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Iíve Lived at Minimum Wage for Three Months

May 31st, 2006 at 03:16 pm

When I decided to take on the minimum wage challenge, I didnít realize both how little and how much it would affect my life.

I apologize for this image being sideways; it was the only way I could make the print big enough to read, without fiddling a bunch more, which I can not do due to major head pounding.

For new folks, a reminder of how Iím determining income: California minimum wage of $6.75 at 40 hours a week at 4.33 weeks a month is $1169, less 7.65% FICA ($90), one-half percent SDI ($6). Iím assuming no federal or state tax liability, due to low income; that may be an erroneous assumption. $1169 Ė $96 = $1073. If I sell a book on half.com or recycle, Iím allowing that income. It doesnít add up to much, my extra income is averaging $8.31 a month.

Iíve put $117 in ďsavings,Ē and Iíve started an emergency/big purchase fund that has a whopping $5.88. I have $278.82 ďbankedĒ for non-monthly expenditures; for example, I have budgeted $51 a month for car insurance, which I pay semi-annually.
The areas I thought would be more difficult were eating out, entertainment, and gifts. The area that has actually been the most difficult is medical.

Iím using the YNAB budgeting system to track my expenses for this challenge; the spreadsheet cost me $19.95, so Iím considering this my $20 dollar challenge. My spent of $1073 is $519 less than my average per month last year. (I know I have some banked, but it will be spent on non-monthly budgeted purchases.) Adding back in the $39 I put into "savings" under the challenge, I saved an additional $558 for the $20 challenge. This makes for $1674 in savings in three months for my $20 Challenge.

3 Responses to “Iíve Lived at Minimum Wage for Three Months”

  1. LittleGopher Says:

    What a great experiment and experience! I think we are all learning a lot from what you're doing here. Thanks for sharing!

    PS - I think you're right about medical expenses being a surprise. My family has been experiencing surprises and difficulties in that exact area of our budget, and we have at least a middle-class income and decent medical coverage. Hmm, medical issues could be a weakness for many of all wage classes (and they might not even be aware of it, until too late...) For those living on minimum wage, well, a medical situation would be very devastating. What sobering thoughts...

  2. annab Says:

    I agree about the medical issues. Medicine alone (even with coverage), the budget can be about 10-15 dollars each, if you can get generics. If you can't, then the cost can be about 50-70 each. But I think the biggest issue is the time lost from work. If you are on minimum wage, you may not be able to recover those hours that you lose for appointments/visits.

    This is really cool what you did.


  3. Weisegeld Says:

    good experience... why did you have bigger medical expenses than expected? was it unexpected illness or medical insurance?

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