Pity the bankers who can't live on $1 million

Wall Streeters earning this once-princely sum are complaining they're almost broke. Take a look at what their lifestyle costs.

By Aimee Picchi May 3, 2013 2:47PM

Image: Swimming pool (© Corbis)It may seen unbelievable to most American workers, but Wall Street bankers who earn more than $1 million say they're barely making ends meet. 

"It’s really not that unusual to find Wall Street bankers who are close to declaring themselves bankrupt,” Whitney Partners co-founder Gary Goldstein told eFinancial Careers. "Some people are really struggling.”

Many bankers are well and above what's considered "rich" in the U.S. As my colleague Jason Notte wrote in January, an individual earning at least $400,000 a year or a couple pulling in at least $450,000 qualifies for the highest tax bracket. The average salary and bonus at Wall Street firms such as JPMorgan Chase (JPM) last year was about $363,000.

But for some Wall Street workers, their $1 million incomes are barely covering the bills. 

The reason is a lifestyle that requires a huge outlay of expenses. After Uncle Sam takes his portion of that income, a banker may be left with about $600,000 in after-tax income. 

For starters, that amount probably needs to cover the mortgage on a New York City apartment. The median-price of a three-bedroom apartment in Manhattan was about $2.37 million last year, which would require a monthly mortgage payment of $8,382, assuming a 20% down payment. That adds up to about $100,000 in mortgage costs just for the apartment alone. 

Then banker may also have a vacation home in the Hamptons, for example, adding to costs. 

On top of that, he needs to shell out about $40,000 per child for elementary school tuition to top New York City schools. The median price for private schools has jumped by 48% during the past decade, outpacing the 25% tuition hike at Ivy League colleges, according to The New York Times

"You just get trapped at a certain level of expenditure," Tony Greenham, a former investment banker at Barclays, told eFinancial Careers. "You’re in a peer group which aspires to and achieves a certain standard of house in a certain area, a certain type of holiday home, and certain schooling for your children."

The financial strangulation of America's top Wall Street earners may explain why the very rich are also claim unemployment insurance. Nearly 3,200 households with adjusted gross income of more than $1 million received jobless payments in 2010, as I reported last month for MSN moneyNOW.

After all, apparently anything helps when a millionaire's bank account runs low. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

More on moneyNOW

May 3, 2013 3:30PM
This is just heartbreaking 8-(  How am I supposed to enjoy my weekend now!
May 3, 2013 4:21PM

I just can't stop crying after reading this story...from laughing so hard! Boo freaking hoo. Give me a break. You can't live within your means then to bad. Plenty of the rest of us have to live pay check to pay check or just scrape by. A lot of because of those very bankers greed and piss poor, me first, short term thinking based decisions. Until they change their ways I care not. They've been given to many chances and a pass for too long. I think its time that that changes. 


May 3, 2013 5:07PM
That this article was written and not tongue in cheek is enough to frost my butt! Bloody pathetic. 600,000 dollars after taxes? And you can't make ends meet? Really?!?! You poor suffering jackasses, get a freaking grip.
May 3, 2013 4:37PM
Don't care. Let them go bankrupt. Usurers.
May 3, 2013 5:05PM
I cannot work up sympathy.  You know what your net income will be.  Live within that and quit trying to impress everyone.
May 3, 2013 3:44PM

How about $8.00 hr even better. Couldn't survive on it. Let THEM eat cake. Seems the 47% aren't the only ones hit.

May 3, 2013 4:44PM

More and more often, I think of the bumper sticker:


Eat the Rich.


As I age, it makes more and more sense...

May 3, 2013 4:59PM
Why are you even publishing this, just to aggravate the american public who only owe about $130,000 on their homes and cannot make it.  Either you stop rubbing this into the faces of the american public or people are not going to read the crap that you write.  As for me, you topped it all off this time, so forget me as your reader.  I have been pushed and shoved and chewed up and spit out, and you know what I think, I have to do this on my own, and I will with the help of the only one who can help me, God Almighty.  I have survived my husband's murder, greedy so-called friends who tried to take all I had, family who just disagrees to disagree and you know at the end of each day, I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and good health, praise God, and I don't need the aggravation or stress of Chase anymore.  I will survive and pay off this debt with good lessons learned, you will never, ever, have me under you again for any amount of money.  My time in the sun will come soon, at least, sooner than Chase can expect, lessons learned the hard way has made me a much better person - what can Chase bank on their money, I bank and trust in God, and I will win
May 3, 2013 4:34PM

Poor Babies can't even buy themselves a tiny fiddle to play on!


Bummer, NOT! YOU reap what you Sow and you Bankers are such greedy pigs that I guess you forgot how to save. Best to take the Kid's Credit Cards now , you cannot afford their playful bills anymore.


But at lleast you have a roof and Food in the Fridge, many remain without due to yours and Yours GREED!


1M huh, golly maybe it would be best if your bonus returned to normal/average wage such as $50,000 year plus interest!

May 3, 2013 5:50PM
Pay them minimum wage for a year and see how they fare.
May 3, 2013 4:52PM

after the revolution, they will pay for their sins

May 3, 2013 4:19PM
May 3, 2013 5:07PM

Awww, poor bankers have to live like they're like the former middle class. boohoo.

Why would this story be of any importance to the middle class American? Really. What are we supposed to feel? Pity?
May 3, 2013 5:49PM
May 3, 2013 5:02PM
And people whine about poor people collecting unemployment benefits.   These poor folks are too educated and wealthy to be seen working a counter somewhere. Why not collect till you can find a job willing to pay you an obscene amount of money for very little real work.
May 3, 2013 5:04PM
I think I could spare $500 dollars out of my $550 dollar
pay check if that would ease the suffering a little.

I know its not much but I'll throw in the shirt off my back as well
in case you find yourself in need of it.
I'm sorry it's missing a button or two.

My heart aches along with yours.  
May 3, 2013 5:55PM
whack everyone of them and than start in on politicians.
May 3, 2013 5:11PM
Thanks tax payers free money for the bankers from the Fed and Ben. Call congress to stop this b--ll!!!
May 3, 2013 5:36PM
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