Is 80k a Good Salary to Live on in America?
According to the Census Bureau, a salary of $80,000 is nothing to scoff at in the United States, and it is well above the median household income in 2020, which stands at $67,521.
However, some people still have difficulties making ends meet at that point. How is that? That depends on many circumstances that can and will affect how far you can make it on that salary.
So what exactly is it? Is 80,000 a good salary to live in America? This is what we’re looking to answer in this article.
$80,000 Salary Breakdown
The first thing that we need to ask is how much is my time worth?
The amount we are paid shows how much our employers or clients value us. It may not be easy to see whether or not something is worth an hour of your time with a yearly salary, which is why breaking down your hourly rate may be beneficial.
The typical workweek is 40 hours, and people usually work for 52 weeks a year to get it started. If you work a typical 9 to 5, you would generally fall into this bracket. That being said, this can vary a lot depending on your situation and specific case.
Given the plethora of ways people can make an income nowadays, these calculations can vary quite a lot. All in all, in the current work environment, the 9 to 5 remains a staple.
So let’s see how that salary breaks down for a monthly, biweekly, weekly, daily, and hourly income.
Given that there are 12 months in a year, your $80,000 salary will equal $6,667 per month.
Weekly and Biweekly
Many people in the U.S. do receive their paychecks on a weekly and biweekly basis. What can these people expect to see on those checks after that time working?
For the weekly one, you consider that there are 52 weeks in a year, and this equates to $80,000 divided by 52 weeks which gives $1,538 per week. In the case of the biweekly one, you can double that, which offers $3,076 every other week.
When looking at how much you may be earning in a day, you have to consider that a typical workweek is 5 days. Given that 5 workdays x 52 weeks in a year, we can see that we have 260 workdays in a year. This means that our daily income equates to $80,000/ 260 working days, resulting in $307.7 per day.
Lastly, let’s look at the hourly wage. Given 260 workdays in a year and 8 hours per day, this results in 2080 work hours in a year. This calculation results in an income of $38.46 per hour.
Here you can see how quickly your hourly income does accumulate. $38.46 does not seem like a lot initially. However, as hours turn into days and weeks, it quickly climbs to a salary that is nothing to scoff at.
$80,000 income after taxes
Now, remember, this is the pre-tax income. How much reaches your pocket will be quite a lot less as the government still has to take its share. Income tax is one of, if not the most important factor that reduces your take-home salary.
So how much can you expect to be paying in taxes, including federal and state income tax, Social Security, and Medicare? Well, unfortunately, this is not such a straightforward answer and will depend on where you live.
Federal Income Tax
In the case of the federal tax, a person earning $80,000 would fall into the 22% for single filers. Now, that doesn’t mean that you would be paying 22% on your $80,000. The IRS makes use of a marginal tax system. There are now seven marginal tax brackets at the federal level: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%.
Let’s consider that you are a single filer in 2021. In this case, we can expect an effective tax rate of 13.3%, paying a total of $10,629 in federal taxes. Do note that this value is the final value of the tax bracket calculation.
State Income Tax
In the case of state income taxes, you will have to file these in the location where you’re earning your income. The issue here is that these tax rates can vary quite significantly depending on where that is.
Some states will tax apply a straight flat tax rate which will apply a percentage tax to the whole income. Other states will use a progressive income system, where higher income levels are taxed at a higher rate. Some states will even have no income tax at all.
In this hypothetical case, we can consider that you pay a flat rate of 4% state income tax. This value is well within what we can expect in state income taxes. In this case, the annual state tax would result in $80,000 x 0.04 = $3,200.
Social Security & Medicare
Lastly, let’s consider FICA taxes. These are federal contributions taxes that are divided into two parts: Social Security tax and Medicare tax. The former is taxed at 6.2%, while the latter is taxed at 1.45% of wages. Both together, the FICA contribution adds up to 7.65%.
If we consider our $80,000 income, our FICA contributions add up to $6,120.
If we add all these up, we can estimate what we can end up paying in taxes. This would end up being $10,629 + $3,200 + $6,120 = $19,949
After the estimated tax and FICA, you would net $60,051 per year. Now, do remember that these are estimations and can vary depending on your particular case. Remember that your deductions will reduce or increase how much taxable income you have. On top of that, where you are filing will make these taxes change pretty significantly.
You can see that the initial $80,000 income ends up being much less than initially thought after taxes.
How Far Will an $80,000 Salary Stretch?
In the previous section, we saw the massive impact that income tax can have on your take-home pay. You have to consider location in the same way that state taxes can change how much you take home. Where you live will have an impact on how far you can make it with your income.
We can separate these into different categories. On one side, the locations with a High Cost of Living and the Low Cost of Living areas. In the former, your usual expenses like rent or mortgage, commute expenses, utilities, and food will be significantly more expensive than in the latter. Where you live will thus have a significant impact on whether $80,000 is a good salary.
For simplicity, let’s consider our net income every month, which will amount to approximately $5000/month. Additionally, let’s consider using the 50/30/20 rule for budgeting. This means that 50% goes towards needs, 30% for wants, and 20% for savings and debt repayment.
This means that $2,500 goes towards all your living expenses, including housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, and insurance. How do we divide that up?
This section is mainly dependent on where you live. According to this Douglas Elliman report, the median rental price in New York is $3,208, with the average for a one-bedroom being $2,588.
This is already above what we have allocated towards our needs. Thus, it may become difficult living alone in the big apple with this salary. That being said, New York City is the most expensive option in the U.S.
There are much more reasonable options out there. Mississippi has the lowest housing costs in the country and can thus be considered a low cost of living state. The average home price sits at $128,000, and an average 2 bedroom apartment will set you back at just $795 per month.
This means that where you live will determine how far your salary can get you. Living in a cheaper area will let you have more for wants or savings.
That being said, in our case, let’s allocate a middle-of-the-road value for rent at $1,200.
A U.S. family spends $2,060 on average per year for home utility bills in terms of utilities. Now, this would equate to around $172 a month. However, this can change quite a bit depending on where you live and your lifestyle.
In terms of groceries, the average cost for U.S. households is $4,942 based on the 2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This works out to about $412 per month.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spends $819 on transportation costs, including insurance and car maintenance costs. Once again, this depends on where you live and what modes of transport you prefer.
This does seem relatively high for some use cases. We do believe that for a single person, allocating $350 does seem like a reasonable budget.
In this case, we consider the cost of medical insurance. In 2020, the average cost for health insurance was $305 for an individual, and this value can vary quite a bit depending on the case and health plan.
All in all, if we do add these different costs and consider a housing cost of $1200, we would be looking at the following budget:
- Housing: $1,200
- Utilities: $172
- Groceries: $412
- Transportation: $350
- Insurance: $305
This will set us to spend $2,439 on our needs and have all of them covered. Do note, however, that this is highly dependent on your lifestyle and where you live. As such, your mileage may vary.
You would find all those items that you don’t necessarily have to pay for but enjoy in this category. This concludes the likes of subscriptions, travel, entertainment, and meals out. $1,000 is quite a lot in this regard for a single person and will let you enjoy your life comfortably.
In our example, we have $1,000 per month left for savings and loan repayments. The most important thing, in this case, is to pay off any debts that you may have. Start with those that have the highest interest rates and work towards those that have lower rates.
Putting money into savings is also very important. It’s always a good idea to have cash in a rainy day fund and contribute towards your 401 (k). Remember that contributions to qualified retirement plans are made pre-tax, which removes them from your taxable income.
Is $80,000 a Good Salary for a Single Person?
So knowing this, is $80,000 a Good Salary for a Single Person? In short, yes. Living alone or with a partner will mean that you have to think of only your expenses.
A single person can have a very comfortable life and meet all their savings needs living on an $80,000 salary. Of course, we all know that we can easily spend or waste the money we earn when we are single, and that still doesn’t take away from the fact that this income is more than enough to live and thrive in all of the U.S.
Is $80,000 a Good Salary for a Family?
Things start to get a little more complicated when you have to consider the wellbeing of a family and children. In 2015, a family would spend approximately $12,980 annually per child in a middle-income ($59,200-$107,400), two-child, married-couple family.
The cost of raising a child also depends on how many children you have. Per child expenses average 27% more in a one-child household than expenses in a two-child family.
As with other cases, regional variations apply. Families in the urban Northeast, like New York City, spent the most on a child, followed by families in the urban West, urban South, and urban Midwest. In rural areas, the cost of raising a child is significantly lower.
There are also other considerations to take. As your household has more members, you may need to move to larger living accommodations or change cars.
What does this all mean? For one, whether or not $80,000 is a good salary for a family is quite variable. It still depends on the choices that you make and where you live. You can still live comfortably but may need to make some decisions to stay within your budget.
All in all, we have to say that an $80,000 salary is a good salary in the U.S. That being said, don’t just think that you can spend willy nilly. This number is highly dependent on where you live and where you file your taxes. In the high cost of living states, your salary won’t stretch as far as in cheaper places.
On top of that, whether or not $80,000 is a good salary depends on where you are in your career. Suppose you are still at the beginning of your work life and are seeing these figures. You’ll be happy to know that you can live a life with minor cutbacks to what you want to do.
However, making $80,000 being the sole earner at the end of your career is another thing. At that point, you will most likely have a family and will take care of them. At that point, you may need to look for a pay increase or take action to prepare.
One of the best ways to do this is by investing, something we have covered extensively. Make sure to check it out!
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