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Home > End of August Halfway Mark Totals

End of August Halfway Mark Totals

September 3rd, 2006 at 07:02 pm

My Half a Year totals are ready. On my Minimum Wage Challenge I have spent $5,947.13 in six months. I have $405.96 banked/budgeted for planned purchases. I have $5.54 set aside in by Emergency/Big Purchase Fund, and $117.00 set aside in “Savings.”

My income is as follows: CA minimum wage of $6.75 for 40 hours a week, at 4.33 weeks in a month, $1178 total. I’ve taken FICA and SDI (CA State Disability Insurance) out for a total of $1073. I’ve assumed no federal or state tax liability, which I will have to revisit. Edited to Add: I have had an additional $37.63 in income over the last six months; an average of $6.27 from a couple of half.com book sales, some recycling, and a couple one dollar GoZing surveys.

On the Challenge I have been able to buy a freezer (that’s why my “savings” and emergency/big purchase funs are so low). I have been able to cover all my needs as well as quite a few wants. I’m getting birthday and Christmas gifts, and have an entertainment budget. I’ve counted every penny of expense since 1998 so it has not been hard to track to the penny how much I have spent. Every dollar counts against the Challenge; the day I picked up the freezer I felt very lucky and “rich” and gave $2 in cash to a person begging on the corner. (She looked very hungry, and here I was getting extra room to put all my food in.) That $2 went into the charity column; I don’t let myself cheat.

As far as my $20 Challenge goes, last year I averaged $1592 a month in spending. At 6 months on the Challenge, that’s $519 less spent x 6, plus $122.54 in saved money, equals $3236.54 in extra savings due to My Minimum Wage Challenge.

Any questions on details in any category gladly answered.

8 Responses to “End of August Halfway Mark Totals”

  1. LuxLiving Says:

    Could thou PLEASE get thy civil servant behind on up to Washington DC and get that deficit thing straightened out for us??? Big Grin
    You're going great guns it looks like! Congrats on the freezer!!

  2. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    I am so interested in your experiment and have been following it since I signed on to savingadvice.com. I bet a lot of others have been, too. You've done really well. You've been clear thinking and disciplined.

    Is $400 a month rent realistic for rent in your area? I mean, can you really even get a studio apartment for that?

    And you did have a paid-for car before you started didn't you? I've seen transportaion crises among low earners become part of suicidal desperation. You know-- lose a car (not be able to repair it, or whatever), lose a job, lose everything.

    Do you think knowing that you _really_ have a larger wage and now some actual savings helps take the edge off? I would be so anixous for my immediate future if I couldn't find a way to make more than minimum wage!

  3. lrjohnson Says:

    Yes, $400 a month could be realistic. It's actually what I really pay as a person. My Guy and I rent a 2 bedroom place, and we each pay $400, the total is $800, and it's a really nice old victorian. My Guy and I used to be roommates and we've actually each used a bedroom. If I wanted I could either get a studio, or, I could be a roommate and easily pay $400 or less as my share if I wanted a bigger house and less privacy.

    Listed now in the paper is a studio at $450, listed now, all utilities paid, fine neighborhood. That's just what's in there today. There's a 2 bedroom listed for $625. It's doable.

    I do have a paid off car. I do live a 20 minute walk from work, so I really could go carless if I had to. The hard part would be grocery shopping; I have one place close, but the other place is far for large grocery runs. If my car broke down I wouldn't lose my job, luckily enough.

    If I really was on minimum wage, as I've said I'd cut out cable and netflix right away, and perhaps other things. I'd look for a cheaper place, which is available in this area. I made a commitment to My Guy when we decided to get certain things, like Netflix, that I would pay my half, and I didn't want to negatively affect him.

    Of course having more money and the ability to cheat is very different than living on the edge. If my dad got sick I could buy airplane tickets like that, and on Minimum Wage I couldn't. I'm not willing to give up a job I love to make the Challenge more real. I understand that it is a challenge, and a hobby, and that other folks in this situation in real life have it hard. I'm in the welfare business and poverty can be very unkind, and I know I'm lucky.

  4. Sunshine Suz Says:


    I've been following your "Journey" and find it very interesting and inspiring. I see that you have Netflicks. My daughter lent me a DVD this weekend from them. It is called "30 Days". It was made by Morgan Spurlock...the guy who did Super Size Me. Anyway, on one of the 30 day segments, he and his girlfriend are living (trying to) on minimum wage. It was pretty good. Also have you read "Nickled and Dimed"? Eye opener!

    Thank you for sharing your challenge with us. And have lots of fun on your vacation!

  5. debtfreeme Says:

    just a question, what is your balance comlun used for? If you are subtracting budget from atual (or vice versa) the numbers don't add up.

    I admire you for doing this. I could not do it, although i should try it!

  6. lrjohnson Says:

    I'm a Morgan Spurlock fan, but have not seen the 30 days show (no cable), and I didn't realize that 30 days was already available on netflix. I did see an excerpt on Oprah. I'll be adding it to my queue. Me having the CA versus Fed minium wage helps.

    I don't recap every month the way I should, on totals. The BALANCE has a running total of all my banked money. If I budget $13 a month for AAA and car registration, and don't spend any, that 13 accumalates every month, so when the annual bill is due, I have it. So the $405.96 is from all my budgeted but unspent money. Things like rent don't carry a balance, because I pay the full amount every month. Things that are uneven, like gifts, or semi-annually, like car insurance, build balances. Any more questions, shoot!

  7. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    How do you reconcile taxes and SS being taken out of minimum wage salary? Is that already included in the amount to live on?

  8. lrjohnson Says:

    Question: How do you reconcile taxes and SS being taken out of minimum wage salary? Is that already included in the amount to live on?

    Good morning: I’m not exactly sure I understand your question. If you mean how do I calculate the taxes:

    CA min wage of $6.75 at 40 hours a week at 4.33 weeks a month is $1169. Less 7.65% FICA for $90 and one half percent for State Disability Insurance for $6. (These are mandatory taxes that are a fixed percent regardless of how low income is; the SDI is a California mandate, the FICA is the federal social security and Medicare tax.) I assumed no federal or state liability to start with because the income was so low, so I thought I had $1073 total to work with. After I had been of the challenge 6 months I double checked my federal tax liability using an online IRS calculator, and my Federal income tax liability would be $569 for a year. Sine I didn’t save $47 a month all along, I have to put aside $95 a month to catch up. Averaged out over the year I have $1026 each month after taxes. Since I caught it late, I had $1073 a month the first six months, and will have $978 a month to spend in the last six months (Sept. through Feb.)

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