“Living on minimum wage isn’t easy”…uh, no shit.

It’s so very nice to be able to just rant on this blog.

It’s very freeing.

Anyway, I saw a post tonight from someone I used to be friends with. They were talking about how they made $3 above minimum wage in their state and they still couldn’t live on that, so clearly minimum wage needs to be increased because living on minimum wage is not easy to do…or even possible according to her.

Now let’s skim past all the obvious issues inherent in this. Blah blah inflation blah increased cost of living blah f*cking blah loss of jobs blah blah. If you are reading my blog then you almost certainly already know that raising the minimum wage is in no way the answer to our countries economic woes. In fact that would almost certainly make everything worse.

Let’s just discuss why this particular acquaintance of mine is acting crazy when it comes to understanding how budgets and hardship work.

No shit, living on minimum wage is hard, but it’s not impossible…except if you have ridiculous spending habits. I made about a dollar over minimum wage for over a year when I worked at a parking garage 40 hours a week. Somehow I was completely debt free and living alone and payed all my own bills with no help from anyone.

I made around $16,000 a year.

Keep in mind that I have only the most fleeting acquaintance with this woman’s life at the moment and I could criticize a lot of her choices, but the thing that bugs me most is that she’s never even had the slightest brush with the concept of a budget based on my knowledge of her life.

I can’t remember a month where I haven’t seen facebook updates about flying half way across the country for a fun trip, paying for brand new tattoos, and instagramming pictures of her time spent at indie coffee houses.

No wonder she can’t live on the money she makes at her job.

I could’t have afforded that lifestyle either, but neither can most people.

When I was making just over minimum wage I took a grand total of two major vacations. I flew to stay with a friend in Alabama for a few days and I flew to Atlanta a year later for a convention. I had enough money to go to dinner with friends on occasion and see a movie or go shopping. I had a nice apartment and I was by no means destitute.

You know how I could do all this? I budgeted.

I knew how much my rent and utilities, approximately, would be every month and I made sure I had that in my bank account every month. No late fees for me.

I turned the thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter.

I shopped at thrift stores and goodwill and used bookstores.

I ordered appetizers instead of full meals when I went out.

I made do with a tiny old TV in my apartment (it was free…I still have it actually) and the only new thing I bought while living there was a laptop when my old one died.

I did not take half a dozen trips in as many months. I did not spend hundreds of dollars on comic books. I did not go see the same movie 6 times in as many days.

You can’t do that on minimum wage. You just can’t.

No one is saying that someone who makes minimum wage is going to live like a millionaire and have everything they want all the time or get to do all the fun things they would like to do.

But that’s just it, I’m not responsible for your guilty pleasures, your vacations, your movie tickets, or your hobbies. If you are living on minimum wage you may have to do without, that sucks but it’s true.

Are you going to be an international jetsetter on a minimum wage paycheck? No, no you aren’t.

Can you live on a minimum wage salary? Yes, yes you can.

Stop pretending that your lack of ability to budget or practice self control over your purchasing habits necessitates government intervention.



  1. Here in the UK, living on minimum wage working for hours a week still only gives you 13.2k ish. Which is fine, except if you have a partner or children it can get more difficult. I realise children are to be budgeted but it is hard. I would say minimum wage here is doable, providing you freeze to some extent in the winter and can find reduced food. The main problem with the UK economy is that a lot of employers over here want to give people 4 hour or eight hour contracts and would rather have no full time people. In those circumstances I think people start to struggle. You could say get another job, but I find that the original employer wants complete flexibility over your hours. I know, right. Why not suggest to your ‘friend’ that she makes a budget? The thought may just not have occurred to her.

    • If you are married or living with someone then why don’t they have a job as well?

      If you are living on minimum wage then having children is probably not your best idea ever.

      Raising minimum wage will not fix any of these issues because of things like inflation and higher unemployment.

      If the UK is anything like the United States on this, the reason they prefer part time employees is because of how much it takes to offer them benefits. That may not be the case in the UK, but it is here.

      99% of what’s wrong in the US (probably the UK as well) can be traced back to government regulation.

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