53 Percent

A old Chinese woman is split in two to wash th...

Image via Wikipedia

I didn’t grow up with money.   I never lacked for anything important, like food, clothes, shelter, affection, but we weren’t exactly rolling in cash.

When I was 6, I got a paper route so I could buy my own toys.

When I was 13, I started doing odd jobs on nearby farms.

When I was 15, I worked construction with my Dad in the summer.   When school started in the fall, I gave up a study hall and my lunch period to work in the lunch room, serving food and washing dishes, for $4.25 per hour.

Within two weeks of getting my driver’s license at 16, I got a job working evenings and weekends washing dishes.  I’d call it a part-time job, but it wasn’t, most weeks.   A couple of months of busting my butt got me promoted to cook, which was more fun and had better pay.   $6.25 and hour was a decent amount for a teenager in 1994.

Three days after graduating high school, I moved out.

At 18, I was living on my own, working two jobs.  During the day, I stacked pallets.   I stood at the end of a conveyor belt, picked up the 50 pound bags as they came my way, took 3 steps and set them back down.  1500 times a day.   In the evenings, I was a cook at a different restaurant 5 miles away.   My car was broken, so I had to bike to both jobs.  In the winter.  In Minnesota.    That winter, my parents passed up a new washing machine to buy me a beater car so I didn’t have to freeze.  It lasted until spring, but I’m still grateful for that car.    That’s the only time I’ve taken money from my parents as an adult.

At 20, I was working 12 hour graveyard shifts in a machine shop when Brat #1 came along.    I’d work from 5PM to 5AM, come home and take the baby so my wife could get 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.   That kid drank 8-10 ounces of milk or formula every hour, so without that, the idea of uninterrupted sleep was a cruel joke.   We qualified for WIC,  a “feed your family” welfare program.   I was broke and scared of formula prices, so we signed up.   My son puked up the one brand of formula we were allowed, and it hurt my pride, so we cancelled without ever using the benefits.

After 6 months of missing so much of my family’s life, I quit that job and moved into a call center, taking a $4/hour pay cut, before overtime.   Fortunately, busting my butt every day allowed me to stomp all over my goals and get some decent bonus pay.

Working a daytime schedule also allowed me to go to school part-time.   Here’s the scene:  At 21, I had a baby, a full-time job, and I was going to school.   I took student loans to make that happen.   I was also doing side jobs fixing computers.  Traveling IT for people who have no idea how to work a mouse.   During this time, we started accumulating debt, based entirely on our own choices.

Within a few months of graduating, the years of busting my butt in the call center paid off and I got promoted to be the administrator for the phone system and collection system, which gave me valuable experience.

Until I got laid off.

Again, busting my butt saved it.  My boss volunteered to “forget” about the vacation time I had used that year so it would get cashed out on my last day.   I could cover expenses for a while.

Job hunting became a full-time job and it paid off.    I landed my current job right as my funds ran out.

I work, on average, 50 hours per week.   When it’s needed, I’ve cleared 100 hour work weeks.    I have a side business as a firearms instructor.   I have a side business doing web consulting for businesses.   I blog here.

I do whatever it takes to support my family.  I am that support.

I have never had an unemployment check, and I’ve never used government charity.

I have busted my butt to be where I am today, and continue to bust my butt to make it better.

Some day, I’ll be out of debt, and that will also be due to hard work, not charity.

I love my family.

I pay my taxes.

I give to charity.

I am the 53%.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Share the Love
Get Free Updates



    1. Sounds like you have had quite the journey so far. It is inspiring to hear how motivated you have been. I am so glad you have your priorities in the right place where you stated you love your family, pay your taxes, and give to charity. That is great.

      Best of luck going forward.

    2. Wow, 5pm-5am and then time to feed the kid sounds brutal!!!

      Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve shared mine as well on FS.



    3. I love your “I am the 53%” meme. Working hard never hurt anyone and teaches us so much.


    1. […] Real Now with 53 Percent  Huh…this is cool to look […]

    2. […] Real Now talks about his years of working hard. I love stories of hard workers and people relying on no one but themselves for their livelihood.  […]

    3. […] Real, Now:  53 Percent  And to think, I thought I was tough working at the age of 15…  This is a great story of […]

    4. […] Occupy Posts – Wealth Informatics,  Financial Samurai, Darwin’s Money and Live Real Now.  We’ve got some good stuff in the queue that’s OWS related, but check out the two […]

    5. […] #6: Scary Story: “When I was 6, I got a paper route so I could buy my own toys,” writes the author of Live Real, Now. “At 21, I had a baby, a full-time job, and I was going to school.” Read the full story, titled 53 Percent. […]

    Speak Your Mind