How Much Money Do I Make (and Save)

Working in USA has it pros and cons. When 1 USD = 47 Indian Rupees, USA gets the upper hand right?.

You might even say “Wow that’s lot of money” when you get to know how much I made in my first job as software engineer.

Typical Entry Level Software Engineers fresh out of college are paid from Rs10,000 to 25,000 per month in India. That’s about $212 to $532 per month. If you say that salary to some entry level software engineer in USA, they would be like – That’s impossible!

Salary vs Affordability

Just comparing the salary alone, we can look lifestyle, both United States and India has to offer. I’m going to use Transportation as an example.

  • India – Different modes of transportation options exist that caters to one affordability. If you can afford to pay for a motorcycle and pay for Petrol (called as Gas in USA), then you can get to own a motorcycle. If you cannot afford to pay for petrol, then you use public transportation.
  • USA – Public transportation is not well-developed as in India. If you happen to live in the place where there is no public transportation (buses, metros, subways) are forced to have a car. It doesn’t matter if you can afford or not, rich or poor, you have to buy a car. Everyone has to pay about $2.78 for 1 Gallon of gas. It doesn’t matter, how much money you earn, everyone have to pay the same for Gas, insurance and car maintenance.

Unlike India where you have options, in USA you are forced to earn certain amount, just to get along with your life. Do you see the difference in lifestyle and affordability? So, the moral of the story goes like this – to save little money, you have to make lot of money.

My Salary

When I started with my first job as Entry level software engineer, I was making decent money similar to what an entry-level software engineer would be paid. I was sharing a rented home (not apartment) by the beach with swimming pool. Driving brand new Acura.( Don’t ask me why I got Acura instead of BMW)

Monthly Expenses

I was enjoying my stay by the beach and spent lot of money in travel. But, I made sure I was saving at least 25% of my income per month. I had a budget and tracked every penny I spent. I didn’t have any education loan payment to make, so 25% savings per month was huge.

But, not everyone can get to save that. Not everyone can afford to save 25%. You might have to pay huge education loan and maybe you have credit card balance.

If you know what you spending and track your expense, you will be able to save lot of money. But, life in US is always tempting and without self-discipline you are not going to save much.

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  1. Surplus Human task force BUT lack in talent (INDIA) why ? why ? why ? why ?

    India in not exception to diversity in pay packages, An average Indian fresh IT graduate may not get any SALARY at all for his first 6 month As he is kept working as trainee or even IF get they get, they get around per month 15K-20K Indian Rupess = 200 $ Only, that is even not sufficient to afford rental accommodation in metro CITIes where these companies operate(leaving meals apart),

    For Accommodation You need to pay 2 months salary as rental advance and upto 1 year advances in some cities like “Bangalore” to start carrier.,From there they start their careers hard innovative journey in these Indian IT companies whose savings directly goes to top managerial peoples pockets who are generally not billable by us clients as opposed to he ground level software employee(worker) ….. Bill gates ofter call them as skills. ie to say A grass level employee (Engineer) implicitly keeps company ruining along ALONG the top level managers. On an average for every Indian Engineer in Indian IT company billable by us client there are three non billable Managers that feeds on Engineers Salary.

    Enginner only controlled by managers whose task are generally not related to computer by any means say (attendance, compliance logistics etc)
    Theses manages often thrive for invocation an creativity in organization and control regulate the Workers appraisal process(not related) and company policies often not liked/understood by Indian Workforce engineer and they(Engineer) often switches to new companies every 1-2-3 years

    That reason Indian companies heads in cheap and surplus labor task force but lack in talent pool(creamy layer) is because of bad managerial policies/decisions often not rational and related. THATS WHY most MNC LIKE HCL are now Employee centric than Managerial centric than his counter parts Infoy and TCS India

  2. Dear David Woods,

    I am Bhaskara reddy from India… I wish to share my plan with you bez here no one can give proper information, and i meat so many consultants persons

    so there are giving different answers… so I found your mail ID in website, could you tell me the information with out fail.

    I did MBA (finance) in June 2007, now i am working in financial advisory company as senior research analyst,

    Now i wish to do MS finance in fall 2011, US, but some more my friends advised to me that " i am eligible for work and study program in US,

    So please suggest me that, shall i go on work and study program?

    Work and study program give the practical Knowledge

    Is visa success rate is above or less when compare with student visa (full time study),

    I had written TOFEL and I got scored 92 marks…is TOFEL enough for work and study program or GRE required

    My academic background Scores are MBA, Graduation, +2 and SSC (10th) class 57%, 47% 48% 49% respectively

    I know that my study back ground is not good when compare to others

    But my goal to do masters in best country like US and to give best to my carrier and my parents and to my society

    So please could you suggest to me on WSP is better for me or student visa is better??

    Is visa will difficult for me when compare to others

    If I am eligible What are the Universities suitable for me

    Shall I reach my goal or its remaining dream only???

    Please give me reply sir

    Do needful to me

  3. @Simha :Thats what i am saying,are you happy in life….thats what it is,many Indians cant get accustomed to American life because they cant live up to their standards. In India priority is given to black money black earning, once you have money you will be prayed,but if that makes you satisfied then thats individual thinking. I certainly dont like how the Indian system works. There are no rewards if you cant face problems in life, America looks glittering from outside thats true, but it is also from inside one you start accepting the system. It is difficult when someone from lower economic country reaches America, the things are costly, life is absolutely different so it makes him feel going back to his home country…… that also comes under individual thinking. People here are happy earning Rs.2000-35000 here in metropolitan cities like Mumbai or Delhi, but they can hardly save because of expenses.

    1. Thats totally wrong perceptions. They tend to live the country(the United states) because they miss the social life or any other personal reasons. You are not required to have overly lavish lifestyle as Americans. American people can afford the lifestyl cause they have the proper backup to do so. Their government, their family and oter connections since they were born help the in their tough time. I am sure its the same for Indians in India. I insist people not to make incorrect statements unless they are sure about it. I have live in both India and the United states. I am very well aware of systems in both countries, There are pros and cons to both countries' lifestyles. India and United States have completely different problems. India worries about its development. United States worries about keeping its position in the world. Somebody coming from a developing country should always think about how he can achieve his own growth plus growth of the host country and at the same time he should think how he would help his homeland in future.

  4. It is not the question of making money. Money prostitutes make more than software engineer.

    Are Happy in your life…… that matters

  5. Hi all,

    Everybody is talking about savings and salaries, all are good as long as job

    once you loose job Panjabi's and Gujarathi's Gas station will give pleasant working environment. USA Looks good from Far once you come here and face problems you never ever face in India. India is always better place to live and work.

  6. I am a little surprised at HSB. 25%? That's very little. Americans tend to have a compulsive need to spend money, even when I was a PhD student, I could easily save 40% of what I made. Now as a professional, I easily save at least 60% without any problems. Perhaps part of this has to do with the fact that I plan to return certainly to India so I hope to build up a good cash balance back home. My suggestion is that it is best to work for a few years in the US (say 10), save money and go home. The exchange rate offers great rewards in this respect.

    1. I agree 25% is less and or I should have been more clear. No matter what happens, 25% goes untouched. I traveled a lot and spent lot of money in trips. When you are in school, you have time, but not lot of money. While you are working, you have money, but not lot of time to travel. We tend to save the vacation for trip to India. I have handful of states that I have to visit to complete 50 states in US.

    2. And forget to live … =)

      What are you saving and piling up all this money for, anyway? There is so much to experience in life; don't get so caught in what your bank balance looks like. The OP is being financially responsible – which is to set aside a reasonable portion of your monthly income as savings.

      I can only laugh at someone who is proud and harking about saving 60%. You fail at life. Seriously, go out, there's so much to do, see and eat.

  7. Salam Somayeh,

    You have to give the GRE and TOEFL exam to get admission in the universities in US and Canada.If you want to get scholarships ,you will have to score much higher in GRE and must have at least 1-3 research papers.By the way I am from India and my name is Mohammad Abbas.Feel free to ask questions.

    Khuda Hafez

  8. HELLO

    My name is somayeh mousavi. I am a masters student of organic chemistry in Iran Iwant to study pharmacy in USA or CANADA but I dont know how . i dont know how much is it because I havent enough money and I dont know anything about its steps.I want to study pharmacy and it should accompany with a job. I will be gratitute if you help me . just send neccessary information

    Sincerely yours

    Somayeh Mousavi

  9. Hey

    I know ppl woh can manage their expenses in 500$ per month. They are in H1B visa getting 90k$ package but expenditure is very low. So you can imagine the huge saving. The same in India is impossible. So the point is life is definitely much much better than india with money wise as well as living wise.

    1. Its hard to get that big of salary on H1B unless its a direct employment in hospitals for highly skilled professionals such as radiology technicians, radio physicist or pediatric physician. Somebody earning 90,000 can't live so cheap(only $500/month). They tend too live more lavishly.YOu will never know the truth till you experience it by yourself. Please do not rely on information provided by others.

      1. Hi . Its possible for a person to get 90K $ per annum and to live only with 500$ . I stay here in US and my expense will be 500$ a month. This is applicable only for a person( unmarried) who share his accommodation and to live a very simple life ,all he need to do is go to office come back home . prepare food at home not to spend money in restaurants pubs, drinks etc. etc .,…..

  10. @Ron : Thanks Man! I only told a part of the story, I'm just a commoner who has experienced all this and have suffered a lot.You know the whole world thinks that India is improving, but to tell you the fact its completely opposite. Not just technological and economical improvements makes a country better but other factors are also there responsible for the growth of a country. I have`nt been to US but I`m aspiring to (my dream from childhood). Quality of life should be preferred over salaries and savings because if you dont have a quality life you wont live long enough to use your money.

    So if you compare India and US , US is far much better and also in my opinion the best place to be in this world because of its multicultural environment and freedom for every religion which is Hinduism ,Islam, Buddhism or any other (obvious being a Christian dominant country) which i like the most.

  11. Very good Response MAC. As far as the tax system in the United States is concern, President Obama have proposed the economic reform bill which as been accepted in the US congress and US House of Representatives. This bill would help to cut significant amount of taxes for people earning less than $200,00/year.. I liked your argument of population migration from rural areas to cities for economic reasons and resultant traffic in the cities. But here in the US, the trend is opposite, but for different reasons (refer my earlier post). Any way The life ins in both countries is comparative. But I will give little bit more edge to the life in the United States as the overall system is strong and dotn let you dawn as long as you don't do anything stupid.

  12. Yea I kinda liked this article as it makes clear for everybody whats the difference between life in India and US………..But it lacked some certain important points where it is important for person to seek it as primary objective. Obviously life in India is too easy, but easy in the sense of money, average people are not so happy in India……………….. psychologically speaking. People who have money here enjoy high standards of life, and those who seek to earn money either from jobs or business they, have to work hard for at least 10-15 years. Its same in US too , you have two options either spend your money on lavish things or save it to make a fortune later. People hide their money in India to save themselves from taxes, but in US people cant so thats why it is hard to save there. In India only rich are getting richer and poor are becoming more poor, villagers are selling their land and migrating to cities making the city more crowded and buying vehicles and creating more traffic. Crime and Corruption has taken a huge toll. Justice is delayed. But Its almost opposite in US. What should I say I liked India when it was 10 years back(in the sense of life, calm and peaceful).

  13. Thanks bud for your post. I just want to give some information about budgeting the expenses. Many folks in India who read this blog would get an idea about life of a service professional in general in the United States. I think you can save lot more than 25% of your salary provided you live in mediocre cities like St. Louis, MO., Cleavland, OH, Milwaukee, WI. I am a PhD student and I make lot lees than an average professional on H1B visa could make. But still I can save more than 50% of my earnings. I do not have any educational loan or credit card loans. I am about to buy a used car from my savings Life in the United states is tempting but the expenses are not insanely bad. The advantage of living in mid-size cities is that you earn more but you spend very little. In suburban areas an apartment could cost $500-$550 per month. If somebody on H1B is able to make $5000 per month , imagine how much money he would be able to save. Car is not an issue at all. You can buy a new car with installment plan for as low as $300/ month. But if you live in big cities such as New YOrk City, Chicago, Los Angeles, You have to make a lot of money cause the rent itself would eat 30% of your salary and everything else would be expensive such as food, entertainmenr. You have to pay a lot on parking in bigger cities. But you tend to get more pay in bigger cities.($60,000 to $80,000 per annum) But on average its best to live in middle size cities as I mentioned above. This is Ron from the University of Wisconsin.

  14. Hi

    Regarding this matter, I'm sure not many of us indians will know about the difference because a vast majority of them haven't visited the US and the information we get regarding salary, living et al is from relatives and friends.. again each has their own story, which contradict what the other has to say.

    Is the website reliable? I wanted to get into a good pharmaceutical research firm as a Research Scientist. When I searched for the salary I can expect- I was taken by surprise.

    Thanks HSB,

    Warm regards


  15. Hi HSB,

    Regarding the salary details, I'm guessing not many of us Indians can comment. The reason- many of us haven't been to the US and the information we get about the salary is from friends, relatives.. everyone gives a different feedback.

    My only source is I dont even know if the source if reliable.

    Please post more such informative posts.. it will be even more informative for students like me, who's only source of info is growing websites like HSB.

    Please help people know about various careers. I esp. am interested into the world of investment banking, but know ZILCH abt the real industry in the USA.

    -Thanks and hope that your posts reach out to more helpless people like me.



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