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Each week, the Templetons spend about $250 on groceries. Food costs put the biggest strain on their budget, and some weeks, they have to rely on state assistance.

"I've been forced to go to the food pantry, and it makes me want to climb into a hole and cry," Mary says. "I have to keep my tears to myself because I can't let the children see that I'm worried."

Financial struggles also weigh on Brian, the family's sole breadwinner. "Sometimes I do feel like a failure," he says. "It makes me want to get in the car and start driving and never go back."

With no savings, Brian and Mary know that if they suffer a setback, they could end up on the streets like Betty and Kelly. "Each and every day on minimum wage, you have this sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that you are this close from being on the streets," Mary says. "It's constant stress and constant worry. It never lets up."
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FROM: Inside the Lives of People Living on Minimum Wage
Published on April 14, 2006

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