Yeah, I’ve just now run the numbers and in order to support myself on minimum wage without any roommates or government assistance, I would need to work full time and also quit karate. (At $99 a month, karate is quite a lot of money.)
Part of that is that y’all are splitting both rent and working hours among a whole family. Part of it may or may not be your part of Canada having a different minimum wage compared to cost of living, I haven’t looked up that part. (Arizona’s minimum wage is $10.50 USD an hour, which is A Lot compared to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 USD, but for comparison a one-bedroom apartment is about $500 a month plus utilities.)
Part of it is definitely that feeling Poor – bargain-hunting, cooking scratch meals, fiddling with threadbare or only-semi-working possessions, inability to afford a few shinies – stresses me out more than the extra spoon expenditure warrants, and (it’s my impression) way more than it does you. That’s a psychological flip that happened during / due to the Remodel of Doom; there’ll probably be a separate post on that at some point. Tumblr tends to eat mobile photo posts with a lot of text, so I’m gonna go ahead and post this before it gets too long.
Oh – yeah, Uber/Lyft is off the table for a few reasons. My car is extremely elderly (1996 model year), I don’t live in a large enough metropolitan area that anybody local actually uses those services, and I really strongly dislike having anyone else in my car – it’s the only space where I actually feel safe and in control, and having other people in it shorts that out. :P So, yeah.
Yeah, I can think of some reasons why I’m in a much better position to live cheaply than most people:
- Four adults, zero children. Both halves of that are pretty huge, I expect.
- Because we used to be a lot richer than we are now, we were able to end up in a situation where we rent from a mortgage company† instead of a landlord, which costs about half as much as the going rate for a local house of this size (~$800/month instead of ~$1,600).
- While there *were* children in the household when we moved in, they were homeschooled and expected to (and did) remain so, so school district was not really a factor in the housing decision. (Apparently competition over good school districts drives up the price of housing a lot? So I’m told, anyway.) (I honestly don’t even know what our school district’s reputation is.)
- I walk to work and my parents carpool with each other, so there are only two cars’ worth of commute expenses for four people.
- No student loans. We paid for Brother’s culinary school out of pocket, and we’re currently paying for my university out of pocket (a mix of my wages and the mutual fund my relatives gave me as a baby for my education). I don’t really think of student loans as an option: if I ever reach a point where I can’t scrape together $820 for a university course††, I’ll stop going until and unless I can afford it again.
- 2 – 4 times a year, we drive to New York, exploit their lower cost of living (and the fact that we still have enough savings between us to do things like “spend $800 in one day to avoid spending $1,400 over four months”) to stock up on cheap groceries, drive back, and store the cold items in our three freezers.
- Electricity is pretty cheap here even *before* the welfare program that gives us the first $57/month of electricity free.
- The medication assistance program caps our prescription expenses at 4% of our income, IIRC. Not going to be nearly as useful now that we’re making more, though. (Note: currently, only my parents have chronic prescriptions.)
- (However, we don’t have food stamps, because those aren’t really a thing here.)
- The foods I genuinely enjoy and want to eat frequently mostly happen to be cheap, plus I have a low metabolism (and an appetite to match). (This might be cancelled out by Mom being diabetic, so having to eat a fairly expensive diet for health reasons.)
- I continue to not have a cell plan, and everyone else is on light-use $100/year plans. (Dad’s going to have to upgrade soon to a $40/month plan, though, because he’s now using his phone a lot for work.)
- Apparently we use very little water? I wouldn’t have thought so, but we got a pamphlet from the county government a while back talking about how to use less water, and when we compared their figures to ours we found that we use *half* as much water as the average *three*-person household. I’m not sure what’s going on there.
- Plus, you know, free healthcare in most aspects. The usual counter is “oh, you’re still paying health insurance, it’s just integrated into your taxes”, but we paid, like, negative three thousand dollars in taxes last year, so.
- Probably other stuff I don’t even realise.
The minimum wage here is currently CAD$14/hour (theoretically USD$10.75, if you completely ignore cost of living and just do a straight exchange-rate), but I don’t know if that actually means much in practice, or if the prices just change to compensate, or what. (Mind you, the prices in *New York* grocery stores probably wouldn’t change to compensate for a high Ontario wage, would they…)
(While some of these are dwindling-savings!poor vs paycheck-to-paycheck!poor, there are still things that would save money in the long run that we don’t have enough savings to pull off. Personally, I dream of one day being able to afford a plug-in hybrid car. They cost like $20k (*maybe* $13k if you can find a used one), but *damn* are they cheap to run (especially in an area with cheap electricity and expensive gasoline†††, as we are).)
>>feeling Poor […] stresses me out more than the extra spoon expenditure warrants, and (it’s my impression) way more than it does you.<<
Yeah, seems like it.
Relatedly: I hear sometimes about this placebo-effect-type thing where people enjoy food more if it’s (or they believe it to be) expensive? I think I have the opposite of that: I enjoy food more if it’s cheap. Peanut butter is already pretty tasty in isolation, but its tastiness is enhanced by the comfortable knowledge that this was a *fantastic* use of fifteen cents. Whereas I have trouble fully enjoying restaurant food, because there’s a part of me wondering if it’s really possible for any food to be worth this much when there are all these good cheap foods out there.
The other-people-in-your-car thing wouldn’t prevent freelance food-delivery, which is why I was thinking Uber Eats. The elderly-car thing probably would, though, as would the small-population thing. (There are definitely advantages to living in a county of 600k.)
I’ll go look at your number-crunching and see if I can find anything.
†Interest-only payments on a *very* large amount of house debt. I think it’s pretty fair to characterise this as “renting from a mortgage company” for most purposes, though it also comes with better tenants’ rights.
††That might be a factor in itself. I’ve definitely known people who were paying a lot more than that per course.
†††Although not quite as expensive as I thought; I think I wasn’t fully factoring in the exchange rate, and the thing where a gallon is a bit *less* than four litres (so multiplying a per-litre price by four gives you an overestimate of the per-gallon price). WolframAlpha says the figure at the local gas station translates to USD$3.75/gallon.
#reply via reblog #adventures in human capitalism #long post #disordered eating?