We often take advantage of the things we have, and think of poverty as existing in some far off country. We forget that it is happening right in our own backyards.
For many years my mom’s “savings” was a couple 5 dollar bills she would hide from herself in her purse/wallet so she could use it for birthday presents to give. If she found a coupon of something she was already buying, she would add the value of the coupon to her “savings” stash.
2. Deal With It
If you’re sick, even something that feels like you’re dying, you just deal with it until you’re actually dying and forced to go to the emergency room. Because otherwise you’re going to be saddled with debt you cannot pay back to the tune of student loans level of it.
3. I Have No Money
When I said I had no money, I meant I had no money. I can’t take five dollars to “splurge” on something because I don’t have five dollars.
4. I’ll Eat Anything
You’ll eat just about anything when hungry. Ketchup on saltines with ice water? Great meal.
5. Everything Is Harder
No washer? You have to travel to get to the laundry mat. No car? Borrow or take the bus. No bus? Walk or borrow. No food? Is there a grocery store nearby? Probably not.
6. New Kicks
I’m poor, but need a new pair of shoes because my current ones are beyond gone. Do I get the $10 pair that will last 3 months or the $100 pair that will last 5 years? Considering I can’t afford to blow $100 (and can barely afford the $10 while still making rent), I get the cheap pair and, 3 months later find myself in the same position.
What this ultimately means is I pay $10 every 3 months for 5 years (as opposed to $100 once at the beginning) and spend twice as much on shoes than if I could have afforded that nice pair 5 years ago.
7. Financially Disciplined
There is a very widespread attitude that poor people are only living paycheck to paycheck and can’t save because they aren’t “financially disciplined” enough, and then blame their poverty on their supposed lack of thrift.
8. Climb Out Of Poverty
There is no good way to climb gradually out of poverty, you have to leap out. I was a single mom with kids. Making minimum wage. I got a raise of 50 cents per hour, about 80 bucks per month. Put me over the threshold for food stamps so I lost 300 in food stamps. Doing good at work, getting a raise, resulted in net loss to me of over 200 bucks.
9. Crisis Mode
You’re in constant crisis mode. It absolutely wears people down to a point where they can only ever deal (for varying degrees of ‘deal’) with the single most pressing issue in front of them. Outsiders saying variations of ‘Just make better decisions’ never seem to grasp how circumstances make that nearly impossible.
10. Holiday Inn
Interest rates on loans cost you more, you are sometimes stuck living in motels which, unlike apartments, don’t require multiple months of rent and security deposit to pay up front. You are more likely to deal with wage theft as well.
11. The Right To…
Miranda Rights state”If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be assigned to you by the state” is a lie that will send you spiralling deeper into crippling debt.
12. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
You need a job for transportation, and transportation for your job. If you work for minim wage this could be an issue because chances are you can’t really afford the best vehicle to begin with. It can turn into a constant cycle of repairs once you start putting weekly wear on it, which adds up fast when your only making $7.25 an hour. Not to mention all your other bills, rent, groceries, etc. $7.25 x 40 is only $290. and that’s before taxes. Little time for leisure, and when you do have days off you can’t really afford to do much. Your basically working 5 or 6 days a week just to be able to repeat the process.
13. Cat Food
A lot of old ladies eat cat food. I’m a 20+ year firefighter and I go into a lot of senior homes. I see cat food all the time and they don’t have a cat. From what I gather their husbands retirement checks stopped after they died, leaving them little money to cover rent, bills, etc. When I see signs of that type of poverty I always try and direct them to appropriate county services.
14. Missing Ingredient
You have a fridge, a microwave, and a coffee pot, but nothing to put in them.
16. I Can’t See You
Most of the time, you can’t “see” poverty. They’re not like the starving Sfrican kids you see on tv. Just because you see a kid with a smart phone, dressed in gap clothes walking down the street in a pair of vans, doesn’t mean his family might not be poor and struggling, or that he doesn’t worry about where his next meal will come from. his phone could be his one time birthday gift from a well off relative. His clothes and shoes could be from the salvation army or donated by the local church.
17. I’m A Survivor
Most people don’t live with the knowledge that 1 flat tire is going to make them lose their job. That kind of stress, absolutely every minute of every hour of every day affects your health and well being, making it impossible to think about the future.
You have to focus all your energy on just surviving. You don’t have any left for actually living.
18. First World Problems
Poverty in a first-world country is not a somebody dirty on the street, scrounging for food. It’s a normal looking person in a normal looking apartment, with overdue bills covering the kitchen table, crying because you cannot pay them. It’s picking out doctors and medical care based on what you can afford, not what you need health-wise. It’s being constantly stressed that something will break or go wrong and cost you money. It’s going out to dinner with friends and ordering a water. It’s always settling.
Just because someone is obese doesn’t mean they have adequate nutrition.
There are a lot of places in the US where a person’s food-shopping options are the nearest 7/11 and fast food joints. It’s really easy to take having access to a real grocery store with fresh produce (not to mention something like a farmer’s market) for granted, but you have to remember it’s not a luxury everybody has.
I try to explain this to people every time they kvetch about “stupid poor people don’t they get that fresh produce is so much cheaper than chicken nuggets?”, but rarely do they get the concept.
Fresh produce rots very quickly. Sure, those green beans in a can isn’t as healthy as fresh, but it lasts a hell of a lot longer on the shelf then getting fresh green beans. Same thing with many of the foods that we deem “bad”. There is something to be said about food longevity that many don’t understand.
21. Location Matters
If you grow up in or near a major city and are poor, there are resources (not the best, but still there) a bus ride or two away that can really help improve your life. If you grow up poor in rural America, you don’t have nearly as many tools at your disposal to help your situation. Access is something people of all classes take for granted until they don’t have it.
22. Family Matters
That not everyone has a family that they can rely on for help.
How much luck factors in to your success. I was unemployed for 5 months, sent out 100+ applications and I have a commerce degree from a pretty good university. I didn’t get a single job offer. It’s not easy to just “get a job”.
24. Believe It Or Not
Many people in poverty don’t believe it. They prefer to think they are middle class or lower middle class when in reality they are below their state’s poverty line. They also refuse to use government assisted programs due to pride and the denial that they need it.
25. How It Looks
It looks like two full time jobs. It means you don’t have enough time to drive home after work, you only have time to drive to your next job and sleep in their parking lot. It means paying more interest on your bills than the bills themselves.
26. Poor People Aren’t Stupid.
My mom was born in 1948. She went to college (still new for ladies) and got a teaching degree. She married a firefighter, had 4 kids, built their house. Then husband knocks up his mistress and leaves to marry her. My moms never financially recovered. She couldn’t afford the mortgage and 4 kids all on her own! Not remotely her fault. But I have to listen to spoiled coworkers judge poor people and how if they didn’t want to be poor they wouldn’t be. My mom declared bankruptcy twice. Not that my coworker knew that when he was talking about how people who can’t manage their finances should be sterilized.
There’s no connection between those born into -not even wealth – born into, ability to move up can’t comprehend those who it is impossible for.
27. I Don’t Wanna Grow Up
It forces you to grow up way faster than most. Children are smarter and more aware than people tend to think and kids often realize their situation very quickly. It’s a vicious cycle that is very hard to break.
28. Faster Than A Speeding Bullet
That even if you aren’t poor poverty can come on you instantly. In one weeks time, I went from getting a promotion at work, finding out my wife is pregnant and starting to buy a new car for the kid to fired, carless and the day I got fired, and my dog got paralyzed. The people we had trusted to watch him were abusing him.
29. Life Senetance
That people will live in absolute poverty for most of their life. Sometimes all of their life. They will live paycheck to paycheck, barely getting by, just like their parents. Then they’ll get old, be unable to work, if they’re lucky they get Medicare and disability.