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Old 10-04-2008, 06:36 PM
 
Location: Wicker Park, Chicago
4,793 posts, read 7,740,344 times
Reputation: 1801
Default How do low income people survive?

Low income - $15/hr to minimum wage. I met one guy who was a burger flipper and asked how he afforded living. He said, "are you good with women? How up with one and live with her!" But let me guess, many $7/hr workers have multiple jobs, probably get food stamps, public aid, SSDI, or Section 8. Otherwise, I heard they gang up together and live in an Apt - probably little privacy.

Ok, if you're a low earner - how do you survive?

How dreary is life when you can't afford many things?

I was thinking about getting a PT job to supplement my unemployment checks which I haven't gotten my last 5!, - so I'm suffering. Maybe working $7 / hr isn't worth it but like I'd get a 20% employee discount at Ross. I am able to get contract $30 - $35 / hr Proe jobs, but I haven't gotten one in 7 weeks. But I did get a 2 day $60 /hr job that messed up my unemployment check situation! - I should have never taken it!
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Old 10-04-2008, 06:53 PM
 
19,247 posts, read 15,013,536 times
Reputation: 7829
I see you have INTERNET.
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Old 10-04-2008, 06:56 PM
 
Location: Baywood Park
1,634 posts, read 4,029,395 times
Reputation: 621
Be a minimalist, no toys is the biggie. Wear cheap clothes, pay cheap rent, no car payment (drive a POS), no dating or movies or eating out. No smoking or drinking. Even live at home if possible. The bare essentials. I've lived like this. I was actually able to save money, enough to where money wasn't a concern or something to stress out about.
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Old 10-04-2008, 08:13 PM
 
Location: Wicker Park, Chicago
4,793 posts, read 7,740,344 times
Reputation: 1801
Ok, truthfully I was low income for 4.5 years, when I got SSDI during a 30 month probation where no one would hire me because of my probation. Yeah, live rent free and just enjoy food, thrift shop clothes, and actually I did afford road bikes to lose weight on a monthly SSDI check of around $800.

I'm unemployed now, supposed to be getting a weekly $378 unemployment check but haven't.
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Old 10-04-2008, 08:24 PM
 
13,553 posts, read 20,666,642 times
Reputation: 5266
Quote:
Originally Posted by Driller1 View Post
I see you have INTERNET.
Some people go to the public library. Some people "piggyback" illegally off their unsecured neighbors. That's kind of a silly post there.
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Old 10-04-2008, 08:29 PM
 
Location: Sanford, FL
717 posts, read 2,682,264 times
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From my experience

Rent cheap apartments in the bad parts of town
$30 limit on food per week for a family of 3
No car payments
Sometimes 2 jobs
No new anything
No toys
No cable
Room mates help
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Old 10-04-2008, 08:29 PM
 
Location: in my mind
2,746 posts, read 9,336,750 times
Reputation: 1490
Some of the things you mentioned perhaps are part of the picture.. but probably not SSDI since you can't work much and still get it (I believe). And housing is limited, hard to get. Public Aid, if you mean TANF/AFDC, is not given to those with jobs. So perhaps food stamps are filling in some gaps but probably not much more for a $7/hr worker.

It helps if you have another $7 an hour worker helping.

Some people donate plasma for money, sell cans, mow lawns, watch kids, etc., in addition to the low wage job. Have yard sales. Sell stuff on eBay if they have a camera and internet access. Do research studies for pay. Kite checks (I'm serious). Get payday or auto title loans. There are a million different "methods of survival".

I've lived on low wages, with kids to support and no child support.

Number one rule: thrift stores ONLY and only for NEEDED items

Number 2 rule: learn to cook!

Number 3:

Write down what you think you "need", then mark half of it off, as what's left is probably what you REALLY need.

Number 4: be willing to live in an area of town your best friend would not

Number 5: no car payments, ever. dumbest thing you can do if you are the tiniest bit uncertain of your money situation

So many people ask "how can you live on XXX!?" with shock because they've never in their life really done without things like new clothes, regular professional haircuts (vs. someone in the family learning how to do basic cuts at home, as we've done), professional car maintenance (vs DIY), newer electronics when what they have breaks, meals out, name brand grocery items, dry cleaning bills, and so on. They have no clue about being frugal. It's not a slam on these people, it's just a fact.

My ex husband was like that. I came from a very different background... the background that involved a single mom with no degree and the resulting occasional dependence on government cheese He thought being frugal was when his family took their yearly 2 week vacation in the car instead of flying, and they took along sandwiches instead of eating out. Okay, yeah, that's a cheaper way to do it... but my mom and I never took one single vacation aside from a saturday trip to the beach (we lived 30 minutes away)... because she was always working and never had jobs that offered vacation time. I thought only TV families took yearly vacations!

He thought that buying groceries to eat at home vs. eating out was frugal, but didn't understand that being TRULY frugal was shopping sales, using coupons, not buying name brand everything, and for heaven's sake, not having steak 3x a week (!).. and not buying chips, soda, twinkies, etc.

He thought being frugal was using the discount dry cleaners.... when the real solution is to buy an IRON and ironing board for $15 or $20 total and iron your own darn shirts.

It was just how he was raised, and the first time I ever went to his parents' house I understood so much about why he was the way he was, and really, many many people are raised that way.

How dreary is it? It has it's ups and downs. There's still life to enjoy.. it just has to be free. Free days at the museum, free "movie nights" and showings, free DVD or video rentals from the library, books, the park, checkers, chess, music, hobbies. My kids always made it less dreary overall.

IMO it's only really unbearable when it's NO income vs LOW income. When you don't know if you're going to be able to pay the "must" bills (rent/electricity/water), then it starts to really suck.
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Old 10-04-2008, 08:35 PM
 
Location: SW Missouri
14,648 posts, read 16,103,249 times
Reputation: 18557
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse69 View Post
Low income - $15/hr to minimum wage. I met one guy who was a burger flipper and asked how he afforded living. He said, "are you good with women? How up with one and live with her!" But let me guess, many $7/hr workers have multiple jobs, probably get food stamps, public aid, SSDI, or Section 8. Otherwise, I heard they gang up together and live in an Apt - probably little privacy.

Ok, if you're a low earner - how do you survive?

How dreary is life when you can't afford many things?

I was thinking about getting a PT job to supplement my unemployment checks which I haven't gotten my last 5!, - so I'm suffering. Maybe working $7 / hr isn't worth it but like I'd get a 20% employee discount at Ross. I am able to get contract $30 - $35 / hr Proe jobs, but I haven't gotten one in 7 weeks. But I did get a 2 day $60 /hr job that messed up my unemployment check situation! - I should have never taken it!
Last year my husband and I lived WELL on $12,000 which comes out, I believe to about $6 per hour.

We do not have a mortgage, nor a car payment. We DO have insurance, two fairly nice cars in good repair (we just spent $400 on one to get the points and plugs replaced).

We eat good, nutritious food that we grow in our own garden (in the summer, that is), and we buy grass fed beef and other meat from local producers. We eat out more than we should.

Our lifestyle is very low maintenance and frugal. It can be done. People are doing it every day.

20yrsinBranson
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Old 10-04-2008, 08:51 PM
 
5,254 posts, read 11,124,906 times
Reputation: 3223
Hook up with food pantries and other services through churches. Our church has many services we offer low income working families, esp. around the holidays. Coat drives, holiday gift drives, unused furniture collection, baby "shower" drives, food pantry.

Many who work in restaurants for low pay, bring home the leftovers. The reason why working in the pizza joynts is so popular in college towns.

Ramen noodles and peanut butter.
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Old 10-04-2008, 09:14 PM
 
701 posts, read 1,400,058 times
Reputation: 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by 20yrsinBranson View Post
Last year my husband and I lived WELL on $12,000 which comes out, I believe to about $6 per hour.

We do not have a mortgage, nor a car payment. We DO have insurance, two fairly nice cars in good repair (we just spent $400 on one to get the points and plugs replaced).

We eat good, nutritious food that we grow in our own garden (in the summer, that is), and we buy grass fed beef and other meat from local producers. We eat out more than we should.

Our lifestyle is very low maintenance and frugal. It can be done. People are doing it every day.

20yrsinBranson
Likewise. My partner and I both earn fairly low wages, but with the combined incomes we are more than comfortable. Live in a small town, rent a house for $450, walk to work, make most of my food from scratch, buy almost everything used (thrift stores, yard sales, craigslist - you can find some MAJOR bargains if you get lucky), no car payment (bought a beater for $1,000 that keeps going and going with little repairs here and there). Transportation is the killer for many people - remember a car is nothing more than a tool to get you from here to there, it's not an ego trip. Previously (in a big city) I used public transportation, but I don't need it where I live now (smaller town).

Have a vegetable garden that supplies a fair amount of fresh produce - costs practically nothing except water. Otherwise I buy at farmer's markets and swap meets, and I buy dry goods like rice & beans in bulk. They last for months.

You can call me "low income", but I'm not poor. My bills are always paid early and I always have a kitchen full of food. My non-essentials include having cable internet and drinking craft beer several times a week.

It depends what type of lifestyle you want to live and where. I gave up big city life with a big paycheck because I was miserable. Now I'm "low income", but my quality of life is ideal. For me.
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