How Much Can You Really Make a Year on $17 An Hour?

If you make $17 an hour, you may be wondering – can I actually live on that income? How much could I potentially take home in a year? In this in-depth guide, we‘ll explore the real annual income you can expect at $17 per hour.

As a financial advisor who works with entrepreneurs and small business owners, I‘ve helped many clients budget and maximize more modest incomes. Here, I‘ll share expert insight on stretching $17 an hour as far as possible.

Estimated Yearly Income at $17/Hour

Let‘s start with some baseline salary calculations.

  • At 40 hours per week, $17/hour equals $680 per week, or $2,720 per month.
  • Over 52 weeks, that‘s an annual pre-tax income of $35,360 if working full time.

Seems like a decent wage, right? But here‘s the reality check – you won‘t actually see all that money.

Taxes and Deductions

All the taxes and deductions can take a huge bite out of your salary. Based on average rates, here‘s what someone earning $35,360 per year might pay:

  • Federal income tax: $5,000
  • State income tax: $3,000
  • Payroll/FICA tax: $2,700
  • Health insurance: $2,400
  • Retirement contributions: $2,000

That leaves about $20,260 in actual take-home pay, or $1,688 per month.

And that‘s not even including commuting costs, childcare, or other expenses that further reduce your net income.

Clearly, $17 an hour doesn‘t go nearly as far as you may think after taxes.

Location Matters

Where you live also makes a huge impact. Due to higher costs of living, that $17 per hour salary doesn‘t stretch as far in places like:

  • New York City
  • San Francisco
  • Honolulu
  • Boston

Here‘s a comparison of average rents in different US cities to illustrate:

City Average Rent for 1 Bedroom Apartment
San Francisco $3,500
Honolulu $1,975
New York City $1,850
Boston $1,950
Phoenix $1,130
Las Vegas $1,060

As you can see, rent alone could consume most of your take-home pay in high-cost cities at $17 per hour. But you‘ll have much more left over in cheaper areas like Phoenix or Las Vegas.

Sample Monthly Budgets

To give you a better idea, here are some sample monthly budgets for individuals living on $17 an hour:

New York City

Expense Amount
Rent (with roommates) $1,000
Groceries $350
Transportation $150
Utilities $150
Phone $100
Total $1,750

Remainder per month: $688

As you can see, there‘s not much wiggle room in your budget after covering basic expenses in NYC. You‘ll need to watch spending carefully and pick up side work to get by.


Expense Amount
Rent (with roommates) $600
Groceries $300
Transportation $120
Utilities $150
Phone $100
Total $1,270

Remainder per month: $1,088

In cheaper areas like Cleveland, you‘ll have nearly $400 more per month to work with. This can go toward debt payments, entertainment, clothing, or saving.

Maximizing Your $17/Hour

Based on your location and expenses, $17 an hour may or may not provide the lifestyle you want. Here are my top tips to make the most of this hourly wage:

  • Pick up a side gig: Drive for a rideshare app, bartend, or find other ways to earn supplemental income. Even an extra $200 per month helps tremendously.
  • Get a roommate: Splitting housing costs in half is one of the fastest ways to free up cash.
  • Cook at home: Eating out blows up your food budget. Meal prepping saves hundreds per month.
  • Negotiate bills: Call service providers to ask about cheaper plans or discounts you may qualify for. Every bit counts.
  • Save and budget: Tracking spending and cutting non-essentials lets you save and pay off debt.
  • Develop skills: Take courses or training to increase your earning potential long-term.

$17 an hour can absolutely provide a decent living, depending on where you live and your individual circumstances. With careful planning, side income, and smart budgeting, you can make it work! Reach out anytime if you need help managing your personal or business finances.