Tips for Living On the Minimum Wage


The minimum wage, as of 2011, is $7.25 per hour. After taxes, a minimum wage earner may $1,000 or less a month. This means living comfortably on the minimum wage will be a challenge. While there may not be room for much more than necessities, careful budget planning can allow you to make ends meet when you're making a minimum wage.

Physical Budget

  • Draw up a physical budget. The budget should be one you can reference easily. A notebook will do. Write down all of your income and expenses. Seeing what you have coming in and going out can help keep you on track, especially when you get the urge to spend outside of your budget. On the minimum wage, there is little room for spending outside of the budget. If you are considering that kind of spending, just take a look at the budget you've written out.

Be Available for Overtime

  • Working more hours to make ends meet isn't something most people want to have to do, but the reality of a minimum wage job is that overtime is a chance to get ahead. If your company authorizes overtime, let your employer know you are willing to work as much as possible. If you don't work overtime throughout the year, plan on trying to work some overtime at least around holidays when you will likely want extra money.

Get a Roommate

  • Rent will take up a large portion of your income. Unless you can find an extremely cheap apartment to live in, you will find only a small portion of your check is left over after you pay rent. One way to cut expense here is to find a roommate. Sharing the expense of rent not only cuts your rent in half, but your utility bills as well, giving you more money to live on. Sharing the expense of rent is one of the key ways of living more comfortably on a minimum wage.

Save for Extras

  • No one likes to work just to pay bills. Having a little extra to go out to eat once in a while or to buy a treat can help ease the stress of worrying about bills. While the minimum wage won't allow you to go out regularly or buy extras, you don't have to do without them completely -- just cut down on them. Put a little money aside when you can and save for a special once-a-month treat. If you save for something extra rather than spend on an urge, you will be able to fit it into your budget.

Shop With Coupons

  • Take advantage of coupons whenever possible. You can find coupons not only for food, but for health and hygiene essentials as well. If you own a car and it needs work, look for coupons there as well. Coupons are an effective way to save money.


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