Working for a low wage usually brings about a lot of “woe is me” feelings and concerns from most everyone. Hell, I’ve been one of them! It wasn’t even that long ago when I use to feel that I deserved better and that I was way too smart for my shitty job. Why should I give a shit about this job, especially when the pay made it feel like it was barely worth it? What did my employers expect? That I would “do the shit” out of this job? As far I was concerned I was only here because I had to have some sort of job, I guess.
Well after a decade of continuous low paying wages, and recent paradigm shifts in my own life and how I see the world, I’ve come to the realization that any wage in this absolutely glorious country is a blessing. We’re lucky to be living where we are, and we shouldn’t take it for granted.
Anyway, onto the idea for this post.
Working for minimum wage is something a lot of us Maritimers are use to experiencing. As with the rest of the Western world, a lot of the jobs being created these days are service industry related. With the latest recession we saw a lot of these service jobs either disappear or shrink to part time. Job growth is coming back, but again, mostly part time, service industry jobs. It’s easy to bitch and complain about this short end of the stick. It’s easy to justify that making ends meet with minimum wage is not possible. You may be thinking this very thing as you jump into your financed car and pull on through your local Burger King’s drive-thru on your commute home from your service industry job. Well, it may not be exactly easy, but surviving on minimum wage is completely possible. In fact, if you have things set up properly, you could even RETIRE in less than 15 years while only working for minimum wage.
So, you’re working for that magical $10/hour, when suddenly it dawns on you, “Whoa, dude, I’ve finally stuck around this “Insert Retail/Service Franchise” job for a full year! It’s time to see if I get a yearly raise.” Now most respectable companies, and franchises, will provide their employees with an annual review, accompanied by a raise, which you totally deserve. I’m nearing this exact moment myself and I’m getting pretty jacked up on the fact that I will have gone from $10 to $10.15 to $10.30/hour over these past 6 months.
I’ve talked to a few coworkers about this monument-us occasion – the 30 cent raise – and the reaction is usually the same. A chuckle, a shrug, a roll of the eyes, and a reply similar to “ha, big deal, it’s basically nothing.” I’ll usually smile, half agree, and say something like “yah, I know eh. Seems silly.” But in my mind I’m already doing the math.
How can earning extra money, for doing the exact same job, ever be shrugged off? Now I know inflation will mess with the numbers and the example I’m going to breakdown, but really, let’s just forget about that for the sake of focusing on the positive side(s) of this great gift you’re about to receive. Plus, you’re already saving and investing a huge chunk of your take home pay, right? That savings is literally making you money right now. This will help to tame that pesky inflation thing.
Math time! I’ll take the numbers I mentioned in my “Surviving” post for this example, since this is actually what will be happening in my life.
- As I mentioned, I generally work between 22 and 27 hours a week, so to keep things simple I’ll take the average and say 25/week.
- I’ll also pretend I’m going from $10/hour right up to $10.30.
So, at $10/hour it’s easy to see that I make $250/week, before tax. Now, let’s add in that glorious raise. That gets me up to $257.50! I know, I know, it feels like you should be depressed about that number, right? But let’s take a closer look….
That works out to an extra $7.5 a week. Times that by 4 and we get $30/month. Times that by 12 and we get $360/year! Now let’s get the true number. Let’s multiply that by 52 – the number of weeks you’d actually work in a year – and you end up with $390! Three hundred and ninety extra dollars a year! That’s not so horrible, is it? (Plus, we haven’t even factored in working Stat holidays and etc…)
How about we think about it this way:
Again, you’ll see in my previous article that my rent is $345 a month, and my phone bill is $45.80 a month. So, that 30 cent/hour raise has basically slashed my expenses in a big way. It’s as if I only have to pay my rent and phone bill 11 months of the year now, instead of 12. I already had these bills covered, no problemo, while working at $10/hour, but now with that raise, it’s as if both Bell Mobility and my Landlord came knocking on my door.
“Hey, you Bastard, you know what? You’re such a gloriously reliable – and may I add extremely sexy – customer/tenant that this December your bills are ON US! And, you know, why not, EVERY December from here on out is going to be covered by us as well. That’s just how much we appreciate you.”
Or, similarly, it’s as if my gracious Employer decided to say “Hey, you know what you Bastard, during December were going to give you your paychecks, like we’ve been doing all year, but we’re also going to forward some extra cash to Mr Landlord and Mr Cellphone, on your behalf. When those bills don’t show up in the mail don’t even worry about it! We got ya covered brah”
I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that deal any month of the year!
And this is the cycle of avoiding lifestyle inflation. Another year will go by, another review will arise, and another raise will appear on my check. So, 2015 will only have 11 months worth of Rent/Phone bills, and 2016 should only have 10. And so on, so on, so on…