Living on Minimum Wage

Stimulus Payment and the 5 Priorities

A rough video to review our 5 priorities from the "Living Single on Minimum Wage" book and how they apply to your stimulus payment.  May use some of mine to upgrade editing software.  I shot this last week, had editing obstacles, but got it figured out today, so here you go...

Priority 1: Needs
Priority 2: Small Debts
Priority 3: Emergency Fund
Priority 4: Large Debts
Priority 5: Big Dreams and Entertainment
Living on Minimum Wage

March 2020 Update

Long story short.  No they could not recover the videos and I'm tired.  Will post a much shorter version of the project later, but not while pandemic worries are high.
Living on Minimum Wage

And then there was the fire....

I should have posted something back in September, but I was a little distracted.  So I'll try to give you an update.

Finished the project, and in one sense, it succeeded.  I furnished, decorated, stocked the pantry, and built a pretty cute warddrobe and paid rent on a minimumwage budget.  I also kept all my receipts, and had hundreds of hours of videos documenting all the purchases as well as other projects.

Avoided any major drama, but with two weeks left to film on location my phone/camera stopped working.  Just stopped, no warning.  It was insured, so I was able to get it replaced with the same model, but the delay made what should have been a leisurely move out into a highstress, literally there til midnight finishing up the the cleaning, situation.

I moved back into my parent's home, donated all the furniture and other things I no longer needed to either Goodwill or people who could use them.  Got everything unpacked and stowed away... organized the bathroom, washed the car (my grandfather's old car that I once again have use of), my *new* phone was out of juice, so left it to charge, and went to my brother's to watch cartoons.

About 2 hours later, my sister called in a panic to tell us the house was on fire.  Specifically my room was on fire...  The room with my phone and computer and back up portable harddrive and all that paper documentation...

Before I continue, the family is all fine, no significant injury.  My room on the other hand is a pile of wet ash.

On the plus side, my dad had decent insurance, so while the event was a bit emotionally traumatic, financially, we're ok.  But for the first few days, I really had no idea what insurance would cover...and reason to think I had lost absolutely all my data, files, and artwork.

For the first month, we couldn't even get back into my room to see what might be recoverable.  When we did get the go ahead, we decided it was prudent to move from least to most contaminated area, which meant starting in the basement and leaving my room for last.  (Normally home owners/insurance hires people to do a lot of what we're doing...more on that in another post.)  But essentially I was told it would not be cost effective for professionals to try to dig my files out, so that's what I've been doing for the past three months.

Up through Thanksgiving, I was also working full time which significantly slowed things down, since the electricity had to be turned off at the house, we needed daylight to work.  But between the stress of the fire and some extra stress at work, I quit my job and have been focusing on digging out my room, salvaging what we could from the basement, and inventorying everything for insurance.

I think we're getting towards the end of that process.  I found and sent my backup harddrive to a data recovery company, and for $3,000 they think they can salvage about 70% of the videos.  Insurance doesn't technically cover that data, but may cover enough other things I can live without to make up the difference.

Thankfully, I also have the videos through December as well as my current writing projects backed up on my laptop, so I can/will release at least some of the project.

My main issue now is just mental exhaustion.  I'm going to focus my time/energy in the coming months on getting AmoebaInk back up and running, some of it I'm looking forward to, but other parts not so much.  I was able to dig out of a fair bit of my business files, but it's so water/asbestos/mold damaged, I'm taking photos and trashing the original pages.

There will be some videos...but probably not quite as many as I had originally least not at the level of detail I had originally intended.  But in some ways that's ok, possibly better.  The point was never to make the exact purchases I made.  That's neither practical not plausible, becuase you're not me.  The point was to show examples of thrift shopping, decor, etc. and talk about tight budget issues.  We can still do that...

...once I have my head on straight.


So What Happened Was....

I'm heading into the last week(s) of my project, and no you didn't miss it, I haven't posted any videos. At first, I was going to try to post as I went along, but things kept happening to delay the videos getting out. And then I decided that even though I wasn't going to mention the complex by name and made some effort to obscure where I live... I've gotten to be locally recognizable with my daily walk/bike to work. So I decided it might be safer and more relevant in some ways to just do a full year delay on posting the videos... (that way you'd have the months/seasons line up)

I'm not a woman who lives in constant fear, but I like privacy and do believe in reasonable precautions. So giving a bunch of strangers on the internet enough clues to put together where I was living alone seemed unwise.

Anyway, trying to cram in a few last projects this a short extension on the lease so I'll have time to pack up and redistribute and have a little time to get any additional filming I need to finish done.

It's kind of bittersweet to be hitting the end. Keep having to explain to my family why I'm spending money on decorative touches when I'm about to move out.

But the project is not dead.  I'm not dead.  Things actually went pretty well, except for a failure to update as I went along.

Living on Minimum Wage

In A Good Place?

If any of you are familiar with NBC's "The Good Place", Chidi is the character I most relate to.  In the attempt to be an ethical person (particularly if you're over educated and hyperaware of potential consequences), indecision can become crippling.  I hope I'm slightly less locked in my head than poor Chidi gets, but I am guilty of over thinking and under acting.

I've hit the 3rd month in the apartment with hours of recorded footage, and no full episodes to show.  I have figured out a few issues that were holding me up.  I now have a phone friendly tripod and figured out how to use my current software to add subtitles (for the hearing impaired or people who just need to watch videos silently).

I do at least have this introduction video to show and am making headway on Episode 1.

Trying to push myself forward rather than beat myself up.  As previously mentioned, I work full time.  I live alone, no dish washer, and I'm going carless.  My volunteers have been scarce.  So it takes longer to do everything, and I'm a little worn out most days.  Being a pasty and not naturally photogenic gal, I can have a good 20 to 30 minutes worth of makeup application before shooting so I don't look like a zombie.

But, the bills are paid, gradually making progress on the goals for the year.  Part of me really wants to take a temp job through the holidays and hit those goals faster, but I think until I'm getting videos out at a regular pace, this needs to be my focus.

Really need to hit 100 subscribers, so I can use custom thumbnails...yikes.

P.S. We did not hit the sponsor goal to do a 5th week of the $1/day food challenge, but I was honestly ready to be done with it.  Now on the $1/meal budget, which is our recommended starting amount.

Living on Minimum Wage

$1 Per Day Eating Challenge Rules

I was inspired to try this challenge several years ago by another blogger (an extreme couponer) who did a $1/day eating challenge.  You can read his account on (Note this account is several years old and many stores now have policies that won't allow you to use some of the techniques he employed.)

But I have an aversion to extreme couponing.  I wanted to tackle the challenge by using a shopping approach that was a bit more realistic to the average person.  The biggest obstacle I had was living with my parents, where there is always at least a month's worth of food in the house, but I didn't have my own separate prep or storage space.  Well, my own apartment solves those issues, so this was a perfect time to do this challenge properly.

Challenge rules/guidelines:

1. I would start with no food and buy groceries weekly.  $7/wk  (This challenge is actually much easier if you do most of it in a monthly lump.)  and feature a different store each week.  (Aiming for at least 2 to not be traditional grocery stores.)

2. The challenge will be for 4 weeks.

3. Free food is fair game as long as it's available to the general public.  (Not that it's available everywhere but that anyone could walk in and get the same thing as long as supplies last.)

4. Coupons are fair game, but no extreme couponing.  (Basically no more than 1 coupon per multiples or buying stuff I don't need to get cash back.)

5. Must aim for the healthiest options I can find in the budget limit.  And since you could start World War III trying to get people to agree on what healthy is, we'll define healthy as "a variety of foods, the majority of which should come from plants."  (Citation needed...I know this is a quote, but haven't managed to hunt down who said it first.)

6. Because I'm doing this to talk about shopping skills, I won't use survivalist techniques, grow my own food, or use food banks.  However, if you're actually in a situation where you only have $7 to feed yourself for the week, I encourage you to go to a food bank and learn about backyard greens that you can use.  Later in the video series we may talk about growing your own food, which is a great supplement, but other people can educate you better than I on this particular subject.

Additional Information: I am in my mid-thirties and according to my doctor in very good healthy with the exception that I'm about 30lbs overweight. (I was 169lbs at the start of this challenge, and my ideal weight is about 120, normal range tops at 140.  My doctor did not say anything about my weight, but it's worth noting for the challenge.)  Since I have some fat reserves, I do not need to worry about hitting the same calorie or fat minimums that a skinnier person should try to hit each day, and I would consider it a bonus to lose weight this month.  I don't consider this a cheat, but it is worth noting that this affects my food choices.

I do not suggest this challenge for minors or people with significant medical issues.  I would suggest this challenge with modifications for people who want to challenge themselves to learn about healthier cheap options, or have a bad habit of not eating the food in their pantry.  (This is a lot less boring if you allow yourself spices and condiments, which I didn't do.)

P.S. I am fundraising for the production side of the videos as well as publishing costs for the new edition, so please check out my MinimumWageSINK Patreon ( and consider becoming a Patron.  If I can get 20 Patrons by the end of August, I'll do a 5th week.

Living on Minimum Wage

You're Waiting on Videos Because I'm Waiting on Internet

Long story short, due to a website glytch, I was supposed to get internet installed last Saturday, but waiting for this Saturday.  Using various public wifi sources to post quick updates and check e-mail.

So quick update.  I am in the apartment.  I am 10 days in to the $1/day eating challenge, and other than never wanting to see another kindey bean for the rest of my life, it's going okay.  Detail to come with the videos.

To make this work, I'm going carless.  So I sound exhausted in a lot of my food clips because it's often me around 10pm, after an 8 hour workday and some literal running around and an hour of cooking making some comments.  (Very limited caffeine access.)  For the most part, my energy level is pretty good.  But aside from apartment prep I've had some additional errands for the day job to do.)

I have a friend who has volunteered to be a camera man, but he's got some family commitments keeping him busy.  So as soon as we can get together (or I can rig up a tripod) there will be videos.  First premise videos, then weekly updates (with a 1 or 2 week delay).

(And now I'm off to walk for an hour and half because I forgot something at the store yesterday. *sigh*)
Living on Minimum Wage

MinimumWageSINK YouTube Series is Go

Worked out some issues and think I'm over my YouTube malaise now.  Things are moving a bit fast, but I'm starting in the new apartment on Friday.  A couple links to start:

To follow on YouTube, subscribe to MinimumWageSINK. (Need subscribers to get a custom URL)
To support the project, please check out the MinimumWageSINK Patreon Page (

Will try to explain the premise better in the first video, but basically I'm getting a small apartment.  To start out I'll have just a backpack full of stuff and $1500... Desposits, application fee, and first month's rent are coming out of that $ it whittles down to $240 after that.

The challenge will be to furnish and decorate the apartment, build a wardrobe, and set up a well stocked pantry, while living off a minimum wage income.

For the first month, I'm also going to do a $1 per day food challenge as well.
Living on Minimum Wage

Moving Forward With Financial Goals

Back in June, I mentioned that I had 3 savings goals before leaving home for my apartment project. Happy to say I've hit those 3 goals, and I know it's time to move forward with the video series.

But I admit I'm having a little trouble with motivation.

Some of it is tiredness. I'm working full time at my day job, plus babysitting, plus the home business. Part of it is funding. I'm ready for the apartment on a personal financial level, but I'd like to upgrade my video editing software and recording equipment and get a little buzz going. Another part of it is a reluctance to jump into the drama that is YouTube. Fear is the wrong word, but reading up on the flack and threats many other YouTubers deal with regularly puts a damper on the enthusiasm I need.

I've spent the last couple weeks wrestling with my new budget since I hit my IRA goal. Think I've got that worked out and will go into it more in the next post. But I'm not as far along with promoting the video series as I should be. I know other YouTubers have started simple and built their audience over time, but I'm not looking to be Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey. This is a one-year project, and then I hope to move on to others.

I do think part of what I need to do is get back on the blogging horse. The last few months have been a lot of saving and not spending, which doesn't make for exciting blog posts....and that's part of the reason I want to do the video series. At 37, I've already built up a lot of my basics, so hard to show progress in an engaging way.
Living on Minimum Wage

2017 That Twas and the 2018 to Come

I did end up getting a seasonal job in October and added a regular babysitting job in August, but mainly I've just been significantly cutting down my time on the internet to deal with offline projects. There was a longer than intended break from writing and creative projects, which was probably good for my mental health if not so much for the size of my to-do pile.

Just before Christmas break, my day job has asked me to move from part time to full time on a trial basis which is going to help a lot with income goals and probably make that second job unnecessary. Also looking forward to having regular benefits again, at least for a while. On the downside, my vehicle died, but I was able to work out a temporary arrangement to keep getting to my job.

I hit 2 out of 3 of my savings goals, and should be on track to hit the third within 4 months.

So I am gearing up to actively promote my YouTube show in 2018. Hope to be putting out more details on that soon. Basic premise is I will get an apartment with just a backpack full of stuff and go through the process of living on minimum wage: buying food, furnishing the apartment, building a wardrobe, etc.