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How to survive on minimum wage?


Natasha24

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I currently work 44 hours per week, at minimum wage. I live on my own in a cheap apartment.

 

I recently made a budget to outline all my expenses. After important things like rent, car insurance, utilities and gas, I'm left with about $20 per week for groceries, student loans, cell phone (I don't have a home phone) and savings. How do people survive on this? I'm not sure what I should do. I haven't been working long enough at this job to ask for a raise. Should I ask for more hours? Should I pick up a part time job on the side?

 

I'm just kind of freaking out right now. Any advice? Will budgeting ever get easier? Just looking for some words of encouragement, I guess.

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I make about $5 over minimum wage ($7 more if I work weekend nights) and I work 40 hours a week, so not a lot. I live in a really cheap 1br apartment with my boyfriend but because we live together and share expenses, I have 100s of dollars that I can use as I want. I budget carefully but I don't exactly have to penny pinch.

 

I'm not saying to get a boyfriend and have him move in but you may want to consider getting into a roommate situation because having roommates does help a LOT when it comes to rent and utilities.

 

I would get another job, maybe part-time if I were you.

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There are only two ways to increase the money in your wallet--spend less or earn more.

 

You're going to have to pick up another job either way, I think. In the meantime, do you have a long term plan for more gainful employment?

 

I do plan on getting a job that pays more eventually, but not anytime soon. I went to college to get the job I have now, and (foolishly), I didn't realize at the time how little money there is in this field. I worked my ass off to get where I am, which is really pathetic because I could make the same amount of money at McDonalds.

 

How many hours can you work each week without driving yourself into the ground? I feel like most of my days are eaten up by work already with just 44 hours, I don't know how I could handle even more.

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The key to anyone becoming successful is HARD Work. Before I got into what I do now, I was working one full-time job, one part-time, doing an internship, preparing for an art show...and still had a social life. I'm not sure why you're freaking out? You are still young. You will get there.

 

I'm freaking out because I have $20 per week for groceries. I don't know how I can continue to get by on so little. I don't have enough to start paying my student loan, so the interest for that will keep building.

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How many hours can you work each week without driving yourself into the ground? I feel like most of my days are eaten up by work already with just 44 hours, I don't know how I could handle even more.

 

I think you're selling yourself short. You might be surprised by what you can actually handle if you stretch yourself.

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Have you thought about re-skilling ? part time getting extra skills ? jobs aren't so easy to come by at the moment, 1.4 million in France working part time as there arent enough full time positions for example

 

I went back to college to do this in my early 30's part time, was a great place to meet new peeps too

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Have you thought about re-skilling ? part time getting extra skills ? jobs aren't so easy to come by at the moment, 1.4 million in France working part time as there arent enough full time positions for example

 

I went back to college to do this in my early 30's part time, was a great place to meet new peeps too

 

I went to university for 5 years (2 degrees) and couldn't get a job I even moderately enjoyed out of it. So I decided to go to college and re-skill last year, which got me into the field I'm in now. I have been thinking about going back to college again for a 1 year course, but I'm worried I'll graduate, still not be able to find a decent paying job, and just build up more student loans.. blegh!

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I would a) start looking for a roommate to split expenses with, and b) start looking for a better paid job that's not necessarily in your chosen field.

 

As for the immediate, do you have anything you could sell on ebay?

 

Roommates are unfortunately not an option. I live in a 1-bedroom apartment with 4 animals (that my exfiance left behind). Giving them up isn't an option either.

 

I am looking into public transit, I think I'll be doing this in the winter. Sadly, I have nothing to sell on eBay. I just got out of a huge relationship which left me with many debts (a wedding), and I sold most of my stuff to pay for that. I don't even have a couch or a TV or anything. I'm really at the bottom of the barrel here.

 

I'm going to ask my boss for more hours next week. If she refuses, I'll have to find a part time job for at least one shift per week.

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Roommates are unfortunately not an option. I live in a 1-bedroom apartment with 4 animals (that my exfiance left behind). Giving them up isn't an option either.

 

I am looking into public transit, I think I'll be doing this in the winter. Sadly, I have nothing to sell on eBay. I just got out of a huge relationship which left me with many debts (a wedding), and I sold most of my stuff to pay for that. I don't even have a couch or a TV or anything. I'm really at the bottom of the barrel here.

 

I'm going to ask my boss for more hours next week. If she refuses, I'll have to find a part time job for at least one shift per week.

 

Don't take this the wrong way, OP, but for someone who's hitting rock bottom, you sure are ruling out a lot of viable options.

 

And picking up a few spare hours or one shift a week isn't going to make much of an impact. You probably need to consider something on par with 60 hours a week at least.

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Don't take this the wrong way, OP, but for someone who's hitting rock bottom, you sure are ruling out a lot of viable options.

 

And picking up a few spare hours or one shift a week isn't going to make much of an impact. You probably need to consider something on par with 60 hours a week at least.

 

I'm not sure what I'm ruling out that's viable? I can't have a roommate in a one bedroom apartment, there's only one bedroom. There's not even a living room or anything like that - it's just a bedroom, a kitchen and a hallway. As for eBay, I literally have nothing to sell. All I really own is my work clothes, some dishes and a laptop.

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Also, if you are single, I would consider picking up 60 hours a week at your job, or 2 jobs.

 

I do have to consider my boyfriend and want to spend time with him, so I don't work 60 but I would totally do 60 hours if I were single. It's 5 12 hour shifts a week. I pull about 2 12 hour shifts a week. It's doable.

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I do have a boyfriend, but I don't really plan my work hours around him. I'll just see him whenever I can. The only concern I have with working too many hours is that I have pets at home, one specifically who is a "critical care" pet (he needs to be force-fed three times a day). I plan on asking for more hours at work, and I was thinking exactly what you mentioned - 12 hours per day, 5 days per week. But I doubt my boss will be willing, since she will have to pay me overtime. I think I will have to get another job. I just hope my current boss is willing to work around another work schedule.

 

My lease isn't up for over a year. I signed it when I was still with my ex.

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Roommates are unfortunately not an option. I live in a 1-bedroom apartment with 4 animals (that my exfiance left behind). Giving them up isn't an option either.

 

I am looking into public transit, I think I'll be doing this in the winter. Sadly, I have nothing to sell on eBay. I just got out of a huge relationship which left me with many debts (a wedding), and I sold most of my stuff to pay for that. I don't even have a couch or a TV or anything. I'm really at the bottom of the barrel here.

 

I'm going to ask my boss for more hours next week. If she refuses, I'll have to find a part time job for at least one shift per week.

 

Natasha,

So sorry you are in the situation you are in - what a mess!

 

I am going to be very blunt with you, but it is because I believe it is sound advice that you are not considering.

 

You have 4 animals that depend on you - and I do not believe you can survive on your current income. I do not even think adding extra hours is going to help.

 

You really need to find homes for all of those animals - even if temporary! Because down the road you and they could be homeless, and then where would you be.

 

Then - you need to look at roommate situations. Many are in a house and with very reasonable rents, usually you rent a room and you share the common areas including bathrooms and the kitchen and living room. In my area you can rent a room for around $450 per month, but it is a university town so you might even find cheaper. Interview at various households and make sure it would be a good fit for you in terms of cleanliness, lifestyle, personalities, location, safety, etc.

 

Public transportation can start as soon as possible. Don't wait until winter to start.

 

The only thing about that is if you have late night shifts then do not compromise your safety.

 

It sounds like you need to heal from whatever breakup just happened, and I get that. But you need to take care of yourself and get some worries off your plate so you can heal.

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Okay, now I see about your lease. How much would it take to be released from that? Have you tried talking with the landlord about possibly getting out of the lease? If you tell them your predicament then they may have some compassion for you and let you off of it, if you clean it and leave it in perfect condition and if they can re-rent it. It does not hurt to ask.

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Personally, I would re-home the animals. I know it's going to be heart breaking, but the cost of the food and care, and the fact that you can't have a roommate, indicates that they are costing you more than you can afford.

 

Here are other ways to save money.

 

1. Get rid of the data plan on your phone and go unlimited texts only. It can be as low as $10/month

 

2. Scour Craig's List for free stuff, but mostly U-pick fruits and veggies. Lots of urban growers give away extra yields of tomatoes, peppers and strawberries etc.

 

3. The food bank generally has potatoes and bread products that walk-ins are welcome to without applying for hampers

 

4. Stock up on eggs and beans, onions, ground beef and brown rice so that you can always have proteins and throw together chilli or omelets

 

5. Use Airmiles or reward program points to get gift certificates for drugstores

 

6. Instead of buying individual portions of meat, buy a roast and cut it up into steaks, chops, or stew meat. Buy a chicken leg and make it into a pot of soup.

 

7. Get your glassware and bedding at second hand stores. I've recently started buying high end sheets and duvet covers there for less than $10 and they can be bleached before use. I used to spend $100 or more on these things!

 

8. When you make supper, make extra for lunch the next day and invest in good containers so you won't be tempted to buy lunch.

 

My parents still help me out from time to time, by giving us fresh trout they catch, or wild meat (they still hunt for moose) Last year they butchered a cow and gave us a quarter, which really helped!

 

I've also sold gold and silver jewelry, or taken PT work one night a week and Saturday at a clothing store. That really helped because it entitled me to a 50% discount on clothes for me and the rest of the family.

 

Good luck! I feel for you, because we're always having to tighten our belts.

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Lumuniousone, thanks for the reply. Just to clear up about the animals: they would never be homeless, and I would never give them up. My parents have agreed to help me financially with the animals, and if the situation got bad enough, my parents would take them in. My animals come before me in every single way, and I would never put them in jeopardy. I have a plan B and plan C and all the way to plan Z for them, in case anything happens. If I end up working long hours, they will help me with the "critical care" pet. I went into $1000 debt for one animal that passed away, and even though the surgery didn't save her life and it took me a long time to repay my credit card, I don't regret it. My animals are my number one priority.

 

I'm very lucky right now in terms of rent, because I'm only paying $400 a month. I have to wait until my lease is up to look into anything else. I don't mind taking public transit at night, I've done it before during school. This is probably going to be my best option.

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I'm freaking out because I have $20 per week for groceries. I don't know how I can continue to get by on so little. I don't have enough to start paying my student loan, so the interest for that will keep building.

 

are you in the united states? i was in that position in my early 20's. I worked 2 jobs and went to school. I finally got on food stamps. it was nice to eat.

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Sadly, I would consider re-homing the animals.

 

I have a normal, healthy adult cat and even he can be a handful and I can leave him at home all day. I have no idea what it would be like to have a pet that would require extensive care. I don't think you can afford it. If you only have $20/week for groceries and whatnot, something has to give.

 

I would definitely look into foodstamps, or soup kitchens.

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I know you love your animals, but sometimes love means doing what's best for them, even if it breaks your heart. I know they mean a lot to you, but wouldn't it be better knowing that they're safe and not at the mercy of whatever crap might lie ahead for you?

 

The place you're describing sounds like a studio/efficiency apartment, not a 1-bedroom. I have no idea how you're sharing that small a space with four animals.

 

I would advise rehoming them, too. And moving into a roommate situation. I think your best bet now is to reduce your expenses however you can. Anything that's not absolutely necessary, let it go. And I agree with the person who said to get on food stamps. You definitely qualify. Rather than focusing on earning more, think about ways you can cut back. You're already worn down from 44 hours a week, you're right, there's no way you could handle more than that.

 

I'm surprised you have a bf. If I were in your shoes, I'd be worrying about getting my life together way too much to focus on a relationship.

 

And eventually, look into a higher-paying job. Graduating college just to work minimum wage is ridiculous. I can relate somewhat. I've never even made $11/hr, and I'm a college graduate, though currently unemployed. But minimum wage...like $7...that's absurd.

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I know you love your animals, but sometimes love means doing what's best for them, even if it breaks your heart. I know they mean a lot to you, but wouldn't it be better knowing that they're safe and not at the mercy of whatever crap might lie ahead for you?

 

Unfortunately, I used to work at my local SPCA, and I know exactly what happens to an 8 year old rabbit with kidney failure. If they need to get re-homed, it will be to my parents, and I'm lucky that I can rely on them for that. While my animals are my highest priority, they are also my least concern (in a sense), because I know they will always be well cared for.

 

Minimum wage where I live (Canada) is about $10. I definitely will be looking into a higher paying job, I'm just so paranoid about going back to school and not being able to get a decent job. Then I'm just back in this position, but with more debt.

 

I'm looking into food banks and it looks like I will qualify. I live in a high unemployment city, so there are a lot of food banks and places like that.

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