Book Review and Giveaway – Living Single on Minimum Wage


It’s tough living on minimum wage.  It didn’t get the name ‘minimum wage’ for nothing; it’s the lowest amount we as a country feel someone needs to earn.  Even if you are working full time at the minimum wage, you’re not even pulling in $300 a week (before taxes); just how do you survive on that amount in the modern world?

Living Single on Minimum Wage seeks to answer that question.  Kay Iscah and P.J. Lockabey attempt to find ways to get maximum financial success even at the minimum wage.  Are they able to show how a minimum wage earner can have a decent financial (and personal) life at such a low income?  Let’s find out!  (Plus, stick around for a chance to win a copy for yourself!)

Summary

Living Single on Minimum Wage starts with a short description on what is meant by the terms living, single, and minimum wage in the book.  There’s also a brief Introduction noting that the minimum wage went up twice during the writing of the book, and that minimum wage used in examples in the book will still use $5 per hour just for illustration purposes, starting in:

Chapter 1: Creating and Keeping a Simple Budget

The first chapter goes over how to create a budget.  While stressing the need to keep the budget simple and make it possible to stick to, it works through six steps to create a basic budget.  It also covers two examples of hypothetical minimum wage earners, showing how those steps can be put into action by such earners.

Chapter 2: What To Do With Unexpected Income

With a budget ready for regular income and expenses, the next step is to figure out what to do with extra, unscheduled money.  It shares five priorities for where any extra funds should be directed when earned or otherwise obtained.

Chapter 3: Spending Habits

Once the budget has been created, the next step is to ensure that you stick to it.  This chapter looks at methods of shopping, providing questions to ask to turn yourself from a Mindless Consumer to an Investor who makes smarter purchases and avoids the traps that stores set.

Chapter 4: Shelter

The next six chapters focus on individual parts of your budget and how to keep the spending in them to a minimum.  Chapter four is all about shelter, finding places you can live while keeping your spending to a minimum.  Living with your parents or finding a roommate (or two) are the main options discussed, although there are some other possibilities mentioned at the end.

Chapter 5: Transportation

We all need to get around, and chapter five begins by looking at methods to travel without a car.  If that’s not possible, it then shares advice on how to get a car for the lowest amount of money possible.

Chapter 6: Food

Chapter six covers ways to keep your stomach and wallet full.  It discusses the importance of eating healthy, and notes that it is possible to eat decent meals for as little as $1 for day (with several examples included).

Chapter 7: Clothing

There are several factors that need to be considered when clothing shopping (assuming you need to buy clothing at all), and several of them are covered throughout the course of this chapter.

Chapter 8: Design and Decoration

Even an inexpensive living area can be well organized, and here are some methods to do so on a budget.  There as also some basics of design and how to decorate your living space without spending too much money in the process.

Chapter 9: Entertainment

It’s important to have some fun with your money, and chapter nine shows some examples of entertainment on a budget.  Different types of entertainment are covered (temporary vs. renewable, for example), as well as how to entertain yourself and your household for free.  The chapter ends with a discussion about why plants why be better than pets until you have your finances in order.

Chapter 10: Saving Money

With spending issues covered, chapter ten looks at what to do with the money you are able to save.  Different types of savings are discussed, as are the places where you can store that saved money (saving accounts, checking accounts, and money market funds, for example).  The importance of setting up a saving schedule rounds out the chapter.

Chapter 11: 7 Things that Can Really Screw Up Your Budget

As the title suggests, this chapter has seven things that are particularly bad for your budget, from sex (with the possibility of children and STDs) to alcohol to taking on debt.  There are some exceptions given for taking on debt, from schooling to home purchases.

Chapter 12: Getting and Keeping a Job

It’s hard to stick to a budget, even one designed for minimum wage, if you aren’t bringing in an income.  Here you get some advice on how to find a job, keep your job if already you have one, and a little bit on how to improve your job (or possibly start a business) so you aren’t always bringing in only minimum wage.

Chapter 13: Self Improvement

Chapter thirteen looks at ways to improve your body, mind, and attitude.  From exercising on your own to hitting the library to finding healthy emotional releases, plenty of ways to improve yourself without spending much are included.

Chapter 14: Making Connections

One of the most important things you can do to improve your lot in life is to make good connections.  This chapter covers several ways to reach out to others, with a sizable portion devoted to dating online and also some commentary on the intersection of religion and finance.

Chapter 15: Being a Gracious Receiver

If you are earning minimum wage, you are likely to be receiving charity at some point.  Here you’ll get some advice on the help that is out there, as well as how you can accept it without any fear or pride.

Chapter 16: As Things Improve

The book closes out by noting how you can handle things as your income increases, stressing the need to stay focused on your priorities, treating any earning increases as extra money until you’re sure it will continue, and to work toward future goals as you acquire a higher income.

Pros

  • Good Starter Guide to Budgeting: If you are young, single with no children and just getting started in life, this book will help you create and stick to a budget.
  • Covers Many Spending Areas: Just about every area where you could spend money is discussed, from shelter to clothing and even entertainment.
  • Friendly, Respectful Tone: Many books aimed at low income earners tend to speak down to them (or really, us), but this book does a good job of treating them with respect.

Cons

  • Limited Applicability: The book assumes that you are young and able to move back in with your parents or find an apartment for only a few hundred dollars in rent, which difficult for a wide variety of people
  • Narrow Scope: The book only discusses spending, with little mention of investing (and not too much information on increasing your income beyond minimum wage).

Overall

Living Single on Minimum Wage is a decent book for those around college age, single, childless and living on minimum wage (or close to it).  You will need to read more to fully develop your personal finance skills (as the authors noted themselves at the end of the book).  Overall, as a guide on how to create a budget and get your finances started, it does a great job.

Now, the part of the article I know you’re waiting for: the giveaway!  Yes, I’m giving away my copy of the book to help someone else get their finances in order.  All you need to do is leave a comment below, sharing advice for minimum wage earners.  You can share suggestions you’ve gotten from other people, something you’ve learned from your own past experiences as earning minimum wage, or even something you’ve learning from currently earning the bare minimum.  Whatever led you to the advice is fine, as long as you share it with your fellow readers.  Just be sure to leave your comment (and confirm it in the Rafflecopter plugin) by the time the clock strikes midnight on Friday, October 4th if you want a chance to win.

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Good Luck!

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