Living on Minimum Wage in America

It’s been all over the internet recently, “It is impossible to live on minimum wage, as witnessed by this sample budget” supposedly from the McDonald’s training manual.


First of all people need to understand the concept of “minimum wage”. Minimum wage is the least amount of money you can give any human being for working for you. No normal responsible adult works for minimum wage. This is a person who can’t speak English, or is “too good” to work a higher paying job that might be “gross” or I don’t know. We’re just going to pretend that someone has taken a vow of poverty or whatever and is working for minimum wage.

This is the McDonald’s sample budget.

I have some issues with that budget. Not like some that want to point out that OMG POOR PEOPLE ARE SUPPOSED TO FREEZE, clearly the idea is that is a summer month, but you put a line there so it fits everyone. My issue is the second job. I know in my heart of hearts that’s really “Girlfriend’s paycheck” so we’re going to get rid of it. We assume this is a normal adult and being financially dependent on another person isn’t fair.

We’ll also assume for some reason the person involved wants to live this way so they aren’t going to take food stamps, section 8 housing, anything other than the massive tax benefit check they get every April for being below the poverty line and taking part in the tax system.

Keeping in with the idea that this is an adult, and not a kid working a summer job, we’ll do a mortgage. We’ll go off Cincinnati.

That’s a decent 3 bedroom home for $45,000. It’s no taj mahal, but our totally normal adult has taken a vow of poverty, remember? Let’s calculate the mortgage:


Now we let our Mr. E. rent out one room for 150 a month and half of utilities. For the sake of simplicity taxwise, we’ll say our roommate pays everything in envelopes with cash in them. Our Mr. E. is too proud to accept any of the food stamps or government benefits someone only making minimum wage is entitled to, but he’s not above undeclared earnings to the government.

If we make a few other small adjustments to the budget we can make this work.

First of all a guy that works at McDonald’s can ride the bus. A bus pass costs 30 bucks a month. We’ll just get rid of that 150 dollar car payment. We’ll keep the insurance for homeowners.

I’d like to keep the health insurance down at 20, which would be for a “catastrophic” health insurance plan, but the “affordable health care act” has made those illegal, so we have to add in 100 dollars a month for a plan that will do absolutely nothing. Just money down the toilet for this guy, but if he doesn’t buy it he gets fined 700 dollars a year for not having any insurance, so he might as well go in for the health plan some salesman tricked him into buying.

We’ll also get rid of savings, as this guy’s house is his investment. He’ll be able to save more later on when he gets married and becomes a dual income household.

We’re also going to be stupid with the utilities. 100/month heating on top of a 100/month household electric bill. (at least the water is free, right?)

Also I doubled “other” to 200. That’s just for weed. Something tells me that this guy is the kind of guy who smokes a lot of weed.

This still leaves him more than 12 dollars a day to feed himself on top of the meal he gets for working at McDonald’s. One week of that alone would get him one of these

I mean he could just buy beans, rice, coffee, tea, eggs, bananas, milk generic corn flakes, 1 dollar banquet brand tv dinners, etc enough to last a month for about half of that, but that just isn’t wacky enough for this scenario.


This guy still has enough to buy clothes, from the thrift store, etc.

You people are being fucking ridiculous.


2 thoughts on “Living on Minimum Wage in America

  1. Greg

    Shows how little you know about the Affordable Care Act. The guy wouldn’t be fined $700 a year by the government, because he’s not earning enough to get over the poverty line.
    This house is in a city. Water is not free. Nor is sewer, in all likelihood.
    This is assuming the business will give him 40 hours a week. Not likely. They’d much rather schedule him 24 hours a week or less, but of course, he has to remain “flexible” to work any shift, so good luck taking a second job.
    I see you have him dependent on public transportation. That’s great, if he lives in a major metropolitan area. How about if he lives in a small city, like, say, Hanover, PA (Pop 30,000)? No public transport. Or, God help him, rural.
    I assume you don’t own your own home. If you did, then you know that on top of that mortgage payment, you also have to pay property taxes. There’s another $50/month, minimum. Not to mention HOA dues, depending on the area (for years, the only property that wasn’t astronomically priced was in a HOA-governed area)
    You didn’t put a home maintenance budget in there, and estimating $100/month for heating/cooling is generous at best, especially in Cincy. Winter is cold–my 750 square foot house at a similar latitude cost about $500/month to heat in the from November->March.


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