Four Solutions to the Minimum Wage "Problem"
With members of the US Legislative branch attempting to pass a $15/hour federal minimum wage, there's a whole lot of discussion now over the merits of paying people more for a day's work.
As of this article, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Lets say for example you work 40 hours a week, for four-and-a third weeks a month (52 / 12 = 4.333). I know that many employers tend to cap minimum wage hours at just-below-full-time levels, and when people budget monthly expenses they do it off of two paychecks a month, but I'm trying to be as generous as possible for the calculations further on.
$7.25 / hour, 40 hours a week, 4-and-a-third weeks a month gets you $1260 before anything gets taken out. For the purposes of this example, we're not taking any taxes or insurance out because, again, we're being generous.
There's a rule called the one-third salary rule. It's a guideline to find a place to live that fits within your means, that says your rent shouldn't be more than one-third of your take home pay. One third of $1260 is $420, so if you're someone making minimum wage, $420 is your target, just remember that RENT SHOULDN'T COST MORE THAN WEED.
As of 2020, the following 21 states have no minimum wage set, so they use the federal minimum wage:
If you live in one of these states, you need to find a place to live that costs less than $420 in monthly rent.
Looking at some random internet articles for the top (bottom?) cheapest places to live (Here's an example), I went hunting for apartment units that are lower than our limit across those cities. A third of the cities featured on the lists had no properties listed that met our criteria, most cities had three or fewer options across the whole city, while Springfield, Missouri, Florence, Alabama and Memphis, Tennessee were the winners with listings in the double digits. FUN FACT: Springfield, MO is not only on the lists of top cheapest cities, but Missouri also has a state minimum wage of $10.30/hour, so maybe ... everyone just needs to move there.
Springfield fanboyishness aside, there's the issue of how everyone else will afford to live where they're living. Here's the top four solutions I came up with for this article:
- Suck it up and live with a parent, relative, sugar parent, or friend who is better off in exchange for cheaper rent, favors, or both. Choosing this option means you have parents (sugar or otherwise), friends, or better-off relatives who are willing to take you in at a discounted rate, so understandably this may not be for everyone.
- Tighten the purse strings regarding other utilities, food, entertainment, and everything else until you pull yourself up by the bootstraps and start making some actual money. Because if you're already scraping the bottom of the barrel salary-wise, who needs to have things like internet or breakfast?
- Get a second job! Like gold diggers chasing married men, employers love people who are already employed elsewhere. It shows value. Hireability. A good work ethic. This has the potential to double your income, and if you're working sixteen hours a day, who needs entertainment or a decent living space in the first place? (NOTE: You'd better pray both jobs won't want you at the same time). With the new hot thing being the gig economy, you can make a good chunk of change driving drunk people home on weekends ... and let's face it, if you're making minimum wage you probably aren't doing anything on the weekends, anyway.
- Make your living space more interesting and affordable with a ROOMMATE. Shoving an extra person into a studio apartment is way more fun than living alone, AND it gives the extra bonus of cutting your rent in half! Also, utilities get shared! Chores get shared! There's no downside!
"Now DivvyO," you're thinking, "having a roommate sounds like the perfect idea, but what happens when you live anywhere other than the hundred cheapest places to live in the US? The median rent for a one bedroom apartment in my city is $1,000 a month, even with one room mate that's too much." That's fine. Just ADD MORE ROOM MATES. With three people living in a one bedroom apartment, a $1,070/month rent gets slashed to less than $360. With five people, a median two bedroom apartment is split from $1600 to $320. It's so easy!
With all these solutions, it's plainly obvious that people are just blowing this whole minimum wage thing out of proportion. Live modestly (start intermittent fasting), get an extra job, have wealthier financiers, or just simply shack up together. You can make living together in big groups a thing, call it something like comune -ism. If we keep the federal minimum wage thing down, surely commune -ism will start catching on. Everyone will want to do it.