TikToker Making Three Times the Minimum Wage Says He Still Can’t Afford To Live

By: Alex Trent | Published: May 10, 2024

A Tiktoker expressed his frustration about not being able to afford to live the way he wants, even though he makes three times the federal minimum wage in a viral video that got over 2 million likes.

His almost 2-minute rant received almost 50,000 comments from other users, mostly agreeing with the take and finding the American dream has become increasingly out of reach in modern times.

Desperate Plea

In a loud and performative tone, TikTok user Nick Sumners desperately asked for justification for the financial struggles he experiences.

A sharp focus of a box of crayons while a kid colors in the background.

Source: Aaron Burden/Unsplash

“Can somebody explain to me in crayon-eating terms why I make over three times the federal minimum wage and I cannot afford to live?” said Sumners.


No Bootstrap Excuses

Sumner’s question was immediately followed up by chastising a common argument often given in defense of the current state of things.

A person tying their boots while sitting on a curb.

Source: Nathan Dumlao/Unsplash

“And I do not want to hear the pull yourself up from your bootstraps, work 90 hours a week. That’s not the goal guys! That’s not! That should not be our standard,” Sumners said.

Uniparty Blamed

The Tiktoker would go on to allude to a possible answer to his own question, blaming a concept of the “uni party” that has caused people to stop fighting for a better life.

The logos of Republicans and Democrats against a black background.

Source: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

“I’m so, I am so f-ing tired of people being complacent with this uni party, both of them f-ing us over,” Sumners said in the TikTok video.

No Independence

Sumners angrily examined the difference between how he and his parents lived at the same age, and in what they earninged.

Many people at a rally holding up American flags.

Source: Dyana Wing So/Unsplash

“When my parents were my age, they both made less than half of what I make, and they lived alone. I cannot afford to live anywhere alone, a one-bedroom apartment $1800, a two-bedroom apartment, $2200 dollars. Who the f can afford that?!” Sumners said.

Struggle to Survive

The Tiktoker admits he is embarrassed to even be asking the question, and feels the weight of the struggle to live in the modern economy.

A woman counting out bills she intends to spend.

Alexander Grey/Unsplash

“It is embarrassing to come out and say that it is a struggle to survive right now, but I know so many people are struggling,” said Sumners.


Younger Generations Struggling

In January, Newsweek reported that the average member of the boomer generation is worth between $970,000 and $1.2 million, while the average millennial is only worth between $76,000 and $436,000.

A woman holding her head wearing a brown dress.

Source: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

Recent inflation and effects from the pandemic have exasperated the problem with a higher cost of living and the burden of student loans weighing harder on the younger generations.


Agreement From Others

The commenters on TikTok, a platform dominated by younger generation people, resounded with a chorus of near-total agreement.

An apartment complex seen in Denver, Colorado.

Source: Xnatedawgx/Wikimedia

“it’s so infuriating not being able to feel independent in a country that literally markets independency as the goal like HOW,” said one user.


Minimum Wage Can’t Bring the Minimum

A common sentiment shared among commenters is that the minimum wage is not even accomplishing the bare minimum anymore.

A pair of hands in blue gloves meticulously prepares tacos at a food counter. On the left, one hand is placing a topping, while the other hand on the right holds a taco shell filled with ingredients

Source: Obi - @pixel8propix/Unsplash

“Minimum wage isn’t supposed to support a whole family and a rich life, but like…FOOD? SHELTER???? SOME SORT OF QUALITY????” one commenter wrote.


No Free Time

Some in the comments complained about having to work multiple jobs, which leaves them increasingly without free time.

A man wearing headphones plays a video game.

Source: Samsung Memory/Unsplash

“No for real, my mom was talking ab me getting a second job and I freaked, I shouldn’t HAVE to spend all my free time working to just survive,” said another user.


Side Hustles

More members of Millennial and Gen Z than Gex X and Boomer generations report having to resort to having “side hustles” to bring in extra income.

A close-up view of a smartphone displaying the DoorDash app logo on its screen, set on a wooden surface

Source: Marques Thomas/Unsplash

53 percent of Gen Z and 50 percent of millennials say they are using their time working multiple jobs to supplement their income according to a 2023 Bankrate report.


Raising the Bar

Some commenters agreed with Sumners in taking issue with the “bootstraps” narrative.

Brown boots hanging by their strings against a dark background.

Source: Maxim Hopman/Unsplash

“They keep raising the bar of “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps”, used to be go to school and get a good job, we did that, still struggling,” one user commented.