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How To Live On $7.25 An Hour-Finding A Place To Live

Updated on April 8, 2012

A Little History About My Experiences

It is hard to save money when you do not have money to save. Millions of Americans, such as myself, are living from paycheck to paycheck. And let me tell you, $7.25 and hour does not go far in today's world.

Given our current economic downturn, people are devising new ways, and converting back to the old ways, to conserve money and resources.

I will help you budget so that you can actually survive on $7.25 and hour. (Believe it or not.) I am not saying it will be fun and you will have days when you want to pull your hair out but it can be done. I was born dirt poor, but had the wonderful guidance of my Great Grandmother to show me how to survive at a very young age. She was free with all her tips and advice and made sure that I remembered lifes lessons. She was kind and generous and I am sure she would want me to share her advice help others. May she rest in peace.

The Fun Part-Figuring Your Finances To Afford a Place To Live

Ok, now let's do some brain bending and figure your finances and break down exactly what you have to work with every month. As the title states we are going to miraculously do this with only $7.25 an hour. For the sake of argument, I am going to assume you work a total of 40 hours per week. And if any of you have worked any minimum wage job you know that actually getting 40 hours is almost impossible. You just pray someone calls in sick, quits or dies.

Now, working 40 hours at $7.25 an hour is $290 a week GROSS. This is not your take home pay. This doesn't include the taxes they take out every week. I always just minus 10%-15% taken out of my paycheck for taxes. Let us take 15% out for taxes that leaves you an astounding $246.50 take home per week. That isn't much. Now if you pay for health insurance or anything like that you will be lucky to take home $210-$220 a week. Most minimum wage jobs pay every two weeks, which makes your take home pay $425-$489 every 2 weeks. This only makes it harder for people to make it from paycheck to paycheck. But, if you are reading this you probably already know that.

So now you have to find a place to live that doesn't take over 1/3 of your NET income. Other places say gross income, but that is cutting yourself short. Real short. So $246.50 times 4.3 weeks = $1059.95. Or, if you do like I do, you only count 4 weeks in a month instead of 4.3. This gives you a whopping $986 a month.

TIP: Expect the worst, and pray for the best. In other words, figure in every scenario that can possibly go wrong or screw up. Because it most likely will. This is not being pessimistic, it's being realistic.

So, now you have to take 1/3 of this $986 a month which is $328.67 and now you have to find a house or apartment for that price. Good luck. It can be done, but it will be extremely hard. And like most people you want to live in a safe neighborhood, especially if you have children. So, unfortunately you will have to pay more for housing. Around $550 a month will be your absolute limit and you will barely survive at that price. Where I live here a semi-decent apartment runs $425 a month with water paid.It's a one bedroom with a basement which I converted into a bedroom for my boys. I pay electric, about $40 a month. It's not the best neighborhood, but it isn't the worst either. My Motto: You take what you can get and make the best of it.

Here are tips for choosing a place to live

  • Choose a place within walking distance to the grocery store. (You never know when your car will break down or when you won't have money for gas.)
  • Try to find a place close to the city bus lines. Once again, see above tip.
  • If you notice a place that needs work, and/or has been abandoned awhile, and you are handy with a hammer and nail and maybe some paint, go to the title company and find out who owns the property. You can also ask the neighbors. Call the owner and tell them you will fix up their property for the deposit or rental reduction every month. (I have done this several times and most property owners want some income even if it is a small amount. Plus, they do not have to make repairs AND it keeps people from vandalizing the property. Check it thoroughly though. You do not want to have to repair thousands of dollars in plumbing and wiring because some $%^& head decided to strip the house of its wiring and copper plumbing.
  • Think outside the box: If you can only afford a one bedroom, but need a 2 bedroom, try to find a one bedroom with a basement or den. You can convert the basement/den into an extra bedroom. If the basement is large enough you can make it into 2 bedrooms. Plus it is usually a lot cheaper that way.
  • Ask around, ask your co-workers, your friends, everyone. It never hurts to explore all your options.
  • Put an ad in free online ad places. Beware of scammers though. Make an email dedicated solely for the purpose of finding a place to live and never give out any personal information in an email or on the phone. Just use caution and common sense and always take someone with you when you go look at a place.

You Have Found Your Place To Live-Yay!

Yay! You have a place, you just got moved in, you feel good about the future, but do not get too excited yet. The fun has just begun. Not only do you have to furnish the place with what $7.25 an hour can buy but you also have to budget to keep your new place. That always seems to be the hardest part. I have lived in the southern U.S. and I have to say, the electric bills in the south are out-friggin-rageous! I remember my electric bill being $734 for ONE month during the summer. Of course they offered me a payment plan to pay it out over 4 months. Yeah, like that was going to help. I don't know about you, but if I pay more for my electric than I do my rent, then something is dreadfully wrong with the system. Seriously.

Finding Furnishings: First, Look For Free Furnishings

  • Craigslist- Look under the FREE section. Sometimes you can find some good free stuff, but you got to be pretty dang quick! Place an ad in the WANTED section too. Sometimes that helps.
  • Freecycle- They often give away a lot of things and you can also put up a WANTED post. You have to sign up through their yahoo group site, and sometimes they limit your posting wanted items, but it's worth it.
  • Apartment Dumpsters, Curbsides and Garbage- Don't be ashamed or too proud. Pride will have you sleeping on a wood floor with no furnishings to your name. Drive around and check apartments around the first of the month. That is when the maintenance/housekeeping have to clear out evicted tenant's belongings and sometimes you can find some really good stuff. Spring cleaning and after christmas are good times too!
  • Ask friends and neighbors- Get the word out that you have no money and really need some furnishings. Call some churches too. Sometimes they will help you get some furnishings and if you are really nice they might even deliver it for you.

Finding A Place When You Have Past Evictions

All this stuff sounds fun and good, but what about those who have an eviction on their record? Then here is where people have to get really, really, crafty.

That little black strike on your record does not miraculously go away. You do not want to be evicted again and you do not know where to turn. You have to work around it. After my eviction in 2001 it took forever to find a place. My advice? IMMEDIATELY move into another place as fast as humanly possibly before that eviction pops up on your rental history. (You did not hear that from me though! )

But, if you are like me, if you had the money to begin with you never would have gotten evicted in the first place. Right? Makes sense, huh? I suggest in that scenario to go talk to some landlords who are older and laid back and understand that crap happens. Or once again look into older, abandoned houses and hunt down the owner. Explain your situation. Sometimes they will listen, sometimes they won't.

The other option is what I call the 'Death Traps'. These are the weekly apartments that don't do credit checks and have cheap or no deposits. They work in a pinch, but don't expect to save any money living in these places. They are often 3 times higher for an apartment than what you were paying. And trust me, I know from first hand experience, you can get stuck in these places for a long time. But if you pay faithfully, you will be able to look for a better place after a year. SET A GOAL AND GET AWAY FROM THESE TYPES OF MONEY TRAPS..

Other Articles Coming Soon!

Stay tuned for other articles and videos coming your way!


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    • Sherry Thornburg profile image

      Sherry Thornburg 

      3 years ago from Kern County California

      Good job on this hub. I made $5.00 and hour back in the day and shared an apartment. I didn't do much, had bedroom furniture from home and a car that was paid for. My entertainment was combing used book stores and finding things I needed at thrift shops and flea markets, but I did it and can be proud of my early days learning how to fend for myself.

      My first solo apartment was 325.00 a month plus electricity and phone out of a 7.00 an hour job. I rode a bike to work (car died).

      My dad used to say that the cost of living is always the same, everything you make.

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Solid first hub. I am looking forward to your next one. Practical wisdom from someone whose been there is the best kind.


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