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What Are the Best Tips for Living on Minimum Wage?

Patrick Lynch
Patrick Lynch

Although the rate of minimum wage depends on the nation in which the wage-earner lives, those who earn it often have problems making ends meet. When living on minimum wage, things like creating a budget are sometimes overlooked. Occasionally, sacrifices, such as the sale of an automobile may be necessary. Someone who owes money to several creditors would be advised to seek loan consolidation as a means of making the debt affordable.

Living on minimum wage in any nation is a difficult task, and even people at this low level of income are not necessarily exempt from taxes. It is common for those living on minimum wage to struggle to meet various bills including those for rent, utilities, and groceries. Even the most frugal household can overlook certain tips which can make life more manageable.

Woman posing
Woman posing

One of the first things that someone living on minimum wage should do is to make a budget. It is important to avoid all frivolous spending and to keep expenditure to a bare minimum in order to determine if any disposable income is available. Checking pay slips is a basic requirement and monthly wages should be calculated.

The next step is to find out how much is spent on rent, food, utility bills, and other items. Once this is done, this amount can be subtracted from monthly income. If this number is greater than zero, then there is disposable income available. If the figure is a negative number, some expenditures needs to be cut.

If someone living on minimum wage is spending more than he is earning, it is vital that he find ways to cut expenses. For example, those who smoke can make a conscious decision to quit. This will improve their health and save money.

Taking public transport instead of driving a car may be an option, and a person living on minimum wage may have to consider selling his car if he is in debt. As well as bringing in much needed income, he can save money by not having to pay for gas, insurance, taxes, and all other bills associated with a car.

A person making minimum wage may be repaying loans. If this is the case, it may be possible to consolidate the loans, which is the process of taking out one single loan to cover all other loans. This could be a cost effective solution because instead of paying different interest rates on different loans, it may be possible to make one payment with a much smaller interest rate.

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Discussion Comments


@umbra21 - There is no mythical place where the rent is cheap and there are jobs for all comers. You are either paying for the commute or living in a terrible neighborhood, and sometimes both.

Minimum wage has been showed to simply not be enough to support one person, let alone a family. People shouldn't have to work multiple jobs in order to get by.

I know people think it will end up costing companies huge amounts if they increase minimum wage across the board, but it's already costing tax payers huge amounts, because they are having to subsidize the health care and school lunches of the people who make their fast food.

I wish we would just decide one day that everyone deserves to live a healthy life and give them the chance to do that. When your system is built upon the assumption that a large group of people aren't going to be paid enough to live then you obviously don't think much of human dignity.


@pleonasm - I always want to tell people to stop doing things like buying televisions or brand name clothes if they don't have the money to spend on them. They should grow their own vegetables and look in thrift shops for items that are better quality but still less expensive. They should move to a place where the rent is cheaper.

I think this is partly just that people who have never had money don't have money sense, so they live from pay check to pay check and never have enough for emergencies.


It is really difficult to live on minimum wage, because being poor is expensive. When you can't afford to buy better quality products, you end up having to replace them more often. When you can't afford to fix problems, like a leaky roof, before they become bigger problems, they end up costing more.

That isn't even mentioning the interest on loans and credit cards that are almost unavoidable if you end up with any kind of big expense, like a doctor's bill or a funeral.

It's so difficult to climb out of this kind of situation, because you are never starting from square one.

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