Flights of Fancy Mom

I'm a mom with dreams.  I want to live my life with no boundaries.  One day at a time.

Working Just To Live

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The American Dream of our parents day is not the American Dream of our day. Once upon a time, people were able to sufficiently live on one income. Back in the later 40’s after the war, the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and some of the 80’s. Dad went to work, mom stayed home and kept the house clean and dinner on the table. Homework done before the kids went out to play. These days you cannot survive on less than two incomes. Unless you have a great paying job. But, let us focus today, on those that do not have great paying jobs. Those who are WORKING just to LIVE. Those are our:

  • Entry level workers
  • Fast food workers
  • Convenience store workers
  • Janitorial staff

These workers, unless they’ve been working someplace for years. And sometimes not even then, are not able to afford housing costs, let alone utilities and food. Did you know, when the minimum wage was set up in the 1930’s, it was meant to be a LIVING wage? People were able to survive on that salary. People paid their rent/mortgage, buy food, and their utilities on that salary. If you made more than the minimum wage, you were sitting pretty.

So, what prompted me to write this post? I recently read a story about a woman who was pregnant, she worked as a home healthcare nurse. She signed on with Uber to make extra money but ended up even more broke. The day she went into labor, she bought a scratch-off ticket, hoping to win $777. Instead of being able to focus on the joy of her child’s birth, she was scratching off a ticket hoping to win money. Because she had no money to bring this child into the world. Her job in the home healthcare field had cut back her hours, which is why she went to Uber to earn money.

Now, before people go on a rant that she should never have gotten pregnant if she couldn’t afford it. The pregnancy was a joyous surprise. She always thought she couldn’t get pregnant. She moved out of her apartment and moved in with her mom. This woman is a prime example of people working just to live. Doing what we have to, to survive and pay our bills. Nothing extra. We are not meant to live this way.

Working Just To Live

This started changing around the 80’s and into the 90’s. Mom’s started working because families could no longer afford to live on one salary. Divorce was becoming more common, so moms were starting to work more than one job just to get by. Maybe earn a little extra so little Johnny or Susie could do extracurricular activities.

Now, in 2017, it’s common place for people to work more and more. And don’t get me wrong, there are MANY ways that we can earn money. We no longer go from one brick and mortar building to the next. We can come home and earn money from our computers. But, we are still working just to live. Minimum wage is no longer viewed as a “living wage”. People say those types of jobs are meant for teenagers. They are not meant to be career jobs. But, in fact, a minimum wage job was intended to let you live on that salary as an adult.

There are people who cannot get better paying jobs. You have those with disabilities and cannot become a chemist or an engineer. Those with Autism, Down Syndrome or those who are slow learners. They cannot help the hand they were dealt. If they are able to work, should they be forced into poverty? No, they should be proud that they have a job. Not beat down because they can’t afford to live on their own. Forced to still depend on people for help.

The article of that woman scratching off a lottery ticket, hoping to bring in some money, instead of enjoying the birth of her child struck a chord with me. Prompting this post. It made me angry that we live in a society that this is the norm. It made me angry that my child will most likely grow into something worse. There is nothing political in my agenda here. This is society and business driven. Cost of living has increased, but our salaries have not. Businesses do not have the loyalty to their workers as they used to. Therefore, employees no longer have loyalty to the companies they work for. Businesses have the mindset of “Do not ask what your company can do for you. Ask what you can do for your company”.

This is something that we need to get out there. Bring awareness to businesses that this is not ok. We may be employees, but we deserve respect and should have salaries that we can live on. That we should not be working just to live. Salaries that allow us to enjoy a vacation away from home. Salaries that allow us a drink at Starbucks, or a night out with friends. Businesses in other countries have time that allows employees time away from work. Check out my post on where the US ranks for vacations.

For myself, I worked a full-time job. Recently laid off, but I worked 40 – 50 hour weeks. Came home and worked on my freelance business to earn extra money. I can hustle with the best of them at this point. I’ll do anything that allows me to earn extra money to put towards the car my teen may get this summer. I earn money to pay for braces. But, I do put aside some money that allows me to go out with friends or on vacation. Otherwise? What is the point? I don’t believe we are meant to work, come home, work, come home.

What do you do that allows you a little extra spending money to enjoy those extras? Do you feel that times have changed and that maybe the minimum wage is no longer a living wage? Do you know anyone who is working just to live? Comment below, or stop over on my Facebook page and share your story!

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. An example of me trying to do more than working just to live.


  1. Tamara

    I really think I used to be working just to live. Sometimes I forget that it’s changed? My husband works in an office and I am a photographer/blogger. I have certainly had my share of ups and downs and interesting jobs over the years!
    I think this is an awesome thought-provoking post.

  2. Sapana V

    Even I too wonder the same. It is really hard to manage everything in single salary. If we have to live and enjoy then it is must that both parents should work.
    Sapana V recently posted…Top 5 Baby Carriers in India for Around Rs 500My Profile

  3. Paula Schuck

    This post really makes you think about how hard it can be to survive on a single income. Working to be able to live is hard when you can’t afford any extras. It’s really upsetting, living in a society that can’t take a second to enjoy important moments of their lives because they are too busy wondering where their next pay check is going to come from and praying it will pay the bills sufficiently.

  4. Jenn

    Ugh! I can relate to so much of this blog post. I was a single mom and worked two jobs for five years. We lived pay check to pay check, at best. Now, years later I try to save, and do better. We live a lot better, and have a second daughter to support. I agree that vacations are really important if you can swing it. Life just goes by so fast.

  5. Kerri Olkjer

    Ha, ha, love the disclaimer at the bottom!! My husband lost his job right before Thanksgiving and was out of work for 3 months. I stay home with kids and blog, but had let my blogging business slide quite a bit. Boy, did I hustle like crazy. He has a new job now, but we’re still trying to catch up. It’s tough.

  6. lisalisa

    I know a few people that are working just to live, I use to be that way also. I think it is very important to be able to enjoy life afer all before long it will pass you buy,

  7. lisalisa

    I know a lot of people who are working just to live , I remember that use to be me…work, work, work,! Now, I’ve learned to live, and to be honest I wish I had learned earlier because life really do go by fast! It is tough though that’s for sure.

  8. Jocelyn

    Man. That graphic is speaking to me. I think most of us live to work in the US today. Everyone is climbing the corporate ladder, looking for the next promotion , the next pay bump. We only get one life and if you don’t stop and look around, eventually, you’ll miss it.

  9. Chloe

    I love this post, it speaks to me on so many levels. It makes me incredibly sad that we are working to live, working to have food on the table, working just to keep a roof over our head. How wonderful it would be if we could all work in an industry that we loved and work was a place we could go to further our skills and knowledge. Hopefully one this is a reality…we can dream!

  10. Kiwi

    Ironically I just read about that horrific story of the woman who went into debt for Uber. So sad and it proves that minimum isnt a living wage anymore, its a way to keep you stuck and America is making it so much harder for people to survive. It breaks my heart because many people could live on one income comfortable back in the day and we work too hard to barely survive in the country anymore…its not right. America is supposed to be the leader of the free world, I dont know how longer we can keep up that reputation properly.

  11. MissJHENZ

    On my end, well this is reality, we really need to work to live, for everyday expenses and to pay the bills. At the end of the day, once or twice we might think life is unfair or everything revolves around money concern – wherein somehow truly it is, but what matters is, let’s live life the way we want it in one way or another and lets just stick to simple lifestyle – thats where happiness is 🙂
    MissJHENZ recently posted…Pedro ‘N Coi Encounter At Sta Lucia East Grand MallMy Profile

  12. Ali Rost

    You’re right .. it’s so hard to make it on one salary alone these days. Especially if that job pays minimum wage. Not to mention if life throws you for a loop in any way. The resources simply aren’t there to handle a large event like an illness .. car repair .. etc. It’s so heartbreaking for me to see

  13. candy

    I still know several family who live on one income. They don’t eat out, have expensive worldly things. Live simply and their large family is happy. They grow most of their own food. I do understand what you are saying about the 2 income jobs. Getting education is key.

  14. Jeanette

    My husband and I both work, but I am part time. Any extra money we get goes into the savings or to the travel fun. I’m a firm believer that you do need to have fun in life even if it’s not going to be extravagant.

  15. Mimi Green

    This story applies to a lot of people. Minimum wage needs to be adjusted based on its origination. That is not enough money to live on. I live in the D.C. area and it is expensive to live here.
    Mimi Green recently posted…A New WordPress App Update, Designed for the iPadMy Profile

  16. robin rue

    I was a single mom there for a while and now looking back -I don’t know how I did it. It’s HARD to get by on one income.

  17. Bites for Foodies

    My husband’s pay is very sporadic, so I’m the one with the full-time permanent job – and it’s a good one too. By the same token, I feel like I’m a slave to my job and I am only doing it for the money. It is no longer my passion and sometimes I feel trapped!

  18. Christy Maurer

    Times have definitely changed. The cost of living keeps going up and wages don’t go up enough to counteract that. It is sad that most of us just make enough to get by.
    Christy Maurer recently posted…Happy National Pet Day from My Pets to YoursMy Profile

  19. Chrishelle Ebner

    Times have definitely changed. My husband and I both work full time at professional jobs and we still have to find ways to make extra money. I put in over time as often as I can and he takes freelance design jobs. Last year I also started a blog hoping to generate a little income.

  20. Pam Wattenbarger

    That is so sad about the lady trying to win the scratch off on the day she gave birth. I know lots of people who are struggling.

  21. Danik

    This is crazy days now, you can’t bring up a child and survive on one wage. The cost of living has gone up all over the world and everyone is getting poorer at the same time.
    Danik recently posted…Northern Lights Chasing with Aurora HolidaysMy Profile

  22. Jenn @ EngineerMommy

    For many people, going to work is a chore. It’s rare that someone finds a job that they truly love and enjoy. It’s a wonderful experience when that happens.

  23. Bella

    It is scary how hard people need to work these days just to get by. I am fortunate enough to only work one job but know what it is like to do 3.

  24. Marysa

    I feel like we are always working, it is hard to get ahead with finances. It can be frustrating, but hopefully it pays off.

  25. Jeanine

    I can relate. Right now my blog is our big income and while it’s going good right now… who knows. We all just work to live I think, but I’d like to do more. My husband works 2 days a week he scaled back to help me with my work and the family.

  26. My Teen Guide

    This is our reality. It seems it gets difficult every day to just live! Having to worry about making both ends meet can cause anxiety real bad. I cannot even think of a solution to resolve this. I guess we have to leave it to the government to mandate businesses to increase wages.

  27. Rebecca Swenor

    Kudos for you posting a great topic. This is something that so many people including myself are living through. No matter what you try you can’t get ahead on what you make so you pick up extra jobs here and there just to survive. I do believe that minimum wage today is not enough to live off. Thanks so much for spreading awareness of this problem for so many of us in today’s world.

  28. Heather

    I completely agree with you! My husband and I have entertained the idea of off gridding it. Living in an RV and traveling from place to place doing temp work just to live again and have less expenses. Our only holdback of doing this right now, is that my kids need schooling. I could homeschool but I don’t want them to fall behind, yet even schooling and the pressures put on kids these days upset me greatly. We are setting them up already in school to hate life. Something needs to change!!

  29. Debra Hawkins

    I totally get this! It can be so hard to live paycheck to paycheck, There are so many little things we have tried to bring in a little extra.

  30. Farrah

    This is a wonderful topic. Entry level workers are some of the hardest, yet underpaid workings I know. My mother in law is raising one of our nieces (mom is a deadbeat) and is in her 50’s delivering pizzas.

  31. Sueanne

    I have become a Plexus Ambassador and are loving it. Feels great to help others in their health journey. Also the best compensation plan in the market. It’s so rewarding and has changed our life.


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