Chris and Elizabeth have two children. They live in a small 2-bedroom apartment in the city. Their family is happy and everyone is healthy, but they are very stressed. Chris works 40 hours a week and Elizabeth works about 20. They are both always exhausted.
Elizabeth is a waitress at a family-owned Italian restaurant. Each week, she works three shifts. She has two eight-hour shifts for dinner on Thursday and Friday nights and one four-hour shift for brunch on Sundays. Brunch is breakfast and lunch. Some people eat a very late breakfast or a really early lunch. Others stay in the restaurant from 10:00 in the morning until about 1:00 in the afternoon. They order a lot of food and talk to their friends and family members for hours.
Elizabeth gets paid the state minimum wage for food service workers: $8.35 per hour. Additionally, people leave her tips. It is customary to leave between 15% and 20% of the cost of dinner for the waiter or waitress. They split this money with the bussers. Bussers are the people who clear all of the dishes and leftover food from the table once the guests leave. Sometimes Elizabeth earns $150 in tips. Other times, it’s more like $50. So, every week, she gets paid by the restaurant and paid by the guests. In total, she earns about $400-$450. That’s pretty good for working only 20 hours.
Elizabeth’s husband, Chris, has two jobs. In the spring and summer, he works for a landscaping company. Landscaping is taking care of the plants around people’s houses. Chris plants flowers, trims trees and bushes, and mows lawns. He loves the landscaping work because he gets to work outside all day. The days are hot, but at least he’s in the bright sun and fresh air. In the summertime, Chris does landscaping all day long. He works at that job five eight-hour days. Landscaping is hard work, but he only gets paid $15 per hour. That means that each week, he earns $600.
Chris also works at a retail store. He works there in the fall and winter. He doesn’t like it as much because it is indoor work and he only earns $8.25 per hour.