Can someone survive on minimum wage or near it?

Ive come to the conclusion that you can not only survive but have a car, an apartment, food and some medical care if

  1. you are healthy and have no serious medical problems
  2. live in a low rent area
  3. have simple tastes
  4. Are not supporting anyone but yourself
  5. Have no major expenses (college or student loans)

So what do you say? $6/hr is about $1008 a month gross, maybe $890/month gross. I think it can be done. dont know for how long though.

Speaking as one who’s done it, I would say that the “IF’S” include:

  1. good health
  2. low rent
  3. reasonably simple tastes
  4. not supporting anyone but oneself
  5. no major expenses
  6. no car. Cars include upkeep and insurance, and cheap liability insurance is durn near an oxymoron. If you’re still paying on the thing, it gets even worse.

If you want a (decent) car, you get to revise #3 to “EXTREMELY simple tastes.” Trust me on this one. It’s either that or find a way to maximize your income somehow.

If you’re a single mom, revise it to “no tastes for much of anything except basic necessities” and, almost certainly, add on #7: “second job of some sort” and #8: “cheap or free day care of some kind.”

I dont know. my brother & his wife, when they lived together when he was in grad school had 2 cars. one was payed for and the loan for the 2nd was $150/month. Insurance was about $90/month for both

However, a car would cost about $240 a month ($120 month loan, $60 gas, $60 insurance), about 1/4 of your income.

maybe a moped would work instead.

Minimum wage isn’t $6 an hour, it’s $5.15. It sounds like a distinction without a difference, but working full time for minimum wage actually nets $824 (gross) per month, while that $0.85 cent difference makes $960 (gross) per month. At numbers that low, that $136 makes a huge difference. And that’s all before the heavy hand of government gets a grasp on things.

Grr. I said:

and that’s confusing. Let’s be crystal clear and make that:

No, my friend isn’t managing it, and she is making 7.25 an hour. It usually boils down to rent or car. This months it has to be rent, next month, car. We still end up taking her out to dinner most of the time because she has no money left over for food.

Wesley, I would also add.

  1. Have good credit. Astronomical car payments and deposits have sunk my friend. Her divorce isn’t final yet, and she is still bogged down with his horrible credit.

It seems like the question should be “Can someone have the stereotypical American lifestyle on minimum wage?”

There are jobless bums who survive.

In 1994 I was making 24k and barely surviving. Rent ($610) plus taxes cut my paycheck clearly in half. I bought nothing, and my parents bought me food to take back home all the time. All I had in my apartment were clothes, a stereo and records, and a PC that my dad had given me. Living as cheaply as possible, I was able to save a few grand in a year, but that was it.

Just getting set up in this luxurious lifestyle required a loan from my parents. This was Evanston, IL, btw.

Having a car and car insurance was murder, especially when you’re a young male driver. Oh yes, then my car was actually stolen, so there went the $500 deductible.

I honestly don’t know how young people make it these days, even at incomes sizably above minimum wage.

I actually manage to do quite well on minimum wage, back in the '80’s, when minimum wage was $3.45 an hour. How? Well, I lived in a one-room apartment where the rent was $250/mo, utilities included, had no car, and worked 50 hours a week.

I actually managed to feed and clothe myself adequately (I’m a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl), buy a few little luxuries, and maintain a pretty heavy marijuana habit, and still managed to build up a pretty hefty savings account.

That was in Mishawaka, IN. The cost of living there was quite low, at least compared to major metropolitan areas. A really, really good meal at a nearby diner would cost me less than three bucks, and if I really felt like splurging, shrimp and pasta at an Italian restaurant that opened up about a block from me for about eight bucks.

I’ve done it as well.

I’ve noticed that most of the handwringing comes from people who have never had to do it.

Ireland minimun wage is ~$9 a hour

In Dublin that would be barely enough to get by on if you were single, not driving and living in a very simple bedsit.

I’m on a lot more and still find it hard sometimes.

And this constitutes the stereotypical American lifestyle how?

It should be noted that even if someone can pay rent and make a car payment on minimum wage earnings, it is highly unlikely that someone would e able to initially procure them while earning minimum wage. That level of earning makes it difficult to have the savings in the bank needed to make the deposits and prepayments of rent necessary to get into an apartment or to make a down payment on a car.

For the working poor, this “preliminary balloon” represents a massive barrier to getting into permanent, reasonably-priced housing which perpetuates a self-feeding cycle – because one cannot afford to get into an apartment, they live in a hotel or other temporary situation which actually costs more per month than rent on a larger (and safer) apartment, and also causes them to incur higher levels of expenses for things like food and transportation. This higher outlay for basic living costs translates into even less ability to save up the nest egg needed to escape the situation.

This does, of course, once again raise the argument of what segment of the population minimum wage jobs were meant for, but that’s probably another thread.

It doesn’t. He’s saying that clearly people can survive on an income less than minimum wage, so the question instead should be can someone maintain a stereotypical American lifestyle.

Homelessness was just an illustration that people can survive, strictly speaking, on less than that.

Of course, surviving in this sense pretty clearly connotes not being homeless.

Bullshit, I’ve lived on minumum wage. I remember I had an abcessed tooth but had no medical insurance and couldn’t pay for it. Had to go to a hospital to get it yanked eventually, but (they said) because it had progressed so far they had to yank it without the use of any anesthetics.

This was a painful experience, but not nearly so painful as the pain from the untreated abcess.

I would like to spare poor people such experiences, and they’re fairly commonplace among the poor. I understand that conservatives like painful experiences, and that jibes well with my understanding of the psychological underpinnings of conservatism, but the rest of us, the sane bunch, hope for a better life and a better society.

Yeah, but what does he mean by stereotypical American lifestyle? Food, clothing and shelter are pretty basic in any society. The standards are higher here, but you still need a roof over your head to keep you from dying of exposure or otherwise being harmed by the elements, the ability to appear in public without causing people to look at you and point, and enough food to get going. That’s the minimum just about everywhere.

To the OP: go ahead and prove it. However, let’s see you start out without any cushion at all, as TeaElle has noted that this is a huge barrier. This means no savings to dip into for that rent deposit, or the utility deposit, or for car insurance. I’d allow for a savings cushion of about $500, to live on while the first paycheck is coming in. Let’s not forget that sometimes that first paycheck is almost nothing, too. Also, many companies don’t pay every week, and if a worker starts at the wrong time, it can be almost a month before s/he sees that first paycheck

Better hope that you don’t come down with anything that necessitates a doctor’s visit, as minimum wage jobs usually don’t allow for sick leave. Even people in pretty good health get sick sometimes. I’ve had abcessed teeth, and I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone. Getting a tooth yanked and not having it replaced with a bridge is a good start on the road to dental ill-health, too. Eventually, this will take its toll on general health as well.

Girls used to have “hope chests”, in which they would store linens and and other household items against the day they were married. This chest was supposed to contain enough non-perishable goods to get the couple through the first year. I think that this is a fine idea, and should be encouraged for both sexes even in this day and age, in addition to a savings account. I know that when I got married, setting up a household was a HUGE shock, even with the help of my parents and the wedding gifts.

Usually on charity/handouts and/or by illegal means. Since the OP specified surviving on minimum wage or near it, I don’t think that we can allow instances of people getting help from a food bank, or moonlighting as a cat burglar to make ends meet.

Bullshit right back, Evil Captor. How dare you presume what experiences I like.

What I’d like is to leave more money in the pockets of working people like you and Aeschines, so you can pay for your own abcessed teeth. Someone making 24k a year shouldn’t be paying so much in rent and taxes.

I used to do it 3 years ago. I was pulling £5 an hour, 40 hour week, and that was with living in London. But then i did have all of these:

  1. good health
  2. low rent
  3. reasonably simple tastes
  4. not supporting anyone but oneself
  5. no major expenses
  6. no car.

£230 a month rent, about £10-15 a week on food. I was going out everynight, all day drinking on Saturdays and I smoke around 20+ a day. I wasn’t saving anything, but never felt I was living in poverty. The only money I had to borrow from my parents (and payed back about 2 months later) was when I changed jobs, had to wait a month to get payed and had to lay down a deposit on a new place to be near said job. I was well short, but only temporarily.
I’d say it does help to have back up, but I’d have managed it somehow.
credit cards pretty much through the roof though.

And even if I had got sick, we don’t need medica insurance in Britain, so I suppose thats something to take into account. otherwise, I am the possible police, proving its possible.

I did it while in grad school, but it sure wasn’t fun. And this was in Palo Alto (hardly a low rent area).

Anyway, this isn’t GQ, so what’s the debate here? Are we going to make another go at whether or not the MW should be raised? But just FYI, the $5.15 is the fed MW. It varies across the country. Here’s a handy dandy reference. For Example, it’s $6.75 in CA.

Evil Captor:

How ever did you know that my favorite passtime is to kick back and pop in a vidoe of some poor schmo having his tooth pulled without anesthesia. :rolleyes: