The Things I Could Not Afford While Making Minimum Wage

Minimum wage is exactly that, the minimum wage in which someone could survive. It means being able to pay for rent, electricity, and gas to go to work, and very little else.

Car Insurance

This was one of the first things to go. It wasn’t because I wanted to cancel my car insurance. It was because I couldn’t afford the monthly payments, and the insurance lapsed. Instead of reinstating the policy, I left it that way and either walked to work or got rides with coworkers.

Health Insurance

Buying a health insurance policy wasn’t even an option. Even the highest deductible plans were out of my reach, and I’m not sure I would have purchased one anyway. The highest deductible plan required $5,000 worth of medical expenses before it covered anything. Since I didn’t spend $5,000 a year on healthcare I took my chances without it.

Student Loans

Once I realized I would be unable to pay my student loans, I put them in a hardship forbearance. At $8.10 an hour, I didn’t have an extra $250 a month. This bothered me more than not having car or health insurance because I had planned to have my student loans paid off 10 years after I graduated college. By putting them in forbearance, I was stretching out the length of time I had to pay on the loans. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a choice. It was either put my loans in forbearance or not pay my rent.


Food quickly became a luxury. I could afford about $10 to $15 worth of a food a week, and when it ran out, that was it. It meant that instead of buying food for complete meals, I bought boxes of cereal, soy milk and dollar frozen pizzas. I’d eat a frozen pizza for breakfast and cereal for dinner. Since I was at work for lunch and didn’t have the time or means to go home, I skipped it.

Heat And Air Conditioning

Heating and cooling my apartment were also luxuries. I didn’t turn my heat on until the outside temperature was below 50, and I was required to do so by my complex so the pipes wouldn’t freeze. In the spring and summer, I didn’t turn my AC on until the temperature was well into the 80’s. It meant that I spent September through November with no heat and March Through May with no AC.

Gym Membership

I didn’t even think about getting a gym membership. I was working eight hours a day and walking across 100,000 square feet. When I wasn’t walking, I was climbing ladders and stocking. Even if I could have afforded a gym membership, I didn’t need it.

I lived without these things for almost a year and a half. It wasn’t until I got a better paying job as an assistant manager that I reinstated my car insurance, bought health insurance, bought food, started paying my student loans, and got a gym membership.

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