Introducing Our Protagonist
I’ve decided to take a stab at what it looks like to enter the workforce and independent living as an average unskilled high school graduate in Minneapolis today. By the numbers; in practical, real terms in the conditions as they exist today. Our protagonist is a 19 year old male, high school graduate, in Minneapolis Minnesota. Two suitcases to his name, no previous work experience, not on a post-secondary educational track.
What actually comes out of a weekly check at $15 hour? Our protagonists baseline income (gross) is $600/week. He will live paycheck to paycheck. These numbers are derived from a physical paystub of an employee of Atlas Staffing, placed in a $15hr job as a dishwasher.
40 Hours a week at $15hr = $600 week, gross. [$31,200.00 year]
MN Income tax - 2.70% or $16.20
Fed Income Tax - 2.41% or $14.46
eFICA - 6.20% or $37.20
eMed - 1.45% or $8.70
Total - 12.76% or $76.56
Net Weekly Income
$600 - $76.56 = $523.44
Now we are going to put some parameters on this, we are going to assume that one is starting fresh. Our demonstration is not going to saddle the protagonist with variables like addiction or coming through transitional housing or any of the other factors that can come into play. The subject is a fresh faced kid loosed upon the world without being all fucked up on substances or other hangups. That is a whole other data set that can and will be explored here later.
Let's start doing a budget. What are the expenses? Food, shelter, transportation, housekeeping. How is our protagonist going to establish himself and get by?
in weekly take-home pay.
First, housing. This example is right about average. For example purposes we are going to use a one bedroom unit at the Southsider Apartments. An average market rate unit near the Light Rail Transit, and by extension complete public transportation system.
Operating Budget - $2,093.76 month.
Rent - $1,313.00 month.
Utilities - $80-$140 month average. [Based on a conversation with the leasing office.]
Let’s just peg it at $140.00 month.
Revised Operating Budget - $640.76 month, $160.19 week, $22.88 day.
(there will be the occasional 5 Friday month, we'll get to that later) You have a job and a place to live.
Now, transportation. This part sucks. Because the temp agency found the protagonist a dishwasher job, but it's over in SE Mpls. 2nd shift. 2:30pm-11:00pm. He does not have a car or bike, public transportation it is. Even worse, for the trip home, you have to walk 20 minutes to the bus stop, because the line that gets you there doesn't run at 11:00pm. This is going to cost him $4 a day, in transit. $20 per week.
Revised Operating Budget -$620.76 month, $140.19 week, $18.88 day.
Our protagonist has established his fixed income and expenses to operate.
Operating Budget [Payroll Net] – 100%
Housing Cost – 57.89%
Utilities Cost – 6.17%
Transportation Cost – 3.53%
Base Expenditures – 67.59% [$18,396.00]
Operational Cost of Living [net] Remaining – 32.41% [$7,289.88 cash in pocket, year]
It is at this point our protagonist begins living week-to-week, paycheck-to-paycheck. He has housing, employment, and transportation established. We are operating him under the assumption that he has set these expenditures aside, and we are now operating at Day Zero, available balance of first check in hand. This by necessity grants a “mulligan” week of sorts, laboratory setting benefit of this demonstration. Day Zero – Empty apartment and $140.18 cash in pocket. Day 1 begins at 10:00 hours, January 1, 2023. It’s a Sunday. Our protagonist works Tuesday-Saturday.
Next - Time and Place