When people talk about salary or money-related topics, you've probably heard the terms five figures, six figures, etc. They say figures instead of numbers because it gives others an idea of the amount they are talking about without being too specific, but what does it actually mean?
What is a Figure?
A figure refers to a digit. When people use the term “figures,” they are typically talking about money. There are 4 figures, 5 figures, 6 figures, and so on. For example, $7,000 is considered a 4 figure number as 4 figures means four digits.
How Much is 5 Figures?
These terms are most often used in relation to the amount of money someone is paid. For example, a seven-figure income means their annual salary has seven numbers, which equals more than one million dollars.
So, in terms of money, how much is five figures? Since a five-figure number means five digits, a 5 figure income would be any amount above $10,000 and below $99,999.
As of 2021, the majority of the median household income in the United States is around $70,784. Almost every job in the US pays a 5 figure salary since it doesn't require much education and skill. While this range is at the lower end of the scale, it's not a bad place to start, but over time most people would like to reach a higher income level.
Since a five-figure salary ranges from $10,000 to $99,999, it can be classified into three sections: low, median, and high.
Low 5-Figure Earners
When people work for the first time or begin their careers, they may be low earners. Jobs that offer a low salary often do not require skill or education. These salaries range from $10,000 to $40,000.
Median 5-Figure Earners
Most people earn a median five-figure salary. For example, a median earner makes more than $40,000 but less than a $70,000 yearly salary. Employees must have skills and experience to achieve this higher salary range.
High 5-Figure Earners
Being in this high-earner club is challenging for some people. You must take home $70,000 to $99,999 a year to earn a high five-figure salary. This means you must be an experienced, skillful individual who's not afraid of hard work. People in this position can quickly surpass their five-figure income and reach a six-figure income.
The Value of a 5-Figure Salary
A 5-figure earner is average since much of the US population makes that much. Whether or not 5 figures would be considered a “good income” depends on multiple factors.
Your location significantly affects your cost of living, as many areas are more expensive than others. Real estate prices vary greatly depending on location. For example, a house in San Francisco is more expensive than one in Detroit, just as an apartment downtown likely has higher rent than one in the suburbs. Your neighborhood also determines the need for additional housing expenses like flood or earthquake insurance.
In addition, variable expenses such as food and gas costs are location-dependent. Living in a city, you can expect to pay more for gas and food compared to the countryside. Before accepting a job that offers a five-figure salary, do the math to determine the monthly salary you'll need to live comfortably. If you're considering relocating for a job, estimate the amount of money you'll need to live the kind of lifestyle you desire in that area.
Debt weighs you down, and interest rates can be financially crippling. When you are carrying high-interest debt, it often eats up the majority of your income. Whether you have student loans, car loans, or mortgages, these payments can burden other necessary expenses such as bills, groceries, insurance, and more.
If you have debt to pay off, you need a strategy like the debt snowball or debt avalanche to eliminate that burden off your shoulders. Once you stop giving away your extra money to pay interest, you will have more left over each month to put toward your goals, and your financial health will improve.
While some people may think a five-figure salary is comfortable, for others, that may be different. This largely depends on your spending habits and the lifestyle you are leading. For example, a five-figure salary may be a comfortable annual income if you live frugally. Still, more than five figures are needed if you lead a lavish lifestyle.
Eating at fancy restaurants, wearing expensive clothing brands, and buying a new car or house require a lot of money. Of course, treating yourself every once in a while is not wrong, but if you continue to live above your means, it will become financially stressful.
But the good news is that type of lifestyle is still possible when you find a way to earn extra income. Taking on a side hustle allows you to create multiple income streams and is a great way to supplement your monthly income.
There are multiple jobs in many industries where you can earn up to five figures a year. If you are a skillful individual with talents and experience, you can make close to $99,999 a year or more with some of these typical five-figure jobs, all of which require a college degree.
Job Description: An architect's job is to create design structures and construction projects and make alterations and redevelopments. They control a project from start to finish ensuring high-quality and functional design.
Requirements: A bachelor's degree in architecture with an internship for experience and obtaining your state license.
Median Salary: $80,180
Job Description: Dental hygienists examine patients for oral areas and clean patients' teeth. They take your x-rays and check for any oral diseases.
Requirements: An associate's degree in dental hygiene and state licensure.
Median Salary: $77,810
Job Description: A fashion designer sketches, designs, and creates clothes, accessories, and footwear.
Requirements: A bachelor's degree in fashion design, fine arts, or any art and design degree.
Median Salary: $77,450
Job Description: A registered nurse (RN) assists and identifies the patient's needs. They ensure that the patients get the medical plan and treatment they need to recover their health.
Requirements: A bachelor's or associate's degree in nursing and complete your license exam.
Median Salary: $77,600
High School Teacher
Job Description: High school teachers plan lessons and teach students academic lessons on a subject in a private or public school.
Requirements: A bachelor of education degree or a bachelor's degree in a subject. A certificate or license may be required.
Median Salary: $61,820
Tax You Pay on a 5-Figure Salary
How much you pay in tax depends on your salary and the number of deductions you may have. For example, if you are married, you will have more deductions than a single person. Also, if you have student loans, you can get a deduction on the interest paid.
The tax brackets can change yearly, so it's always best to check the IRS website. But, overall, if you make less money, you pay fewer taxes, and vice versa.
How to Go From 5 Figures to 6 Figures
People with a five-figure salary usually want to go up to a six-figure salary. However, you don't have to be stuck at the 5 figure stage because many people have grown their income from five figures into six figures.
Develop Your Work Ethic and Professionalism
If you build a strong work ethic for yourself and adopt positive habits, you will stand out from the crowd. By staying focused and motivated, you will get noticed by your employer for promotions. If you work hard, you can achieve your goals.
Not only should you build your character, but you also need to increase your social network. It will be helpful to build your contact list by staying in touch with professionals in your field or attending a networking event. By doing so, the people you meet will be the ones that take your career or earnings to the next level.
Learn New Skills
Don't ever stop learning. So instead of staying comfortable in your little bubble, you can use your free time to improve yourself. Picking up a new skill or certification you can use later on your journey.
The more you grow, you'll become more well-rounded and more attractive to potential employers.
Create Good Personal Finance Habits
Everyone's financial situation is different. Like building good habits with your health by eating healthy and exercising, you need to develop healthy habits with your money. If ok to indulge sometimes, but not daily. People love to dine out or get their daily coffee every morning. These small habits can add up quickly and be extremely expensive. Cutting back can help you have money for other expenses and reduce your debt.
In addition, it's important to resist lifestyle creep as your income grows. Allowing your expenses to increase in step with your income will prevent you from achieving millionaire status and ultimately living a life of financial freedom.
Save and Invest
As most American households continue to feel the impact of the current economy, diversifying your income is the best way to protect your finances. In addition, devising a strategy to save and invest your money is essential if you value financial independence.
You can start by spending less and saving more. When you do this, you can set yourself up for opportunities like stock investing or starting your own business. If you want to have more money, you need to have more than one income source.
Is Making a 5 Figure Salary Good Enough?
A five-figure salary is a good starting salary for most average Americans. However, whether a five-figure salary is enough depends on your location and personal habits. If you live frugally, it is enough for you, but if you have poor spending habits, you will be stressed with your money.
Cindy started her blog, The Money Dreamer, when she realized the 9-5 job was not the lifestyle she wanted anymore. After designing for a while, she wanted a more meaningful life, so she decided to venture out. She took action and decided to learn how to save, budget, and invest while helping others along the way.