How To Live On A Retail Wage

Boneflour’s internet guide to being poor

  1. Change your mind
  2. Count your money
  3. Imagine success
  4. Begin system changes
  5. Cut expenses
  6. Food
  7. Housing
  8. Leisure
  9. Health
  10. Debt
  11. Final Budget

If you are working retail or fast food, you’re going to be broke as shit.

If you are currently working said jobs, you know what I mean. Work all day, barely enough energy at the end of it to do chores. Spending all your time to make money, and then the money’s gone.

I’ve talked with a woman working a warehouse job. Her and her husband both work, sometimes two jobs, to pay rent, phones, two cars, and raise kids. She told me her average night of sleep was three hours. Her plan was to work 50 hour weeks with next to no sleep for a few years so they could pay off some of their debts.

What were they going to do after paying off their cars and credit cards? Buy a house!(?!)

The only thing worse than making 10 bucks an hour is being in debt up to your eyeballs on 10 dollars an hour. But people seem trapped in systems of living that keep their necks right on that wire.

This post is a way out.

And the good news is… If you’re single and debt free, you are in a much better place than that woman! You could be pocketing cash next month and building your way to a better future.

What does freedom look like to you? Maybe it is the time to sleep in during the morning, or go out on the weekend. Maybe it is having money to invest in stocks or buy nice things. Maybe you want to go to Cancun and don’t know how to swing a plane ticket working at Wal-Mart.

We are looking at two main resources here: Money and Time. The wage trap is when you spend all your time… and then spend all your money as well.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It is possible to live on 10 bucks an hour, part time at 20-24 hours a week, and have money to spare. To do this, you must become the kind of person who can live on the cheap.

Here’s how to do that.

(Basic assumptions: Making at least slightly above minimum wage, 10 bucks an hour or equivalent. Have a bank account. Student loans or massive debts make things harder, but the principles are the same.)


  • Change your mind


The mindset shift is the first step. If you see yourself as someone who ‘doesn’t think about money’ or is ‘just no good at this stuff’ then it’s over before it’s started. You must become a different person, a better version of yourself.

I used to spend everything I had as soon as I made the money.. Because I was an impulsive person who liked shiny technology. Then, I told myself “I expect to be the man of the household, right? I need to be a person who is good with money so that I can manage my family’s affairs.”

Even if your reason is “This sucks and I don’t want to live like this anymore”… find a reason.


  • Count your money


The next step is figuring out where you are right now. How much money are you making, and where does it go?

You can use a resource like to do the math for you if you like, or use a sheet of paper and your bank statements.

First, you’re gonna need to know your average take home pay for the week and your average for the month.

Next, you’re going to want to write out each bill and how much it costs. Car payment, phone payment, netflix subscription, whatever. Get a list of bills.

Then, write down and add up all the random shit you bought. Again, you should be able to put in expenses at and have it add up everything for you, or just use a sheet of paper. How much did you spend on movies, or Starbucks, or video games, or gas, or clothes?

At the end of this, you should know how much money you have coming in, and how much money you are spending. This is one of the most important things you can do, and it’s difficult enough that many people never do it. You are already ahead of the curve just doing this step.


  • Imagine success


Now you have an idea of what you’re making and where it’s going.

Take some time to figure out what living means to you. Imagine finally being able to turn off the alarm and sleep, or Steak Saturdays. What is a good situation that beats where you’re at right now?

There are a lot of ways to get more money and time out of your daily routine. Think a while on what you’re going for.

If you’re after more time, moving to a place with lower cost of living and working part time might work.

If you’re after more money, finding a full time job and swapping fast food for ham sandwiches might be a better choice.

Knowing where you’re aiming for lets you take baby steps in that direction.


  • Begin system changes


At this point, you should know how much you’re making and spending, and an idea of what you want to optimize for.

Living on a retail wage just means squeezing your expenses until they’re smaller than your income. And pocketing the difference in either time or money.

If you want time, knock your expenses down and work fewer hours.

If you want money, knock your expenses down and increase take home pay.

The rest of this list is going to be specific ways you can cut costs and save time in your life. Pick one or two things and do them for a week. Next week, do two more things. For big things like moving apartments, do one a month or something reasonable.

The goal is to adjust your lifestyle to free up time and money.


  • Cut expenses


So you know your current budget, and you know that you want more money and time. There are only two ways to live better:

  1. Money go up
  2. Expenses go down

Everything past that is variations on the theme.

With more free time or free cash, you could do some job training or take a certificate course and get a higher paying job.

First things first, have to free up some time or money. We are focusing on expenses go down.


A $5 coffee, 4 times a week = $80 a week or $960 a year. You could literally trade Starbucks for Folger’s and have enough for a vacation.

Cut your cable bill and watch Netflix. Take off Netflix and watch stuff on Hulu or YouTube. Cut out home internet and watch stuff on your phone. Get rid of Verizon and switch to Total Wireless.

Sometimes you can’t cut an expense completely. You need an energy drink to get you through night shift. That makes sense.

You don’t have to get rid of everything all at once. Find two things you spend money on every month and drop them, or even half them. Go out to eat once a week instead of three times a week, for example. This is why tracking your expenses in step one was so important.

Live near work and a grocery store if possible to save on gas/car expenses.


  • Food


So you know your budget, gotta cut expenses. Getting rid of fast food is nice and all, but what do you eat?

Answer: Food that you cook.

There are a ton of resources for simple meals to eat. When you get some time, Google ‘simple one pan meals’ or ‘crock pot recipes’.

If you don’t know how to cook, Google different steps of the process, like ‘how to cook ground beef’. You will get step by step instructions like so:

Basic kitchen equipment:

-A set of tupperware to hold leftovers

-$10 chef knife from the store,

-a wooden spoon

-a spatula

-a ladle

-a stock pot for soups

-one decent frying pan (like so:,

-a crock pot (,

-Some bowls and spoons and stuff, can get at dollar store

One pot, one pan, some utensils, and a crock pot will get you very far. They all last for decades and don’t cost too much up front.

You can cook anywhere with a crock pot. Throw everything in, push the button, 6 hours later is food time. A lot of crock pot recipes are “throw everything in the pot and push the button”

Now, I am lazy and broke. I need a lot of calories, relatively cheap, and I don’t want to spend more than 20 minutes cooking food.

Here are some recipes for easy and cheap foods that can last you like three days in leftovers at times:


Get a bag of frozen vegetables. Broccoli and carrots, mixed veggies, whatever.

Melt a half stick of butter in a pan.

Dump the veggies in the pan.

Once frozen veggies are cooked, throw a pound of ground beef in there.

Toss a seasoned salt of your choice on top.

Watch the meat go from pink to brown.

BAM, food.

That’s meat, that’s veggies. Filling, nutritious, make extra and stick it in a tupperware and there’s some fast food for ya. 20 minutes for up to three days of food.

Chicken Taco:

Taco Soup:

Cook some ground beef in a pot, throw some cans of beans and seasoning in there, bam. Works in a pot or a crock pot.

Spaghetti and meat sauce:

Spaghetti noodles (I like linguine noodles), ground beef, spaghetti sauce

Toss ground beef in a pan.

Watch it go from pink to brown.

Pour the jar of sauce on top.

Boil water, put noodles in.

Make extra and stick it in a tupperware, three days of food.

Controlling food costs:

The secret to cutting food costs is cooking at home and buying/cooking staples in bulk. A burger at a restaurant can cost 10 dollars. That’s 3 pounds of meat in my area. For ONE burger out, I can eat NINE burgers at home.

Instead of soda, drink milk, tea or even *gasp* water.

Likewise, cooking can take a lot of time if you cook fancy recipes every day with a lot of dishes. BUT, if you make a big pot of soup, that’s maybe two dishes and it’ll last you half the week!

I have a friend that makes 7 fried egg and roast beef sandwiches every Saturday so that he always has lunch for work. Batching food is a huge time saver. Make a ton all in one day, stick it in tupperwares in the fridge.

Also, the one thing you DON’T want to skimp out on is cooking oils. Butter, coconut oil and olive oils are good, canola/vegetable/soybean oil BAD JUJU

P.S. Eating ‘real food’ and not potato chips or fast food will make you feel happier and give you more energy. You save money on the food, and you save money on your medical bills too!

Apply For Programs

This should really be its own section but I’ll just stick a paragraph in each bit here.

Apply for food stamps and any other kind of benefit you can go for. It saves money and gives you a platform to save more for the future.

“But aren’t you a proud, self-sufficient man that doesn’t need govt handouts?” Absolutely, and that’s why you need to apply for these programs!

If you have ever worked and paid taxes in your life, that money is literally being used to pay child molesters to diddle kids (foster care system), pay rent for drug dealers/addicts (section 8), and bankroll your own eradication via immigration (illegals/refugees on govt aid). Take as much of it out of the system as you can. Not for your sake, for the sake of your family and friends.


  • Housing


Out of all your expenses, housing is probably the big one. As such, improving your housing situation can save a lot of money relatively easily.

Move somewhere cheaper

If you can move to an area with a lower cost of living, that’s your best bet. An apartment in Boston is gonna be $3,000. An apartment in Tulsa, Oklahoma is $800 or even less! If you are in an area with a high cost of living working in retail, you are better off finding a job away from major cities and coming back after you find a higher paying job.

Many states have apartments in smaller cities with rents closer to $400!

If you’re working at a franchise or big box retailer, you can probably apply in stores in other regions and have a job lined up before you even move.

Get a roommate

The other option is getting a roommate and splitting the cost of rent. Roommates have their own challenges, but if you can find someone you like to split a lease, that cuts your rent in half. Combine that with a lower cost of living area, and you can go from $600 a month in rent to $200 a month in rent. That’s $4800 a year in your pocket just from changing places.

Trailer parks

Another option to consider is renting a mobile home at a trailer park. This is not the most glamorous way to go, but used RVs can go for pretty cheap, and then you’re just paying for lot space and hookups. Traveling workers like nurses, welders, or even helicopter pilots will drive RVs from worksite to worksite to avoid short term rental fees.

Apply For Programs

Google your local welfare office and see if you can get housing assistance. Again, if you’re supposed to pay for bank bailouts and third world refugees, they can help with your rent. Take that money back.


  • Leisure


So after making cheap, delicious foods in bulk every week, and cutting your housing bill by moving somewhere cheaper or finding a roommate, you should start having some breathing room. Of course, many things you could do with your free time cost money. Gaming, clubbing, going to movies and restaurants can all drain your wallet rather quickly.

Controlling Leisure Costs

The trick is you want to do fun things and also don’t want to waste money. You have that trip to Tahiti budgeted out for next Spring.

So what do? Do cheap/free entertainment. Look up the cheap seats movie theater. Go hiking, or look for free festivals in the area. Steam has tons of sales on video games. Netflix and Chill. This is probably the easiest one to deal with unless you like to go clubbing every night or something. If you’re working retail and are time+money limited this might not be a category you’re spending too much on anyway.

Budget for Trips

The whole point of cutting costs and increasing time and money is to give you more space for what it is that you really want to do with your life, right? So this is actually a category that opens up at this point.

If you followed step one, Count Your Money, you know how much you’re making and how much is going out. By this point, you should be saving some money from cutting expenses in your daily life. If you want to go somewhere, pull $80 or something out into a savings account for few months and start looking for travel deals. Going to an amusement park on the off season saves you on crowds and on hotel fees.

Go With A Group

If you’re going to a convention or some event, a good way to save is to go with friends. Getting 7 people together can turn a $240/night hotel into a $34/night hotel. Many places have group discounts for tickets, too.


  • Health


Health is a major cost to many people. Every time you get sick, that’s either working while sick, or going home and missing out on income. Chronic health issues can and will make you miserable, make EVERYTHING more expensive, and generally keep you down and out.

This is a life or death situation. A 90-year old Warren Buffet would trade all of his billions to be 30 and fit again. If you can get fit, you can power through life situations that would take out other men.

Cut down on drinking/smoking/caffeine

This is a big one. If you’re drinking or smoking more than once a week, you’re spending a lot of money putting downward pressure on your health. If you’re on heroin you’re probably not reading this guide. But don’t do that either.

Lift heavy weights

Go get a decent gym membership. You’re broke and tired, so don’t worry about barbells or learning squats and deadlifts. (but if you already know how, do that) Most gyms have various machines that go up to solid amounts. Pick a weight you can just barely do 5 reps of, and when you can do 8 reps, increase the weight a notch. Once a week is great, two is awesome.

Cut sugar/grains/cheap oils/fast food

Sugar contributes to inflammation, which makes your joints hurt, makes you get sick easier, and just makes you feel shitty. After two weeks of meat and vegetables, you will notice the difference in your body. Three days in a row of TV dinners or junk food and you can feel yourself becoming miserable.

Sugar, bread, potatoes, other high carb foods, nuh uh. Anything heavy on ‘vegetable’, canola, or soybean oils, just say no.


Buy a multivitamin and maybe some vitamin C and D if you start feeling the agency. Getting your diet right is the biggest thing, and this will cover anything else.

Go to a park

Parks are great cheap dates, get you sunshine and fresh air, get you around female joggers(!) and are just generally a good idea. Pick a couple days a month, or whenever you feel like getting drunk at the bar.

Comfy shoes

Most retail/lowish wage jobs are done on your feet. Standing around on your feet all day will destroy you, especially if you are in some uncomfortable foot coffins. Get some comfy shoes. The heavy padded ones sometimes mess up your posture, so try a couple pairs. You will spend a lot of your waking life in shoes, make sure they are comfortable!

Lay on the floor

Sitting or standing around hurts your back and will lead to injuries down the line. Lay on your back on a hard floor for 15 minutes ish. Try for once a day.

Sleep mask

The time not spent sitting or standing is gonna be spent sleeping. This is another area where you spend too much time to bother with cheap shit. Find a great pillow and figure out if you like hard or soft beds, maybe try a mattress topper.

Also, yeah, sleep mask. Maybe even ear plugs if you have renters upstairs. Blocking extra light helps you sleep deeper and more restful, and likewise blocking noises in the night. Sleep is how your body heals from damage, not getting enough will grind you down.


  • Debt



Seriously! Don’t do debt as a broke dude. Don’t buy a house, don’t rent a sectional couch, don’t finance your dresser, don’t put anything on a credit card. Student loans are bunk but sometimes a necessary evil. If you have to have a degree, put two years into a community college and do a local university. STEM or medical or something with a return on investment.

Go bankrupt

If you have a shit ton of credit card debt, go bankrupt. One of the things that can happen during this process is everyone you owe money to suddenly only wants 10% of it and will slash your monthly payment for you as well. Or you give up some junk and get to start over. If you have student loans though, you’re fucked, at least in the US.

Pay Down One Debt At A Time

If you have some heavy debt you can’t get out of, knuckle down and throw everything you saved from the previous steps into knocking down the highest interest loan, and then the next highest, until you’re free.


  • Working Example of $10/hr budget for 24 hour week


At 24 hours a week (part time)

$10/hr = 240/week = 960/month

Call it 850/month after taxes (you get a good bit back at end of year.)

$480/month rent ($480 / 1br – 630ft2 – Walk-In Closets, Outdoor Grill, Fire Pit)

$100/month utilities (electric, water, etc.)

$160/month food = $40/week = 7-8 pounds of 80/20 ground beef, couple bags of frozen veg, some pasta or rice and beans to pad it out. Bland but solid.

$50/month basic smartphone with data + wireless hotspot

$40/month gas

$850 total

On this one, you’re riiight at the wire and have no padding for sudden expenses. You also will have to cut into food or electricity to buy toothpaste and clothing. But you have a lot of free time to build a hustle and find alternate income.

At this level of income, you probably qualify for a couple kinds of govt. assistance. If you can get food stamps, that’s $70-$120 surplus. If you get a roommate and split utilities and rent, that’s $300 surplus, enough breathing room to start some savings.

Both of those and you’re looking at $400 a month to sock away while only working part time.

Working Example of $10/hr budget for 36 hour week

At 36 hours a week (part time)

$10/hr = 360/week = 1440/month

Call it 1300/month after taxes (you get a good bit back at end of year.)

$480/month rent ($480 / 1br – 630ft2 – Walk-In Closets, Outdoor Grill, Fire Pit)

$100/month utilities (electric, water, etc.)

$160/month food = $40/week = 7-8 pounds of 80/20 ground beef, couple bags of frozen veg, some pasta or rice and beans to pad it out. Bland but solid.

$50/month basic smartphone with data + wireless hotspot

$40/month gas

Total: $850/month

450/month surplus straight off with this one! Give it a year and you have enough money for a moderate mileage sedan or (insert purchase here).

Every two years you work, you can live for one year on savings. Put that money in a growth account or a Vanguard fund and that money could go even farther.

With a roommate splitting bills and utilities, you could be pocketing 750/month cash, AND whatever you get end of year in your tax return!

Many people are here right now but 100% of that surplus gets spent on fast food, movies, booze, dates, video games, etc. etc.

In other words, if you already have a $10 job and are full time, all you have to do is write down your budget and stop buying the stuff draining off all that surplus!

In Conclusion:

So now you have a step by step guide to follow. You know how to make and balance a budget, how to trim expenses, how to eat good food on the cheap, and how to have fun in the sun for basically free. Do ONE step every other weekend, and in a year you will be on the road to power and freedom.

May your journey of a thousand miles begin with this single step.

About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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12 Responses to How To Live On A Retail Wage

  1. bicebicebice says:

    the trick to being poor is putting in effort to be poor and rich is the opposite except you put no effort into being rich, i knew people who prided themselves on downloading everything and now spends 200+ of your american dollars every month to stream because “it is comfortable and you get to see the new (pozz)-show before everyone else”. apply the same think to everything else. knew because such retardation is violence to me

    do like the politicans and put your money in offshore accounts and physical gold buried in the woods, own nothing on paper. it also helps that all good games/movies/litterature/etc have already been written and are free if you own a computer. good luck

  2. bicebicebice says: I think (know) that sum in the country would be (is) worth 6million times the money than living in the big Shitty.

  3. Obadiah says:

    Great guide in general tbh for anyone who is ballin’ on a less-than-exemplary budget.

  4. Mr. T. says:

    That crock pot tip hopefully will be worth trying; I’ll be getting one now. Will try wearing a sleep mask as well.

  5. bicebicebice says:

    Mr. T. says:
    February 19, 2019 at 7:52 am

    I actually got one for christmas, the whateverthefuckyoucallit that is not part of the electric pot goes nicely in to the oven with no stickage, so I just use that with the lid

  6. Boneflour says:

    Glad people are getting some use outta this thing.

    We do a lot of roasts and stews in the crock pot. Hunk of meat, some broth, seasoning packet or your own stuff if you’re fancy, throw in some chopped carrots taters and celery… that’s dinner.

  7. Obadiah says:

    “Work all day, barely enough energy at the end of it to do chores. Spending all your time to make money, and then the money’s gone.”

    “America is a scam.”
    –Someone with more IQ points than me

  8. Obadiah says:

    The whole world is a scam though tbh.

  9. bicebicebice says: sapes will fight for their right to sape, they are miserable creatures that are born blackpilled. the only way to help a sape to be happy is to provide rape cannibalism loincloths spears and medalions made of neckbones, which we actually did in the west, in the uk you can buy kebobs with human meat in them (h/t brittish girls).

    “The whole world is a scam though tbh.” thats just because we live in a society, join a secret civilization and not a globohomogoygayplexjew secret society.

  10. Glenn MT says:

    Late comment, but here’s a few tips for cheap eating for anyone still reading

    Beef is on the slightly more expensive side of meats. Ground turkey is a decent, cheap replacement if a recipe calls for it. Beef liver is not cheap by the pound but is so overloaded with nutrients that it can fill in some gaps in an imperfect diet. Chicken is generally cheaper than any of these other meats.

    Eggs, rice, and bananas are all dirt cheap, filling, and fairly healthy. Sunflower kernels are another filling and healthy snack that could sometimes be cheap, depending on where you get it. Forget about recipes; just cook piles of cheap and filling food.

    Green tea is pretty cheap, is the best antioxidant source out there (AFAIK), and is recommended for people who are taking shortcuts in their nutrition in order to save money.

  11. Boneflour says:

    Green tea is a great idea, all good stuff. I agree other meats will do the trick and are cheaper, I’m just biased on the side of beef as the One True Meat.

  12. PhPh says:

    One day some guy who can’t afford to go to the dentist because of a toothache will do a mass shooting.

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