In light of my recent employment, I've been thinking about it a lot lately. At the highest point of my career, I had a salary of $36,000 - $53,000, depending on the JPY - USD exchange rate. This was the most money I've ever made by far. Unfortunately, I only took advantage of the higher-end of that exchange for a few months in 2013 before the USD started getting stronger, shrinking my fund transfer amounts to 60% their value. Despite the fluctuations, in 2 years of saving half my salary, I paid off all credit card debt and invested about $30,000 into the US stock market via Vanguard.com. In 3 years, that $30k became $40k because the stock market is awesome. Because I live cheaply, I could essentially take 3-4 years off, if I really wanted. All these details are here because I know a decent amount of you have resources like this to save aggressively and get similar results. So, take this less as bragging and more as encouragement that you can do your own finance-fu too.
My middle-class salary days are over, though, folks. For the last 2 years, I've been working customer service work, making $12 per hour, mostly full-time. My New Years post shows that in 2016, I made $17k and socked away 17% of it, or $3000. I have since hit lean times and have had to start drawing on my savings. I still keep all of my frugality about me, and it's really important with little-to-no income.
Here are my conditions: I live by myself in an apartment 15 miles outside of Seattle, had no car for most of the last 2 years, and have a very small social life with partners and friends who pay their own way. I still give gifts, tip and go to birthday parties, I just don't have the latest phone, car or clothes. This lifestyle may not be for everyone, but here are some habits that will fit anyone.
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Side note: I try and make traveling sound trivial so it doesn't get written off as too expensive. I've visited 8 countries because I was either working there or stayed with a friend and cut major expenses like food and accommodations. Use any connections you have!
3) As mentioned previously, I get carryout rather than delivery most of the time. Even after a tip, I still save $4 delivery charge and $2-8 tax, depending on the size of the order. I'm out in the burbs, though, so hangouts are rarely more than 10 minutes from a pizza place.
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CDKeys.com and find that membership for $48. For those of you that have a subscription of a service you know you love, never ever pay month to month. This might be obvious, but I know someone who pays $8 per month for his gaming service because he doesn't notice the little fee monthly. He's paying $96 per year for the same service! It withers my shriveled, tormented soul every month.
6) Host get-togethers before your friends with money suggest going out. I can hear your eyes rolling. The tactful way to do this is the day or morning before Friday night when your buddies are wondering what's going down that night. That way, you offer the cheapest but most intimate default, and only the most passionate will argue their way out of it. My friends are definitely on to me when my apartment is the second or third suggestion, but making fun of dumb movies and consuming adult beverages is a cheap way to chill.
These suggestions are how I navigate minimum wage and keep afloat. I'll have more tips on how I stay ballin' in the future, stay tuned!