Stacey Carroll - Contributing writer
Living on minimum wage or close to it is nearly impossible. It’s a horrible situation and worse than living paycheck to paycheck because you have to decide whether to eat or pay rent or other utility bills. I know because I lived it, and I am still living it.
At one point in my life, I had a job where I was working 40 hours a week at $8.10 an hour. I was bringing home $998 a month after taxes. That's $12,000 a year or $1,500 a year more than the poverty line for one person. No matter what the government says, I was living in poverty. My rent was $630 a month. My electricity was $120 a month. My cell phone bill was $75 a month, and my internet was $45 a month. That left me with $128 to buy food, essentials, and gas for the month or $32 a week.
Since I lived a mile from work, I put $10 in gas in my car every week for a monthly total of $40. That was enough to get me to and from work. It was not enough to take me anywhere else, so I did all my shopping at work since I worked in a large retail store.
With $20 left for the week, I had to budget for all my essentials. The number one thing I needed for the month was toilet paper, and I spent $6.98 a month on toilet paper. I spent .74 a bottle on shampoo and conditioner, and I needed two bottles of each a month for a total of $2.96. I bought 3-packs of ivory hand soap for .97 cents, and one bottle of dish soap for $1. Both of those items lasted the entire month for a total of $1.97. I bought one tube of toothpaste for the month at $1. I didn't buy laundry soap. I used dish soap to wash dishes and clothes. The total monthly cost of all my essentials was $12.91 or $3.23 a week.
After buying my essentials, I had $16 a week leftover for food. I'd buy a bag of rice for 82 cents, four packages of smoked sausage for $5.56, four cans of pork and beans for $2.60, and six $1 frozen pizzas. I'd eat a pizza for breakfast, skip lunch, and eat either beans and rice for dinner or beans and smoked sausage. It was a total weekly cost of $14.98. I did not buy bread, milk, eggs or cereal. All of those items were too expensive for my budget.
After taxes, my total weekly expenses were $30.63
The Other $2
My budget at the top says that I had $32 a week to spend. Yet, I only spent $30. The other $2 I regularly lent out to my coworkers who had to drive farther or couldn't afford lunch. Two dollars was three quarters of a gallon of gas at the time, and could mean the difference between getting to work on Friday and not getting to work. For others, $2 meant being able to afford lunch. Even though I was struggling to feed myself and get to work, some of my coworkers were worse off.
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans Content Community. Services include ordained soul therapy and healing ministry, business success coaching, business success services, handcrafted healing jewelry, ethereal and anointing oils, altar and spiritual supplies and services, handcrafted healing beauty products, and more!
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