Author Topic: Can someone live on minimum wage?  (Read 13780 times)

cbr shadow

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Can someone live on minimum wage?
« on: March 04, 2013, 09:00:47 AM »
I did a search for this first, but couldn't find anything.

Can someone live on minimum wage?

This topic has come up with a group of friends and I several times and is never resolved.  Generally it's everyone against me on this, with me taking the side of, "yes, tons of people do it and get by.  It would be made even easier if they are frugal with their spending and work more than the traditional 40 hours, dont have kids, etc".  I realize it's not an easy life full of luxury and convenience, but I think it's definitely possible to live on minimum wage.

Thoughts?

Edit: To be clear, it's obvious you CAN live on minimum wage since many people do it.. but more specifically is it possible to live on minimum wage and not go deep into debt?

jeepbraah

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2013, 09:04:29 AM »
I don't have first hand experience. However every person I have known on minimum wage, and not living with their parents, has had a second job.

RoseRelish

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2013, 09:12:33 AM »
Definitely possible. If my wife and I both worked 40 hours/week at the IL minimum of $8.25, we'd gross $31,860. According to http://interactive.taxfoundation.org/taxcalc/#calculator, the effective federal rate would be 14% in the "going over the cliff" scenario. IL takes 6%, so let's say we keep 80% - leaving $25,344 or $2,112/month. Even with our big mortgage/prop. tax payment, we could get by on this level of income. If we had to do it long-term, we could get a smaller house.

grantmeaname

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2013, 09:19:47 AM »
For your reading pleasure: Minimum wage with a baby on the way.

Also, I lived on an Americorps stipend for a year and saved much of it. That's less than minimum wage by a decent margin. The secrets are not eating out, living with roommates, and figuring out health insurance (or being under 26, which works really well).

kt

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2013, 09:33:39 AM »
i'm from the uk and you can certainly live on it here. i earn more than that but my outgoings are less than working full-time on minimum wage, i.e. even if i were on minimum wage i would still be putting away some savings.
of course it takes more care and planning than living on twice that amount but it's not so hard. i go to the cinema 6-8 times a year, eat out 4-5 times a year, go to several concerts a year. have a few drinks every weekend. cook decent and varied food. travel around every other month to visit friends/family. go on a cheap holiday abroad. guess the big thing that helps me is not running a car which would definitely take me over.
obviously it helps if there are no children in the equation. but i'm sure it could be done.

Alan2

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2013, 09:45:59 AM »
The UK minimum wage is 6.19 for the over 21s, which for a full working week gives an annual salary before tax of 11,909.56, after tax of 10,630.54.  If you deduct my quite high living expenses (not including housing) , that would still leave 5k to rent somewhere.  Where I live that would get a one bedroom flat with 50 to spare.

What would be more tricky is living on unemployment benefit, 3,692 for a single person over 21 (plus housing benefit).  Not impossible, but saving would be very hard.

KMMK

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2013, 10:02:36 AM »
Yes, here you could. I wouldn't have a car though. And would ideally have a shared living arrangement - partner or room mate.
I know this because I track my expenses and the minimum age is adequate here.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2013, 11:32:00 AM »
Without explicitly saying it, I think some of the responding posters illustrate that minimum wage is not meant to be a desired lifestyle wage and many fail to realize or remember that houses, cars, and other luxuries are just that and they are not rights.  Minimum wage's primary purpose is to ensure that people are not unconditionally exploited. 

So an individual can live on minimum wage but they should expect to have roommates or live with family and not be able to eat out or take vacations and not have cable and not have a car - sounds somewhat mustachian.

Aside from that insurance and childcare are the most challenging aspects of getting by on minimum wage.


unplugged

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2013, 11:35:46 AM »
There is a documentary on this you might want to watch. I think they showed what it would be like to start at zero and live off minimum wage though.

Jamesqf

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2013, 11:41:27 AM »
Simple answer is yes, 'cause I did it myself, in my younger days.  Actually lived on less than minimum, on average, due to periods of unemployment.

mobilisinmobili

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2013, 12:21:34 PM »
My current goal is to live on about 50% of my salary, which would be about minimum wage. I'll let you know how it goes.

velocistar237

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2013, 12:35:55 PM »
Much of the world lives on a small fraction of the U.S. minimum wage, even purchasing power adjusted. However, in the U.S., your options are often limited by law. In most places, you can't live in a hut, even if it's perfectly safe.

So an individual can live on minimum wage but they should expect to have roommates or live with family and not be able to eat out or take vacations and not have cable and not have a car

You mean LBYM applies to low incomes, too?

Aside from that insurance and childcare are the most challenging aspects of getting by on minimum wage.

Good point.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2013, 12:40:23 PM »
I have lived on less than minimum wage in both the UK and the US. Definitely doable barring any serious health complications.

John74

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2013, 12:44:16 PM »
Did it for 5+ years. It involved living with roommates and driving a paid-for beater or living alone in a closet-sized apartment and taking the bus. No cell phone, no cable TV (no TV period), no internet (and no computer either). I was able to save some of my income for unexpected expenses. When I met my wife, we were both making close to the minimum wage during the first few years and by pulling our resources together we were able to upgrade a few things. Doable? yes (especially if your employer pays for your health insurance). Comfortable? Well, I wouldn't it it again.

KimAB

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2013, 05:44:24 PM »
I think the short answer is yes.  You can survive on minimum wage.  I've never made as much as two minimum wage jobs.  When dh was unemployed I supported our family of five.  I worked 75 + hours a week.  I could tell you a thousand ways to spend less money and any person can be happy in any  circumstance.  It's all true, but it is not easy. 

We're in bankruptcy, my retirement fund is gone and I'm emotionally spent. 

That being said my almost 19 year old could live nicely in a one bedroom apt.  - no car or anything extra, but he wouldn't have to have room mates to survive.

c

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #15 on: March 04, 2013, 05:56:38 PM »
For the first few years of my working life I lived on the equivalent of minimum wage, often times sometimes less as it didn't exist at the time (I was so much better with money then though).

I don't really "get" all the discussions about living on minimum wage, for example  in the DIY/craft circles it's something that people aspire to, e.g. OMG your hourly rate is MINIMUM WAGE, that's what I make at my real job. To me minimum wage is exactly that, the *minimum wage* you should be paid to work. It's for kids working for extra money for school or retired people who need somewhere to be/pin money. It's to ensure these people aren't exploited and to give entry level workers without skills a little something to pay the bills while they climb the dreaded ladder. I have to say that it really upsets me that so many people see it as something to aspire to or hold on to.   

Zikoris

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #16 on: March 04, 2013, 08:44:27 PM »
I generally spend less than $10,000 per year, well below what a person working full-time at minimum wage in Canada would make, so yeah - it's possible. Not to mention, if I actually did make minimum wage I would obviously cut my expenditures - downsize the apartment, stop buying gourmet ingredients, cut down on entertainment spending(mostly symphonies, concerts, and ballroom and salsa dance events).

cats

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #17 on: March 04, 2013, 09:05:32 PM »
I used to live on <$1k/month easily.  The main difference between then and now is that I lived in an area where it was possible to keep your rent pretty low and still live in a reasonably central part of town just by having a reasonable number of roommates (i.e., you share a house/apartment, but everyone still gets their own bedroom).  Once you have that sorted, it's basically just a matter of not going nuts on anything else.  I think the real challenge is to build up savings at a rate that will allow you to get out of the "if anything serious goes wrong, I am screwed" level of things.  Like, say you are making things work fine and even setting by a little money every month.  Then you get hit by a car and have to go to the ER, then get stuck with even a $1k hospital bill (which, from what I have heard about ER bills, is probably nothing) and a couple of weeks missed work (and therefore, probably missed wages).  You're probably back to square one on savings, maybe even in the hole.

rtrnow

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2013, 07:29:23 AM »


I don't really "get" all the discussions about living on minimum wage, for example  in the DIY/craft circles it's something that people aspire to, e.g. OMG your hourly rate is MINIMUM WAGE, that's what I make at my real job. To me minimum wage is exactly that, the *minimum wage* you should be paid to work. It's for kids working for extra money for school or retired people who need somewhere to be/pin money. It's to ensure these people aren't exploited and to give entry level workers without skills a little something to pay the bills while they climb the dreaded ladder. I have to say that it really upsets me that so many people see it as something to aspire to or hold on to.

I can honestly say I've never heard anyone aspire to make minimum wage. If true, that's pretty sad.

Jill the Pill

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2013, 08:29:06 AM »
I'm sure it can be done.

The problem lies in the jump from:
it CAN be done, under certain circumstances (single, young, healthy, no kids, etc.)
-- to --
it SHOULD be expected that anyone can do it.

That attitude is pervasive among folks of a certain political orientation: the generalization from possible to expected.  People CAN get fit; those who don't are blameworthy.  People CAN save for college & retirement; those who don't are irresponsible.  People CAN live on a food stamp budget; those who don't want to are whiners. 

Life deals us an uneven hand.  Some people really are not all that sharp and honestly cannot figure out the simple math involved.  Some have undiagnosed minor mental health issues.  Some had crappy parents or trauma in their background.  Some are chronically disorganized or not particularly practical. Some have distracting relationship problems.  Some are just over-worked, over-tired, and not thinking straight. 

This recent NYT essay (http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/04/minimal-wages-minimal-families/) considers the minimum wage family:
"The resulting economic stresses are bad for children, bad for working parents and bad for family formation and stability. In 2010, children represented 24 percent of the United States population, but 34 percent of all those living in poverty."

Interesting living wage calculator --  http://livingwage.mit.edu/
« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 08:48:56 AM by Jill the Pill »

grantmeaname

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2013, 11:57:36 AM »
This recent NYT essay (http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/04/minimal-wages-minimal-families/) considers the minimum wage family:
"The resulting economic stresses are bad for children, bad for working parents and bad for family formation and stability. In 2010, children represented 24 percent of the United States population, but 34 percent of all those living in poverty."
Those lazy children don't work! If they just got a job they wouldn't be so poor!

cats

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #21 on: March 05, 2013, 07:54:02 PM »


I don't really "get" all the discussions about living on minimum wage, for example  in the DIY/craft circles it's something that people aspire to, e.g. OMG your hourly rate is MINIMUM WAGE, that's what I make at my real job. To me minimum wage is exactly that, the *minimum wage* you should be paid to work. It's for kids working for extra money for school or retired people who need somewhere to be/pin money. It's to ensure these people aren't exploited and to give entry level workers without skills a little something to pay the bills while they climb the dreaded ladder. I have to say that it really upsets me that so many people see it as something to aspire to or hold on to.

I can honestly say I've never heard anyone aspire to make minimum wage. If true, that's pretty sad.

Usually it is in the context of "I want my DIY/craft hobby business to bring in enough income for me to justify doing it full-time, but right now I'm not even anywhere near minimum wage".  I actually run such a business, and yeah, if I actually made minimum wage on it, I'd be ecstatic.  But I don't, which is why it's my "profitable hobby" rather than my actual job (right now I'd say I make about half of minimum wage and even that is pretty successful relative to a lot of other craft businesses).  Making a profitable full-time go of a craft/DIY business is really difficult and a lot of people don't get that at all.

Back to your normally scheduled thread...

Nudelkopf

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #22 on: March 05, 2013, 10:32:41 PM »
Minimum wage in Aust is about twice what I spend in a year. So, as a single and childless person, I'd have a savings rate of ~50%. Which is wayyyy more than I earn now. (Given that I don't have a job..)

rtrnow

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #23 on: March 07, 2013, 09:10:02 AM »


I don't really "get" all the discussions about living on minimum wage, for example  in the DIY/craft circles it's something that people aspire to, e.g. OMG your hourly rate is MINIMUM WAGE, that's what I make at my real job. To me minimum wage is exactly that, the *minimum wage* you should be paid to work. It's for kids working for extra money for school or retired people who need somewhere to be/pin money. It's to ensure these people aren't exploited and to give entry level workers without skills a little something to pay the bills while they climb the dreaded ladder. I have to say that it really upsets me that so many people see it as something to aspire to or hold on to.

I can honestly say I've never heard anyone aspire to make minimum wage. If true, that's pretty sad.

Usually it is in the context of "I want my DIY/craft hobby business to bring in enough income for me to justify doing it full-time, but right now I'm not even anywhere near minimum wage".  I actually run such a business, and yeah, if I actually made minimum wage on it, I'd be ecstatic.  But I don't, which is why it's my "profitable hobby" rather than my actual job (right now I'd say I make about half of minimum wage and even that is pretty successful relative to a lot of other craft businesses).  Making a profitable full-time go of a craft/DIY business is really difficult and a lot of people don't get that at all.

Back to your normally scheduled thread...

That makes sense. I was totally thinking more in terms of people day dreaming of the day they could get a min wage job. You actually got me thinking about a baking job I'm doing in a few days. When I start adding up the time spent and subtract out actual food costs, I'm barley getting minimum wage. It does certainly make a difference when it's something you enjoy though.

KGZotU

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Re: Can someone live on minimum wage?
« Reply #24 on: March 07, 2013, 11:27:09 AM »
I'm sure it can be done.

The problem lies in the jump from:
it CAN be done, under certain circumstances (single, young, healthy, no kids, etc.)
-- to --
it SHOULD be expected that anyone can do it.

That attitude is pervasive among folks of a certain political orientation: the generalization from possible to expected.  People CAN get fit; those who don't are blameworthy.  People CAN save for college & retirement; those who don't are irresponsible.  People CAN live on a food stamp budget; those who don't want to are whiners.
I think that's a strawman argument.

The question, as I would ask it, is:

a) Does the current minimum wage provide for a person's well-managed necessities?
b) If so, does the government have the authority to restrict the contracts that two people may enter into freely, to protect those who poorly manage their necessities?