Starting last year, The Huffington Post asked people surviving on wages near the federal minimum, as well as those struggling to even find a job, to call us and share their stories. The responses voice the anxiety and exhaustion of living in the space between just getting by and watching your life collapse -- a gap so narrow that bringing toilet paper home from work can help make ends meet, while any unexpected expense can send you over the edge.
"I'm scared to death of my car," one woman told HuffPost, noting she couldn't afford any mechanical work if something went wrong. Another described "hanging on by the hair on my head." One woman reported her electricity was about to be turned off; a single father of a 6-year-old said he was just a day away from losing his apartment.
According to U.S. Census data, more than 7 percent of workers live below the federal poverty line, with many more above the cutoff but still struggling. The May unemployment rate was 6.3 percent.
Readers who count themselves among those statistics shared their embarrassment at having to depend on family as adults, their dreams of being able to afford better food and medical attention, and their fear of facing an uncertain retirement.
These stories are part of a Huffington Post series profiling Americans who work hard and yet still struggle to make ends meet. Learn more about other individuals' experiences here.
Have a similar story you'd like to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (408) 508-4833, and you can record your story in your own words. Please be sure to include your name and phone number.