Frequently Asked Questions: Minimum Wage Challenge

frequently asked questions

I have the distinct feeling that I’m going to get a few comments over and over again for this minimum wage challenge, so it probably makes sense for me to create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) area. This will allow me to simply link to this FAQs section rather than explain again and again throughout the entire year when these questions arise. So with that in mind, here are the answers to some of the common FAQs already starting to emerged — with others to be added as needed:

“Your sister is stupid, an idiot, a #^$%^#E%^##, etc”

Although it may not always seem like it in my posts, my sister and I get along quite well and have a lot of fun with these bets. I actually value her making them with me because it pushes me to try things that I would never normally attempt, and you all get to come along for the ride if you want. As anyone who has siblings who make ridiculous bets with one another knows, it’s ALWAYS the top priority of the siblings to try to change or clarify the rules of the bet in their favor. This is a well-know portion of the Sibling Agreement on Records, Bets, Stunts and Streaks (SARBSS) and any sibling who doesn’t follow this rule is in reckless abandonment of their duties.

“That isn’t realistic for most people who are living on minimum wage”

First and foremost, if you were expecting me to try to live on a minimum wage challenge as a typical low wage earner does in the US, you are going to be sorely disappointed. While those that work for retail outlets and fast food joints may make up the majority of minimum wage earners, and this is the image that most people have pop into their mind when they talk about minimum wage jobs, these aren’t the only ones that need to live on a small salary. I know plenty of artist friends that have scraped by on a minimum wage income (or less) to pursue their dream.

I would also like to point out that I would guess that the majority of people who begin their own business earn a minimum wage salary the first few years as they get the business off the ground. The big difference is that they make a somewhat livable income because they aren’t working 40 hour weeks, but 80 or more hour weeks since that is what it usually takes to make a new business a success. The point is that while most people think of “minimum wage” being associated to retail and fast food, there are many others that live on this type of salary as well.

This was a challenge from my sister for me to try to live well on a minimum wage salary for a year. I do not plan to try to emulate a “typical minimum wage earner” in order to succeed at this. In fact, I’m going to try to make it the most exciting year ever while still staying within the restricted budget by purposely going outside what people would typically consider to show there are other ways to do things beyond what the typical finance books teach. It’s going to mean using a lot of creativity and pushing assumed limits to succeed, but I think that it’ll benefit all those who follow it by showing that if you really want to do something, there are atypical ways to achieve your goals.

I also think that this is a perfect opportunity to once again point out that personal finance is personal. Every person’s situation is different and you’re going to have to adapt what you learn from others to meet your own personal situation. Even if I lived more like the image of a typical minimum wage earner, there would still be people who would say, “…but I can’t do that because…” since their situation wasn’t exactly like mine (I feel I can say this with a good deal of confidence because I saw a fair share of it when I did my eating on less than a dollar a day challenge a few years ago).

If you’re looking for something that will tell you exactly how to live well on a minimum wage salary, this challenge won’t be for you. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for creative ways to approach finances on a limited income, and how thinking beyond the typical can create solutions that you may have never considered, then I think that you may find some good information in this series.

Next article: Comfort Zone

(Photo courtesy of taberandrew)

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6 Responses to Frequently Asked Questions: Minimum Wage Challenge

  1. I also thought of Americorps volunteers when I first heard of the challenge. Most of them are making $10-$12k per year in “living stipend”. It’s not a lot to live on and definitely makes you less than minimum wage. When I did my Americorps service year I made $1000 a month. I was working 40 hours per week as a legal assistant at legal services. I think of that as my own personal minimum wage challenge.

  2. Jo says:

    My daughter is in Americorp. She’s a site supervisor on the “Rebuild ________” project. I had to leave that blank for her safety. And yes, you’re right that she’s making that kind of money you mentioned, plus EBT.

    Let me tell you, since college, that girl lives comfortably on a less than minimum wage budget. She’s got a roommate and they split the expenses regarding the apartment they live in.

    For her it is a challenge, but luckily because she loves Americorp, she doesn’t mind the small amount of money she’s earning.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    When I was a grad student I lived on $700/month in D.C. – that was my monthly income as a TA. I had a basement “apartment” that included a bedroom/living room, a half-bath, shared shower and kitchen, shared laundry, shared phone. No cable TV. No car. No movie rentals or movie theater tickets. I walked mostly and used public transportation when necessary. I joined a food co-op and almost never ate out. I almost never shopped except for books once a semester and study supplies when needed. At the time I had plenty of money and almost always had some left at the end of the month. I was lucky and had no medical expenses. I rarely bought new clothes. And DC is filled with free festivals, concerts, shows, etc. for entertainment so I had plenty to do for fun. It can be done, you just need to opt out of a consumer/shopping focused lifestyle.

  4. Debbie M says:

    I bet plenty of people on unemployment or Social Security are also living on a meager income.

  5. Minny says:

    Have you read the book ‘Living More with Less’ by Doris Janzen Longacre. I read it because I read on a blog that it was about living on not much. It was a fascinating read and I would recommend it.

  6. jeffrey says:

    No. I will have to go and check it out. Thanks for the tip.

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