You Don’t Need a “Six-Figure Income” to be Financially Successful (A Post for Writers)

While homeschooling my youngest, I am having him go through the book titled Everyday Millionaires by Chris Hogan as part of his Personal Finance class. I came across a very interesting piece of information that I think will relieve a lot of writers of the stress of having to make that golden “six-figure income”.

Here it is: “One-third of millionaires never had a six-figure household income in a single working year. Only 31% of them averaged $100,000 household income in a single working year.” (That’s on page 73 of the book.)

That’s great news, everyone. Okay, yes, I realize that means two-thirds of the millionaires did earn “six-figures”. But NOT all of them did, and that is good news. Why? I’ll explain below.

Over and over, this push for “six-figures” is a theme that keeps popping up in the writing community. This is in most writing groups, on podcasts, in blog posts, in online courses, and in books. Everything seems to revolve around the “six-figure income”. Everything. If making six figures isn’t your goal, you are not a “serious” writer. If you don’t make six-figures, you run the risk of feeling like a failure, and then you might conclude there’s no hope for you. And it is way harder to get the respect and approval of other writers if you aren’t making this kind of money.

Well, today I’m happy to say that it’s not how much you make that matters. It’s what you do with the money you earn that matters most. It’s a lot easier to get ahead if you have no debt. That’s why I avoid debt like the plague now. When you’re in debt, you’re not only forfeiting your future income to someone else (most often a bank), but you’re also paying interest on that debt, which means you’re paying more for the item you purchased than what it’s really worth.

I get that we all need a place to live and a car to drive. But the key is to pick a house and car that you will keep long-term. That way, when you pay them off, you have the benefit of owning those things outright. Then you can take the money you used to hand over to the creditor and put that in savings or an investment account instead. This allows you to get ahead. The problem comes up when you are constantly trading your cars in for a newer model or swapping homes because you like moving around a lot. If you like to move around a lot, rent instead of buy. You’ll be much further ahead in the long run. (My husband and I use to get newer cars all the time. The dealerships and banks loved us, but we were robbing ourselves of our financial sanity by rolling over one car loan into another. Also, we lost a lot of money when we sold our house in 2015 to move to Montana. For one, moving itself is expensive, and two, the new place you buy always needs some kind of work to get it the way you want it. We should have just kept renting while in Nebraska until we were ready to settle down in one spot.)

Also, cutting back on expenses overall helps, but this is common sense stuff and I’m sure we all know the ways that are best to do that. I won’t weigh down the post with all of that.

At this point, I’m sure everyone is wondering, “Is there a point to all of this?”

Yes, and I’ll get there right now.

A happy writer is one who isn’t stressed out about how many books they need to sell in order to bring in a certain level of income each month. You don’t need a lot of things to make you happy. Real happiness comes from being content with what you already have. Sure, look for ways to improve your situation, but don’t let the “I don’t have this” mindset rob you of enjoying what you have in this moment. If you woke up this morning with a roof over your head, food on the table, and clothes on your back, you’re already doing better than some of the world’s population. That is something to be thankful for. I’m afraid that our culture has become so materialistic that we have lost sight of just how blessed we really are. And losing sight of this blessing has made a lot of people miserable because no matter how much they make, they still aren’t happy. You might end up making a six-figure income with your writing, but it’s not going to magically make all of your problems fade away.

Also, you don’t need to be a millionaire to be happy. Personally, my goal isn’t to be a millionaire. My goal is to not have to worry about how many books I sell in a month in order to pay my bills. That requires a certain level of financial independence. The better you position yourself financially, the less reliant you are on sales to make ends meet. That removes a lot of stress from our lives and allows us the freedom to write more of what we want than writing what the market wants.

I’ve come across authors who are making a lot of money, but they’re writing to market, and this is making them miserable. They hate what they’re doing, but this is the only way they can make money right now, especially when businesses have closed up due to Covid. A few writers said they lost their jobs and need their writing to make ends meet, so they are stuck and absolutely hate it. But things other than Covid can come along. I know of a couple of writers who had to stay home to take care of a loved one full-time, and they are relying on their writing income to pay the bills. The problem in all of these scenarios is that these writers didn’t have money saved aside to help buffer them. That’s why it’s good to save what you can while you can. The stuff you save today could act as a buffer in case the unthinkable happens to you.

I believe in having some fun. You don’t want life to pass you by while you sit at home all the time. You need to live life. But the key is to find the balance between spending and saving. You do want to build up good memories with loved ones. The more well-rounded your life is, the happier you’ll be. And when you’re happy, you’ll get more enjoyment out of writing.

That’s all I have to contribute to this topic at the moment. I found it very encouraging to read about that millionaire myth since I saw how it can apply to writers. I hope this post will relieve the anxiety some writers feel about not making a six-figure income. People who made less than six-figures a year were able to become millionaires. If they can build up their wealth on less then six-figures, you can have a good writing career on less than that, too.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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7 Responses to You Don’t Need a “Six-Figure Income” to be Financially Successful (A Post for Writers)

  1. I really like Chris Hogan. He, Dave Ramsey, and Dave’s daughter, Rachel Cruz give a lot of common sense advice. I would hate to have a job that I didn’t at least partly enjoy. After all I’ve been through this past year, I’m learning to love so many things about life. I still get really discouraged sometimes, but I know healing takes time. So if I had a job I hated, things would be so much worse!

    You are so right about how it’s what you do with the money you have that matters more than how much you make. People sometimes make very poor choices. People with lots of money often lose it all because of those poor choices. Others who make less money can make better choices and do better than the ones with lots of money. And they’re so much happier if they’re doing what they love instead of worrying about making so much money.

    • I agree that having a job you can at least partly enjoy makes a big difference. I can’t remember if I ever mentioned it, but I once had a job that paid well but made me so miserable that I used to cry in the car for 10 or so minutes before going into the building. I couldn’t even enjoy days off because I had the job waiting for me the next day. I finally quit and took a much lower paying job that I was happy with. I’d rather look for ways to learn to live on less than ever put myself through a drop I hate.

      I’m glad there’s been a silver lining to all you’ve been going through. I hope you will continue to heal.

  2. Six figures? I would be happy with five!
    Just kidding. In all seriousness, though, while I would love to make a living off my writing, I’m not changing how I’m writing to do it. Especially not when I’m making good money at my day job and when I’m writing stories I enjoy.
    The good news is, my following is growing bit by bit, and I’ve had quite a few more sales lately. So it may be slow, but perhaps I’ll get to the point where writing may help put a dent in my smaller bills. And after that, who knows? As long as I keep writing and enjoying what I’m doing, anything’s possible.

    • I know you’re joking about the five, but honestly, that is how I look at things when people complain they aren’t making six. People can live just fine on five as long as they’re not spending a ton of money everywhere. I don’t know why the writing community is so fixated on having to make six.

      I think the slow and steady growing fanbase is the best because you know those are people who want to buy the books you publish. Someone in an interview I heard on The Creative Penn a couple of years ago said if you can get 1,000 people to buy everything you publish, you can make a living as a writer. Of course, being wise with your money and living modestly all goes into that, but you can make a million a year and waste it all. I really believe that in the long run if writers put out stories they love writing, it’ll pay off because the readers they attract will be ones who will stick with them.

  3. Gail Adam says:

    I bought “A Deceptive Wager” this morning on Kobo, I am a bit behind in keeping up with your novels.. But I will buy any book you write with Chris and Ethan included as characters. Love those 2 devils… I agree about being debt free, we have been clear of debt for 3 years, and actually have savings now….

    • Chris and Ethan are my favorites. 😀 I should see if I can bring them into this new series I’m working on. Even after they married, they had that impish side to them.

      Congratulations on being debt free! It’s such a relief. I had no idea how much stress I was under until I paid off the last bill. We are slowly getting into savings. We’re nowhere near doing investing except the for the 401K my husband has through his job.

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