Jess Mazour: Live the Wage

Jess Mazour

Last week I took the #RaiseTheWage challenge – live on $77 for 7 days to cover food, gas and other expenses.  This is the amount of money a minimum wage earner has left each after covering housing expenses.

Here’s what I spent during the challenge:

$15.02 – gas
$7.00 – lunch
$30.34 – groceries
$4.21 – birthday present
$14.76 – toilet paper, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner

Jess $5.67 – amount leftover at the end of the week.  I repeat $5.67.  That means if an  unexpected expense popped up I would have $5.67 to take care of it or go in the hole.    What if I got sick?  What if my car broke down?  What if my heater stopped working?    During my challenge I didn’t even consider my car payment, student loans, car insurance,  credit cards, health insurance or tv/internet.

A person who works 40 hours/week on minimum wage lives below the poverty level and      that ain’t right.

With only $5.67 left each week, here’s how long it would take me to save for some irregular  but important costs:

Oil change ($30) – 5.3 weeks
Christmas presents ($35) – 6.2 weeks
Car registration ($200) – 35.3 weeks
Doctor ($20) – 3.5 weeks
Down-payment on a house ($15,000) – 2645.5 weeks (almost 51 years)

This challenge showed me living on minimum wage is nearly impossible – especially if you’re family consists of more than 1 person like many if not most of the minimum wage earners.

It was stressful because I was constantly thinking about how I make my budget work for the week.  It was embarrassing because I had to tell people that I couldn’t do something because I didn’t have enough money.  It made me want to fight as hard as I can to raise the minimum wage.

We need to keep this issue up front and center so let’s keep this challenge going.  I challenge Leslie Marrs, Misti Craig and Hazel Zimmerman to take the challenge and blog about their experience.