Barbara Ehrenreich states in her book that her goal is to "see whether or not I could match income to expenses, as the truly poor attempt to do every day." Nickel and Dimed has been criticized by right-wing author Michael Tremoglie: "According to the Commerce Department the poverty rate for a single person younger than 65 in 1999 was $8,700 per year. Barbara was earning 170 percent of that. Even the Economic Policy Institute states a living wage is 130 percent of the poverty standard."
Other critiques include similar projects to Ehrenreich. Adam Shepard's Scratch Beginnings tells of starting homeless in a new state with only $25 in his pocket. In the ten months, Shephard was able to land a job which paid well enough to buy a pickup truck and rent his own apartment. Similarly, Charles Platt, an author and former senior editor at Wired magazine, took an entry-level job at a Wal-Mart store and recounted his experience on the blog Boing Boing. His account reaffirmed some of Ehrenreich's experience, including the low pay and tedious nature of the job, but Platt also reported positive experiences with supervisors, safety training incentives, and employee autonomy and treatment.