Minimum Wage Rage

Minimum_Wage_IncreaseRemember your first job? I do. I was 17, and I was working in a local park. It was around the corner from my house, and it was my job to be a “Recreational Seasonal Employee.” The job included tasks such as painting the lines on baseball diamonds, driving pickup trucks rather recklessly, cleaning public bathrooms (major yuck), keeping score for basketball leagues in the park, picking up trash, painting curbs, and playing games of Uno and Rummy 500 with my fellow seasonal employees. It was a fun, easy job for the most part, and I made a whopping $7.00 an hour, which is just below the current minimum wage for New York State.

Was $7.00 an hour good for a high school student with no skills or experience? Absolutely! I had enough money to gas up the car, head to the movies, or hang out with friends. I saved some cash on the side for college related expenses, and stayed with the job until I got my bachelor’s degree.

However, now that I’m older, more experienced, and more educated, I know that I command a significantly higher wage. I have a master’s degree, I’ve learned fantastic skills, garnered great recommendations, and accumulated 7 years of experience in the full-time workforce.

The idea of a minimum wage job is simply not an option anymore, considering my skills, experience, education, and the fact that I want to be financially sound adult. As a kid with no bills, no car, and no cares, $7.00 an hour was a perfectly acceptable wage. However, as an adult with bills, a mortgage, and ambition, $7.00 an hour simply isn’t an option. It represents life at or below the poverty line, and it’s a wage that is simply not enough to live on in the New York City area.

Granted, the current minimum wage in New York is $7.25 an hour. It’s better than $7.00, but I still don’t consider that a living wage for an adult.

With that said, there’s been a bit of political debate going on lately about the minimum wage. Politicians are toying with the idea of raising the minimum wage, with the idea that it will help the economy if wages increase. In New York, there is a proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 over the next 3 years or so, giving minimum wage earners an automatic 24% raise over the next few years! I want to be clear here – $9.00 an hour is not what I would consider a living wage in today’s economy.  But, I also think that it’s not too shabby compared to the 2-4% the average worker gets annually.  

While I love the idea of increased wages for those of us earning the minimum, I’m a bit concerned about the lack of focus on the rest of us. There are lots of “middle class” people out there who have been working away over the past decade or so without receiving significant wage increases. Will they benefit from the increase in wages too? Or will their wages remain stagnant, as they have for nearly a decade?

Hence, I raise the question of the day: What would you do if you had a 24% raise guaranteed over the next 3 years? Ponder and feel free to comment with any ideas for how you would choose to use your newfound dough.

The Cost of Getting Sick

Courtesy of www.spaweekblog.com

How I Feel This Week – Image Courtesy of http://www.spaweekblog.com

Hello readers! I know I’ve been out of touch for the past couple of days. I’ve been home sick in bed, which has resulted in numerous naps, excessive consumption of chicken soup, a trip to the doctor, three antibiotics, and a bottle of Advil. I’m thrilled that I’ve finally mustered up the energy to compose a post, and the events of the last few days have gotten me to start thinking about the cost of getting sick.

This week, as a result of my respiratory infection I’ve incurred the following expenses:

  • Visit to the Doctor, including Strep Throat Test: $15 co-pay
  • Copious amounts of fresh chicken soup: $15
  • 3 Types of antibiotics – $5 each for a total of $15
  • 1 bottle of Advil to reduce fever, shakes and sweats: $10

That comes to a grand total of $55. Certainly not too bad when you add up the amount of services and products I’ve received. I’m lucky to get sick time through my job and have a good medical plan, which really reduced my costs significantly. However, what about those of us who are uninsured, unsalaried or both? In the interest of fairness, I want to show you how much the same exact experience would have cost me if I didn’t have sick time and insurance:

  • Visit to the Doctor, including Strep Throat Test: $220
  • Copious amounts of fresh chicken soup: $15
  • 3 Types of antibiotics: $210 (estimated $70 per antibiotic, which is on the cheap side)
  • 1 bottle of Advil to reduce fever, shakes and sweats: $10
  • 3 days of lost wages @ about $300 per day of work (pre-tax): $900

Grand total of…(digital drum roll)… $1355! That is nearly 25 times the cost of getting sick while having benefits. In my opinion, the discrepancy is ridiculous! However, it reminds me of how incredibly lucky I am to have sick time and health insurance. If you aren’t as fortunate, it’s especially important for you to think about putting some money aside in an emergency fund to cover these types of expenses in the event of an unexpected illness or other emergency.

Well, it’s time for another nap, so back to bed I go. Stay healthy my friends!

 

 

Stop Putting it Off… Get Financially and Physically Fit

Cartoon courtesy of davewalkercartoons.com

Cartoon courtesy of davewalkercartoons.com

Readers, I’ve got an ugly admission to make to you today. It’s finally time for me to come clean about a little vice of mine. I love to procrastinate. I really do. There’s nothing like not doing what you should be. I relish my lazy moments of nothingness, and although I’m not exactly proud of this character flaw, it’s been a part of me for years.

It started years ago, with me putting off writing papers in high school. My skill at procrastinating only improved in college, and at this point, I’d consider myself a master of the art. However, there’s one thing that I’m making a concerted effort not to procrastinate these days: working out.

Hitting the gym is easily my favorite adult activity to procrastinate. It’s so easy to sit on the couch, especially with the excuse of blogging, instead of walking down the street to the gym for a workout.

Strangely, through the years I’ve learned that the more I work out, the more I’m in control of my personal budget, finances, and life in general. It’s an unusual relationship, but there is balance in my life between my bank accounts and my commitment to the gym. Going to the gym gives me the motivation and confidence to deal with my life, especially financially.  When I take responsibility for my health, I do so in every aspect of my life, from the physical to the financial and beyond.  As a result, the more in shape I am, the more in shape my money situation is. The less in shape I am… well, you get the idea.

Knowing this, I’ve committed to my personal and financial fitness. I’ve been hitting the gym at least 3 times per week consistently and dealing with financial challenges immediately, instead of putting them off. Hopefully I’ll reap two excellent results of this habit: it will this increase my bikini-readiness for the spring/summer, and will also help keep me motivated to stay on my personal path to financial freedom.

What do you think readers? Do you find that working out helps motivate you to take charge of your money? Do you think there is a connection between the two or is a bunch of malarky?