THE BLOG
09/13/2014 03:42 pm ET Updated Nov 13, 2014

Poverty In America: Living on $7.28 Per Day

I wish this was a Lonely Planet Travel guide on how to live on $15 per day in some exotic land overseas. I would tell you where the one dollar, hole-in-the-wall local food stands are - good cheap food (bacteria and all).

No, this piece is about living on a minimum wage salary.

I know. Those who are against raising the minimum wage argue that businesses will just move out of town if the local jurisdiction mandates a particular low-end wage. In our capitalistic society why should government dictate wages when our laissez-faire society that worships supply-and-demand is paramount?

But when the wealth of families in America whose income far exceeds 99% of the rest of the country, intervention for those living on the lower end of the economic scale seems to be the answer. In 2012, the top one-percent of Americans earned 22.5% of this country's income.

Most experts believe raising the minimum wage helps reduce this income disparity.

Walking in the shoes of those hard working Americans who live on minimum wage is probably the best way to fully understand why raising wages is so important.

Barbara Ehrenreich certainly opened the eyes of many Americans when she became an undercover journalist taking low-wage, unskilled, very labor-intensive jobs. She then wrote the book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.

The President of the City Council in San Diego, California, Todd Gloria, recently challenged his city to increase their minimum wage. His challenge was daring: join him by living on the city's current minimum wage for one week. In San Diego, after expenses for taxes and housing is deducted the average worker living on a minimum wage has $51 per week left, or $7.28 per day.

Seven dollars per day is not much. Forget buying a latte at Starbucks each morning. You would barely have enough money to eat afterwards. In fact, forget going out to eat. Period. The tip alone would eat up all of your daily allocation.

No car wash. No dry cleaning. Don't even dare wasting your money buying a bottle of water. No shopping for new clothes. (Thrift stores may be permissible.) No movie nights. In fact, no cable TV.

A minimum wage existence basically means barely having a roof over your head and basic food.

Now, imagine an unmarried working mother raising two children with a minimum wage job. Honestly, I don't know how she can do it. Especially when the government recently estimated that it costs $245,000 to raise a child born in 2013 to the age of 18.

I think CNN"s Anthony Bourdain needs to write a guide on how to live in America on $7.28 per day.