A household bringing in $100,000 each year might look financially stable on paper. But after factoring in taxes, housing, transportation, and other basic budget line items, a new MagnifyMoney analysis found six-figure families can easily struggle to make ends meet.

In a recent report by MagnifyMoney, researchers analyzed 381 major metros across the U.S. to see where a family earning $100,000 has the most wiggle room in their budgets. The findings were based on a two-earner household with two adults and one child and a gross annual income of $100,000 ($8,333 per month).

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Cities were ranked from worst (least amount of money left over at the end of each month) to best (the most amount of money left over at the end of each month).

To come up with a reasonable budget that would suit a family of three, the MagnifyMoney team assumed one of the household earners carried some student debt, that all families set aside at least 5% in personal savings, and that they enjoy some entertainment throughout the month. That budget included basic necessities: housing, food, transportation, and child care, as well as variable spending on student debt, savings, and entertainment.

Photo: Thinkstock
Photo: Thinkstock

Tennessee FTW

If you’re looking for bang for your buck, it doesn’t get more affordable than Tennessee. The top three best metros for six-figure households are in Tennessee, and a total of five out of the top 10 best metros on the list are from the Volunteer State.

The best metro area for a family earning $100,000 is Johnson City, Tenn., where families only spend 62% of their household budgets on basic expenses. After factoring in monthly expenses, families would have a surplus of over $2,500 each month.

In fact, five out of the top 10 best places to earn six figures belong to Tennessee metros: Johnson City (No. 1), Morristown (No. 2), Cleveland (No. 3), Jackson (No. 6), and Chattanooga (No. 7).

A six-figure family living in Morristown, Tenn., would have just over $2,500 left in the bank after paying for essentials and a bit of entertainment. That’s plenty of cash to build up an emergency fund. And families spend just 63% of their post-tax monthly income on essentials, savings, and entertainment in Cleveland, Tenn.

Overall, the southeast and southwest tied as the best regions for six-figure families, where the

average family would use only 70% of their income on basic expenses.

Hattiesburg, Miss., took the No. 4 spot, where a six-figure family can afford to cover essential expenses, plus savings and entertainment, with just 64% of their post-tax income.

At No. 5, a family earning $100,000 per year in McAllen, Texas, would have more than enough to meet their basic needs and then some. Only 14% of their income is spent on transportation ($955 per month) and just 16% goes toward housing ($1,086 per month).

The top 10 was rounded out by Texas, where the Brownsville-Harlingen area nabbed the last spot. Families would have over $2,300 left in the bank at month’s end based on MagnifyMoney’s estimates.

To see which cities were the WORST places for a six-figure family, check out the full report at MagnifyMoney.com.

MagnifyMoney is a price comparison and financial education website, founded by former bankers who use their knowledge of how the system works to help you save money.