Christmas on minimum wage

For some of us Christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year but one filled with anxiety, overwhelm and dread. As we watch other people fly home to families for Christmas and consumers buy gifts personalised for their loved ones we start to crumble inside.
I can’t afford to go home this year and I can’t afford to buy anyone any exciting expensive presents either. Maybe you’re in the same boat as I am, trying to scoop up the water in a tiny bucket only to have it rushing back in again sinking you down into the depths.

It just feels as though you can never get ahead with your finances because everything is so freaking expensive and then there’s rent to pay as well! Barely getting by each week with minimal savings is the life of over 40% of the Australian population with a lot of people in credit card debt, Afterpay and Zippay debt and other forms of debt that make us depressed.

I’m currently reading a book called “The Sleep Revolution” all about the power of sleep and would you believe it the people who get the lest amount of sleep are those who are financially poor or from low socio-economic backgrounds, they also have highly rates of depression and anxiety. How thrilling!

Poverty can be like a fucking disease, following you from generation to generation without ever breaking the chain. And when you’re in this constant state you start to become a minimalist automatically, not buying things out of the fact that you can’t. But it’s not about wants and needs its about not being able to buy those basic needs. Barely affording rent each week, living on rice and noodles because it’s cheapest, never ever going out anywhere because with what money are you going to buy a $30 dollar meal?
Never being able to shout a round of drinks and looking like a total scab, never being able to fill up your car to the maximum, pay your insurance in full each year. The list goes on so I’ll stop because it’s not fun listing all the negatives.

And then after you have struggled all year Christmas comes around, rearing it’s bright fluorescent lights with promises of everything you’ve ever wanted. If you have kids it’s ten times worse because in our culture “Santa buys everything.” So young kids grow up with no concept of money and how expensive things are because mum and dad don’t buy the presents…. Santa does. And we all continue merrily with this lie making excuses like, “Maybe Santa will get that.” Or, “Santa might not have much left, he might not be able to get it.”
And the child is like, “what are you talking about? Santa can get ANYTHING!”

It breaks my heart to witness those conversations at work and also makes me think about the lie we tell ourselves about Christmas.
If I ask myself what Christmas is truly about, it’s about a family coming together. I think we know this deep down, we know that that is what it is truly all about. Yet we continue to buy luxurious presents that hurt our finances, well at least you do when you’re on minimum wage. We buy BIG Christmas trees and decorations for once a year use or god forbid one time use (please don’t invest in one time use decorations, it’s so incredibly wasteful financially and for the environment).

I live interstate now and flights home and then renting a car will cost half a grand or more that I just don’t have this year and it twists my soul inside something awful. But I know that when I do come home for Christmas one year my family will not care about presents they will just care that I am there and that’s what it’s all about.

Creativity with gifts is always a great option especially with the amount of rubbish accumulated in the holiday season. 73 billion tonnes in Australia.

Making personalised gifts that cost next to nothing or even sneaky re-gifting things that you no longer use or have never used is a great way to achieve Christmas on minimum wage.

But the honest truth is that it’s all about perspective and owning your shit. Yes we’re on minimum wage so how do we change that? Are our circumstances going to change in the next year?
For me the answer is yes because I will have finished my second degree and working a full-time job with all new things to complain about. I laugh at myself because this time next year I won’t be complaining about money I will probably be complaining about having no free time and write a blog post about it!

Will your circumstances change and how can you change them? Can you go enrol in higher education to become more qualified and achieve better pay, can you simply go find another job in your industry with more hours, can you freelance?

Christmas on minimum wage opens up all these deep questions that require deep intentional answers without judgement or negative energy. Please don’t make the mistake of planning for the future with judgement, resentment or negative intentions because it’s an awful form of self-sabotage.

Merry Christmas to all my fellow minimum wage workers! And all those babes struggling to make ends meet, we got this!

– Haley



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