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Old 12/08/06, 03:31 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1,750
Question Can a family live on minimum wage?

I'm in one of those thinking moods again (blame the hormones lol).

I was wondering can a family of 2-4 people live on one person's minimum wage?

I've just wondered if this is possible and all.

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." - John 14:6
Old 12/08/06, 03:36 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 736
I don't think it would be possible no matter how many meals were beans and rice and home grown food. I don't know that minimum wage would pay the rent and utilities even.
Old 12/08/06, 03:39 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: MS
Posts: 3,842
Absolutely not!
Old 12/08/06, 03:40 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: NW Georgia
Posts: 7,215
Maybe if both were working or one was getting a lot of O/T, you could do it...but you should get a Nobel Prize in Economics if you could.
Old 12/08/06, 03:40 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Indiana
Posts: 989
Minimum wage is only $5.15 here in Indiana.
Old 12/08/06, 03:41 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: PA
Posts: 11
i can say this from experiance no there is no way you can support 4 people on minimum wage alone you gonna have to work mulitible jobs just to make ends meet that is of course you take the high road and stay off welfare as me and my wife did when we first started out i was working 2 jobs and going to school she was working one job and going to school . even know i still work 1 full time and two part time jobs and my wife still works part time. know we have two little girls to take care of and i will tell u i will sell my body parts to science before i let my kids live on ramen noodles and wild game like i had to
Old 12/08/06, 03:44 PM
seedspreader's Avatar
AFKA ZealYouthGuy
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: NW Pa./NY Border.
Posts: 11,456
My question is a little different, Why should a family have to live on minimum wage? Minimum wage is an entry wage at a little-to-no skills job. Heck even McD's (if you are just a decent worker and show up when scheduled and on time) you can get over 8.00 an hour here, much more if you are a supervisor/manager. But most people who work there aren't working their for careers. It is either a starter job, a fill-in job (until you get a better opportunity) or a sunset job (a little extra during retirement).
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Old 12/08/06, 03:48 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 242
Okay...I did some math. The US minimum wage is $5.15 according to Wikipedia. If you worked 40 hours per week that would be $10, 712 per year. That works out to $892 before taxes per month.

Could BF and I live on that? Maybe. If we didn't have a debt load, and we had very low or no rent payments. And we didn't have to buy a car, or pay insurance. And we grew some of my own food, and bargain shopped for the rest...we MIGHT be able to make it. Could we raise two kids on that. No. I don't think so.

In my opinion....I think that people who do work minimum wage jobs and are trying to raise children are forced to work more than 40 hours per week or have two minimum wage jobs just to make ends meet. That's why there are so many low wage families where both parents work just to put food on the table. I am a big supporter of raising the minimum wage to a living wage. Make it more scalable to the area that you live in, because where I live in NC, there is no way I could survive on a minimum wage job...even to find housing, it would take everything that I was bringing in. (Some states are already doing this...and the Congress will be looking at raising the minimum wage to $7.25 next year.....)

Just where I'm coming from. I'm sure there will be other opinions....

"Start Where You Are."--Pema Chodron
Old 12/08/06, 03:53 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: PA
Posts: 11
I have never made minimum wage ever i have made 7.50 an hr and that doesn't cut it after ol uncle sam takes his cut add to the fact that many jobs that are 11hr and under do not give benifits of ne kind. life gets very expensive very quick. i can say we do much better know then when we where 18 and we have found thousands of ways to cut costs at all times.

i feel for all the honest people out there that do not have the ability to make themselves more employable i am lucky know as i have so much training in such specialized feilds there is always work. and i have a great deal of job security. also but for a few years we where the poor people that every one talks about honestly one paycheck away from being homeless
Old 12/08/06, 03:56 PM
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If I need a Shelter
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Ozarks
Posts: 18,255
Well the highest paying Job around here is $8 an hour and its awfull hard to make it at that.

But most people around here work for less than $6 an hour,thats just durring the Summer.Then they draw Unemployment durring the Winter.

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Old 12/08/06, 03:59 PM
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Mother,Artist, Author
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: East Tennessee
Posts: 3,532
I don't think a single person could live on minimum wage.
Before DH and I got married, I was laid off from a service advisor job with a Chevrolet dealership. I couldn't find anything, and ended up taking a job working at a Dunkin Donuts from 4 am to noon and then in the afternoons cashiered at a liquer store which only paid minumum wage. The donut shop I started off at $5.75 an hour, but got tips. I worked there mon. thru thurs. and averaged $80 a week in tips. Which wasn't bad. But the liquer store job sometimes only gave me 10 hours a week. At first I had only that job and it definitly wasn't cutting it bringing home a check of $50 a week.
Old 12/08/06, 04:13 PM
ldc ldc is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: S. Louisiana
Posts: 2,384
The only people I know who lived/live on minimum wage were a couple families who inherited places to live, had no debt, heat with wood, grow a ton of veg., had maybe one sometimes-working vehicle. There is a family with 6 kids near a friend of mine like this now. I have never seen lights on at their house. My friend thinks they are not hooked up to electric, here in the capital city. When I bring boxes of food a few times a year from the community garden, the kids act like it's a holiday. They are obviously hungry. Only kids I ever heard CHEER for a box of cabbage.Their dad has had the same minimum wage job for many years, according to the neighbor.
Old 12/08/06, 04:20 PM
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Halfway, OR & Wagoner, OK
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: I live in Oregon part time, and Oklahoma part time. Nice, huh?
Posts: 3,306
I think it depends on where you live. We live in a part of the country where housing is cheap and so is electricity and groceries, etc. My son worked at a minimum wage job for over 7 years and did okay. Not great, but okay.

He didn't have a wife and kids, however.
Old 12/08/06, 04:23 PM
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writing some wrongs
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: SW Ohio
Posts: 6,872
I agree with's not so hard to get a wage increase if you work at it and stick with the same job long enough to get a raise -- and start out when you're young and don't have a rent payment or other expenses yet! I started working in 1984 at $3.35 an hour, and to a 16 year old whose parents paid for most everything except the gas in my car, that was great! Two years later (at a different job, but with a bit of experience and references) I was in the $5-6 range. I guess in today's dollars that's about $10. But I guess a minimum wage has to also work for the people who go through jobs every few months and tend to get fired.

I think you *could* live on minimum wage, even with a family, but this would require some serious re-thinking and re-prioritizing and even a radical change of lifestyle. Think about what it means to "live on minimum wage." Does it mean having your own home, car, TV, new clothes, hobbies, etc.? Or does it mean just having enough food to not go hungry or be malnourished, appropriate clothing, and a warm safe place to sleep at night?

Think about how people in poor countries do it, or how it's been done in leaner years in the US such as during the depression. Also, this is often how new immigrants, illegal or otherwise, do things. Large extended families, or even combinations of families, go in together on a small house or apartment, they make big meals to benefit from the "economy of size" principle. Kids sleep 3-4 in a bed, 2-3 beds in a room. Adults don't have much privacy either, but they do have food and shelter.

It's not ideal and I sure wouldn't wish it on anybody...but it shows you CAN "live on" minimum wage. And it's only temporary anyhow, until the wage-earners start to bring in more income.

I think that in the past few decades we've all gotten so used to things we consider "normal" that really aren't -- the reality is that whole families of 8 or more used to live in cabins the size of my living room, the 8-hour workday is a very recent invention, and we've lost the ability as a culture to be inventive.

Now, if the question is SHOULD a family live on minimum wage...that's different.
Old 12/08/06, 04:27 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,376
Absolutely--but with a lot of "buts". But you would have to be willing to move to a cheap part of the country, live in a small place, probably heat with wood, grow your own food, be willing to accept govt handouts such as medicaid, etc.

My question back is "why would anyone try--at least long term?" Why not find a better job? Why not either have 2 adults working or wait to make babies until you are stable in a much better job?

In short, why get yourself in this pickle long term? Short term can happen to anyone, but long term implies choices made.
Old 12/08/06, 04:32 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Indiana
Posts: 373
When ds#1 was born (1996) we lived on $2/hr over minimum wage in Indianapolis. Like'ta starved. We moved down to Kentucky and shared a rental farmhouse with my brother for a few months while Mike got into the electrician apprenticeship.

Then we lived on $3/hr over minimum wage LOL but with extreme living we were able to rent a very teeny old house in town and begin climbing our way up. 10 years later we are still pretty radical in our frugality but we're 'safe' (food, clothing, shelter, health care, reliable transportation, job security).

I thought at the time (sorry for the snobbery) that not everybody could have done it. Every meal from scratch yet still went to bed with stomach growling, no dryer, no a/c, not enough heat, a shirt on your back and the other in the wash, holes in the shoes tho you walk miles daily, one ancient unreliable car, prayer and herbs instead of doctors, etc.

You sure can't go into poverty WITH debt and WITHOUT skills and hope to make it. We had zero debt and plenty of gumption and we barely made it.

* the babies didn't go hungry or cold. Mike and I did, but I would have gone to work or got gov't help if our babies were suffering
Homeschooling mama of 4 boys; Mike's wife
Old 12/08/06, 05:19 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: NW OR
Posts: 2,314
Oregon's min wage is almost $8.

I know families that are doing it, but they sure aren't living well, and they do rely on local food banks, free clothing closet at local church, school lunch program. Does that count?

When I was 18, I was working for $3.50 an hour, taking home $90 a week, living with 3 other people in a ghetto house, going to school full time, working full time, and living on pbj sandwiches and ramen. I mean, you can do it, but you don't live well, and without some kind of fall back resources, like mom's occasional dinners and using her free washing machine, no, I don't think you can live on JUST minimum wage.

The show '30 days' with the guy who did the movie 'Supersize me' has an episode this month where he and his wife attempt to live on minimum wage with no outside help. It's been on satellite all week - don't remember the channel. Eye opening.
Old 12/08/06, 05:28 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: N.E. Oklahoma
Posts: 3,676
When dh and I got married minimum wage was 1.60 an hour. I made 2.25 and he made 2.52 an hour. We did pretty good. Then came the oil embargo, the beef boycott, gas doubled in a week, milk did too, ground beef became almost non-existent, etc. Anyway, we both worked, changed jobs for better money, took on all kinds or odd jobs and one year had 4 w-2s and 8 1099s between us. We also had no children at the time and that helped us alot. Even if we'd had children we would have worked as much as possible to bring in extra income.
Old 12/08/06, 05:48 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,485
Its not easy but it can be done if you get very very lucky. Housing is a huge part of it. If you can find affordable housing that is clean and safe you can usually juggle the rest but there isn't alot of room for error. My take home pay is slightly more than the federal minimum wage and there are 5 of us here. The so pays half the rent about 2 out of every 3 months and I take care of the rest. Rent is $470 per month, electric about $70, gas varies $30 in the summer and $130 in the winter, phone is $40, cable is $100, car insurance and gasoline is $100. So winter bills are about $810 per month. I bring home about $900 per month. Now I play it smart with my tax refund. I put 1/4 away for birthdays and Christmas gifts and the rest is divided up to use per month so I can add about $250 to my monthly income. So in reality I'm now bringing home $1060 per month. This allows for $340 for food and incidentals. Some months when we need or want something we eat alot of pasta and cheap stews. The kids don't do without but 2 are now working part time jobs and paying for their own clothes which helps alot. We may not have the latest and greatest but we have no credit card debt, and don't live beyond our means. We even go on the occasional short vacation. My only real fear is that someone gets sick because we don't have insurance.
Old 12/08/06, 06:19 PM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: GA & Ala
Posts: 6,207
uhm I have to ask - "cable is 100.00 per month", my goodness gracious!! what on earth are you all watching???

I have satellite and 380 channels to surf and mine is only 45.00 per month (I never watch it though, but the boychild does). When he graduates I will just turn it off. I get news through the 'net and free newspapers and have a weather radio for bad weather..

Uhm that just seems kind of high to me, but each to his/her own I guess.

I cannot live on minimum wage until farm is paid for, then car that boychild drives is paid for and college is paid for. But I did at one time live on min. wage with twin daughters and went to college full time while I worked full time.
To this day I HATE canned Tuna fish and really can barely tolerate mac n cheese..but I survived, got us a better living situation and a much better salary.

My son starts his new "first real job that isn't for himself"..and is making more than minimum wage, I wonder why others can't find a job that pays a bit more? He's only 16 and McDonald's is going to start him above min. wage. He wants the experience and will work there until grass season/lawn care season starts back up, then says he will do both..saving for college/tires/slush fund in case car needs work. He's going to likely be one of those folks that is always thinking ahead for the future because he's worked since he was able to ride a mower. But if he can get on for more than 5.15 an hour, why can't others?

Personally I've been there and Lord willing and the creek don't rise, I will not go back there. I am frugal beyond belief, but hate the thought of having to always "do without" so have socked away $ for a rainy day (which may come sooner than later if my job were outsourced to China.)

With so many resources for training and gov. programs for those that are in need, it seems that one could "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" if they were so inclined. I did, so I know it can be done and without welfare too.
Be yourself - no one can tell you that you're doing it wrong!

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