Is it Possible to Live Alone on Minimum Wage? (Yes)

There are many people out there who are single and hate the idea of a roommate. A home is a very personal space and living with a stranger is not for everyone.

The biggest challenge to live alone is how expensive it can get and not everyone can afford it, especially people on minimum wage.

Is it Possible to Live Alone on Minimum Wage?

Yes, it is possible to live alone on minimum wage, but it can be difficult and it requires some major lifestyle adjustments. To live alone on minimum wage, you need to cut back on unessential living expenses and limit your spending.

Ways to cut back on your expenses can be canceling monthly subscriptions, limit your outing, riding public transportations, using coupons, and eating at home. Create a budget and sticking with it will help you be able to achieve this.

One of the first things you should start with is to think small. It was really as simple as it sounds. If you are living alone do you really need that two-bedroom apartment?

A studio apartment can be a great idea. You can create a great living space cheaply. This is what you will need if working with no extra money.

  • Shop second-hand stores for curtains, linens, pots, pans, and other essentials.
  • Ask friends or family if they have anything to offer for free.
    • Almost everyone has a few extra items at any giving moment.
    • A couple of towels, a comforter, plates, ice cube trays.

Reduce unessential living expenses. If you would like to live on your own, then you will definitely need to cut back on unneeded expenses.

It will feel overwhelming at first but you will quickly see life is completely manageable without all the extras. Return the merchandise you bought on impulse.

If you don’ need them, return them for a refund.

Related: Frugal vs Thrifty vs Cheap | What’s the Difference?

man considers finances

Find Cheaper Rent

You may have always dreamed of a big city apartment or a larger house. Living alone on minimum wage is not the time to dream big.

It sounds awful but you will have your whole life to grow at work and afford those things in the future.

Living on the outskirts of the city will also cost you less in rent but more in transportation. It will be up to you to weigh the pros and cons, pricing where you will be living.

Average US Rent$1,380/month
Akron, OH$1,093/month
Tampa, FL$1,299/month
Houston, TX$1,577/month
Denver, CO$1,955/month
Boston, MA$2,247/month
San Francisco, CA$3,346/month
Source: Zillow

Also try not to be picky with furniture, bedding, appliances. If this is your first attempt at living alone, it’s understandable that you’re excited.

However, there are many items that can come second hand and still be perfectly fine, might be slightly worn down, or may not match other items in your home.

This isn’t the time to be picky, saving money is the priority when living on minimum wage and living alone.

The town you want to live in could be double the price of the town over. If that is the case living in the next town over really isn’t that much different.

Related: Is Living In An RV Cheaper Than Renting?

Find Free Wi-fi

CompanyPrice per month
Xfinity$25.00
Cox$29.99
Frontier$27.99
Verizon$39.99
CenturyLink$49.00
AT&T$49.99
Spectrum$49.99
  • Some places offer free wifi included in the rent price
  • Depending o the price and how much you actually use Wi-Fi you could just go to coffee shops, the library, and other places that allow you to use wifi for free.
  • Smartphones like iPhone/Android have personal hotspot, you can connect your computer online for free. See the link below on how to do this.

Related: How to Get Free Wi-Fi | Apps | Places | | Tools | Tips & Tricks

Use Public Transportation

  • If you can go around without a vehicle use public transportation
  • Buses, subways, trains can all be less in the end than a car, insurance, gas, and upkeep on a vehicle.
  • No more car insurance, trips to the mechanic, gas, did I mention gas?

Related: How to Conserve Fuel When You Are Running Low

Average New Car Loan$483.00
Monthly Gas$127.00
Monthly Car Insurance$93.00
Monthly Total Transportation$756.00
Source: AAA

These are not all the extras you could cut back on but are some of the easiest and most common expenses that everyday people have.

Related: How Much Money Can You Save By Using Public Transportation?

Cook at Home

Young woman cooking vegetables at home kitchen

Living simple can really be quite nice. You can have a great night in, make a movie night out of it, have friends over, popcorn, and snacks.

For those that are not homebodies and must go out try a few of these tips.

Cut Your Cable Bills

If you end up getting wifi then cable really isn’t needed a simple movie subscription. Cable prices are typically outrageous for what you get and you will pay for a bunch of channels you don’t even use.

CompanyPrice per month
Cox TV$69.99
Xfinity TV$79.99
Spectrum TV$89.99
Optimum Cable TV$99.99

For entertainment, try to stick with cheaper streaming services.

CompanyMonthlyNotes
Netflix$8.99Standard Plan $12.99
Amazon Prime video$8.99Free if you have membership
Hulu$5.99Commercial free $11.99
Showtime$10.99Free trial 7 days
HBO$14.99Free trial 7 days
Youtube$0.00Commercial free $11.99

You can cut back even more by canceling your monthly streaming subscriptions. Stick with free entertainment like YouTube and you can save more money monthly.

Cancel Your Streaming Subscriptions

Remember you’re doing this so that you will be able to live alone with minimum wage. This is only temporary and when you find a job with higher pay, you can afford these luxuries.

Here’s how to cancel streaming services:

  • How to cancel Netflix: go to netflix.com>top right corner click profile icon>click Account>click Cancel Membership
  • How to cancel Amazon Prime: go to Edit Amazon Membership>click End Membership
  • How to cancel Hulu: go to hulu.com/account>go to Your Subscription>click Cancel
  • How to cancel Showtime: go to showtime.com>click profile icon>click Account Settings>click Your Subscription<click Cancel Your Subscription
  • How to cancel HBO: go to hbonow.com>top right corner click profile icon>click Billing Information>click Manage Subscription>click Cancel Subscription
  • How to cancel Youtube Premium: go to youtube.com>click profile icon>click Paid Memberships>click type of membership you’re canceling>click Continue to cancel

Related: Why Does Hulu Have Ads Even Though I Pay?

Limit Your Spending on Eating Out

If you must go out to eat there are always cheap, smaller options. $1 menu items even. It may seem a little weird but eating something small before going out with friends will make you eat less. It may sound a bit extreme, but this is what it takes to save up to live alone on a minimum wage.

Age GroupSpending
18-24 year olds$53/week
35-44 year olds$75/week
45-54 year olds$48/week
55 and over$42/week
MenWomen
Eat out per week3.45 times2.15 times
Eat out every day10%2%
Eat out weekly $$82$69
Source: Yahoo Finance

Change Your Drinking Habbits

  • Buying drinks at a bar will always be far more than buying your own drinks to have at your house
  • Have a BYOB get together or be ready to stay away from drinker friends.
  • One user from Reddit said he saved a down payment for a truck from not drinking for a month.
  • Another user from Reddit said he saved $1000 from no alcohol or Starbucks coffee. Don’t underestimate the small savings!

Even if you are an extremely social person there are just things that you will need to cut back on.

If you are a drinker, this is where you will be tested to see if you’re serious about living with minimum wage.

It will seem tough in the beginning but over time it really will get easier.

Plan Your Budget and Stick with It

Make a budget and stick to it. This is by far one of the most important steps. You can use a simple spreadsheet and track your expense to make sure you do not go over.

Go into detail about every place you put your money. Rent, phone, water, gas, public transportation. Don’t leave anything out. If you don’t get in the habit of keeping track of your spending, you will be more likely to overspend.

Dave Ramsey has wonderful books and does public speaking – all about saving money and the best ways. He has actually helped many people crawl out of debt and live smaller.

Pack Lunch to Save Up to $160/Month

Healthy breakfast or morning snack. Woman cooking breakfast.

When you have a job it can be very easy to eat fast food on your lunch break. Do not do it. Even only spending $5 a day can add up to $140 a month if you work five days a week.

$5 is also very cheap for lunch on average you’d be looking at around $8 a day which adds up to $160 a month.

That $160 can buy you a lot of groceries, pay a bill. It can cost as low as $1 a day for lunch when you pack your lunch.

It can be leftovers, a simple sandwich. It doesn’t need to be a 3-course meal to fill you up while saving money.

Tip: Average groceries cost per one person is between $165 and $345 (Source: Fox Business)

Look for Foodbanks

2017 Fresh Summit Food Bank Donation | Exhibiting companies … | Flickr

It is always ok to reach out for help. Many people who make well above minimum wage reach out for assistance. There is no shame in it. The minimum wage is very low and no one should ever go hungry.

  • There are food banks all over the country typically in every city or a short drive to one.
  • They sometimes are not income-based, if you show up with proof you live in the area they will help you out
  • These places typically give you a few bags of groceries to help you through the month.
  • There are sites you can go to search for local foodbanks –
Food Banks
2/1/2001
Ample Harvest
Feeding America
FoodPantries.org
PantryNet.org
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Soup Kitchens

  • These are also all around the country. Try Feeding American and FoodPantries.org link above
  • They don’t hand out food for you to take home
  • They provide a hot meal that you eat there
  • You could even ask about volunteering in exchange if you don’t feel right taking the meal

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • If you are not familiar this program is also sometimes referred to as food stamps.
  • It is a food program based on income.
  • You will receive “money” on a card for food items every month.
  • Depending on what exactly you make you could get over $100 a month
  • This is not a loan and will not need to be paid back
  • There are some food-related items you can not get with the food stamp card though, those can be found on your state’s website for food stamps.

Barter Whenever Possible

Greeting of guys

This may seem odd to some people out there, but bartering has been around since the beginning of time and is still widely popular. We are not talking trading bread for vegetables to think bigger.

If the home you’re interested in needs a few things finished (painting, deep clean, simple repairs) you could have money knocked off your rent by just helping out the landlord/building manager.

You would be incredibly surprised to know just how often people barter these days.

Those might be a one time only type of discount but there are some year-round ways to save money. Mowing the lawn or taking care of a garden could save you quite a bit of money monthly.

Then when winter comes around you could shovel snow.

If you are at a yard sale or online sale site and find something you love maybe try and haggle with them to get a better price. You could even offer a trade between something you are no longer using and the wanted item.

You will be surprised at how much this will work and has worked in the past. Another man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

While these aren’t the best task the amount of money you could save makes it worth it. Don’t ever feel ashamed to ask if they would be willing to work with you.

This saves them money and the time spent looking for someone to do the work.

Coupon Savings Will Add Up

Millennial woman looking for coupons in newspapers with aid of smartphone
Millennial woman looking for coupons in newspapers with aid of smartphone

I’m sure you have heard of the people who extreme coupon. While that is not exactly what we are talking about here. Couponing can save you tons. A few things to remember about couponing:

  • Don’t buy something you don’t need just because you have a coupon.
  • Do sign up for any store rewards cards or get the store app for deals.
  • Ask or look into the store’s policy on doubling up coupons.
  • Check the local store ads weekly so you don’t miss a deal on something you actually use.
  • If you find a great deal on something you will use whether its food or a necessity. Buy it up.
    • Done blow all of your money on the deal

There are literally coupons for everything out there, store brands, deals (5 for $5 type deals), store rewards cards and so many ways to save money in the stores.

Workforce Development Programs & Federal Grants

Many jobs offer free schooling after you have worked for them for a while. This can lead you to get a promotion at work or even finding a better job.

Sometimes they are referred to as workforce development programs. Your employer can fill you in on all the information, each company is different.

If your job does not offer any schooling it may be worth it to try and work part – full time while going to school.

There are federal grants (these don’t need to be paid back) that every school offers.

These are perfect for someone living alone, out of your parent’s home, and working minimum wage.

These grants (there are a few different ones) are meant to help with bills allowing you to go to school while still keeping a roof over your head.

There are financial aid and student loans. Depending on your school the loan may not need to be paid back until a while after you graduate.

Related: Best Money Saving Apps for College Students

Don’t Stop Looking for Better Opportunity

If worse comes to worst, you can have a serious sit down with your boss and ask for a raise. If that doesn’t work maybe it is time for a different job.

You should not wear yourself down working nonstop to barely make it each month.      

Living this way is emotional and mentally draining. It can also lead to anxiety and depression sadly. If you are struggling that badly it is definitely a time for a change. A new job with better opportunities to advance.

It is truly awful that the minimum wage is so low while the cost of living continues to increase. It truly is almost impossible to live alone while making $7.25 an hour.

Some people can’t change jobs or love their job enough to stick it out and that is fine.

What else is also fine is trying out many different jobs until you find one that sticks and pays well. There are 1,000’s of jobs in every part of the United States at any given time.

They may not all be your dream job but there are many jobs that help get your foot in the door for a better paying job.

Many struggling young adults have grown into someone who makes a really decent living. It will get easier and won’t last forever.

Related: How Much Do Uber Drivers Make in Chicago?

Key Takeaways

  • Federal minimum wage is $7.25, but the higher minimum wage states usually means higher average living cost.
  • Save your wifi cost by connecting your pc/laptop online via personal hotspot on your phone
  • Use youtube as entertainment. Deal with ads and it’s free. If you have amazon prime membership, amazon prime video is also free.
  • Limit your outing like movies, eating out & drinking can help you save quite a bit in a long run.
  • You can save up to $756 per month by using bike or public transportation instead of having a car.
  • National rent average is $1380 per month. If you can’t afford the place you want to rent, think of it as a temporary compromise.
  • Trade your services for discounts on rent or barter for deals on items you’d like to buy. It is ok to ask, it’s free to ask.

Sources