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This map will show you where you can make the most of your disposable income.

2 minute read

If you’re part of the clergy in Mississippi, you’ve got the best job in the state. Meat packers in Nebraska? You’ve got it made.

The best jobs in the country vary widely by state, and where you live plus your occupation matters when earning, saving, and spending money. Moving company Trove says Texas is the “best state for highest average discretionary income.”

Discretionary income, or cheddar, is money you have left over after you’ve paid all your bills and put cash away toward retirement and savings. Some jobs allow for more discretionary income in certain geographical locations over others. For example, chefs and head cooks do well in Texas and Florida, while directors do well in Los Angeles and New York City.

Comparing cheddar

Whether you’re moving cities for your job or moving jobs within your city, you can see how much cheddar you can have with Trove’s Cheddar Counter. Apparently, I’m gouda: My job as a writer in South Florida only nabs me 41 out of 100, or “slightly lower” in discretionary income at about $9,818. If Trove only knew that their estimated salary for writers isn’t that high…

Nevertheless, if I want to keep my job but up my cheddar, I should move to Winston-Salem, North Carolina or Boulder, Colorado. But if I want to stay in sunny South Florida, I’d need to make the move to being an animal trainer, loan officer, or life guard — the top three jobs around for highest discretionary income. The good news is that Florida doesn’t have state taxes, so I do save a bit by living here.

Lawyers in Houston have the absolute best cheddar: more than $97,000 a year. The same job in Orlando, Winston-Salem, and Lubbock, Texas, and Stamford, Connecticut follows for the best job in the best locations.

Best cities for your job by discretionary income

Is your career goal really the best job for you?

If you’ve ever stopped to think about how you ended up with your chosen career path, it looks like TV had a huge influence on you as a kid — so much so that it helped you pick your job. One-in-four high school students pick their career based on something they saw on TV or in a movie. It probably doesn’t help that later down the road, one-third of us end up regretting the college major we chose.

While location is a factor, so are benefits. If you’re looking to start your own company and work for yourself, remember that nontraditional employees go without medical, dental, and life insurance. While their 9-to-5 peers get these plus retirement help, part-timers and contractors don’t get this luxury — or many luxuries — aside from less full-time work and more flexibility with hours.

But just because they don’t work a traditional work day doesn’t mean they aren’t working. In fact, some never stop working, like entrepreneurial moms. They may enjoy the flexibility of working whenever they want but they work all the time.

Speaking of women, they are getting stiffed from a fair paycheck even for the same amount of work and job title. The pay gap isn’t closing anytime soon.

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About the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn is a full-time freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She’s president of Blossomers Media, Inc., a web development and online media consulting company. Along with her work on debt.com, she’s been a longtime freelancer for Money Talks News — a personal and consumer finance website — and South Florida Gay News — the largest weekly LGBT newspaper in the South. Zinn has written for a variety of other publications, including Huffington Post, The Week, Quartz, Fort Lauderdale Magazine, Indulge, and realtor.com.

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