- First things first, I set aside $5 to pay back gas money for a friend who drove me to work last week. I mentally put a little bit of this check in the “saving for a car” fund. I set aside a chunk of this check for rent. I live with my boyfriend John and his parents. John and I help around the house and we pay rent every month. A couple years ago I had my own apartment, but the cost of rent has gone up so much in Durham, and my paychecks are about the same. I know a lot of other friends and workers who are living with family or even in their cars. So it’s not just me who can’t afford to be independent.
Then I go straight to the Dollar Tree and get the necessities: soap, toothbrush, canned food, pads, tampons, hand soap, and a few other things. It takes me a little while to decide whether I want to get my snack that I really like—these crunchy popcorn chips—or do I get soap. I decide I need to wash myself more than I need those chips!
My $215 check is lower than I expected. I thought my hours were going to equal up to a little bit more, but my calculations were wrong. I feel like I’m not progressing—I'm not able to do anything beyond my basic needs. And I know I’m not the only one struggling with these poverty wages.