How This Single Mom Survives on $7.50 An Hour

News & Views | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 09/16/2015 | 01:45 PM EDT

Safiyyah Cotton proves minimum wage is no way to live

Can a single mom survive on $7.50 an hour?

A CNN Money feature provides a sobering look into what it's really like to live on minimum wage, and by no means is it pretty.

Safiyyah Cotton shares her reality as a single mom working at a McDonald's in Philadelphia. Her wages only bring in about $240 every two weeks, giving her very little to take care of herself and her 1-year-old son, Safi.

To make matters worse Safi's father is incarcerated, making Cotton's earnings the only source of income for her family.

Though she gets government assistance for food, partial rent, child care and very little healthcare, the 22-year-old pinches pennies and stretches dollars just to get by.

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Cotton and her sister both pay $250 a month for their two-bedroom townhouse, while the government covers the remaining $125. For child care she pays a co-pay of $10 a month, and for food stamps she receives $216.

To make that money last, she buys in bulk and gets mostly frozen foods.


"I don't buy fresh fruits and stuff like that because it's not guaranteed that it will be eaten all in the couple of days that it will stay fresh," she tells CNN.


Cotton says she often skips lunch to save money, but she says she always makes sure her son doesn't go hungry.

(Photo: CNN Money)

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