woman inside of car expressing strong feeling of not being able to make it in life


‘I don’t understand how I make $34 an hour and can’t function‘: Worker who makes $34 an hour says she can’t even pay bills, fill up car to get to work

'I make slightly more and I couldn't survive without my husband's wage.'


Kahron Spearman


Posted on Aug 25, 2023

In a recent viral video that has garnered over 2.3 million views, TikTok user Melanie (@nkotbluver) offers a raw, heartfelt look into her daily struggles with the cost of living in Canada, highlighting the paradox of earning a decent hourly wage but still being unable to make ends meet.

Opening with a candid line, Melanie says, “I’m having a day. Or I’m having a life. I don’t know, man.” Her words set the tone for the entire video as she delves deeper into her challenges.

@nkotbluver #lifeishard #losingatlife #manifesting #prayers #bankrupsy #moneymakestheworldgoround #roughdayonthejob #nogas #nomoney #sodone #workingfornothing ♬ original sound – Melanie Ann

Melanie’s earnings, at $34 an hour, seem substantial to many. However, her emotional outburst underscores a troubling reality. “I don’t understand how I make $34 an hour and can’t function. I can’t pay my bills.”

She sheds light on the gaps in her finances, noting how she struggles to keep gas in her car to commute to work and how her paycheck barely covers her mortgage, a “few bills,” and a modest weekly grocery bill.

Painting a definitive picture of her food situation, Melanie recounts, “What I’ve started doing is I buy a loaf of rye bread, and I work really hard to keep that one loaf of rye bread lasting me the whole week. And I eat peanut butter, so I’ll eat peanut butter toast whenever I’m hungry.”

Such budgetary restrictions have forced Melanie into a corner, compelling her to rely on her mother to buy bread for sustenance. All the while, she remains steadfast in ensuring her daughter does not face the same food shortages.

Despite her struggles, Melanie finds herself in a gap where she earns “too much” to qualify for financial aid but not enough to live comfortably. “I apparently make too much money to receive any financial benefits or help of any kind. … I can’t reach out to certain resources or any resources because I ‘make too much money.'”

Melanie’s financial burdens extend beyond her recurring expenses. She also highlights the physical deterioration of her home, explaining, “My crawl space in my house right now literally has, like, 8 inches of water in it … filled with mold.” Unable to hire professional help, she is figuring out solutions on her own, exemplifying her grit and determination.

Melanie’s video mirrors society, prompting viewers to reflect on others’ real-life difficulties, even those who seemingly earn “good money.” In her own words, “I can’t imagine someone who makes minimum wage—how they even remotely function as a human being, let alone as a mother or someone who’s trying to survive.”

The video resonated as a powerful testament to countless individuals’ complexities and challenges worldwide. Melanie’s vulnerability reminded many commenters of their situations and the more significant systemic issues in Canada and North America.

“We are silently drowning, and it’s horrible,” wrote one commenter. “I’m so sorry.” Another commenter wrote: “We can’t afford anything. Rent is so expensive that my entire paycheck goes to it. 2nd paycheck that month doesn’t even cover the rest of my bills.”

The increased cost of housing, debt obligations, and inflation are common issues. “We are all drowning; you’re not alone,” said one commenter. “Sometimes I just sit and cry and worry about bills and debt and food. And I think, is this really what life is?” 

Another wrote: “$34/hr wage used to be a comfortable wage. It’s actually getting pretty scary. I make slightly more, and I couldn’t survive without my husband’s wage.”

“Being a dual-income home is almost mandatory to live now,” one person concurred. “I feel for the single folks.”

Some asked Melanie to look at some additional resources. “Please visit a food bank,” one person said. “Some do not check income; only need an ID; you can check online before you go.” But one replier wrote, “Problem is food banks are also overwhelmed. I went to one, and they didn’t even have basics like bread. It’s scary out there.”


♬ original sound – Melanie Ann

In a follow-up video, the creator articulates the financial struggles she’s currently experiencing. Despite earning $34 an hour, she expresses the challenges of managing inflation and the elevated cost of living, with sentiments such as, “$34 an hour today isn’t what $34 an hour was three years ago.”

She recalls a period when margarine wasn’t $10, and gas wasn’t as expensive. The weight of her situation is apparent as she voices concerns about having to remortgage her house and her attempts to manage limited funds while facing a looming mortgage increase. 

Throughout the follow-up video, she underscores the unanticipated challenges that arrive with life changes, including a marital separation that led her to purchase a $170,000 house, a decision she made with her daughter’s schooling in mind. With genuine transparency, she acknowledges her seemingly good gross income but emphasizes the deduction of government taxes, union dues, and mandatory benefits. Despite her hard work and accomplishments, the creator expresses frustration, embarrassment, and sometimes failure. The societal implications of her struggles resonate as she alludes to broader systemic issues, saying, “Like, f*** you, Canada right now.”

Toward the conclusion, she touches upon the challenges of accessing support, as even local food banks are overburdened and have criteria she needs to meet. The creator ends with a sense of resilience, encouraging people to “hold on tight.”

One commenter wanted her to stand firm: “Don’t apologize. You went viral bc so many are in the same place. You are not alone sister.”

Issues plaguing Canada will likely not be alleviated in the near term. Royal Bank of Canada has warned of a softer economy ahead with plans to cut about 1,800 jobs. The cost of living even has parents struggling with school supplies. Some have decided to leave Canada in search of more affordable housing. However, many people aren’t able to leave their homes and are hoping for a decrease in interest rates.

The Daily Dot contacted @nkotbluver via TikTok comment for more information.

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*First Published: Aug 25, 2023, 5:51 pm CDT