At my lowest point financially, I wasn’t making minimum wage. I was self-employed, and, as many service-based, self-employed people can attest to, sometimes my clients were late with making payments. This leaves us self-employed folk in a precarious situation, often times looking in the pockets of coats we haven’t used in a minute for spare change—if we didn’t start our business with an emergency fund. I know all too well the struggle of barely getting by. As, in 2015, 2.6 million workers labored at or below minimum wage, I decided to focus on how to survive on minimum wage.
Keep reading to find out how to survive on minimum wage.
1. Cut expenses
Minimum wage, of course, depends on the state or province in which you live. But, places with higher minimum wages usually also have higher costs of living. So, more likely than not, it’s hard to survive on minimum wage, no matter where you live. To make this work, you’re going to have to live with less. Have a landline? Nix it. Shop around to find the cheapest (and most reliable) internet provider. Better yet, if you live by yourself, you could get unlimited data on your cell phone (if it’s a good deal) and use it as a hotspot to use your laptop. You won’t need a TV, either, since you have internet. Consider having roommates. Even if you have a car, and distance permits, walk more to save money on gas. Your life may not be super comfortable at this time, but it’s only temporary.
2. Determine your disposable income
Once you’ve cut down your expenses, determine your disposable income by tallying up your expenses (including debt repayment) and deducting them from your monthly income after taxes. Determine what to do with this amount. How much can you afford to put in an emergency fund? How much can you set aside as play money? Your play money could even be $5 a week, which would represent one latte a week at Starbucks. These are trying times, and, as I said earlier, I’ve been there. Having a tiny weekly treat makes things more bearable.
Determine what you’ll cook for the week, write down a grocery list, check the flyers for coupons and sales and shop accordingly. Remember to group the items according to store to make shopping easier. Cook large portions and purchase containers, at the dollar store, in which to store your meals. If you think eating something three days in a row would bore you, pick a day to cook, and cook two-three meals at a time, and alternate. If you and a few friends are in a similar financial bind, you could swap meals to spice things up.
4. Craft an escape plan
In life, it’s easy to become complacent. But, we should always strive to improve ourselves on all levels. Determine how much more you’d like to make a month. Determine the steps you’d have to make each day to make that a reality. The internet is a powerful thing. Have you heard of John Morrow? He’s the CEO of Smartblogger.com, has run several popular blogs, written innumerable viral articles, all while being paralyzed from the neck down. His story is truly inspiring, and I encourage you to read up on him.
What skills and services could you provide over the internet? If being an online entrepreneur isn’t the move for you, what career path would you be interested in? Would you have to go back to school to pursue it? I recommend you read Kenneth Cheadle’s book Millennial Takeover. The author gives key steps to take to craft the career of your dreams. Make your escape plan concrete. Write everything down and execute required steps. This may mean that you have less free time to see friends or go on social media. That’s okay. Do make sure you still have time for self-care, as mental health is of the utmost importance. This will be a period of sacrifice and reward. I believe you can do it, though. I’m rooting for you.