Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Could You Survive on $10/hr?

Empty PocketsI keep running into links to this story asking if its possible to survive on $10/hr. Its one of the pitfalls of visiting so many personal finance websites.

The first time I moved out (not counting college dorming) I was making $10/hr. Rent for a third floor bedroom was around $400 with utilities included. My monthly buspass was $40-$45. The cellphone cost between $35-$55/month depending on which plan I was using. My TSO account was $9.99. After food and incidentals I was spending roughly $700 a month.

Ironically I earn more but spend less on fixed expenses these days. The car and insurance are paid off, I still have a roommate and I'm a hardcore rebater. The main difference is how much I have in savings and how much more fun I can afford to have.

Truthfully, peace of mind has a price and its more than $10/hr. If you're making $10/hr here are some essential tips:

1. Share a home - Find financially responsible roommates and hope they never move.

2. Lower your cellphone usage - E-mail, call from work or just meet in person. Download Skype.

3. Rebate - The newspaper has at least one rebate every Sunday. The $1.25 cost (which can be free with a WG gc or CVS ecb) is immediately offset by the cleaning and hba supplies you get for free. If you don't need all the freebies start giving them away to friends and co-workers. Good karma is always returned.

4. If possible use public transportation - If this is impossible (not inconvinient - just impossible) buy the best car you can afford. Don't go into debt but don't buy a $500 car either. If you do, pay cash and befriend a mechanic.

5. Hustle - Find something you can freelance with. Set up an etsy shop. Create an eBay trader's assistant profile. Sell Avon. Work for ChaCha. Stalk elance & Mystery shop. Babysit. Scour Craigslist. Garage sale. Ask everyone else how they make side money.

And Finally - Set Goals - This is my big problem. Once I set into a routine its hard for me to shift out of it. I'd still be at my old job making $10/hr if my brother hadn't pushed me into taking on larger responsibilities!


Notes From The Frugal Trenches said...

Depends on what your outgoings are!


Ethena said...

Totally agree!