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Struggling on a Low Income

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 23 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Extra Income Qualifications Education

Surviving from wage packet to wage packet is a nightmare. Some of us have had to do it from time to time, but for most of us it’s not a way of life. However, there are large numbers of people who regularly find themselves struggling on low incomes and simply trying to get by from payday to payday.

Of course, there are various government benefits to help, but all too often they don’t go far enough to lift a person or a family out of poverty. In 2006, according to a report, 11.4 million people in the UK lived on low incomes, 3.4 million of them children, and 2.5 million pensioners.

Many of those of working age are in so-called “in work poverty,” meaning they simply don’t earn enough. A minimum wage has been a step in the right direction, but even that doesn’t help as bills increase and you have a family to feed. It’s a trap, but how do you get out of it?

Avoiding Poverty Through Education

In almost every case, those struggling on low incomes have very few qualifications, making it harder for them to obtain any kind of skilled job that will bring in a greater income.

However, it’s perfectly possible to go to college and obtain the kind of qualifications that can give a better job and an income boost. In some instances you can attend night courses, and there are grants available to cover the costs. That means you don’t lose any money, and the end result can be very lucrative. Even where courses are available in the day, employers might be willing to give time off, and once again, the government will cover the costs. It can all create a greater crunch in the short term, but the payoff lasts a lifetime.

When Extra Income Is Vital

Where there is barely enough money to get by, then it’s important to have a second source of income. But one of the problems is that for many at that level, unskilled work is all they can get, where the income opportunities are limited. Together with a regular income it can provide enough, but often means working 12 or more hours a day – a situation people can only tolerate for so long.

However, when you have a second job, keep looking for ways to trade up. There might be another opening within the same company that pays more, as a supervisor, perhaps. You need to make the most of – and from – those extra hours you work. Keep looking around, too, for other companies hiring at higher wages, and if you’re qualified, apply for the job.

Make the most of whatever benefits you can obtain, too. Some people hate the idea of them, but every little bit helps, especially when there are two working parents with young children, and the costs include paying for childminders.

In a tough economy with a contracting job market, things become more worrying, and that second income can become more important than ever before. Constant money worries don’t help anyone.

As many people can testify, education and qualifications provide little protection against job cuts. But they do increase the range of positions for which one can apply. In the long term, some qualifications will help more than anything else.

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