Tuesday, April 12, 2016

How Far Does $50,000 A Year Go In America?

So how far does $50,000 a year go in America?

Well, the answer of course, is, as with any amount of money: not nearly as far as one might like.

When my mother heard that I'd be making $50,000 a year in this job, she was shocked. "That's the same as some lawyers make!" Referring to my stepsister, who apparently made about that in her entry level position at her firm.

(We live in the cheap Dirty South, obviously, where $150,000 will get you a mini-mansion.)

Well, break it down real quick for you, anyway:

First of all, at least 25 percent is gone for taxes. My take home is about $3000 a month, and that includes my not-especially-generous medical insurance policy (which is like $100 a month.)

(You can dick around with deductions on your tax form, but I'd prefer to pay it a bit at a time than all at once in April.)

Rent is $700 a month; utilities included at this place (cheap South, mild climate), but about $45 a month for cell phone and $55 for internet at home. Say $100 a month for gas for the car, $75 a month for car insurance.

So round off general necessary expenses at $1000 a month.

Food seems to be between $75 - $100 a week. That's for a decent high-protein, fresh veggies, not-too-much-processed stuff diet.

As mentioned, I need to pay between $300 - $500 a month for my father, who moved into an assisted living place and can't quite cover his expenses himself, but I can still save $1000 a month easily enough, and I've got another $1000 a month coming in from e-books.

But of course, America creeps up on you. I've had to pay about $1000 every 4 months for the classes I'm taking towards a master's degree. (There's a chance my company will give me some money for that, and I wrote some of it off on my taxes this year.) Oil changes for the car, a couple of flats fixed. A fucking foot-long Subway sandwich with drink and chips costs $10 now. $100 a month for martial arts lessons.

Basically, it's the median income in America, but I'd really hate to be trying to support a wife and kid on this amount of money.

I take advantage of the various budget hacks -- use "cash back" credit cards to pay for everything, take advantage of the "free trial month" on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon as many times as possible, and otherwise get books, comics, and DVDs from the library.

One nice thing about America is toothpaste and soap and stuff like that is cheap at the dollar stores. (And you know I mean the Dollar Tree, not the Dollar General.)

Not exactly a huge draw for the lifestyle design crowd, I guess, though, anyway. "Come to America and save dozens of dollars a year on soap and shampoo and toothpaste!"


Anonymous said...

Do you make more from the porn books or is that pretty dead now? I guess the ETX books are good too.

Living in the US just seems so expensive. I'm living in Korea now and working on a teacher cert. but I don't think I could ever teach in the US. I grew up on the East Coast and living there on a teacher salary would just be brutal.

How long will you stay? Do you need to stay for your dad?

Dion McTavish said...

The free trial tactic sounds like a great idea. I may try that, since I love being cheap, too.

Besides the toothpaste, I've noticed that anything related to the gym, protein supplements, and working out in general can be fairly cheap compared to many other countries.

If you wanted to save some money on rent and were going to stay in the area at least two years, you could always get an older used RV and rent out of an RV park. I met a young couple doing that down here for $265 a month, with water/electric included. I also met a guy who just bought several acres of land, and lived in his RV with solar energy providing his only source of electricity.

englishteacherx said...

If you have numerous e-mail addresses and different credit cards, there's not much stopping you from doing that for most of the year. And then after a year, you can use the same again.