We Can’t Have an Authentic Experience in April

Figuring out how to live on minimum wage is hard.  We were supposed to start today. I’ve realized I can’t wrap my head around all the barriers myself.  At this point, explaining it to a 2nd grader is beyond my capabilities.

I shared my idea to live on minimum wage for a month with my daughter.  With tears flowing, she said, “I can’t do it for a month.  I know how fortunate I am.  Can we do it for three days?” We reached an agreement to live as if I made minimum wage for a week this summer.  ML will have to move into my room with only what she can fit in a suitcase.  Her room will be off limits.  My car will be unavailable that week.  (I’ll probably leave it at a friend’s house; so we aren’t tempted.)

I realized this delay and living on minimum wage for one week will be more authentic than trying it for a month this spring.  During the school year, my daughter spends half the week with me and the other half at her dad’s house.  In the summer, it’s different.  She spends full weeks at her dad’s house and full weeks with me.  With a flight to Georgia, a ballet recital, joining a Brownie troop and playing on a soccer team this spring,  she won’t experience the reality of what it would be like living full-time with a single-mom making minimum wage.

This spring, I’ll chronicle my attempts to find affordable housing, transportation, food, medical care and other basic needs.  I’ll share the information with my daughter.  Together, we will figure out how to live on $290 a week.  Make that $267.80 after Social Security and Medicare taxes.