Option A, provided my salary could at least be adjusted for inflation, otherwise by the time I retire, $35,000 would probably be considered poverty. We spend a good deal of our waking hours at work. What kind of a life would it be if we had to endure a job we hated for hours on end. Not to mention that the hatred for our jobs would likely 'spill' into other areas of our lives. And why can't someone who makes $35,000 a year not have kids or a house? I know people who make less than that who have those things. Yes, some are in deep debt but others are just very careful and good at saving money. If you have a spouse who also makes $35,000 K, then you have a total of $70,000 between the two of you and you could probably support a kid on that. You can even take vacations with that kind of money. You might more limited as to where you could travel, though.