One thing about job hunting is that you have to look at the salary scale before jumping all in. And if you’ve seen one that pays $30,000 a year, it’s likely you’ve wondered whether the amount can be enough to live on. So is 30K a good salary? Or, should you aim higher?
30K can be a good or bad salary depending on a number of factors. Your demography, lifestyle, number of people in your household, future goals, and spending habits, and tax bracket determine whether $30,000 can be sufficient to live on.
Based on current economic conditions $30,000 stands as the average salary for many people living in the U.S. And while it’s not a lot compared to a $100K salary a year, 30,000 dollars is still an amount that you can depend on for something.
6 Factors that Determine Whether $30K is a Good Salary
People have varying perception about money. Some people may be comfortable with $30,000 a year. Others simply want more to reach their happiness threshold.
To be more realistic, though, whether $30,000 is a good salary will depend on the following factors:
Demography refers to the state where you live in America. Ideally, someone who earns an average of $4 an hour only brings home $2,141 post-tax per month. And that’s not enough to live in an expensive city such as Washington DC and Los Angeles.
With a salary of $30,000 a year, you need to live or move to a state that has cheap housing plans. Examples include New Mexico, Georgia, Alabama, Kansas, Michigan and Mississippi.
Talking of housing plans, a 2-bedroom house in Michigan requires about $700 per month for rent. That’s not a lot for someone earning $30,000 a year. At least you can live comfortably here without worrying about waking up to an evacuation notice due to late rent payment.
You won’t even survive in DC with $30,000 year. The average monthly house rent here costs $3,500, which is already more than what you earn per month.
2. Cost of Living
Britannica defines cost of living as the monetary requirement necessary for maintaining a given standard of living measured by the average cost of goods and services required to live within those standards.
In other words, cost of living is the amount of money you would need to enjoy the minimum standard of living in a particular state.
To be clear, the cost of living goes beyond how much rent you have to pay every month. Fuel, entertainment, groceries, transportation, restaurants, medical services, and recreation (just to mention a few examples) all cost money.
So you need to know how much all these would cost you per month to determine whether $30,000 a year is a good salary.
When it comes to taxation, you have to think about the type of tax you have to pay and the tax bracket in which you fall.
Taxation will have an immense impact on your salary and is therefore a deciding factor on whether $30,000 a year is a good salary.
Unless you live in a state that doesn’t tax wages, you will have to pay:
- Federal tax
- Social Security tax and
- Medicare tax
Note that tax rate differ from state to state, and that means you may pay more or less taxes depending on where you live. Check with the authorities in your area to know how much tax you have to pay.
Be sure also to check the tax bracket within which your $30,000 annual salary falls. This will help you know how much money you’re taking home.
5. Marital Status
Our interest in this case is whether you’re single or married.
$30K is a good salary for a single person because being the only person living under your roof means you have to worry only about your own expenses. Given that your living expenses are lower, you’ll spend less, save more, and live a comfortable life.
It’s a different case if you have a family.
With a family, you have more people to provide for and will therefore need to spend more money than you would if you were single. So if you have a family, and you earn $30,000 per year as a salary, you will need an additional income stream to make things work for you without depending on government’s aid.
6. Side Job
How flexible is your current job? Does it allow you to have enough free time to focus on a side hassle that brings you additional income every month? If so, $30,000 a year may be good money.
If you work for 8 hours a day, for example, and your job requires you to be available from Monday to Friday, you’ll have plenty of time to start an additional business on the side.
For example, you can start a blogging business online with the goal of earning an additional $48,000 a year in passive income, which can boost your annual earnings to about $75,700 a year.
However, if your job is so demanding that you can’t get enough time to run a side hassle, you’ll have to live on the $2,414 post-tax salary for as long as you wish to be on the job.
And depending on what your needs are, the amount may be enough to live on until your next paycheck or otherwise.
How Much is $30,000 in an Hour?
Based on what we know, it’s difficult to tell exactly how much money you earn if you don’t know your hourly wage. So before we dive deeper into whether $30K is a good salary for someone living in the United States of America, let’s look at the hourly wage of someone earning this much money.
Here’s a table summarizing how much money you make every 60 minute if you earn a salary of $30,000 a year:
As you can see, someone earning a salary of $30,000 a year makes approximately $4 an hour, which is below the median average hourly earnings in the United States of America by at least $3.
Understand that $30,000 isn’t how much money you take home. It’s pre-tax income.
Depending on your state’s taxation policies and the tax bracket you’re in, you’re likely to take $23,800 to $25,700 home. That means you’d have at most $2,141 to live on every month.
With $2,141 a month, it will be difficult to live well in some of the top states in America. But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to poverty. State such as Alaska, South Dakota, New Hampshire, and Tennessee don’t tax wage, but the cost of living may still be too high for this kind of salary.
If you’ve found a job that pays $30K, and you’re just getting started on your journey to becoming independent, you should consider moving a state such as Alabama, Alaska, and Michigan where the cost of living is relatively low.
So, Is 30K a Good Salary to Live On?
$30,000 a year may be good enough for a single person, but it still might be a stretch if you need to live the most comfortable life in the United States of America.
For example, the average cost for a 2-bedroom house in Michigan is about $700 a month. You’d have only $1,441 to live on before the next paycheck. You may not afford to fuel your car for the next 30 days (if you have one), but at least you can commute to work via cheap transportation means.
A $30,000 annual salary is a stretch for a family, especially if you have many bills to pay besides house rent. You may provide the basic need, but then that’s it give or take. So if you have a family that depends on you, you might want to consider jobs that earn salaries of at least 70K a year.
How Can You Live on a Salary of $30,000 a Year as a Single Person?
$30,000 a year may not seem like much even for a single person, especially if you have many financial projects that you’d like to handle in a span of 12 months. However, you can live quite comfortably if you budget right and have financial discipline.
The first rule about money is you must never spend more than you earn. People who adopt this kind of lifestyle often end up broke, with endless array of debts and pity parties.
By living within your means, you’ll easily avoid all the frustrations that often come with spending money you don’t have to do things that don’t matter – or please people that don’t care.
The second rule is to have a budgeting habit before spending and then spending the money that you have in the right way. In other words:
- Create a budget
- Prioritize on saving money
- Lower your expenses
- Fast track your debts and pay them off
- Buy what you need
These five rules are so simple that many people tend to overlook them. But if you want to live comfortably on $30,000 a year as a single person, heeding to the tips can make a big difference.
What Can I Afford on $30,000 a Year?
A $30,000 a year salary may not afford you a life in expensive states such as Washington D.C and New York. But you can live a good life in states such as Alabama and West Virginia if you’re debt-free and have good money management skills.
With a salary of $30,000 a year, you can:
- Rent a decent house in an affordable state
- Cover for your basic expenses every day of the month
- Save money every month and have at least $1,000 in your savings account every year
You won’t afford fun spending or luxurious treats every month, but at least you can live a relatively good life without straining.
Conclusion: Is 30k a Good Salary?
In this guide, we’ve highlighted the most important factors to consider when it comes to determining whether $30K is a good salary or not.
Generally, you have to look at the cost of living, your demography, tax bracket, your marital status, your current lifestyle and your future goals to determine if $30,000a year would be a good salary for you.
Unfortunately, this salary is not enough to live in an expensive city like California. You need to find a more affordable way to live.