There’s No Minimum Wage for the Self Employed

What was your minimum wage job?
Did you appreciate it, tolerate it or hate it?

I worked three jobs in college: short order cook, card store clerk and a pizza server at a college campus snack station. I actually liked all three jobs.
BalloonsThere was also the occasional $10/hour gig (kind of a lot of cash in 1989) as a helium-balloon-hostess at grand openings or special events (probably where my globophobia comes from).

Everyone needs to work at least one minimum wage job in their lives. Ideally, this happens when one is young with few financial responsibilities. What is tragic is that too many people are trying to support families on minimum wage jobs.
(Now, there is a little buzzer that goes off in some people’s heads that cues them to judge this class of people. If you fall into this category of knee-jerk judgementalism, I urge you to ignore this buzzer and continue reading.)Oscar Wilde quote

I read a great article in The Buffalo News a couple of weeks ago. It was a debate about raising the minimum wage. I searched for it to provide you the link but could not find it so I’ll summarize.

The writer in favor of raising the minimum wage argued that employers would be making an investment in workers, and in turn would get a lot more productivity out of them. While this is idealistic, it’s also plausible. There is also this article about how our cost of living has changed since the 1950s, but the minimum wage has not kept up.

The writer opposed to raising the minimum wage stated that there are many other ways to improve the financial lives of lower-paid citizens, mainly through the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Debates aside for the sake of writing about the title of this post, there’s a great group of women business owners in Western New York called Women In Business In Buffalo Mixers (we’re working on the name). This type of group is necessary because the self employed (especially solo entrepreneurs) need regular doses of support and encouragement by people who get it.

Our most recent breakfast meeting was hosted by jazz singer, poet, graphic designer, authenticarian (yes, I made that up) and conduit of God’s love Mari McNeil, who reminded all of us that we should go through the trouble of calculating our hourly wage “which is probably fifty-three cents” (a comment the group initially met with roaring laughter, but a quick and painful mental calculation of said number soon followed).Geeky Unsure Woman

A colleague once asked me how many hours I worked per week. I told him I couldn’t begin to count my hours because (a) that would give me one more thing I’d have to DO and (b) I’d be ashamed to admit the result.


Because when you’re running your own business, guess what? Sometimes there’s no paycheck at the end of the week, no matter how many hours you worked or how many mindset webinars you attend.

You only get paid for DOING the work, but there are countless hours spent GETTING the work (advertising, networking, social media, letters, emails, blogging) and then TRACKING the work (for self employment taxes or the new marketing person who wants to know your closing ratio or click-through rate).

Most of us who are self-employed are working tremendous hours, but generally it’s okay because when you’re so driven by your mission, it doesn’t really feel like work because you’re so driven by your mission.

My mission is to help my clients make educated, wise and beneficial financial decisions with confidence. How can I calculate how many hours per week I should work to achieve this mission? What is a fair rate of pay for changing people’s lives?

Maybe that’s the bigger dilemma in the minimum wage debate: many people have yet to find their mission, let alone a fair rate of pay for making the world a better place.

Photos courtesy of ClipArt and Facebook

About Amy Jo Lauber

I help people who are overwhelmed take control & make good financial decisions with confidence and experience peace and abundance. Are you ready to say goodbye to working hard but not having anything to show for it? Go to "Let's Talk" tab to schedule your complimentary initial consultation and take the first step on the path to financial empowerment.
This entry was posted in Budgeting, Goals, Living the life of your dreams, Personal Finance with a twist, Taxes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to There’s No Minimum Wage for the Self Employed

  1. John Armesto says:

    I agree that the minimum wage needs to rise with the cost of living. It is too bad that with graduation rates below 50% that more workers have to take minimum wage jobs to support a family. Higher graduation rates will only come when parents take responsibility for their children’s
    future by instilling self discipline and self worth.

  2. We can instill our hearts out but that’s unfortunately no guarantee that children will grow into responsible adults. And when people are working crazy hours (at minimum wage) what time or energy is left to parent?

    I think our socioeconomic situation will revert to multi-generational living situations to accommodate both aging parents and young children who need tending.

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