Is a $65K Salary Good?

Have you been offered a job with a $65,000 salary, and you are wondering if this is a good income to enable you to afford a comfortable living? Well, several factors will help determine if an annual salary of $65,000 can sustain a good lifestyle. In this article, I will help you answer the question; is a $65K salary good in the US?

Is a $65K Salary Good?

Yes, a $65,000 salary is decent in most states. According to the latest report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median income in America is $54,132 which is much less than $65k. However, this salary is best for a single person or a couple without children who can live frugally and stick to a budget.

A woman in a plaid blazer using a silver laptop and smartphone on budgeting

Bear in mind that in expensive cities such as the Bay Area and New York City, living comfortably on a $65,000 salary might be pretty challenging. If you are a couple with several children, this income is also low in most states.

How to Determine if a $65K Salary Is Good for You

Earning $65,000 a year is exciting, especially if it’s your first job, as it is way above the highest minimum wage in the US, which is $16.50 per hour.

With a $65K salary, you will have an hourly wage of $31.25 and a monthly salary of $5416.67.

The primary factors that determine if earning an annual salary of $65,000 is good for you are:

  • Cost of living in your city
  • Your lifestyle
  • Your state’s income taxes
  • Your current financial situation
  • Your career level and long-term financial goals

The Cost of Living in Your City

There is a massive difference between living in Mississippi, where the living expenses are 15.6% less than the national average, and in Hawaii, which is the most expensive state, on this salary. In Mississippi, a $65,000-a-year salary is considered a tremendous middle-class salary due to the lower cost of living, while in Hawaii, it is an average salary, given the high cost of living.

For example, the cost of living in Honolulu for a family of four averages $5,138, with rent for a three-bedroom apartment costing between $3,000 and $5,000. On the other hand, the cost of living in Mississippi is much lower as a family of four spends an average of $2215 on living expenses, with rent costing between $2000 and $3000 for a large apartment.

The good news is that if you are single, you can live even in an expensive city like Honolulu on this salary as you can afford all the necessary expenses and still have enough to save. On average, you can spend $1436 per month and stay in an apartment that costs between $1300 and $2500.

Your Lifestyle

Your everyday decisions affect how you spend your money and ultimately determine whether you can live comfortably on a $65,000 salary. If you are a spendthrift, love eating out a lot, partying, and generally spend more than $65k a year, you will have a hard time managing your lifestyle with this income.

On the contrary, if you consciously plan how and where you spend each dollar, you can live comfortably and still save money with this income.

Your State’s Taxes

Since the tax rate dramatically varies from state to state, it is crucial to know your tax mandates and take-home pay before you start budgeting for an annual salary of $65,000.

For example, your take-home pay in Hawaii after paying your state & federal taxes ($6560.50) and other statutory deductions such as social security and Medicare will be $49,126.

On the other hand, in Missouri, your net income on a $65,000-a-year salary will be $50,386, as your total income taxes and statutory deductions such as social security and Medicare, amount to $14,615. This means more money to help with your everyday expenses and financial goals.

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Your Current Financial Situation

Are you deep in debt, or do you have the flexibility of budgeting for your $65K salary without paying off loans and other debts? A $65,000-a-year income can be a great salary if you are debt-free, even in an expensive city.

However, you will only be able to live on this annual salary if you have a lot of debt and need to repay over $3,000 annually. It gets worse in an expensive city as you might need more money to stay in a decent neighborhood, not to mention the many sacrifices you have to make on your budget.

Your Career Level and Long-Term Financial Goals

As I mentioned earlier, a $65,000 salary is a good income for most entry-level positions that require a bachelor’s degree. Even for a second job, this is a good salary for many careers.

Still, this is low pay for high-paying entry-level jobs such as doctors, data scientists, software engineers, financial analysts, and investment bankers. The benefit of earning a $65,000 income at an entry-level position is that you have room to gain experience in your field and command a higher salary after a few years.

Your long-term financial goals will also affect how well you can live on a $65K annual pay. If you are saving to buy a house, start a business, or are committed to an investment that requires a lot of money, you will need more than this salary.

How to Make the Most of a $65K Salary

Whether you are a single person earning a $65K salary in the US as entry-level pay in an affordable state or a family earning this amount in an expensive state, it is vital to manage your money correctly. If you fail to do this, you will not be able to attain financial freedom and could spend most of your life in debt.

To make the most of a $65,000 a-year income, you will need to:

Create a Monthly Budget and Stick To It

The best way to make a comfortable living on a $65K salary is to create a realistic monthly budget that you can afford and stick to it. This way, you will avoid reckless spending by cutting down on unnecessary expenses and living from paycheck to paycheck.

Make Saving a Habit

When creating your monthly budget, ensure that regardless of how high the living costs in your city are, a portion of your income is directed to a savings account.

To maintain this discipline, automate savings for the peace of mind that you will always have money on those rainy days.

Start Investing

It is never enough to hold money in a savings account if you want to attain goals such as owning a home, having a good retirement, or running a business.

Ensure a portion of your savings is directed to investments that can help you grow your financial muscles.

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Gain Skills/Certifications That Will Enable You to Earn More

With a $65K annual income, you can avoid getting comfortable with your earnings. Instead, strive to attain high-value skills and professional certifications, enabling you to bargain for higher pay.

Related Questions

Is $65K a Good Salary for a Single Person?

Yes, a single person earning a $65,000 income can lead a good life in most cities. However, you must monitor your spending habits and strive to live frugally.

What Percentage of Americans Make $65K a year?

According to the US Census Bureau, 16.8% of Americans make between $50,000 and $74,999. These statistics further show that this income is much more than the average American makes annually.


A $65K income in the US can enable you to lead a comfortable life, especially if you are single. For a family with at least two children, you can make do with this salary if you are debt-free, live in an affordable city, and effectively budget your disposable income.

Jared Bauman is the owner and editor of He has started and sold several companies, along with owning several investment properties. His interest in personal finance started as a young kid, developed through his entrepreneurial ventures and real estate investments, and continue through his conversations with friends and colleagues.

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