With inflation on the rise and the cost of living increasing, a $3 an hour wage may seem inadequate to cover basic necessities. In this article, we will look at how much someone earning $3 an hour would make per year before and after taxes. We’ll calculate the weekly, monthly, and yearly salaries for both part-time and full-time work at $3 per hour. We’ll also consider how unpaid time off can impact earnings, and how overtime pay at time-and-a-half would increase yearly income.
After covering the yearly earnings at $3 an hour, we’ll look at the salary after federal and state taxes are deducted. Taxes can significantly reduce net pay, so we’ll compare pre-tax and post-tax wages. With such low gross pay, even minimal taxes can greatly diminish take-home income.
In addition to the numerical salary calculations, we’ll also discuss whether $3 an hour is considered a livable wage nowadays. With inflation causing prices to rise, it can be a challenge to afford basic living expenses on such low pay. We’ll look at sample budgets to analyze if it’s possible to pay for necessities like housing, food, and transportation when earning just $3 an hour. We’ll also consider options for supplementing income and increasing one’s hourly wage. Though the yearly salary may seem small, we’ll explore whether it’s feasible to live on $3 an hour in today’s economy.
Table of Contents
Convert $3 Per Hour to Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly Salary
Input your wage and hours per week to see how much you’ll make monthly, yearly and more.
$3 an Hour is How Much a Year?
If you make $3 an hour, your yearly salary would be $6,240. We calculate your annual income based on 8 hours per day, 5 days per week and 52 weeks in the year.
Hours worked per week (40) x Hourly wage($3) x Weeks worked per year(52) = $6,240
$3 an Hour is How Much a Month?
If you make $3 an hour, your monthly salary would be $520. We calculated this number by dividing your annual income by 12 months.
Hours worked per week (40) x Hourly wage($3) x Weeks worked per year(52) / Months per Year(12) = $520
$3 an Hour is How Much Biweekly?
If you make $3 an hour, your biweekly salary would be $240.
Hours worked per week (40) x Hourly wage($3) x 2 = $240
$3 an Hour is How Much a Week?
If you make $3 an hour, your weekly salary would be $120. Calculating based on 5 days per week and 8 hours each day.
Hours worked per week (40) x Hourly wage($3) = $120
$3 an Hour is How Much a Day?
If you make $3 an hour, your daily salary would be $24. We calculated your daily income based on 8 hours per day.
Hours worked per day (8) x Hourly wage($3) = $24
$3 an Hour is How Much a Year?
The basic formula to calculate your annual salary from an hourly wage is:
Hourly Rate x Hours Worked per Week x Number of Weeks Worked per Year = Annual Salary
So for a $20 per hour job:
$3 per hour x 40 hours per week x 52 weeks per year = $6,240
However, this simple calculation makes some assumptions:
- You will work 40 hours every week of the year
- You will not get any paid time off
Therefore, it represents your earnings if you worked every week of the year, without any vacation, holidays, or sick days.
Accounting for Paid Time Off
The $6,240 base salary does not yet factor in paid time off (PTO). Let’s assume the job provides:
- 2 weeks (10 days) paid vacation
- 6 paid holidays
- 3 paid sick days
This totals 19 paid days off, or nearly 4 weeks of PTO.
Importantly, this paid time off should not be deducted from the annual salary, since you still get paid for those days.
So with 4 weeks PTO, the annual salary would remain $6,240 .
Part time $3 an hour is How Much a Year?
Your annual income changes significantly if you work part-time and not full-time.
For example, let’s say you work 35 hours per week instead of 40. Here’s how you calculate your new yearly total:
$3 per hour x 35 hours per week x 52 weeks per year = $5,460
By working 5 fewer hours per week (35 instead of 40), your annual earnings at $3 an hour drop from $6,240 to $5,460.
That’s a $780 per year difference just by working part-time!
Here’s a table summarizing how your annual earnings change depending on how many hours you work per week at $3 an hour:
Hours Per Week | Earnings Per Week | Annual Earnings |
---|---|---|
40 | $120 | $6,240 |
35 | $105 | $5,460 |
30 | $90 | $4,680 |
25 | $75 | $3,900 |
20 | $60 | $3,120 |
15 | $45 | $2,340 |
The more hours per week, the higher your total yearly earnings. But part-time work allows for more life balance if you don’t need the full salary.
$3 an Hour With Overtime is How Much a Year?
Now let’s look at how overtime can increase your annual earnings.
Overtime kicks in once you work more than 40 hours in a week. Typically, you earn 1.5x your regular hourly wage for overtime hours.
So if you make $3 per hour normally, you would make $4.50 per hour for any hours over 40 in a week.
Here’s an example:
- You work 45 hours in a Week
- 40 regular hours paid at $3 per hour = $120
- 5 overtime hours paid at $4.50 per hour = $22.50
- Your total one Week earnings =$120 + $22.50 = $142.50
If you worked 45 hours each week for 52 weeks, here’s how your annual earnings increase thanks to overtime pay:
$142.50 per week x 52 weeks per year = $7,410
That’s $1,170 more than you’d earn working just 40 hours per week at $3 an hour.
Overtime can add up! But also consider taxes and work-life balance when deciding on extra hours.
Here’s a table summarizing how your annual earnings change depending on how many hours you work per week at $3 an hour:
Overtime hours per work day | Hours Per Week | Earnings Per Week | Annual Earnings |
0 | 40 | $120 | $6,240 |
1 | 45 | $142.50 | $7,410 |
2 | 50 | $165 | $8,580 |
3 | 55 | $187.50 | $9,750 |
4 | 60 | $210 | $10,920 |
5 | 65 | $232.50 | $12,090 |
6 | 70 | $255 | $13,260 |
7 | 75 | $277.50 | $14,430 |
How Unpaid Time Off Impacts $3/Hour Yearly Earnings
So far we’ve assumed you work 52 paid weeks per year. Any unpaid time off will reduce your total income.
For example, let’s say you take 2 weeks of unpaid leave. That brings your paid weeks down to 50:
Hours worked per week (40) x Hourly wage($3) x Weeks worked per year(50) = $6,000 annual salary
With 2 weeks unpaid time off, your annual earnings at $3/hour would drop by $240.
The table below summarizes how your annual income changes depending on the number of weeks of unpaid leave.
Weeks of unpaid leave | Paid weeks per year | Earnings Per Week | Annual Earnings |
0 | 52 | $120 | $6,240 |
1 | 51 | $120 | $6,120 |
2 | 50 | $120 | $6,000 |
3 | 49 | $120 | $5,880 |
4 | 48 | $120 | $5,760 |
5 | 47 | $120 | $5,640 |
6 | 46 | $120 | $5,520 |
7 | 45 | $120 | $5,400 |
Key Takeaways for $3 Hourly Wage
In summary, here are some key points on annual earnings when making $3 per hour:
- At 40 hours per week, you’ll earn $6,240 per year.
- Part-time of 30 hours/week results in $4,680 annual salary.
- Overtime pay can boost yearly earnings, e.g. $1,170 extra at 45 hours/week.
- Unpaid time off reduces your total income, around $240 less per 2 weeks off.
- Your specific situation and location impacts taxes and PTO.
Knowing your approximate annual salary and factors impacting it makes it easier to budget and plan your finances. The next step is calculating take-home pay after deductions like taxes.
$3 An Hour Is How Much A Year After Taxes
Figuring out your actual annual earnings based on an hourly wage can be complicated once taxes are taken into account. In addition to federal, state, and local income taxes, 7.65% of your gross pay also goes to Social Security and Medicare through FICA payroll taxes. So how much does $3 an hour equal per year after FICA and income taxes are deducted from your gross pay?
Below we’ll walk through the steps to calculate your annual net take home pay if you make $3 per hour. This will factor in estimated federal, FICA, state, and local taxes so you know exactly what to expect.
Factoring in Federal Income Tax
Your federal income tax will be a big chunk out of your gross pay. Federal tax rates range from 10% to 37%, depending on your tax bracket.
To estimate your federal income tax rate and liability:
Look up your federal income tax bracket based on your gross pay.
2023 tax brackets: single filers
Tax rate | Taxable income bracket | Tax owed |
---|---|---|
10% | $0 to $11,000. | 10% of taxable income. |
12% | $11,001 to $44,725. | $1,100 plus 12% of the amount over $11,000. |
22% | $44,726 to $95,375. | $5,147 plus 22% of the amount over $44,725. |
24% | $95,376 to $182,100. | $16,290 plus 24% of the amount over $95,375. |
32% | $182,101 to $231,250. | $37,104 plus 32% of the amount over $182,100. |
35% | $231,251 to $578,125. | $52,832 plus 35% of the amount over $231,250. |
37% | $578,126 or more. | $174,238.25 plus 37% of the amount over $578,125. |
For example, if you are single with $6,240 gross annual pay, your federal tax bracket is 10%.
Your estimated federal tax would be:
$6,24010% = $624
So at $3/hour with $6,240 gross pay, you would owe about $624 in federal income taxes.
Considering State Income Tax
In addition to federal tax, most states also charge a state income tax. State income tax rates range from about 1% to 13%, with most falling between 4% and 6%.
Key Takeaways
- California, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, and Oregon have some of the highest state income tax rates.
- Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming don’t impose an income tax at all.
- Another 10 U.S states have a flat tax rate—everyone pays the same percentage regardless of how much they earn.
A State-by-State Comparison of Income Tax Rates
STATE | TAX RATES | LOWEST AND HIGHEST INCOME BRACKETS |
---|---|---|
Alaska | 0% | None |
Florida | 0% | None |
Nevada | 0% | None |
South Dakota | 0% | None |
Tennessee | 0% | None |
Texas | 0% | None |
Washington | 0% | None |
Wyoming | 0% | None |
Colorado | 4.55% | Flat rate applies to all incomes |
Illinois | 4.95% | Flat rate applies to all incomes |
Indiana | 3.23% | Flat rate applies to all incomes |
Kentucky | 5% | Flat rate applies to all incomes |
Massachusetts | 5% | Flat rate applies to all incomes |
New Hampshire | 5% | Flat rate on interest and dividend income only |
North Carolina | 4.99% | Flat rate applies to all incomes |
Pennsylvania | 3.07% | Flat rate applies to all incomes |
Utah | 4.95% | Flat rate applies to all incomes |
Michigan | 4.25% | Flat rate applies to all incomes |
Arizona | 2.59% to 4.5% | $27,806 and $166,843 |
Arkansas | 2% to 5.5% | $4,300 and $8,501 |
California | 1% to 13.3% | $9,325 and $1 million |
Connecticut | 3% to 6.99% | $10,000 and $500,000 |
Delaware | 0% to 6.6% | $2,000 and $60,001 |
Alabama | 2% to 5% | $500 and $3,001 |
Georgia | 1% to 5.75% | $750 and $7,001 |
Hawaii | 1.4% to 11% | $2,400 and $200,000 |
Idaho | 1.125% to 6.5% | $1,568 and $7,939 |
Iowa | 0.33% to 8.53% | $1,743 and $78,435 |
Kansas | 3.1% to 5.7% | $15,000 and $30,000 |
Louisiana | 1.85% to 4.25% | $12,500 and $50,001 |
Maine | 5.8% to 7.15% | $23,000 and $54,450 |
Maryland | 2% to 5.75% | $1,000 and $250,000 |
Minnesota | 5.35% to 9.85% | $28,080 and $171,221 |
Mississippi | 0% to 5% | $5,000 and $10,001 |
Missouri | 1.5% to 5.3% | $1,121 and $8,968 |
Montana | 1% to 6.75% | $2,900and $17,400 |
Nebraska | 2.46% to 6.84% | $3,340 and $32,210 |
New Jersey | 1.4% to 10.75% | $20,000 and $1 million |
New Mexico | 1.7% to 5.9% | $5,500 and $210,000 |
New York | 4% to 10.9% | $8,500 and $25 million |
North Dakota | 1.1% to 2.9% | $41,775 and $458,350 |
Ohio | 0% to 3.99% | $25,000 and $110,650 |
Oklahoma | 0.25% to 4.75% | $1,000 and $7,200 |
Oregon | 4.75% to 9.9% | $3,750 and $125,000 |
Rhode Island | 3.75% to 5.99% | $68,200 and $155,050 |
South Carolina | 0% to 7% | $3,110 and $15,560 |
Vermont | 3.35% to 8.75% | $42,150 and $213,150 |
Virginia | 2% to 5.75% | $3,000 and $17,001 |
Washington, D.C. | 4% to 9.75% | $10,000 and $1 million |
West Virginia | 3% to 6.5% | $10,000 and $60,000 |
Wisconsin | 3.54% to 7.65% | $12,760 and $280,950 |
To estimate your state income tax:
Look up your state income tax rate based on your gross pay and filing status.
Multiply your gross annual pay by the state tax rate.
For example, if you live in Pennsylvania which has a flat 3.07% tax rate, your estimated state tax would be:
$6,240 gross pay x 3.07% PA tax rate = $191.57 estimated state income tax
So with $6,240 gross annual income, you would owe around $191.57 in Pennsylvania state income tax. Make sure to check your specific state’s rates.
Factoring in Local Taxes
Some cities and counties levy local income taxes ranging from 1-3% of taxable income.
To estimate potential local taxes you may owe:
- Check if your city or county charges a local income tax.
- If yes, look up the local income tax rate.
- Multiply your gross annual pay by the local tax rate.
For example, say you live in Columbus, OH which has a 2.5% local income tax. Your estimated local tax would be:
$6,240 gross pay x 2.5% local tax rate = $156 estimated local tax
So with $6,240 in gross earnings, you may owe around $156 in Columbus local income taxes. Verify rates for your own city/county.
Accounting for FICA Taxes (Social Security & Medicare)
FICA taxes are a combination of Social Security and Medicare taxes that equal 15.3% of your earnings. You are responsible for half of the total bill (7.65%), which includes a 6.2% Social Security tax and 1.45% Medicare tax on your earnings.
In 2023, only the first $160,200 of your earnings are subject to the Social Security tax
There is an additional 0.9% surtax on top of the standard 1.45% Medicare tax for those who earn over $200,000 (single filers) or $250,000 (joint filers).
To estimate your FICA tax payment:
$6,240 x 6.2% + $6,240 x 1.45% = $477.36
So you can expect to pay about $477.36 in Social Security and Medicare taxes out of your gross $6,240 in earnings.
Total Estimated Tax Payments
Based on the examples above, your total estimated tax payments would be:
Federal tax: $624
State tax: $191.57
Local tax: $156
FICA tax: $477.36
Total Estimated Tax: $1,448.93
Calculating Your Take Home Pay
To calculate your annual take home pay at $3 /hour:
1. Take your gross pay
2. Subtract your estimated total tax payments
$6,240 gross pay – $1,448.93 Total Estimated Tax = $4,791.07 Your Take Home Pay
n summary, if you make $3 per hour and work full-time, you would take home around $4,791.07 per year after federal, state, local , FICA taxes.
Your actual net income may vary depending on your specific tax situation. But this gives you a general idea of what to expect.
Convert $3 Per Hour to Yearly, Monthly, Biweekly, and Weekly Salary After Taxes
If you make $3 an hour and work full-time (40 hours per week), your estimated yearly salary would be $6,240 .
The $6,240 per year salary does not account for taxes. Federal, state, and local taxes will reduce your take-home pay. The amount withheld depends on your location, filing status, dependents, and other factors.
Just now during our calculation of $3 An Hour Is How Much A Year After Taxes, we assumed the following conditions:
- You are single with $6,240 gross annual pay, your federal tax bracket is 10 %.
- You live in Pennsylvania which has a flat 3.07% tax rate
- You live in Columbus, OH which has a 2.5% local income tax.
In the end, we calculated your Total Estimated Tax is $1,448.93 , Your Take Home Pay is $4,791.07 , Total tax rate is 23.22%.
So next we’ll use 23.22% as the estimated tax rate to calculate your weekly, biweekly, and monthly after-tax income.
$3 Per Hour to Yearly, Monthly, Biweekly, Weekly,and Week Salary After Taxes Table
Income before taxes | Estimated Tax Rate | Income Taxes | After Tax Income | |
Yearly Salary | $6,240 | 23.22% | $1,448.93 | $4,791.07 |
Monthly Salary | $520 | 23.22% | $120.74 | $399.26 |
BiWeekly Salary | $240 | 23.22% | $55.73 | $184.27 |
Weekly Salary | $120 | 23.22% | $27.86 | $92.14 |
$3 an hour is how much a year after taxes
Here is the adjusted yearly salary after a 23.22% tax reduction:
- Yearly salary before taxes: $6,240
- Estimated tax rate: 23.22%
- Taxes owed (23.22% * $6,240 )= $1,448.93
- Yearly salary after taxes: $4,791.07
Hourly Wage | Hours Worked Per Week | Weeks Worked Per Year | Total Yearly Salary | Estimated Tax Rate | Taxes Owed | After-Tax Yearly Salary |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
$3 | 40 | 52 | $6,240 | 23.22% | $1,448.93 | $4,791.07 |
$3 an hour is how much a month after taxes
To calculate the monthly salary based on an hourly wage, you first need the yearly salary amount. Then divide by 12 months.
- Yearly salary before taxes at $3 per hour: $6,240
- Divided by 12 months per year: $6,240 / 12 = $520 per month
The monthly salary based on a 40 hour work week at $3 per hour is $520 before taxes.
After applying the estimated 23.22% tax rate, the monthly after-tax salary would be:
- Monthly before-tax salary: $520
- Estimated tax rate: 23.22%
- Taxes owed (23.22% * $520 )= $120.74
- Monthly after-tax salary: $399.26
Monthly Salary Based on $3 Per Hour
Hourly Wage | Yearly Salary | Months Per Year | Before-Tax Monthly Salary | Estimated Tax Rate | Taxes Owed | After-Tax Monthly Salary |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
$3 | $6,240 | 12 | $520 | 23.22% | $120.74 | $399.26 |
$3 an hour is how much biweekly after taxes
Many people are paid biweekly, meaning every other week. To calculate the biweekly pay at $3 per hour:
- Hourly wage: $3
- Hours worked per week: 40
- Weeks per biweekly pay period: 2
- $3 * 40 hours * 2 weeks = $240 biweekly
Applying the 23.22%estimated tax rate:
- Biweekly before-tax salary: $240
- Estimated tax rate: 23.22%
- Taxes owed (23.22% * $240 )= $55.73
- Biweekly after-tax salary: $184.27
Biweekly Salary at $3 Per Hour
Hourly Wage | Hours Worked Per Week | Weeks Per Pay Period | Before-Tax Biweekly Salary | Estimated Tax Rate | Taxes Owed | After-Tax Biweekly Salary |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
$3 | 40 | 2 | $240 | 23.22% | $55.73 | $184.27 |
$3 an hour is how much weekly after taxes
To find the weekly salary based on an hourly wage, you need to know the number of hours worked per week. At 40 hours per week, the calculation is:
- Hourly wage: $3
- Hours worked per week: 40
- $3 * 40 hours = $120 per week
Accounting for the estimated 23.22% tax rate:
- Weekly before-tax salary: $120
- Estimated tax rate: 23.22%
- Taxes owed (23.22% * $120 )= $27.86
- Weekly after-tax salary: $92.14
Weekly Salary at $3 Per Hour
Hourly Wage | Hours Worked Per Week | Before-Tax Weekly Salary | Estimated Tax Rate | Taxes Owed | After-Tax Weekly Salary |
---|---|---|---|---|---|
$3 | 40 | $120 | 23.22% | $27.86 | $92.14 |
Key Takeaways
- An hourly wage of $3 per hour equals a yearly salary of $6,240 before taxes, assuming a 40 hour work week.
- After accounting for an estimated 23.22% tax rate, the yearly after-tax salary is approximately $4,791.07 .
- On a monthly basis before taxes, $3 per hour equals $520 per month. After estimated taxes, the monthly take-home pay is about $399.26 .
- The before-tax weekly salary at $3 per hour is $120 . After taxes, the weekly take-home pay is approximately $92.14 .
- For biweekly pay, the pre-tax salary at $3 per hour is $240 . After estimated taxes, the biweekly take-home pay is around $184.27 .
Understanding annual, monthly, weekly, and biweekly salary equivalents based on an hourly wage is useful when budgeting and financial planning. Taxes make a significant difference in take-home pay, so be sure to account for them when making income conversions. Use this guide as a reference when making salary calculations.
What Is the Average Hourly Wage in the US?
Last Updated: Sep 1 2023
US Average Hourly Earnings is at a current level of $33.82, up from 33.74 last month and up from 32.43 one year ago. This is a change of 0.24% from last month and 4.29% from one year ago.
Average Hourly Earnings is the average dollars that a private employee makes per hour in the US. This metric is a part of one of the most important releases every month which includes unemployment numbers as well. This is normally released on the first Friday of every month. This metric is released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
What is the average salary in the U.S.?
Last Updated: July 18, 2023
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics uses median salary data rather than averages to avoid skewed numbers from outlying high and low numbers. Median weekly earnings of the nation's 121.5 million full-time wage and salary workers were $1,100 in the second quarter of 2023, the U.S.
If a person works 52 weeks in the year, then this represents a national annual salary of $57,200.
Is $3 an Hour a Good Salary?
No, $3 an hour is an extremely low hourly wage. At 40 hours per week, this works out to $120 per week or $6,240 per year. This salary is well below the 2023 federal poverty level. For an individual, the poverty level is $13,590. For a family of four, it’s $27,750.
Someone working full time on $3 an hour would be living in extreme poverty. Their income would not be enough to afford even basic necessities like food, housing, healthcare, transportation and other needs. Families especially would find it nearly impossible to make ends meet and provide for children.
Jobs that pay $3 an hour
While the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, there are some jobs that can legally pay below that rate. Here are some examples:
- Tipped jobs – Jobs like waiters/waitresses, bartenders, hair stylists and parking attendants where tips are expected can pay as low as $2.13 per hour. However, if tips do not bring total compensation up to at least the full minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference.
- Independent contractors – Independent contractors like freelancers, gig workers and consultants can sometimes earn very low hourly rates, even below $3 per hour in some cases. This is legal since they are self-employed.
- Disabled workers – The Fair Labor Standards Act allows some disabled workers to be paid below the minimum wage in recognition of lower productivity. Their wage is based on a specialized assessment.
- Youth workers – Youth under 20 years old can be paid $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of work. This aims to incentivize hiring of inexperienced youth.
While these jobs can legally pay a very low hourly wage, $3 an hour is still extremely low even for these categories. Most tipped jobs would be expected to earn more in tips.
Can You Live Off $3 An Hour?
Living solely off $3 an hour would be nearly impossible today. Even with full time hours, the annual salary is far below the poverty level. Some ways people try to survive on extremely low wages include:
- Living with family or roommates to save on housing costs
- Relying on food stamps, welfare, Medicaid or charity
- Working under the table odd jobs for cash
- Borrowing money from friends, payday lenders or credit cards
- Going without phone, internet, insurance or other basics
- Shopping only discount or dollar stores
- Buying the cheapest versions of food and necessities
- Avoiding any leisure, entertainment or travel
However, even with these sacrifices, it is incredibly challenging to fully provide for oneself or a family making $3 an hour. You would almost certainly need government assistance, charity or going into debt to afford basic expenses. It is nearly impossible to save money or get ahead at this wage.
The impact of inflation on the value of $3 an hour
Not only is $3 an hour a very low wage, but inflation has drastically reduced the buying power of $3 over time.
Here is how inflation has impacted the value of $3 per hour over the years:
- In 1980, the federal minimum wage was $3.10. Adjusted for inflation, this is equivalent to $10.87 per hour in 2023 dollars. The buying power of $3 an hour has decreased by 72% since 1980.
- In 1990, $3 per hour was equal to $6.59 in today’s dollars. The value has declined by 55% since 1990 due to inflation.
- In 2000, $3 an hour equaled $4.94 today. The buying power has dropped 39% from 2000 until now.
- Even since 2010, inflation has reduced the value of $3 per hour by nearly 15%.
As the cost of goods and services rises over time, a fixed wage buys less and less. While other wages have increased, earnings of $3 per hour have stagnated, making it vastly more difficult to afford basics like food, rent, and gas.
5 Ways To Increase Your Hourly Wage
If you are stuck in a $3 per hour job, there are some steps you can take to increase your earnings and improve your financial situation:
- Ask for a raise – Have a conversation with your manager about getting a pay increase if you’ve been doing good work. Point out your achievements and how long it’s been since your last raise.
- Find a new higher paying job – Browse job boards, staffing agencies, and websites like Craigslist. Apply to jobs listed at $15/hour or more that match your skills.
- Get a side gig – Drive for a rideshare app, do food delivery, walk dogs, offer tutoring, or freelance in your spare time for extra cash.
- Go to school to gain skills – Take vocational classes or college courses part-time to qualify for better paying work long-term.
- Move to a higher minimum wage state – Some states like California ($15) and Washington ($14.49) have much higher minimum wages than federal.
- Negotiate benefits – Ask about getting healthcare, dental, vision, retirement plans, paid time off, transit cards or other perks.
- Organize for worker rights – Join or support labor unions working to improve wages and working conditions.
Having multiple sources of income and improving your skillset can help boost hourly pay substantially.
Buying a car on $3 an hour
Buying a car while earning $3 an hour would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Here is why:
- Used car prices currently average around $30,000.
- With $3 an hour full time, annual income is only $6,240 before taxes.
- Most lenders want no more than 15% of gross income going to a car payment. 15% of $6,240 is $936 per year or $78 a month.
- You would need to find a car selling for around $2,000 or less to keep payments under $78/month with interest.
- Saving up enough for even a cheap used car could take years on this salary.
- Auto loans usually require full coverage insurance, which could cost $100-$300 per month.
- Fuel, maintenance and repairs would be a struggle to afford as well.
Realistically, public transportation, biking, walking, getting rides or carpooling would likely be the only feasible options to get around with a $3 an hour income. Saving up or trying to finance an operational used car would be extremely challenging and divert funds from other necessities. Reliable transportation is vital to getting to work and appointments, so lack of a vehicle makes things much harder.
Can You Buy a House on $3 An Hour?
Buying a house while earning $3 an hour is impossible today. Here’s a look at the math:
- The median home price is around $300,000.
- Most lenders want no more than 28% of gross income going to the mortgage payment.
- 28% of $6,240 annual full time salary at $3 an hour is $1,747 per year or $145 per month.
- This would not even cover property taxes and insurance, let alone the mortgage.
- You would need a down payment of at least 3.5-20% of the purchase price, which is $10,500-$60,000 saved up.
- On $3 an hour, saving this much would take decades.
- Interest rates are over 6% right now, making buying drastically harder.
Renting is really the only feasible option. Even finding an affordable rental could be challenging. At $3 an hour full time, you would want to limit rent to $400 a month or less to avoid being cost-burdened. This is below market rate for even a room in most areas.
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