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How To Survive On A Low Or Minimum Wage

Joanna Clare

The minimum hourly rate of pay can vary according to age group but for most adults aged 23 and over, it currently stands at £8.91 per hour. Set by the government and based on recommendations by the Low Pay Commission, it is known as the National Living Wage.

You are considered to earn a low wage if you earn less than 60% of the median annual earnings which currently stands at slightly over £31,000 for a full time worker in the UK.

Depending on everyone's different circumstances, you may also be eligible for extra benefits and there are several helpful websites which can tell you exactly what you may be entitled to and how to claim them. Try which has helpful information and links to independent benefit calculators. Alternatively you can ask your local job centre, council offices or citizens advice bureau for guidance.

Recent research showed that approximately  3.7 million people are in low paid or insecure work and approximately 2 million survive on the national minimum wage. The minimum wage is set to rise in April of this year but many families will continue to struggle and endure hardship but there are other ways to ease the pressure once you have checked benefit entitlement.

Firstly work out and write down exactly how much money you have coming in each month and then write down exactly how much your outgoings are and prioritise them, meaning that you should prioritise the essentials first e.g,  food, rent/mortgage, council tax and utility bills. Most people will have a fairly  long list of outgoings but some of these can be reduced.

Have a budget for food. Food shopping can be expensive and it is so easy to be tempted by pretty packaging and delicious aromas but these are strategically placed to make you spend more money. Do not go shopping when you are hungry, try not to go with children (who can persuade you to buy things you don't need!), make a list and stick to it, buy the supermarkets own brands and check if reduced items can be frozen as many can.

With energy bills increasing, it may be wise to see if you can save money by changing to another provider and also bear in mind that it is usually cheaper if you agree to pay by direct debit. The same goes for internet and entertainment packages as they are constantly in competition with each other.

Check all standing orders and direct debits- do any need cancelling or updating?

Can loans and repayments be consolidated? Many companies are extremely understanding of financial hardships if you are able to explain your situation and can reduce or defer payments if necessary.

Can you save on petrol or transport costs? If you can walk somewhere instead of using your car or public transport, even once a week will benefit your finances and your health.

It is crucial to realise that just because you may be on a low wage now, it does not define the rest of your working life. Be vigilant of any opportunity to progress within your own job and any further training or courses that you could apply for. Continue to apply for other roles either within your own company or different companies and do not let rejections hold you back as one day you will look back and realise that you have learned something valuable . Difficult times, which never last (although it never seems like that at the time) often teaches us an important lesson about life and ourselves.

“ I have been bent and broken, but I hope - into a better shape” ~ Charles Dickens

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