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What is the cost of comfort? Required salaries by state

Earning for Ease: Discover the comfortable living wage in your state


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  • Understanding the income necessary to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.
  • A SmartAsset study reveals significant differences from state to state in the required annual income to live comfortably, with some states demanding six-figure earnings.
  • A 'comfortable' lifestyle is defined using a 50/30/20 budget: 50% - needs, 30% - wants, and 20% - savings or investments.
  • Ways to save in your 'needs' budget category.

Navigating the financial requirements to live comfortably as a single person in the U.S. can be daunting, especially in states with higher living costs.

According to a recent analysis by SmartAsset, individuals in some U.S. states need to earn well over six figures annually to afford a comfortable lifestyle.

Read more: Salary to live comfortably in each U.S. state - SmartAsset study

What is 'comfortable' really?

Comfortable living is defined through a 50/30/20 budgeting approach:

  • 50% - Essentials (like housing, utilities, groceries, etc.)
  • 30% - Nonessentials (like shopping, entertainment, dining out, etc.)
  • 20% - Savings & investments (like savings accounts, 401K, mutual funds, etc.)

Top 5 most expensive states to live the easy life

  1. Massachusetts: Leading the pack, a single person needs an annual income of $116,022 to live comfortably.
  2. Hawaii: Known for its high cost of living, you'll need $113,693.3.
  3. California: Close behind is California, where $113,651 is required.
  4. New York: In the Empire State, singles need $111,738.5
  5. Washington: Rounding out the top five, Washington state demands $106,496.

These figures starkly contrast with the U.S. median income for single, full-time workers, which stands at around $60,000.

This indicates that living comfortably solo may be more than a little challenging.

The price of living alone, commonly referred to as a 'singles tax,' is the higher cost for housing, groceries, and entertainment compared to those shared by couples or roommates.

My take: What can you do about the high cost of living?

I live in Georgetown, TX, so if I were single, I would need to earn $41.84/hour to live a financially comfortable life here.

However, I am part of a family of four: a wife and two elementary-aged kids. According to this study, our family must earn just over $200K to live comfortably.

But as you know, the cost of living can vary greatly even within a state, usually depending on the proximity to big cities.

Tightening your 'needs' budget can help give you more freedom to enjoy the things you want.

One of the quickest and easiest ways is by comparing cell phone plans - save around $50 a month for just one line while using the same network.

Read more: Compare cell phone plans

Stay tuned to for further insights and money-saving tips to help balance your budget.

My team and I are dedicated to providing up-to-date financial tips and information to help you navigate the complexities of different economic climates.

Follow us on Facebook, X, and TikTok for more resources on managing your finances effectively in today's economy.

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