Even in a good economy there are always people who have to scrape by but during these tough times more people are trying to live off a minimum wage salary. Here are six ways to make the most of it.
According to Salary.com, most entry-level positions earn no more than $30,000 per year. “Entry-level” includes salaried jobs at the base of large company as well as full-time, minimum-wage, hourly positions in industries of various sizes and skill grades. Regardless of whether the position requires some education, specialized knowledge or training, or no experience at all people earning minimum wage have to find creative ways to stretch a dollar. Fortunately, there are several ways to make a dollar work harder for you, especially in this time when technology makes it easier to find the people and tools you need.
One of the very first ways you can save money on a minimum wage budget is by going back to the way things used to be: trading goods and services. If you need an oil change, are having plumbing problems, or need help with child care your first instinct should be to find someone you trust who can do the job for you. Instead of paying cash for the job, though, offer to trade some kind of service in which you are skilled as a form of payment. Trade babysitting days, offer to carpool, help them build or fix something else around their home, etc.
Secondly, know where to shop. Everyone wants to wear brand-name, designer duds but you can’t always afford it. Besides, there are certain clothing items that, when you wear them, the label simply won’t matter. You can shop at discount stores or even thrift stores for better access to more affordable fashions. Similarly, turn to the library for magazines and for borrowing movies; the internet is also a great place to find free or inexpensive deals on home entertainment.
Getting to work is always important but in a tough economy it is crucial. If you own an older car that needs some work you need to remember that the price of everyday maintenance is always less expensive than the cost of compounding repairs. If buying/leasing a car is simply not an option, or if you would prefer to save money on gas, you might also want to consider joining a carpool with other people from your workplace. If you can make it work for you, biking to work has many benefits: you spend no money on fuel or maintenance (or insurance), you get a little exercise, and it is good for the environment.
If saving money is important to you then you should also remember that groceries are always cheaper than eating out, especially if you have been doing it every day. Pack a lunch or several healthy snacks to eat throughout the day and skip the line at the cafeteria or your office lunch pool. You will not only save money but you’ll get the added health benefit of controlling what and how much you eat.
Many people like to drink coffee in the morning, often first thing out of bed. Some people grab their morning coffee on the way to work, paying much more per serving than making it at home. To save money, though, you may want to consider waiting till you get to the office to grab that cup of Joe. It costs you nothing and, if it is available, consider it a work perk.
Finally, and perhaps most obviously, if you want to save money avoid using credit cards. While your instinct might be to charge what you have to in order to keep more cash in your pocket, interest rates and fees will always get you in the end. Credit cards should be tools, not a means by which you pay your bills or furnish your home when you have a meager disposable income.