Friday, August 26, 2016
Are Your Bills Crushing You? Surviving While Poor
Are your bills crushing you? Mine are. There's three of them above ready to get me! lol Will payment plans keep them at bay?
I want to ask people how do you survive? Hey maybe fill me in here.
My life has become a litany of food pantries and the rest. Last week we went to the soup kitchen, in the inner city. They fed us spaghetti, it was direct, you line up, some people got free loaves of bread. Some of the men in there had "house arrest boxes" around their ankles, well that part wasn't good. It was rather austere but the meal filled us up.
Some people would be afraid to go down there, but I have lived in ghetto areas long enough to know how to survive in them. This is life as usual for me, as we have gone to community dinners. My husband went to a food pantry yesterday. I was cooking all that squash I got and the last of the cabbage was used up on soup last week. Tomorrow is a community church lunch for the poor. Let's hope it's not hot!
If you were to ask me what did you buy that was "extra" in the last three months beyond base survival, I would say, "One day I bought a chicken burrito for 6.95", and another day, I saw this beef jerky on sale for 3.50 which was half priced, which I bought and snacked on. My card making hobby was shut down, the money for supplies simply vaporized. I haven't made anyone a card in 8 months. Stamp collecting? I haven't bought a stamp even a cheap one in almost a year. Oh I think I went to the nature center on June 6th, that's 3 dollars each to get inside. Clothing? One project friend had her parents buy me two dresses in 2011. I got one dress from another friend as a present in 2010. So yes, many things did get cut to the bone. My husband seriously needs clothes, but finding larger ones in thrift is very hard.
I always thought I was a frugal person but I wonder why even my frugality seems to be failing me. Is life getting this tough for others like this out there? If you have poverty surviving ideas, add them in the comments.
1. Try and find a Food Co-op [there's ones for middle class people too where they share organic and other foods]
The food co-op I joined is a food bonanza and was a great decision. We won't starve at least though I wish there was more meat. We got more meat then most food pantries though. I got two bags of walnuts, to me that is like a kid in Victorian England getting an orange in 1870. Nuts are expensive. Now I can put some in salads and maybe some bran muffins.
2. Always pay rent first even if it's a boarding house room.
My first advice, is always pay rent first. Stable housing is the make or break in terms of surviving poverty. If your housing is at risk then you always are.
When we run out of food during the month or have to go line up at all these charities, I have said to him, "Shouldn't we give up this apartment?" but then I am caught, I am too sick to deal with rental rooms, and the boarding house life in this condition. Two life rules I have are--stable housing first and foremost, and second life rule, never live with anyone where you are not the adult in charge. No one is clamoring to have me move into their spare bedroom but since I moved home at 20 before my first no contact this has been my rule. What I went through was not worth it. I could never do it again. This can be a way for people to save money if they have friendly relatives or friends, but it's risky. Because of my Aspergers, I need peace, quiet and a refuge from social demands.
Most rental rooms are upstairs. Roommates may not have patience with someone who is always home or spending an hour in the bathroom. We have had this discussion over and over and the "roommate" discussion. We would take this one close friend if he became homeless and others but strangers seem too risky. Maybe we are paranoid or maybe I know not everyone would be understanding. Sometimes I worry we are too risk adverse, but you can see how life made us that way! For many poor who are in better shape and not two old married people set in their ways living with roommates sometimes works out.
3. Don't waste money if you do have it.
Facebook is crazy. Watching the higher socio-economic classes burn money with a lighter in front of my eyes is insane. A few wealthier types have been ordering those companies that put together cooking boxes. Time is money but they spend around 85 dollars to get FOUR meals. I have fed both of us for an entire week on less then 85 bucks, which is 21 meals. We eat a lot of eggs, cooked vegetables and soup. One lady repainted her door 4 times, trying to get the "best" color on the front of her suburban home. How much did those cans of paint cost?
It's their business but watching my mother waste money, right in front of my eyes, with her 10,000 glass snow men and shopping was insane. How much did the second vacation home alone cost in money and taxes? My husband tells me, "Don't worry about being cut out of the will, there's no way nothing is left, she's probably even re-mortgaged the house again. Past behavior tells you future behavior." I added up once what she spent since she got the big insurance pay outs of 1998. The new cars and house renovation alone would equal half of what she got back then and almost 20 years have passed. I know two government pensions are good, but I don't think they are that good. She made good money selling her soul counting body bags for the government and Bush's wars even without a college education but there's a limit to everything.
Years ago, she told one aunt "My children will be rich when I die", but I thought that's gotta be the biggest nonsense going. I was told I was cut out anyway. The level of money I saw being spent before I walked, I was in shock she had not run out. To be honest, to me it would be the ultimate justice if she ever was poor, but my mother never has gone without a dollar she has wanted.
3. Sometimes you can sell stuff
Yes we have done stuff like collect cans and sell ebay. More then ten years ago, we sold off books, CDs and records on ebay when ebay was going strong. I don't own much to sell now but if you do own things sometimes if you sell your antiques and other valuables if you have them it will raise money.
I sold a silver necklace for three dollars once at the gold and silver place needing some gas money. It was thin and light. Some towns if you play an instrument you can busk, make sure they don't require permits. Some towns have flea markets were you can set up a garage sale and if you have your own house, garage sales will work. Living in an apartment makes sales like that too difficult.
4. Begging is probably a bad idea [unless you are so desperate you can't help it].
We have never begged on the street with the cardboard signs. Been tempted but never have sunk that low thankfully. I am too visibly disabled and people will pretty much know I have a social security check and may ask what is that woman doing? This town is small enough too, even if we went to the outer highway by the mall, my husband could see people he freelances for. We can't have that. I feel for people in that situation. Some towns have laws against it.
5. If you slide through the cracks medicine wise, there are organizations to help you.
Even now I ask my husband, "What are we doing wrong?" I go up and down the list. I get ideas, "Let's do this, Let's do that". They have us herded and "caged" on every front. One slip up and I could fall through the cracks. There was a time when he was working and "made too much" for me to get medicine, and that was scary and I did go through the cracks. Fell right through it. His work place insurance had done away with pill coverage. I found a special program and without it, I probably would have died. It was called RX Outreach. If you are poor and can't afford medicine this place will help you out. I also would go to the websites for the Pharmaceutical companies, and many offered special programs for specific medicines. Here is an example of one.
If you ever see diabetics who have had a foot amputation, before you judge them and think "why didn't they take care of their diabetes" know that they have made insulin equal to the price of rent. People like me on disability have a few options many don't have. Diabetes is going untreated None of the cheap pill programs cover insulin either. Maybe some charities are covering this, I would like to think so. I knew this one lady who walked around for a year and half with a blood sugar over 250 because she didn't have money to go to the doctor and no insurance.
See if your town has a free clinic, many do now. Sometimes they are in a church. I spent years going to clinics for the very poor. One thing to be cautious of, they are not good at diagnosis, they are trained to deal with immediate problems. Referring MYSELF to a specialist bailed me out once. My husband uses a local free clinic.
6. Avoid the Lifestyle Trap:
My husband paid 300 a month in gas alone to get to one old job. He reminded me yesterday that while back then there was no soup kitchens and going to food pantries--well I went to one at my old church, we were always just as pressed. That never ended. One thing if you do get money, don't raise your lifestyle, keep it the same and enjoy the feeling of "freedom", that's what I always wanted. If you win the Lotto. just keep your old house, and clean it up a bit. Don't increase everything up a notch and be pressed again. My mother spent money like one of those people who win the Lotto and end up with nothing. One huge mistake people make is increasing the lifestyle when they enter into any money and then the level of demands and stress remain the same.
7 Sometimes moving is a good idea, but sometimes it's a bad one.
If you are poor, don't make our mistake, of moving around for jobs, hoping to become better off. I have moved too much and to be frank, it made life more difficult. One time it worked and fixed things, and another time it didn't turn out so well, but I ended up with better medical care. I moved to avoid becoming homeless so the stable housing rule took precedent a few times. My move to Chicago was to avoid immediate homelessness.
At a certain age, you won't meet people like you did when you were younger and if you get poor enough or disabled enough, your social life will be dead in the water. If you know you aren't going to reach a certain socio-economic level, it's better to invest in relationships. Better off people can travel to see relatives and old friends. If you are a poor person, moving constantly and distance breaks down relationships but then some of this can be beyond your control, even when I have stayed put, others have moved. I didn't have a decent family all in one place but if you do have a decent family like that, rethink moving away. Consider your support systems. Life without a support system is far harder.
8. Compare prices and always look for deals
Another gym I plan to visit now is a 10 dollar a month one, if I can use any of the equipment. One guy I knew told me why are you going to go to ones you can barely afford and told me this gym could be an option. He's right even for the 45 dollar one, I wondered where was I going to find the money but I will compare them all. I do compare prices on everything.
If you get car repairs, go to poorer areas to get them done if you know you can trust the garages. Try and get word of mouth about who is the best. Some poor areas use street mechanics, but I have avoided that for now. I know Aspies suck at networking but this is the information about life that helps cut the risks. We once got a radiator fixed for 300 dollars when this other garage on the richer side of town wanted 500. Haggle over the price of things, you CAN save money. I may sound like a cheapskate, but I even have tried to cut deals at thrift stores and garage sales. It has worked.
9. Fighting your way out of poverty doesn't mean you'll never fall back In
My husband says "Maybe we won't be poor forever" but with the declining health and our age, I pretty much have consigned myself to it. Digging one's way out takes good health and neither of us have that. Anything could happen and I'll be happy then but one has to deal with reality too. We still have some goals we have not let go of. He is still working on another book. I plan to make a zine or something of the comic.
If someone was to ask me, "Don't you know how to dig your way out of poverty?" Sure I do. It takes getting a skill and getting some sort of decent regular employment. That usually takes a degree of health too. If an ugly man with a beard in 2007 had not decided that my husband was not a good copy ad writer, my life could have gone completely different.
I am not some Republican that thinks all poor people are poor from moral failings but if you have bad habits like losing at gambling, drugs or drinking or the rest that cost money or kill employment, then do what you can to get away from them. Whatever the size acceptance delusionists say, being fat is probably one of the biggest money killers in the world. I do think if I had not gotten sick and if the lungs had stayed intact, I may have been okay. Life would have gone a whole other direction.
If you are young and weigh in the mid200s and 300lbs, do everything beyond moving heaven and earth to avoid supersized obesity because once you go beyond the 250lb norm, good jobs unless you are a STEM computer expert will be impossible to get. If you have health problems and are gaining weight like crazy, demand everyday to get treatment and tests. Don't end up like me. Get diagnosed earlier. Well I tried my best.
The right kind of education can sometimes be a way out. Think practical not liberal arts. Liberal arts stuff, the internet is at our beck and call. One does not need expensive degrees to learn things anymore. The Internet is for the taking. Always live in an area with good libraries. There's two here.
One core component is health. However digging one's way out of poverty is far harder then ever before. They are designing things that way. The jobs are not dependable. We climbed out of poverty once, via a job, from Chicago the rural town, and then we fell back in again moving here, when he lost the job we moved here for. Sometimes I've had mean types yell at me, and tell me "Well you two need to get yourself out of poverty" with bootstrap lectures. Well we did it once before escaping Chicago. They don't get that. I was still disabled but we did have our life change.
Things could have been worse if he never found his freelance work. So "poverty" even in itself can be relative. There's poverty where you still have an apartment and a level of well semi-dignified living, and then there's homeless poverty where the bottom completely falls out. There's levels a disability check will keep you from. I have been far poorer then now even.
10. Information about homeless shelters
Homeless shelters are not the salvation many think they are either. They can help so don't take me wrong on this but many are FULL and will tell immediately homeless people even poor women, "Sorry there's no room today!". I have been friends with or known people who have been homeless in the past, they have told me things about that world. I avoided homeless shelters by the skin of my teeth but many people who are new to the fall down the ladder, expect more help then is really there. How do I say this, you can't always expect the calvary to rescue you. I've been in many spots where no calvary was coming and a friend had to rescue me or God Himself had to send strangers to do it. I hate those circumstances, most of the ones I am thinking of are where a natural disaster and fate took me to a bad place.
I suspect many of the homeless are scapegoats from narcissistic families. I had this discussion somewhere on my blog once upon a time, where people always think of the homeless, "Well they must have burned all their bridges!" Some get angry asking "Why doesn't that homeless person have any family to take them in? Look at me, it isn't that hard for a scapegoat to end up with no family. Some of us may have had friends or they died or they lived too far away or are too poor themselves to help. My husbands family except for one sister has literally died off. When I see homeless people now, I think "How many were the scapegoat and cast away or were forced to leave the family behind"?
11. Facing the Fear of Poverty
Sometimes I do get scared a lot from being poor. The fear is weird to me. My husband has remarked I act like the desert is near, and soon I will be cast out. I know where this comes from, my poorer days in my youth? When I was young, I ironically hoarded money. My narc parents would laugh about how I was a miser. I really was. I probably was thinking of a great escape or something in the back of my mind.
This week one day when I wasn't housebound, I was at the grocery store, and I thought I had two 20s and only had two tens, I had forgotten about spending other money. I usually know to the dime how much money I have, so this was an unusual slip up for me. I was embarrassed as we had to put food back and lower our bill from 24 dollars to 17. I was buying meat to go with food pantry food. Inner shame rose up in me. I felt scared and angry. Examining these feelings I asked myself, "Why?"
This is something I am working on. I am not sure where it comes from. Queen Spider did a number on my mind about poverty. She hated herself as the poor farm girl and decided to get money at any cost and did. This hatred was unloaded on me especially as I involuntarily became a poor adult. Sometimes I try to cope with these emotions. I am messed up when it comes to money. Money is the biggest taboo subject in America not sex.
12. Facing the Emotional Stigma of Poverty
Even with my family I believe I would have been cast out for good even if I had not gone no contact. People who are traveling to Europe, and who can afford a new car every two years, don't want someone like me around.
I believe even if I hadn't gone no contact myself, my worsening poverty would have caused the family to cut me off completely anyhow. I was being cut off more day by day. All of them would travel the world, and buy new furniture and new cars. I am sure now my mother is enjoying her new $35-50,000 dollar vehicle, the second one bought in three years. I only know about it from recent hoovering.
Part of survival while poor is the emotional survival. The world will try and crush you. This is actually more dangerous then any of the physical lacks. I am working to overcome the damage to my self esteem on so many fronts and money is a big bugaboo for me. You have to learn to put your own survival first sometimes, and "harden" up to a degree, not in a bad way where you close down your conscience but looking out for your needs.
Even if I had done everything that doctor told me, and not gone on the emergency antibiotics, and waited until Wed when he finally did call, I would have been in the hospital by Monday or Tuesday. It's kind of like that. Same with being poor, you have to protect yourself. When one is vulnerable some toxic people will try and hurt you. You have to find the ones who will help. Don't take advantage of their good will of course. We don't go to the food pantries and community dinners if we can feed ourselves that month, and there are months we don't have to go.
My self esteem during the last 9 years at times took a massive battering. Since working on myself and going no contact with the family, I thought about these issues. Things are improving since the weight of expectations and being called a "failure" got lifted. They were never there for me in any real way. I even started thinking more about my Chicago years and this may sound like a strange revelation, but my parents weren't the only ones who betrayed me, there were many other middle class and above members of my family, who took the tactic of "just let her die". My eyes were opened wide. My siblings were adults of certain means and knew what circumstances I was in.
A lot of my emotional survival while being a poorer member of society is refusing the judgments of narcissists. If you want to make it, you need to find people who will understand and have compassion. Those of you who are young and healthy enough to make it out of poverty, make sure no one's around you whose drilling a hole in your boat. I tell people on ACON message boards, keep job plans to yourself. Narcissists will do anything to keep a scapegoat especially down. Realize you are a valuable human being no matter your socio-economic status.
If you have any ideas, add yours, or discuss...
Suntopia: Helping People Help Themselves