A young friend of ours made some poor decisions…and paid for it. Finally, she decided that she couldn’t go on the same way she had been. She completed a treatment program, started training for a new job, and is saving money for her own place while she lives at her folks’ home.
But she needs a job.
She’s been making a few bucks occasionally working for my ‘other’ business (the one I do when not writing for Penny Thots!), but really needs steady hours and pay. I was happy to let her know that I’d seen some help-wanted signs out at local businesses. I figured she would want to apply right away.
“Not me,” she said. “Those will be minimum wage.”
She spit the words out as if they tasted bad. “I went to college,” she said. “I’ve done lots of stuff.” (And been fired or quit from nearly all of it, I didn’t mention.) “Why would I work for minimum, anyways?”
I thought back to the babysitting I’d done as a kid, for 75 cents an hour. The hardware store job all through high school paid much better – a munificent $1.50 an hour! Or even the summer jobs, Jon talks about having. But those jobs (and the references I got because of them) led to better pay and more interesting work in college. (They helped me pay for tuition and living costs, too.) And they helped train and give me a different viewpoint for the work I do today, writing and appraising.
The point: sometimes minimum wage is the best you can get. It may be something temporary you take on, to help pay bills or keep life steady, especially during unemployment. Even if that short-term period turns into years, minimum wage can keep you going. It won’t be easy — and you’ll have to work extra hours. But it will help.
Sometimes, though, minimum wage leads to better jobs, ones that become available because you demonstrated your reliability and experience first. Were you faithful at a small job? Then you’re more apt to perform well at a more responsible position. (An employer will notice. Trust me. I do.)
Right now minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25 an hour — less, if you’re working in the restaurant industry, and get tips, as well. The amount may vary, depending on the state you work in, too. Will this amount keep you in luxury? Hardly. But it can pay the bills, with care. And it may well, like our young (and hopefully wising up) friend, get you started.