Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America Questions and Answers
by Barbara Ehrenreich

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What are the three rules the author sets for herself at the beginning of Nickel and Dimed? Does she ever break them? If so, when and why, in your view, does she do so?

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In Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, Barbara Ehrenreich examines the impact of the 1996 welfare reform act on the class in America. The investigative report uncovers the difficulties that low-income workers uniquely face. For example, if a low-income worker cannot afford the upfront payment to rent an apartment (typically a security deposit plus a few months’ worth of rent money), they are forced to live in hotels, which have less upfront cost but will end up costing them a higher daily rate.

Ehrenreich conducted this investigative reporting by working at minimum wage jobs. Her first rule was to only take jobs that people with no writing skills and a lack of education would be able to take. She did not want to fall back on her previous education or skillset. She followed this rule successfully.

Her second rule was to accept the highest-paying job available and treat the work seriously, as she reasoned this is what a serious job seeker would do. She followed this rule for...

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