Felix Salmon does a great job dismantling the latest wave of "how can I possibly get by on a quarter mil" stories (Jonathan Chait also has a suitably snark-filled take on the subject, though unfortunately it's behind the TNR paywall). Salmon takes apart the bad math, the poor reasoning and the general offensiveness of these articles so thoroughly that there's not much to add on the general level but I do have this one locale-specific observation.
I've lived in LA for a number of years with an income that has bounced from low (parochial school teacher) to high (corporate statistician) to really low (writer and board game designer), so I can tell you from experience that any individual who can't live well in this town on 100K is either incredibly extravagant or ridiculously bad with money. I can also say from experience that you can get by on thirty (barring the unexpected) and be quite comfortable at sixty.
If you're an Angelino and you're a individual who makes six figures or a member of a household with a combined income of over a quarter of a mil and you still find yourself in the red at the end of the year (barring special circumstance like a sudden drop in income, major illness, or the birth of a special needs child), you should admit to yourself that you have a problem and either seek financial counselling or consider finding someone to make your money decisions for you.
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