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How to live in America for the minimum wage

In different countries of the world, the minimum wage can be less than $ 7 per day or slightly less than $ 7 per hour. In 18 states of the USA this year the minimum wage grows, but for a comfortable life this amount is hardly enough. Although, if make minor adjustments and life hacks in costs; life for a minimum wage will become more or less acceptable.


Part of 1: Minimize your living expenses

  1. Reduce housing costs. If the cost of renting your home is higher than you can afford, consider moving to a cheaper area of ​​the city. Look for apartments in another house or other area that are cheaper than yours. Saving even a few hundred dollars a month can greatly affect your budget and allow you to spend this money on other things or expenses you need.
  • Consider whether it is possible to make your living conditions more modest. For example, if you live in a two-bedroom apartment, maybe you have one good bedroom. Ask yourself how much space you really need, not how much you want. Even a small reduction in this plan will save you money.
  • Think of a new location. Look for the most accessible areas in your city, but consider the possible additional disadvantages. For example, you will save money on rental housing, but your travel expenses will increase. Or you will move to cheaper housing, but in a less secure area. In the US, there are states where the cost of housing is lower in principle, so it may be worth considering a more global move.
  • Do not rush to move to a new city or state without insurance in the form of work or a relative who can live until you get on your feet. The advantages of cheaper housing are lost if you find yourself in a new environment without income.

Фото: Depositphotos

  1. Pick a neighbor in your apartment. In most cities and towns, finding more affordable housing can turn into a nightmare. Perhaps there is subsidized housing available, but it will most likely have to wait a very long time. In such cases, a good solution is to share someone in your apartment in order to share the cost of rent and utilities.
  • If you live in a house, rent an extra room or basement.
  • Always check the background and recommendations of potential flatmates. You do not want to let in your house dangerous or "muddy" people. You will depend on your neighbor or neighbor in terms of monthly payments, so make sure that they can afford to rent this accommodation with you before agreeing to share.
  • Consider signing a contract with your new neighbor to have legal protection. There are examples of contracts on the Internet, and they clearly state who pays what, who is responsible for what, and who owns what. Such a contract will help if a dispute arises between you.
  1. Look for an alternative to the nanny. A professional nanny can be very expensive. A more affordable option is to use relatives or friends.
  • Consider asking a relative or close friend of the family to whom you can pay a reasonable amount to sit with your children while you work. Most likely, it will be less professional help than from a nanny, but it will help strengthen the relationship between your children and relatives.
  • If you are in a relationship, try to negotiate with your partner so that you sometimes stay at home with the children one by one.
  1. Go to your local food stock or a free canteen, and also use food stamps. Search the Internet for your local food charity and go for a free hot dinner. You can also eat sometimes in the free dining room (soup kitchen) and thus save money on rent or other necessary expenses.
  • Food stamps (also known as SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) in the US - this is a government program that provides money for food. It covers people with an appropriate income level. Program bonuses depend on your state of residence.
  • Most people living on the minimum wage fall under the category of food stamp recipients. Depending on how well you meet the requirements of the program and the number of people in a family, you can receive from $ 150 to $ 300 per month for food.
  1. Ask for a service in exchange for your own instead of paying for it. For example, you do not start the car in the morning. To save money, ask a friend for help before you rush to the car service station. Or look for a qualified mechanic and ask him to do something that you can do in exchange for his car repair service.
  • Sharing services with friends or roommates will help reduce your costs and solve logistical problems with skills, not money.
  1. Look for discounts. If you look for more affordable options to buy, you can save a significant amount every month. For example, to buy things for home in a local thrift shop or second-hand. Books, films and magazines can be borrowed from the local library instead of paying for them in the store.
  • If your budget is limited, then it’s hard to fit in spontaneous purchases of such simple things as a new book or a new pair of shoes, and they begin to seem like a luxury. Instead of depriving yourself of nice things, buy them at a discount or look for free options.
  • Try to turn the search for discounts into a fun quest. Let it be your mission - to find a used item in good condition at a garage sale or at a thrift shop for half or a third of the price of a new one.
  • Go to commission shops Salvation army or Value village. Good deals can be found at garage sales and in discount and outlet stores. TJ Maxx and Marshalls. They offer quality at the brand level, but with discounts up to 60%, because they receive leftovers from over-purchases from other stores. In addition, watch out for sales from other retailers from whom you can buy quality at a lower price.
  1. Apply for help Medicaid. The cost of medical care can fall very heavy on your budget. If you fall into the low-income category in the US, you can apply for Medicaidwhich provides free or low-cost service for the poor.
  • To determine if you are eligible, visit the website. Healthcare.Govwhere you can fill out an application.
  • Program requirements vary by state (depending on income level, family size, disability status, and so on). Since the rules in different states are very different, the best way to understand if you are passing is to check it on the site. Healthcare.Gov.
  1. Reduce the cost of debt. Debt repayment (car loan or credit card debt) often eats up a significant portion of monthly income. Fortunately, there are opportunities to reduce these costs - through negotiations, a loan for debt consolidation or refinancing.
  • Ask your lender to lower your interest rate. Even this can sometimes be enough to be lowered. This tactic is especially effective in relation to debts with the highest interest rates. A recent survey found that 56% of people with different loans who asked for a lower interest rate received a positive response. Emphasize that other lenders are willing to offer a lower rate, and if your will not agree to lower theirs, you will move on to another.
  • Consider a debt consolidation plan. If you have a large credit card debt or several credit cards with debts, then a debt consolidation loan will allow you to take a new debt with a lower interest rate (for example, a line of credit) and transfer it to your debt. Due to the fact that such loans are given at a lower interest rate and often for a longer period, you will probably get smaller monthly payments.
  • Refinance your car loan. If you have such a loan, contact your lender and discuss refinancing options. If the cost of loans has decreased, you have a good chance of getting a new loan with a lower interest rate and, possibly, for a longer period. As a result, you will pay in smaller installments.
  • When looking for ways to ease your loan load, don't forget to avoid predatory loans. Such loans are usually indicated by “warning signs” in the form of high interest rates (over 20%) and fines for early payment of debt. Check out many different offers from lenders to better understand what rates are now adequate. Choosing a large and well-known financial institution or bank, you will reduce the chances of getting caught on a predatory loan.

Part of 2: Change your lifestyle

Фото: Depositphotos

  1. Get to work on foot, by bike, bus or alternately with other drivers. Owning a car with limited resources is expensive, if you consider the service, insurance and parking. Therefore, if you have the opportunity, sell the car and go to work on foot, if you are close. Another option is to buy a bike to reduce travel time if you live far away.
  • You can also buy a bus pass and use public transport. If you plan to use the bus twice a day, 5 days a week, then buying a travel card will be more expedient in terms of costs than paying for each trip separately.
  • If one of your colleagues lives not far from you, invite him to bring each other to work by turns. This will save both of you money, as well as time - you will be able to drive around traffic jams along the lane for cars with passengers.
  • If selling a car is not an option for you, then think about how to reduce your monthly fuel costs. This can be done if you walk more, ride a bike, and use the machine only on the most important occasions. To do this, you may need to change your lifestyle, but even reducing fuel consumption by 25% will have a tangible impact.
  1. Take lunch with you. Sandwiches from the diner and food from a vending machine for a year can run up to a decent amount if you buy more often than 2-3 once a week. And homemade dinners are good for your wallet and health.
  • The cost of food for a week is definitely lower than the price of food in establishments every day, especially if you buy products at a discount. Use coupons to save on weekly purchases.
  • There are a huge number of blogs and books with recipes specifically for a small budget. For example, websites Budget Bytes and Simply Recipes publish recipes for delicious food, for the preparation of which does not need to spend hundreds of dollars.
  • If you are a coffee lover, drink coffee from a coffee machine in the office instead of buying expensive latte at a store near work. Try to reduce the cost of coffee outside the home or office to a few cups per month and enjoy the benefits of free coffee at work.
  1. Sell ​​all the unnecessary things. Sounds like evidence, but we often hold on to things that we no longer need and that we don’t use. Look at your things and decide which of them can be parted. For example, with a waffle iron, which has been idle for 5 years, or hockey sticks that you have not used since 12 age.
  • Put things up for sale online or spend a garage sale. Get rid of what you do not use, and get more cash in your bank account.
  1. Make a budget and stick to it. Determine how much money you need for basic expenses each month in order not to spend more than you have. This list usually includes:
  • Rental and utilities. Depending on your situation, you may be able to share these costs with your partner or partner. Either your landlord will pay the heating costs, or you can pay for electricity every month.
  • Transport. Do you walk to work every day? Do you ride a (free) bike? (Free after you buy it or repair it). Do you use public transport? (A travel card is needed for this.) Do you travel by car with several other people, each taking turns? (So ​​you will pay less for gasoline and car maintenance compared to if you drove yourself every day to work.)
  • Nutrition. Multiply the average cost of food per week to get the figure for the month.
  • Medical service. After taking Affordable care Now everyone must have medical insurance. Use the site Healthcare.govmentioned above to find the best and most affordable deals just for you.
  • Other expenses. If you have a pet, determine how much food you need per month. If you go on a date with your partner once a month, these are also expenses that need to be budgeted. Consider all possible costs so that not a single dollar is spent unaccounted for.
  • If you have debts on loans, add them to the budget as necessary costs.
  • Then compare your expenses with monthly income. Even if you earn a little on the minimum wage, your costs should not exceed your income. If you have just such a story, then think about what other expenses can be reduced. You may have to find additional work or a part-time job - cut lawns or look after your child’s acquaintances or friends.
  1. Distinguish between desires and needs. After you make your budget, look carefully at the costs: which ones are by desiresand which needs. The need is that without which it is impossible to live, and the desire is something that is just pleasant to own. Wishes will be the first in the queue for removal from your budget - so you will have more income to cover the necessary expenses.
  • For example, a mobile phone is a necessity. A mobile Internet package on 3 GB is a desire, 1GB is enough for you. Thus, going to a simpler package of services, you will reduce costs.
  • Carefully analyze each item of costs and honestly ask yourself: is this what I really need, or what I really want?
  1. Consider changing your job to a higher paying job. If you are not satisfied with the restrictions that come with working for the minimum wage, consider switching to a higher-paying profession. Look for what kind of work an associate's degree is enough for, which can be completed in 2 years - for example, a dental hygienist, web developer, or pharmacist assistant. Salaries for these positions start from $ 50 - $ 000 and such professionals are in demand.
  • Look for courses at the local biennial district college (community college) and talk to a representative of their financial assistance office. Perhaps they have programs for popular professions, according to which they will pay for their studies in return for their obligation to work in a new profession.

3 Part: Pay off your debts and save money

  1. Pay all your debts before buying something new. Your priority number 1 should be the payment of all debts so that you can start saving money. And although it is not easy to return debts instead of making the necessary purchases, this strategy is beneficial in the long run. Keep a certain amount in the NC and pay debts to creditors.
  • If you have received large tax returns (tax return) or unexpected return from the government, always return debts first before buying something for yourself. If you do not have debts, and you suddenly received an additional amount, set aside at least half of this amount for emergencies that may arise when you are less fortunate in financial terms.
  • Debt repayment can take a large part of your monthly budget. By reducing your debts, you can free up additional amounts that can be deferred or spent on other expenses.
  • Consider a credit card option with the option to transfer balances. Such cards often offer 0% for debt for a certain period for balances transferred from other cards. By transferring your balances from other cards to this one, you can not pay interest on debt for a while or pay very low rates. This will allow you to quickly reduce your total loan debt, while you will only repay the loan without interest. Note that a period with no interest or with low interest may last for a month 12-24, so use it to reduce your debt as much as possible. After that, higher interest rates will begin to be applied to your debt.


  1. Save small money. In the literal sense - collect coins in the bank. When you collect the full capacity, take the amount to the bank and put it on a savings account. Even $ 10 or $ 20 in the form of coins can be spent on food or other expenses.
  2. Try to use credit cards as little as possible. Every amount you use with a credit card will need to be returned with interest. If you earn $ 8 per hour, returning thousands of dollars in credits can be an overwhelming challenge. The accumulation of debts on credit cards will not help you to cope with current costs, but will only aggravate the situation.
  • Having outstanding debts can make it more difficult for you to agree on installment payments for your home or car.
  • This can be very difficult, but if you have a large credit card debt, consider not using credit cards at all. Make it a rule that if you cannot afford anything without a credit card, then you should not buy it at all. This will help you drawing up a monthly budget (described above) - with its help, you will make sure that all your most important expenses are covered by your salary. If you don’t have enough of it, you can’t do without it, try some of the above tips: reduce your monthly expenses or increase your income.
  • To avoid impulse purchases throughout the day, it is better to leave a credit card at home.

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