If you work at the following rates, here’s the maximum monthly housing allowance you can afford, both FULL TIME (middle column) and PART TIME (right column), taking into account all expenses (food, transportation, utilities, clothing, emergencies, etc.):
- $10/hour -> $ 402 -> $ 281
- $12/hour -> $ 516 -> $ 362
- $15/hour -> $ 688 -> $ 482
- $17/hour -> $ 803 -> $ 562
- $20/hour -> $ 975 -> $ 683
- $25/hour -> $1,262 -> $ 883
- $30/hour -> $1,548 -> $1,084
- $35/hour -> $1,835 -> $1,285
- $40/hour -> $2,122 -> $1,485
Now look up your local studio apartments, and find them approximately on the FULL TIME (middle column). That will tell you what the minimum wage needs to be raised to in your area.
If you’re renting or paying on a mortgage (including taxes and insurance!) more than the amount above listed for your pay rate, you’re digging a hole that will only get harder and harder to get out of as you get older.
We’re setting millions of people up for failure, then blaming them when they fail. We have to stop it, and stop it fast.
PS: For those following along on the math: Why am I using (1/3 – 1/hourly wage) instead of 1/3? 1/3 covers all normal monthly expenses – food, clothing, transportation, and utilities. The other piece not covered includes home improvement, emergencies, savings, and retirement. If you’re not putting money toward these, then you’re still digging a hole that gets harder and harder to get out of as you get older. Those extra expenses don’t scale up as fast as rent or mortgage payments do, thus the scaling down by hourly rate.
This isn’t about “barely scraping by”. This is about living at a level where you have something to give back to the community, in time, energy, and sometimes money. Anything less, and you’re in starvation + desperation mode, and that’s a significant negative to and drain on any community. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said when instituting the minimum wage, “It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country…and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living.”