. A corporate lawyer, she has a similarly successful husband, three children and a spacious house in a leafy part of north London where Ganni beanies and Artipoppe baby carriers are de rigueur. ‘In so many ways, I’m very fortunate,’ she says. ‘But we’re struggling to afford our life.’

The cost of living crisis is affecting women across Britain in countless ways, dictating everything from where they shop to whether they can afford to buy a home or have a baby. With more than one in five people now living in poverty, some face decisions as stark as whether they feed their children or themselves.

Evie earns just over £100,000 a year, which puts her in the top 4% of earners nationally. Yet while six figures has long been viewed as a benchmark for wealth, she is among the more than a quarter of people identified by NatWest who exceed that figure yet wouldn’t describe themselves in those terms.

‘We’re far from rich,’ says the 42-year-old. ‘Our lifestyle isn’t particularly flashy, but our mortgage went up recently to almost £4,000 per month, and nursery for our younger two kids comes to over £3,000. Our eldest is at the local state primary school, but we have to pay for wraparound care for him.

‘Our energy bills have gone through the roof and then there’s council tax, water, insurance, food, clothing, phone bills – it’s endless. At the end of the month, there’s nothing left, which makes me anxious and stressed. We’re constantly talking about moving somewhere cheaper, but I doubt we’d save much as we’d still need to commute into the city for work.’

Evie isn’t expecting sympathy; she realises most people are facing far greater hardship. But her situation illustrates that, when it comes to wealth, the goalposts have shifted significantly since before the pandemic.

‘Sadly, even £100,000, which used to be seen as the holy grail of salaries, is now nowhere near enough to be able to call yourself wealthy, as wealth relies on there being disposable income to save or invest,’ says Lesley Thomas, founder of The Money Confidence Academy.

‘By the time you factor in mortgage rates quadrupling from 18 months ago, energy bills at their highest ever and sky-high childcare costs, for many earning this much, just about keeping their head above water is all they can do.’

ZOE WHITMAN’S lifestyle and business coaching company brings in more than £100,000 each year, but

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