Minimum Wage Survival Tips
If you are earning your state's
minimum wage you are at or close to what
the federal government identifies as the poverty level ($11,490.00 earned
per year for one person). You also know that a shortage of resources, that
other people take for granted, is a daily struggle at this income level.
Your first priority as a person
earning minimum wage should be to find a
job that pays much more. However, while you are working at finding that
higher paying job you still have to support yourself and maybe even a
One of the traps of
minimum wage is that you have fewer
resources available to you that would allow you to move on to higher
paying work. For example, reliable transportation and adequate child care
are two of the more difficult and expensive challenges many people face
that can hold them back. Finding or creating new resources is critical in
moving forward. Here are several suggestions to help you cope with
1. Your Friends
Perhaps your most important asset as a person
earning minimum wage is your friends.
Friends are a safety net and can share resources, information and ideas.
Good friends, family, and neighborhoods are givers. They can introduce you
to their friends who may be able to offer insights that can help you
through hardships that are new to you.
The more friends you have the better. They may offer you a ride, give you
a reference, give you a job lead, share a meal, babysit, or just listen.
How do you make a lot of friends? Be a friend, show your gratitude and
appreciation, be a giver and not a taker, and you will gain many friends.
2. Your Job
Not all minimum wage jobs are created equal. If speaking strictly about
minimum wage jobs then obviously they all
pay the exact same (in your home state). Since this is the case you want
to make sure you are as selective as you can be when choosing where to
work by looking at other factors such as fringe benefits, commissions and
tips, overtime, and likely promotional opportunities. Look for a job that
has some additional economic advantages to you in addition to the base
Look for job benefits such as bus passes or transportation compensation,
onsite daycare or daycare compensation, free meals/clothing/phone,
affordable insurances, free education / college, and even free
entertainment. Also a high likelihood of a pay raise or promotion is an
attractive perk you want to be looking for. When you're
earning minimum wage a $1 per hour pay
increase is significant.
3. Dollar Store / Auctions / Goodwill
Regardless if you are
living on minimum wage or not, we all
have many of the same basic needs for ourselves and our homes. Dollar
stores, auctions, and the Goodwill thrift stores offer many extreme
bargains on items everyone needs.
Dollar stores are great places to find items for a fraction of the cost
you would pay in other retails stores. Examples include: dishes, utensils,
tools, cleaning products, personal products, and basic household items.
Clothing is one of the most popular items at Goodwill thrift stores, and
for a good reason. At these stores you can find work and personal clothing
for pennies compared to mall prices. Auctions not only make a great form
of free entertainment (auctioneers can be quiet entertaining), they are an
excellent place to find outstanding deals on larger items such as
appliances, furniture, and even cars.
Yes, the public library offers many free career, educational and
entertainment resources for those
earning minimum wage. Obviously, the
library provides books, ebooks, internet and computer access, but its most
valuable asset is its staff. Many of the places in your community that can
provide you with some variation of economic assistance connect with
librarians as they know librarians are in regular, close contact with the
The staff at the public library can answer much more than just questions
about books. They can often give you direction on things like finding
resources in the event of a community or personal emergency, or getting
help with taxes, childcare, and transportation, for example.
Just because you are
making minimum wage, doesn't mean you
have to eat unhealthy food. Using the right combination of coupons, store
incentives, and specialized websites you can create a grocery savings
strategy that will allow you to purchase higher quality food and stretch
your money much further than you imagined possible at the grocery store.
Use sites such as CouponMom.com, MoneySavingMom.com, and
DealSeekingMom.com to both educate yourself and help you find the best deals
and coupons each week. By following their grocery purchasing strategies, it
is certainly possible to cut your grocery bill by 50% or more and live far
beyond the means minimum wage typically provides.
-Barter. If you give great haircuts and your neighbor does oil changes -
swap services! No money needs to change hands. In this arrangement both
people fill a need.
-Give up cable and TV. Rather, work more hours, job search, or get a
second job with promotional opportunities. Read books, newspapers, and
magazines at the library. If you must watch TV use a basic Netflix
earning minimum wage (or more!)
get hung up on holiday gift giving. Get over it and give it up. Make or
bake gifts. (Holiday baking is also a fantastic second source of income!)
-Share your housing with a roommate. They can pay half of the housing
-Find new ways to stay warm and cool. Use more blankets and sweaters than
furnace heat. Spend more time at the air conditioned library.
-Drastically cut transportation costs and needs while
living on minimum wage by finding a place to live
that is within walking distance of shopping and your job.
-If you have a credit card use it strategically, and pay it off every
month. Credit cards give you additional warranties and protections, as
well as, powerful representation in the event of a problem with your
More Reading On Minimum Wage
1. Difficulty of living on minimum wage
2. Can you live on minimum wage?
3. Living wage vs. minimum wage
4. Raise the minimum wage
5. Minimum wage facts
6. Things you didn't know about minimum wage.
7. Minimum wage study.
9. How are people surviving on minimum wage?
10. Arizona study on minimum wage.
|Oct 24, 1938: $0.25
||Oct 24, 1939: $0.30
||Oct 24, 1945: $0.40
||Jan 25, 1950: $0.75
||Mar 1, 1956: $1.00
|Sep 3, 1961: $1.15
||Sep 3, 1963: $1.25
||Feb 1, 1967: $1.40
||Feb 1, 1968: $1.60
||May 1, 1974: $2.00
|Jan. 1, 1975: $2.10
||Jan 1, 1976: $2.30
||Jan 1, 1978: $2.65
||Jan 1, 1979: $2.90
||Jan 1, 1980: $3.10
|Jan 1, 1981: $3.35
||Apr 1, 1994: $3.80
||Apr 1, 1991: $4.25
||Oct 1, 1996: $4.75
||Sep 1, 1997: $5.15
|Jul 24, 2007: $5.85
||Jul 24, 2008: $6.55
||Jul 24, 2009: $7.25
18 states and D.C. have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage.
23 states and VI have minimum wages the same as the federal minimum wage
4 states and PR have minimum wages below the federal minimum wage (the
federal minimum thus applies).
5 states have not established a state minimum wage.
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