Why Working Two Jobs Isn’t Enough

by Amanda DeShazo on August 11, 2014 · 12 comments

Editor’s note: The following guest post is authored by Amanda DeShazo. Join the conversation about this issue on Twitter using #RaiseTheWage.

President Obama’s proposal to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour would benefit 28 million hardworking Americans and I’m one of them. My name is Amanda DeShazo, I live in Tacoma, Washington and I have two jobs. Currently I work as a sales associate at a retail store making $9.84 an hour and as a server to support myself and pay off my student loans.

Growing up with a single mom, it was sometimes a struggle to buy the basic necessities. When I wanted to go to college, my mom told me we didn’t have the money to pay for my education. I had to work and take out loans to pay for everything – my classes, books, housing, food – all the basic necessities every incoming freshman needs to get by. When graduation rolled around, it was during the height of the recession — I wasn’t able to find a job. I knew I couldn’t waste much time looking for work – paying off my student loans was my top priority.

But even though I have two jobs, it’s barely enough to get by.

Money is always tight. My car needs a new battery and I have been putting it off because I just can’t afford it. It’s necessary for me to buy one in order to get to my jobs but the cost of the battery is about $100 dollars, and since I don’t have enough extra cash at the moment, I can’t buy it. My car hasn’t died yet, but I know that it’s going to happen soon, and then I will probably have to buy a battery on credit, and add more to my debt! It’s a never ending cycle.

This past weekend was my boyfriend’s birthday, and all of the extra money I had went to getting him a gift and to take him out to dinner. I am constantly running in to issues like this, especially when the holidays come around. I have to budget and sometimes buy less food for the week if I know that I need to purchase something ahead of time.

Working around the clock, I also have to miss important events, especially birthdays or other holidays. My jobs require me to work holidays and weekends and I consider myself lucky if I get to have a holiday off to spend with my family. I couldn’t tell you how many birthdays or Thanksgivings I have had to give up because of my work schedule.

An increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would allow me to work only one job and remain financially stable.   With the extra money in my pocket, it would be a relief knowing that I wouldn’t have to work as much. More importantly I could finally stop having to make difficult decisions like choosing between paying my rent or paying my student loans on time.

 

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Greg August 11, 2014 at 7:39 pm

If .26 cents per hour will enable you to quit one job you have not done the math on your 9.84 per hour job. If the second job is minimum wage the 10.10 will still leave you short.

2 Will August 11, 2014 at 8:25 pm

If your $9,84 hrly goes up to $10,10 hrly, it is an increase of $0.26 less than 3%. I do not believe that will replace either job. If you are still in school, consider an employer that offers tuition assistance. UPS, Walmart and the national guard come to mind.

I hope this helps
Best wishes

Will

3 Alan August 11, 2014 at 9:32 pm

“When I wanted to go to college, my mom told me we didn’t have the money to pay for my education. I had to work and take out loans to pay for everything – my classes, books, housing, food – all the basic necessities every incoming freshman needs to get by. When graduation rolled around, it was during the height of the recession — I wasn’t able to find a job.”

Where is it written that you must take out a student loan if your parents can’t help you pay for college? There is a concept of paying for college as you go. It may take longer, but at least you will emerge with little to no debt. And there are ways to reduce your expenses during that time. Maybe that means you go to a Community College the first two years, and maybe that means you go to the closest public university to you so you can live at home instead of paying for student housing. But it’s wrong to demand that the government force a business to pay you more money per hour so you can pay off your bad judgment.

———-

“Money is always tight. My car needs a new battery and I have been putting it off because I just can’t afford it. It’s necessary for me to buy one in order to get to my jobs but the cost of the battery is about $100 dollars, and since I don’t have enough extra cash at the moment, I can’t buy it. My car hasn’t died yet, but I know that it’s going to happen soon, and then I will probably have to buy a battery on credit, and add more to my debt! It’s a never ending cycle.

“This past weekend was my boyfriend’s birthday, and all of the extra money I had went to getting him a gift and to take him out to dinner. I am constantly running in to issues like this, especially when the holidays come around.”

Priorities, people. If you have a boyfriend who can’t understand that you need to pay to get a new car battery instead of buying him a birthday dinner and present, then you need a new boyfriend. And if your family and friends don’t understand that your financial situation right now prevents you from being able to buy them gifts, then you’ve got some selfish family and friends.

As nice as it would be to buy everyone gifts all the time, your car battery is more important. If it dies, you could very well end up losing one or both jobs. And then what will you do? Demand that the government pay your expenses because you felt it was more important to buy people gifts instead of fixing your car?

———-

“Working around the clock, I also have to miss important events, especially birthdays or other holidays. My jobs require me to work holidays and weekends and I consider myself lucky if I get to have a holiday off to spend with my family. I couldn’t tell you how many birthdays or Thanksgivings I have had to give up because of my work schedule.”

Welcome to that wonderful thing called life. There are many people who only work one job who have missed birthdays and Thanksgivings. I once missed three Thanksgivings in a row because the grocery store I worked for always scheduled me for that day. I’ve missed Mother’s Days, Father’s Days…. heck, I even once celebrated my own birthday two months late because of a job. That’s life. Yes, it sucks. But it happens.

———-

“An increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would allow me to work only one job and remain financially stable.”

This really needs to be explained. You already stated that you’re making $9.84/hour at the retail store, and the server job you have must, by Washington law, pay you $9.32/hour no matter how much in tips you make. If you aren’t earning enough money with two $9+ jobs now, there is no way you will earn enough money with just one $10+ job. After all, that’s only a $0.26/hour raise at the retail job and a $0.78/hour raise at the restaurant job.

The whole premise of your blog entry to raise the minimum wage to $10.10/hour is faulty in at least three ways:

1) The proposed increase is not going to allow you to quit one of your jobs and still be able to pay your monthly expenses.

2) Missing birthdays and holidays is a part of life. Hopefully one day you will have a job that allows you to make every single birthday and holiday. But it’s not a good reason to demand that the government force businesses to pay you more money.

3) It’s not the government’s job to force businesses to pay you more money because of your own bad judgment in the past. You made the decision to take on the student loans. The consequences that resulted from that decision are yours alone.

4 Sharon August 12, 2014 at 10:20 am

Ms. DeShazo could benefit from looking into options of repaying her student loans that would result in a reduction in her monthly payment. If the loans are through the Federal Subsidized or Unsubsidized loan program there are options for low-income workers to repay the loans over a longer period of time based on their income or on a graduated repayment schedule. From her listed income, she is currently paying about 37.5% of her income towards student loan repayment, but this figure could be reduced to allow for savings and necessary repairs to her vehicle.

5 M Metcalf August 12, 2014 at 11:19 am

This woman is doomed to a life of poverty. She’s wasted five years because when she graduated “at the height of the depression” (that was 5 years ago) she “couldn’t waste much time looking for work”…THAT WAS YOUR PRIORITY SWEETIE! Once you got your education (congratulations), you should have concentrated your efforts at finding a job that matched your educational background, so you could have a wage that isn’t the minimum. You can’t afford a battery for your car, yet you took your boyfriend out to dinner and got him a birthday gift? Who makes these stories up? This is such drivel! You expect us to believe that going from $9.84/hour to $10.10 will allow you to “work only one job and remain financially stable…” It’s all up to you Princess, your Prince is vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard…and you’re doomed.

6 ertdfg August 12, 2014 at 11:48 am

“I work as a sales associate at a retail store making $9.84 an hour”
“An increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would allow me to work only one job and remain financially stable. ”

Really?

9.84 * 1.03 = 10.135… so a 3% raise would net you more than $10.10 or you’re demanding a less than 3% raise.

A raise of less than 3% would let you quit one of your two jobs?
I’m guessing your degree isn’t in mathematics or any related math-centric field.

7 John Crabtree August 12, 2014 at 5:03 pm

This is a complete lie. $315 for rent and $35 for utilities? C’mon! Who is the idiot DOL hired to write this? They should be fired immediately!

8 Rachel King August 12, 2014 at 5:05 pm

You guys are stupid if you think people actually believe this bull! DOL and Obama both suck!

9 Tvgardener August 15, 2014 at 10:49 am

There are many stories like this one to raise the minimum wage. But the minimum wage is an interim wage, meaning it is meant to be a wage for first-time, unskilled workers and not a wage to live the rest of your life earning. You state you have a degree but you are not utilizing it. Is it because those working in the restaurant industry typically earn $20-30 per hour with tips, which means you are earning more than most young wage earners. And the math doesn’t add up. Where are your tips in this equation? If you only make $1200 per month at $9.84 per hour, you are only working 3 weeks per month! Boy, I sure would like to have my wages raised so I could afford to work just 3 weeks out of every 4!
The only thing raising the minimum wage will accomplish is raising the cost of living. That egg you ate for breakfast will be more expensive because the person farming the grain to feed the chicken will get paid more, and the person driving the truck to get it to the store, the stock clerk at the store and the checkout clerk will all need to be paid more. The money won’t just magically appear to make the payroll. So the cost of the goods will need to be increased. If you took any kind of economics in college, you’d know that’s the way the system works. So what good will it do to raise the minimum wage when all the goods you buy increase in cost along with it? People need to think this through. Not only will products cost more, people will lose their jobs in the service industries and your time to be waited on will increase because employers won’t be able to afford as many employees. How can people be so uneducated to believe raising the minimum wage is a good idea?

10 Matt August 15, 2014 at 5:05 pm

If she’s in such need, why have a cell phone and take her boyfriend a gift and out to eat. Those are lux items that’s not needed….. ok, so a phone might be..how about a prepaid phone with limited minutes just until other bills are paid down. Sales associate making $9.84 and working a server…would that not be making over the $10.10/hr she wants? Hmmm..you do the math.

11 Melanie Gray August 15, 2014 at 5:11 pm

The first thing that comes to my mind is as follows: If you can’t pay back your student loans, why are you buying your boyfriend a present and taking him out to dinner????
You say you spent “all of your extra money on buying him a gift and taking him out to dinner.”Maybe you and your boyfriend need to cook at home and save some money….

If the government would allow economics to work this out, you would get a wage increase without the government telling employers they HAVE to pay a certain wage.

I don’t buy your story. I had to do it the hard way….why now should it be different?

12 AR August 16, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Well Amanda, I am glad for you.
I hope things get better and you become successful in life.
I don’t know where you live, but where I live the rent is as little as, (from what we have found, in three years), 850.00 monthly and about 1100.00 or more.
Making 10.00 an hour doesn’t get much especially with children and all the daily I expenses. not to mention a sick daughter and my grandchildren to help raise.
I see you are fortunate to be able to save 60.00 well hope to someday say I can afford that. They say to save for retirement. well all I know is that I tried going back to school and they are giving me a rash of S***, putting barriers in front of me and this will be the second time I go to college, just to have to pay back loans I know I will probably won’t be able to pay off before i pass away. Especially since i have to raise my grandchildren. (well that is a totally different story) I was hoping to be able to be retired by now. But well only God know why I am in this situation. Sometimes I wish I would have depended on food stamps or any kind of government assistance. Then I would not feel as tired as i am and after all my injuries from working several jobs, because my ex never really paid child support. (He had the US Marin Corp in his side).

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