Thursday, May 26, 2016

Nickel and Dimed–Book Review



Full title is Nickel and Dimed On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

ISBN 0-8050-6389-7
Published by Owl Books.

This is a book that had been sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I'm glad that I got around to it. It's very eye opening, even for a person like myself that has always lived well below the poverty line. Read my full review below.


Barbara was taken to lunch by her publisher, where he told her the book he wanted her to write.
She was to go out and see if it was possible to live on just $6 or $7 an hour. This was the time of the welfare reform.
She spent 2 years doing her research and getting the book written….1999 and 2000.

Although the research was done that many years ago, this book is a must read to understand what goes on in the lives of those living in poverty.

Barbara was given around $1500 to start with for each place she went to. She traveled from Florida, to Maine, to Minnesota. She held jobs such as a waitress, nursing home aide, hotel maid and house cleaner and even a Walmart employee.
Each time though, she was unable to make it on the wages she was earning.
She was able to pay for deposit and 2 months rent with her upfront money, but it never failed that by at the end of those 2 months she had not been able to save up enough money to pay a 3rd months rent. Sometimes she had a really hard time even finding a place she could afford to get in to. She had to take very inadequate living circumstances.

She was doing this as a single person, not as a person with family and couldn’t do it! Along the way she talks with her co-workers and learn how they are making it (or not making it). Some live in their cars…some with relatives…some with a boyfriend or girlfriend……
They don’t have insurance. Their lunch consists of just a bag of Doritos.

My favorite section was when she worked for Merry Maids. She describes in detail the cleaning of the wealthy home owners. She also describes what she is doing in detail.  What got to her the most about the job was cleaning a home of her own and her appreciation of what she has.

Whether you are among the living poor, or you have plenty of money to live on, I highly recommend reading this book.
Even though this is a true stories book, it is very intriguing. You won’t want to put it down as you will want to find out where her travels and research take her next and just what goes on in her quest for survival.

There are also lots of statistics throughout the book. Although the statistics are from 1999 and 2000, I don’t think they will have changed much from then until now. The back of the book also includes a reading group guide.

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