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.