How Far Does a $70,000 Yearly Salary Go In Louisiana?
How much money is enough to live comfortably? That number changes from state to state, city to city. If you make $100,000 a year in a city of 10,000 people in the middle of a Midwestern state, you're rich. But if you make $100,000 in a major city in the United States, you can't afford to buy a house.
In Louisiana, things are supposedly cheaper than other states. The cost of living in Louisiana is 8% lower than the national average. Which is a metric that can be thrown around, but it still lacks a frame-of-reference. Ever since a major push started in the US to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, a frame-of-reference has been lacking for most people.
The problem is that people don't fully understand how much they actually make, and how much others make. Saying you make $70,000 a year might sound good on the surface, but that doesn't translate to bringing $70,000 home every year. In fact, it means you will bring home less than half of that if you're paid bi-weekly.
That's before we start to take away cost of living metrics. Things like rent, food, gas...once all of those are taken out, someone with a $70,000 a year salary may actually have less than $100 a month left once things a paid.
Here's the math.
Federal Income Tax
Social Security Tax
State Income Tax
$1,436.14 every two weeks. $2,872.28 per month
Fair Market Value For 2-3 Bedroom rental in Shreveport-Bossier is $1,258 per month
Take Home after rent
Average Individual Grocery bill in Louisiana is $259.91 per person, per month
Take Home after rent and food
Average Utilities for a home in Louisiana is $164.40 per month. Which doesn't include internet or TV. Add another $100 on average for that, $264.40
Take Home after rent, food, and utilities
Gas? $50 a week? $200 a month. Average out oil changes over the year, $15 a month.
Take Home after rent, food, utilities, and car needs
Take Home after rent, food, utilities, car loan, and fuel
Now factor in student loans, cell phone bills, medical expenses, emergency car repairs, or anything else that might creep up. $200
Take Home after rent, food, utilities, car loan, fuel, random living expenses
So if you make $70,000 a year in salary every year, you're actually only bringing home about $34,000 a year. So that $34,000 has to cover all of the above costs of living. Which what we listed are averages, so some may be lower, while others will be much higher than what's listed.
You can start to make arguments that we listed rent, and that mortgages could be lower, but at that point you would need to save up for a down payment for a home. If you're only seeing $100 in free cash at the end of each month, it would be difficult to save up for that.
There will be some who say including TV, internet, and cell phones are "luxury items" and people should just cut those out. But lets be really honest about these. TV comes with your internet at this point, its pretty hard to get internet access without it. You will probably need internet to either complete your job duties, or to communicate with your employer. If you are unemployed, you will need internet access to find a job. There are virtually no jobs with a living wage that accept in-person applications.
Not having a cell phone is also impossible in 2023 if you want to keep your employment, or find employment. If an employer doesn't have access to you 24/7, you will be labeled "unreliable", and likely won't remain employed long. There are also very few employers who pay for any part of cell phones anymore (it actually used to be common).
The biggest elephant in this room right now is inflation. Most of the averages above are taken from 2021 or 2022, which don't include the increases we've seen in food, housing, loans, and other expenses. So these numbers may actually be worse than it shows.
Essentially, $70,000 is not enough to live comfortably in Louisiana, even as a single person without children.
With inflation considerations, if you haven't received a raise over 12% in the last year, you've actually taken a pay-cut. Your take-home value is actually dropping by the week, so that pay cut continues.