Financially comfortable…That’s what the average American is dreaming of when they look to the future – growing their life experience and functioning as a member of the economy. Most dream of an existence where both needs and wants are easily attainable. Becoming rich is a crazy to dream for most … not everyone can be rich, and young Americans know that.But they want to be financially comfortable above all.They want to be able to kick back on a nice vacation when the pressures of the job get to them, know when the seventeen year old needs her wisdom teeth out that it isn’t a big deal, and staying caught up with the latest gadgets is pretty much expected and feasible.The dream of comfortable has traditionally manifested itself in the legendary six-figure income. It’s a goal to strive for and a benchmark to dream of for those planning careers $100,000 a year is a nice round figure that many consider to be the benchmark of financial comfort.But has the legend turned to myth in today’s economy? Is it still possible for a hard working family to really pursue a financially well-rounded life? Or has inflation relegated that dream to the world of fantasy?It is estimated in order to have the $100,000 lifestyle of 1990 in 2012-2013, a person would need to earn upwards of $172,000. That’s a huge difference, but what rising costs are driving this divide between the ideal and reality?Let’s first take a look at healthcare, which can be pointed to as an essential part of the comfortable life. No matter what your income bracket is, you are going to need healthcare. How much it costs will have a huge impact on the bottom line for anyone’s budget. There’s not a lot of financial security to be had when a minor medical malady could set the budget back for months.In 2011, the Kaiser Family Foundation found some startling figures in the trends of how much healthcare costs have risen over the years. They found the costs had increased 134% since the year 2000. This is one area where costs have risen at almost twice the rate of inflation.Can you always be sure you have enough in the budget for a medical emergency? You can wait to get a new iPod, but can you wait to get your heart taken care of?Another area of rapidly increasing costs is education.Assuming you can raise your children to be healthy young adults ready to contribute to society, are you prepared for the price tag of an undergrad degree?College is another place where rising costs are driving the effectiveness out of a $100,000 income. The most recent increase in tuition from year to year has been found to be the highest since 2009 (which wasn’t that long ago). And that’s for public universities – you can forget the hot tub if you’re hoping to send your kids to your private school alma mater.But what’s really sucking the funds out of those magical six figures is housing, which is considered the hallmark of the so called American Dream.Despite the slowdown of recent years, the cost of owning your own home has still risen much faster than average wages of everyday workers. In the past 11 years, median home prices have risen around 20% while average wages have only increased around 17%.Brian Neale, an investment manager, deems inflation in the housing market a huge issue. He says, Without a doubt, the housing situation is the biggest thing that eats into our income.Does this mean a $100,000 income now means financial insecurity? While not as much as it once was, it is still not poverty, which means, as with any income bracket, it just means that the budgets of those who have attained the legendary six-figures will have to contend with the difference between the dream and the reality. This will mean different things in New York City than it does in the Midwest, but for everyone it means making smart financial decisions is essential.While the cost of living has been outpacing the rise of wages, the value of precious metals has also been on the rise. Investing in gold bullion can be a practical step to advancing and/or protecting your current financial situation. While the value of the US Dollar and the British Pound can change like the changing of the days on the calendar, the value of gold bullion and other precious metals is not as transient.In recent years, precious metals have become an increasingly popular choice for investors of all incomes and backgrounds.Their value in U.S. Dollars has been on the rise, which is a trend that is expected to continue.No matter what the state of the economy, spending within means and smart investment are key to success, no matter the income or state of inflation. The Dream of Comfortable may still be in reach through wise investing such as gold bullion. Above all, attaining that dream over the long-term will require frugality and careful planning.