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10 Things Only Minimum Wage Workers Understand

10 Things Only Minimum Wage Workers Understand

From the waitress always putting on a smile when you walk through the diner door, to the convenience store clerk whose occupation is fraught with low pay and dangerous work conditions, there are some things in life only minimum wage workers can understand.

If you work for minimum wage then I can imagine you will identify and understand these ten feelings. As a once minimum wage employee myself I wrote these from experience. For those of you who never have worked for minimum wage, may this give you some insight into the world of the worker.

You feel a sense of injustice among your peers

Low entry requirements usually mean trouble when it comes to the societal parts of minimum wage work. Based on seniority, you can feel as though your peers are always trying to put you in a box. From pushing your shifts around to taking your days off, it’s easy to feel left out.

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You can never get ahead financially

Since you don’t make enough money to ever really save, the slightest problem will set you back. Often the pay is so low you are barely able to provide food on the table. When something circumstantial happens, like a flat tire or a visit to the doctor, your whole finances are ruined for months.

You budget life around work

Instead of living life, you live the company’s schedule. The desperation really sets in when you work swing shifts and miss out on important family or friend meet-ups. This leads to you feeling left out of forward progress, and can make you pull away from social events altogether.

You experience the true difficulty of mobility

When you work a minimum wage job you can barely afford true transportation, like a car. This culture is created via government regulation, like property taxes on cars and high gas prices. It takes work just to get to the low paying job. A lot of mass transit systems in the United States just aren’t adequate.

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You are crushed by corporate pencil-pushing delays

When you work for a low wage, a two-week pay schedule can be devastating. Employers need to understand that the people they are hiring are relying on that paycheck week to week. It’s unfair to pay so little and still expect workers to wait out a one week hold, plus a two week pay schedule.

You feel stuck in one location

Want to smell the ocean air or climb the tops of the Blue Ridge Mountains? Not a chance for many who work low paying jobs. You can’t afford to take a vacation, nor whimsically move into a new location where the same minimum wage jobs are your future.

You can work hard and still go unnoticed

Ever feel like you go the extra mile, but management never notices? You aren’t alone! A lot of people that work a minimum wage job feel like no matter what they do they will never see an advancement within the company they work for thanks to pedigree.

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You rarely feel any benefit for working as much as you do

We can all feel like we are going nowhere at times, but it’s especially true for those who are working minimum wage jobs. Day after day you go into work, and by the end of the week you aren’t any better off than you were the month before. It’s a sinking feeling.

You make less money, even when you make more

The tax code is set against those rising up from the bottom. You pay an employment tax, not an investment tax. So when you finally do get a leg up and make some decent money, you lose it to Uncle Sam. Working more for less breaks the spirits of those who want to achieve.

You feel pressure from your dependents

They love you and you surely love them. One reason you work long hours, swing shifts, and put up with low wages is due to people counting on what little money you do make. It feels impossible to make a transition towards a better career when you constantly have to produce bread for the family.

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It’s important to remember that even though it feels like the wind of life is against you, you can still improve your skill set and gain better positions of employment. Often we have to take five steps forward and two steps back to go forward at all.

At the end of the day we have to persevere, gain power through knowledge, and apply ourselves. Once you decide to be something in life, you can truly be it!

More by this author

Joseph Mongan

Journalist

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Published on October 8, 2018

13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

Are you having trouble sticking to a family budget? You aren’t alone.

Budgeting is difficult. Creating one is hard enough, but actually sticking to it is a whole other issue. Things come up. Desires and cravings happen. And the next thing you know, budgets break.

So how can you stick to a family budget? Here are 13 tips to make it easier.

1. Choose a major category each month to attack

As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” With that in mind, one approach to help you get into the habit of sticking to a budget is simply starting slow.

Spend too much on Starbucks runs, eat out too often, and have an out-of-this-world grocery bill? Choose one bad habit and attack.

By choosing one behavior to focus on, you’ll prevent yourself from being overwhelmed. You’ll also experience small victories, which help you gain positive momentum. This momentum can then carry over into your overall budget.

2. Only make major purchases in the morning

If you’re making large purchases in the evening, there’s a good chance you’re doing so after a long day and you’re probably tired.

Why does this matter? Because our judgement tends to be off when tired – our willpower is compromised.

Instead, only make major purchasing decisions in the morning when you’re energized and refreshed. Your brain will be firing on all cylinders and your resolve will be high. You’re less likely to give in and settle at this point.

3. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry

Have trouble with impulse buys at the grocery store? If so, there’s a good chance you’re going grocery shopping while hungry.

The problem here is that when you’re hungry, everything looks good. So you’re more likely to make split decisions on things that aren’t on your grocery list.

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Instead, make sure you eat prior to your grocery store trip. Then take your list, along with your full stomach, and go shopping. Notice how food doesn’t look quite so good when you’re not fighting cravings.

4. Read one-star reviews for products

Is there a product you just have to have (but maybe not really)? Check out the one-star reviews.

By reading all the horrible reviews, you may be able to basically trick yourself into deciding that the product isn’t worth your time and money.

Next thing you know, you didn’t make the purchase, you saved the money, and you feel good about the decision.

5. Never buy anything you put in an online shopping cart until the next day

If you are making a purchase online, it’s typically a two-step process. First, you click “Add to Cart” and then you go in to review your cart and pay.

The problem is that there not typically much reviewing during step two. It’s generally click pay and there you go. However, this is the perfect point to stop for reflection.

Once you add to your cart, your best bet is to step away until the next day. Let the item sit there and grow cold, so to speak.

This gives you a night to “sleep on it” and decide if you really want and need to spend that money. If you wake up the next day and still find the purchase viable, then perhaps it’s time to go for it.

6. Don’t save your credit card info on any site you shop on

One of the other pitfalls of shopping online is that fact that most sites ask you to save your credit card information.

While the sites will frame it as a method of convenience, the truth is they know you’ll spend more money in the long run if your credit card information is saved.

The “convenience” takes away one last decision-making point in the purchasing process. True, it’s a pain to get out your credit card and enter the information every time. But guess what? That’s the point. If that inconvenience helps you stay on budget, then it’s worth it. Which leads into the next tip.

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7. Tape an “impulse buy” reminder to your credit card

Credit cards make spending much easier than cash. When you spend cash, you can literally see your wallet emptying. A credit card comes out, then goes back in. No harm, no foul.

That’s why it’s a good idea to tape a reminder to your credit card. Customize a message that is something along the lines of “do you really need this?” or “does it fit the budget?”

That way when you pull out the card, you get one last reminder to help you question your decision and stick to your budget.

8. Only use gift cards to shop on Amazon

Amazon is probably the easiest place online to blow money. It’s just so easy to click and buy. However, one way you can slow the process down is buy only using gift cards. Here’s how it works.

If you plan on making a purchase on Amazon, go to the grocery store and purchase a pre-loaded Amazon gift card of the proper amount. There’s no convenience fee, so you literally pay for the money you’ll spend.

Now take that gift card home and load it to your Amazon account. There’s your money to spend.

Why does this help? It makes you have to purposely go to the score and purchase the card in order to purchase the item. That’s a pretty deliberate thing that takes some time, commitment, and thought.

This process will effectively kill the impulse buy.

9. Budget using cash and envelopes

As mentioned earlier, it’s a lot harder to spend cash than swipe a credit card. You can take this even farther by using only cash, and separating that cash by budget category.

Create an envelope for each category and stick the cash in there at the beginning of each month. When the envelope is empty, no more spending on that category, unless you borrow from another (be careful of that approach).

This can be pretty helpful for people that have a hard time following transactions in their checking account, or keeping a budgeting spreadsheet.

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The envelopes simplify the tracking process, leaving no room for error. Nothing hides from you because it’s tangible in the envelopes in front of you.

10. Join a like-minded group

Making the decision to stick to something like budgeting is difficult. It takes long-term commitment.

You’re going to feel weak sometimes. And sometimes you may fail. That said, support from others can help strengthen resolve.

Support can come from a spouse or a friend, but they won’t always have the exact same goal in mind. That’s why it’s a good idea to join a support group that’s likeminded.

No need to pay here, as there are tons of free communities that fit the bill online.

For example, reddit has multiple subreddits that deal with budgeting and frugal living. You can follow, subscribe, and get active in those communities.

This will open your eyes to new tips and strategies, keep your goal fresh on your mind, and help you realize there are others dealing with the same struggles and being successful.

11. Reward Yourself

When you set a budget, it’s usually with a large goal in mind. Maybe you want to be debt free, or perhaps you want to see $10,000 in your savings account.

Whatever the case, the end goal is great, but the end is often far away, making it hard to see the end of the tunnel.

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to set mini-goals along the way. This helps you still look at the big picture but have something that’s attainable in the short-term to help with momentum.

But don’t stop there – set rewards for yourself when you reach that small goal. Maybe it’s an extra meal out. Or a new pair of shoes.

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Whatever the case, this gives you something in the near future to look forward to, which can help with the fatigue that can result in pursuing long-term goals.

12. Take the Buddhist approach

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to recognize some of the wisdom in the teachings. One of the tenets of the philosophy involves accepting that we can’t have everything we want. And that’s okay.

Sometimes you won’t feel good. Sometimes you’ll have cravings. You can’t deny them. But you can recognize them, accept them, and let them pass by. Then you move on.

Apply this to the times you want to do things that will break your budget. You’re going to have the desire to eat out when you shouldn’t. You might want to stay out and spend too much at happy hour with your work friends.

The feelings will come. Recognize them, accept them, but let them go.

13. Set up automatic drafts to savings

If you wait until you’ve spent all your budgeted money to deposit money into savings, guess what? You probably aren’t going to put any money into savings.

It’s too easy to see that as extra money and end up using it to treat yourself.

Instead, set up automatic savings withdrawals. That way, the money is marked and gone before you can even think about it. It becomes a non-issue. It’s no longer “extra.” It’s just savings.

Conclusion

Sticking to a budget can be difficult. No one is denying that.

However, if you can do a few things to set yourself up for success, and put some practices in place to curb impulse buys, then you can (and will!) be successful sticking to your family budget.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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