Living Well on Minimum Wage Challenge

dollar sign puzzle

Some of you know that my sister and I bet quite a bit. One of the bets ended up with me trying to eat well on less than $1 a day. It was a rather humorous look at my terrible cooking skills and what I was willing to do in order to save money on food over a 100 day period. Our bets often end up that way.

As I was visiting and we were talking about all the traveling I have done this past year, I told her that I really hadn’t spent all that much and that I could probably live my lifestyle on a minimum wage salary. She gave me her “I don’t believe a word you’re saying” look and audibly scoffed at my claim. Thus the newest bet was born — I will try to live wel


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26 Responses to Living Well on Minimum Wage Challenge

  1. Samantha says:

    Most people would have trouble with this challenge. I suspect you are not most people. I lived a year off just under $12k, and I was feeding and housing myself, my boyfriend and 2 elementary age children. I didn’t coupon at the time, but I was an adept stockpiler (I firmly believe that stockpiling saves me so much more money than couponing, though coupons do help). My grocery budget for that whole year was a meager $1k, and we ate really well.

    If you don’t already, you should write down every bill you have to pay monthly. Some things you’ll have some wiggle room with, some you won’t. Find the wiggle room. Raise your car insurance deductable, or better yet, get quotes and see if you can really save. Tweak the temp on the thermostat. Reconsider some of the fun stuff, and think of cheaper ways to have fun.

    We spent a lot of time at the library (we’re bibliophiles), did not have cable but we kept Netflix, and instead of trying to keep the house cool, we parked ourselves at the pool during the heat of the day.

    Frugal is a state of mind, and I’m confident you’ve got it.

    Best of luck.

  2. creditcardfree says:

    Jeffrey, Good luck! That is quite a challenge. Being organized will help tremendously.

  3. twest says:

    Good Luck with this challenge. I look forward to keeping up with you on this journey.

  4. Katherine says:

    Sounds like fun! I’m rooting for you!

  5. Good luck on this bet Jeffrey. I think it will be difficult, but if you are creative enought(you are!), I think you can pull it off. I can’t wait to follow it!

  6. LuckyRobin says:

    Looking forward to seeing how this works out for you.

  7. Mike says:

    I love the idea and good luck!! I have several suggestions that may help, but the one I would like to mention here is to make a lot of friends. When you are making minimum wage you have fewer options when trouble hits. Having friends that are willing to help you out (fix a leak, fix a flat, give you a ride, pick up your kids, lend you a nice clothes for a job interview, etc.) is invaluable.

    Most importantly, in order to make a lot of friends you have to be a good friend.

  8. Wow, it’s amazing that you committed to doing this for a full year. I question whether things will blow up on you that will destroy your chances of success: I’m assuming you are a homeowner (I could be wrong about this, though, as I just started reading your site). What if you need a new water heater? What if you have a string of bad luck where your washer, dryer, furnace, etc. break and need replacement? I think the unexpected costs are the one thing that could really make this a difficult task.

  9. jeffrey says:

    I do have a set of very good friends, but I definitely don’t have a lot of friends (one of the hazards of being an introvert). They are definitely the type that I can count on if worst comes to worst (or even if it doesn’t), but I’m hoping that I don’t have to rely on them too much.

  10. jeffrey says:

    I don’t currently have a house: although I will have to make the decision as to whether it will make more sense for me to rent out a cheap place.

  11. Minny says:

    Samantha has given good advice, we had to live very frugally for three years and in many ways have never gone back. Once you have realised the amount of money simply wasted it is hard to go back.

    The living on $1 a day will help.

    What challenges do you set your sister?

  12. Gailete says:

    Uh about the amount you will be living on, I believe you forgot to take out tax and social security, etc. that is normally gone from a paycheck before you even see it. What remains is what you have to live on, the NET not the gross. Even if you think you wouldn’t have taxes taken out, for sure you will have state taxes, local taxes and the SS/MC amounts gone. Your 40 hours of work a week should be spent in active physical work since that is also the type of work most people do for that money–the harder most people work the less they earn. If you think of writing your blogs and newsletters etc, as work, you might want to oomph that up to something very physical.

    I will watch this challenge with interest as I have done this myself only for me it was out of necessity. I lived on a minimum wage Part-time job and supported myself until I was bumped up to full time, still minimum wage and then got a nickle an hour raise–big woop!

  13. jeffrey says:

    My sister has conveniently made sure that I am the one that does most of these challenges :)

  14. jeffrey says:

    I have taxes listed in my preliminary budget and know that I will have less than the whole $17k to spend.

    As I mentioned, while I will be living on the same amount of money, the challenge is not likely to look anything like the typical minimum wage earner and I have many advantages that the typical minimum wage earner doesn’t. This will be more about creative use of finances to show it’s possible to do quite a lot without spending a lot with creativity.

  15. Ericka says:

    Cool! I love tracking your challenges! Good luck!

  16. Dee in RI says:

    I’m glad you’re doing this challenge. I’ll follow this one as I did the $1 a day challenge. Good luck with all.

    Notes: Minimum wage varies from state to state and so does the cost of living in each state (rent, taxes, etc.). I believe that $8.50 an hour is the highest minimum wage in the country. And you lose some of it to payroll deductions. Most real minimum wage workers would not be able to crash with friends for a week at a time. Their likely choices would be living in a vehicle (if they have one), a rooming house, or if they are lucky, section 8 housing.

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  20. Good luck on your challenge, family of 5 here and we live off of one wage minimum wage salary. $7.45 here and for quite awhile did it without government assistance which I did recenty have to accept as I have a very real life threatening illness going on right now. If not for my illness I would have continued doing it without help.

    We pay rent in a cheap rural area, we never would have anyone who would put us up for a week, that is a lot easier when you are single.

    I look forward to following your challenge and seeing how you do it :) best of luck to ya!

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  22. Christy says:

    This is a great idea. We Americans waste too much including money. This is an inspiration for us to create our own challenges.

  23. Larry says:

    Here, in Washington State, the minimum wage is $9.19/hour and we don’t pay state income tax.

  24. Amber says:

    Good luck, I think I’m going to try this for February

  25. Nikki says:

    Did you finish the challenge? I see the last entry was in June 2013.

  26. Nicky says:

    Good Job, Strong Individual

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