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How to Calculate Your Net Income

Matthew Levy Updated: August 3, 2023 • 4 min read

Ever wonder where your money goes after payday? Understanding your net income, the money you take home after taxes helps you accurately budget and plan for the future. Knowing your net income and how to calculate monthly net income means you'll know how much you can safely spend, save, or invest each month. This provides the foundation for your financial health, ensuring you live within your means.

Calculating your net income isn't as tricky as it might seem, in this guide we will get through it step by step.

Difference between Gross Income and Net Income

Before diving into calculating your net income or monthly net income, it's important to understand the difference between gross income and net income.

Your gross income includes your salary, wages, bonuses, and any other income you might receive, such as dividends from investments or rental income, before any deductions.

Net income, on the other hand, is the amount you are left with after all automatic deductions or otherwise. These deductions can include federal, state, and local taxes, or contributions to your health and dental insurance, and payments to your retirement savings like your 401(k) or IRA.

Why does this difference matter? Your gross income can give you a misleading picture of your financial situation. If say you make $100,000 a year, but you live in a high-tax state, you won’t have as much buying power as someone who makes the same in a low-tax state. It's your net income that shows you how much money you actually have available for spending, saving, and investing. Knowing your net income helps you make realistic budgets and financial plans. With that covered, let's get started on calculating your net income.

Step-by-Step Guide to Calculating Net Income

Understanding your financial life involves knowing exactly how much money you bring home after taxes and other deductions. This amount, known as your net income, provides a clear picture of the resources you have to meet your needs, save, invest - and enjoy life. 

Figuring out how to find net income is a fundamental skill that can significantly improve your financial management.

You start by calculating your gross income, which sets the stage for identifying the net figure. Here are the steps to calculate your gross and net income:

  1. Calculate Your Gross Annual Income: Begin with identifying your gross income, which is the total money you earn before any deductions. If you earn a steady monthly salary, multiply that by 12 to get your gross annual income. Or, if your income varies month to month, try to estimate an average and multiply that by 12. Don't forget to include other income sources like bonuses, overtime pay, or income from a side job.

  2. Subtract Taxes and Other Deductions: Now, consider the amount that goes to taxes. Federal, state, and local taxes, along with Social Security and Medicare contributions, are all deductions from gross income to get net income. Be aware that tax rates can vary significantly depending on your state. Make sure to use your state's tax guidelines or an online tax calculator to ensure accuracy.

  3. Deduct Post-Tax Contributions to Benefits: Next, subtract the costs for benefits like health insurance and dental insurance that you pay after taxes - we call these post-tax deductions. Keep in mind that these costs can vary depending on the coverage level and the type of insurance plan you have.

  4. Deduct Retirement Savings: Don't forget about retirement savings. If you're putting money into a retirement account like a 401(k), an IRA, or another retirement savings plan, you'll also need to subtract these contributions from your gross income.

  5. The result is Your Net Income: You get your net income after subtracting all these costs and deductions from your gross income. This is the real amount of money you have at your disposal for personal spending, saving, or further investing.

Let's look at an illustrative example to understand the calculation better:

Consider that you live in California and earn $5,000 per month, leading to a gross annual income of $5,000 x 12 = $60,000.

Next, assume your combined federal, state, and local taxes, Social Security, and Medicare amount to about 30% of your gross income. You then subtract $60,000 * 0.30 = $18,000 from your gross income.

Suppose your post-tax contributions to health and dental insurance total $3,000 annually. Subtract this from the remaining amount: $60,000 - $18,000 - $3,000 = $39,000.

If you're contributing 7% of your gross income to a 401(k), that's $60,000 * 0.07 = $4,200. Subtracting this gives $39,000 - $4,200 = $34,800.

So, your net income, in this case, is $34,800 per year, or about $2,900 per month.

Remember, this is a basic example; actual calculations may differ based on your state's unique financial situation and tax laws. It's also worth noting that tax laws often change, so staying updated on current regulations can help you avoid surprises and make more accurate predictions.

Accurately knowing your net income helps you create realistic budgets and financial plans.

Understanding Net Income - Why is it Important?

Net income is a key component of personal finance. It gives you a precise understanding of what you earn, helping you manage essential and discretionary expenses. If you're job hunting, knowing your potential net income is necessary. A high gross salary can be appealing, but only your net income reveals if it will meet your living costs. If you’re moving to a higher-taxed state for a higher gross income, you may actually end up with a lower net income. For this reason, you may want to reconsider. Ensure you consistently base your budget on your net income, not your gross income.


Calculating net income might seem complex, but it's a fundamental skill in managing personal finances. Start with your gross income, then deduct all the necessary expenses, including taxes, benefits, and retirement contributions. Remember, your net income provides a realistic picture of your earnings. This helps you create a budget and manage your financial future. So, don't let the gross income fool you - always focus on your net income to make informed financial decisions.

Written by Matthew Levy

Matthew is a freelance financial copywriter with 14+ years in financial services. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics with business and finance options and is a CFA Charterholder. He is from Vancouver, Canada, but writes from all over the world.