Nickel and Dimed: A Biased Experiment

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The book Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, she stated that it is impossible to live off of one minimum wage paycheck. Points being, that she is being paid to little, not enough benefits, rude management, and not enough hours. Working at Mcdonalds, cleaning services, and walmart, ect. all have something in common. All having a high workload and lower pay, because of this, many struggle to make ends meet. Her starting with nothing and working these highload and lower pay is what set her up for failure.

I believe Barbras argument is not 100% arguable because of the fact that as people grow up you accumulate things. Usually the household stuff, but most people, even poor people have cars, television, fernature, jewelry, or other ideas that constitute some sort of wealth. This is called accumulated wealth. Where as in Barbara's case she started off with nothing, and set herself up for failure. She doesn't include a car from her whole ordeal, and has no house, no tangibles, nothing to sell. Thus starting her experiment at a lower point than all of her co-workers, many whom at least owned cars or trailers (while Ehrenreich was renting transportation and a living space at high weekly rates). So part of moving up includes things you no longer have to purchase on a dailey, or weekly, basis.

Ehrenreich’s job choices, even with her small selections, were for sure rigged so she got her desired answer. She never not once took a higher paying job. Waiting tables isn't always good money, but it also can be quite rewarding. Waitressing at a higher end/popular restaurants and bars can bring in more than $100 a night. She many try and pull the “I'm too old or not good looking enough,” there are many older waitresses and waiter that make great money. While it's true some restaurants like Hooters higher women that have to “meet the standards, most other companies have no problem hiring older men or women, as long as there dependable.

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All the jobs she worked were definitely very physically demanding, which caused her to basically not work to her best abilities. Working long days were exhausting for her. And I feel like she didn't consider all the other factors when working as a low wage worker. Many being that nobody just starts out with nothing and goes off those first paychecks. Also many of the people that work these hard jobs, have most likely been working there for a good while. Meaning there wage is definitely higher, they receive better benefits, and hold higher positions because of their time there.

In today's society it is ingrained that getting a job means getting out of poverty, but Barbra discovered that it's just untrue. There are many bills one must pay to sustain a basic lifestyle. She spent no money on any nice clothes or going out for a fun night. In turn she lived off of chopped meat, beans, and noodles or fast food with only $9 a day. She struggled a lot in Key West but was most successful in Portland.

I believe her experience was pretty bias, because when she started she was very picky on what job to choose. This is not fair because people in this situation cannot be picky when they get offered a job they take it because it might be a while till they receive another. Also in the book she says she will not go a day without food even if she has to cheat and use her credit card. I also believe this to be unfair because some people in low wage situation do have to go a day or more without food. Readers should know that this investigation is kinda boring in a sense. To get past the biases I think this experience should have been done by someone whom is actually living in such a way. Barbra being from the middle class, is obvious that she isn't getting the whole experience.

Another reason I think her final thoughts were bias was because she did do many things wrong. She didn't do any research On where she was going to move, which includes Florida, Maine, and Minnesota. I think that if she was smarter about her approach to this assignment she would have tried living in three different social class areas, such as high class cities, a middle-class, and a lower class city. I had a hard time reading this book because she complains quite a bit and doesn’t try to look for the positives of anything good that comes her way. Barbara in my opinion gave herself too much money for extra expenses, and emergencies, she would not have that much in savings if she was actually lower class. She didn’t give the experience a chance I feel, going into this journey with an idea and she would do anything to make her idea true. The last problem I have is that she didn’t give herself enough time to fully understand what living on minimum wage means. She could have spent more time and actually learn to survive.

In conclusion I feel this experiment could have been way more realistic if she followed some simple guidelines. One being, starting off with at least some things, like household items. also not being picky with jobs, like working for a company with higher pay unlike some that she picked. some examples being McDonald’s, Walmart, and restaurants that aren’t very successful. going into this she knew that the job she would pig were very physically demanding with a lower pay; she could’ve been smarter. also she could have picked a high-class area, middle-class area, and a lower class area to get the full experience. with this conclusion I believe this experiment was not successful and pretty bias.

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Nickel and Dimed: A Biased Experiment. (2020, November 02). WritingBros. Retrieved February 24, 2024, from
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