Living on minimum wage

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March 14, 2014
By: Christian Lindgren
Christian Lindgren

We are a family whose trial of losing a business and unable to recreate or find a professional position for years has required us to embrace such a low-wage lifestyle. Two of the last five years our combined household income has been less than $36,000. That is the equivalent of two adults earning and a family of five living on minimum wage.

My wife works part time and I have commission sales work. Nothing stable or regular. This is what I know about adjusting to living on less.

First, one on minimum wage does not shop at the co-op  in Linden Hills. Aldi on Penn Ave S is where fine food is available. Milk and grade A eggs cost 60% of other grocery stores and half of the co-op. Five of us squeezed into a two bedroom flat for four years until we qualified for a loan modification on the duplex we own. We are lucky to have two paid for cars. We bike and use the bus. No health club, no vacations or travel nor extra services. Movies at the Riverview Theater are an occasional treat. Dinner out is not an option.

Medical insurance is Minnesota Care for our children and very high deductible policies for mom & dad. Normandale Community College dental clinic where teeth cleaning is $30.

One can not visit here for a week and understand the level of cleverness one must have to survive. We all want to thrive. Nice try.

Christian Lindgren