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Thread: I'm poor

  1. #1
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    I'm poor

    This isn't a rant, or a plea for help or advice (although, I love any and all advice on pennypinching, so if this topic turns into that...that's all cool). This is more of a declaration. It seems that having a small budget, or living below the poverty level, or being financially "poor" is a shameful thing. Well, I don't think so. I am "poor", I do have a tight budget, and it's probably not going to change any time soon unless publisher's clearing house knocks on my door or I have a distant and unknown relative leave me a huge estate.

    I've noticed that often when people say they have a tight budget they have to find an excuse for it, as in they are students or going through a tough time, etc. These things may be true to them, and defenitely aren't shameful, but I don't see any reason why you have to explain that you're not as well off as society and the media around us think you should be. Maybe this is because of the stereotypes surrounding those who are poor? The boy and I aren't lazy...we both work jobs and take care of our homes and hobbies. We're not stupid either. And we're not "mooching" off of the government or anyone else (not that I think taking help is necessarily mooching...I'm just replying to stereotypes here.) So why should one feel bad for making a living on less, especially if they are content and doing well?

    It turns out that the dear boy and I made about 10-11 grand this year in total, and we live in Southern California. Obviously, we are not living in luxury, lol. How does one make it, you may ask? We have roommates, so our living and utility costs are halved. We don't have a car, we clip coupons, we buy at thrift and discount stores, we practice diy, and we've learned some frugal tips and tricks along the way. Basically, we're not doing anything "drastic" unless you count recycling drastic or finding curbside goodies drastic.

    I'm not quite sure I'm making my point in this lengthy post. I'm just saying...embrace your economic status! You shouldn't have to be ashamed of however little (or much for that matter) you make and survive on. You shouldn't be ashamed of where you want to go either, as long as you don't have a problem being who you already are. Anyone else out there, making not so much money but worrying you should pretend you are or that you will be looked at with either pity or scorn?

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  3. #2
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    yes! word, happyhats. i am poor by choice (though if an inheritance came my way i wouldn't give it all away ;)). i depise paying taxes into a system that uses my money to pay for war and pad the pockets of obscenely wealthy politicians and corporate 'leaders'. i choose to work primarily from home, doing my art, and caring for my daughter at home rather than paying someone else to raise her during the week. i choose to live simply, i prefer buying and making unique clothing from thrifted/free materials. i choose to be resourceful and crafty and creative, not only to 'fly under the radar' in terms of taxes, but also to leave less of an impact on the planet and teach my daughter how to sustain herself without relying on the consumer culture.

    i get very tired of feeling like the charity case in my family, but so far i haven't figured out how to tell my relatives that we don't need all the plastic crappy toys and fugly new clothes they send (though i feel o.k. about giving it straight to the thrift store). i try not to care what people think of my lifestyle choices, but sometimes it's tough to not feel judged and to not feel the stigmas associated with living in public housing and driving a 15 year-old car and not having huge ambitions for success and wealth and fame. i'm working on developing more of a sense of pride that i lead a relatively simple, quiet, low-impact life.

  4. #3
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    Just this morning, on my drive back from my son's pre-school, a couple of radio DJ's were talking about how so many people think they have to live a certain way to compete with everyone else's riches, and how insane it is to live beyond your means.
    As if you should care what Joe Schmoe down the street thinks of all your fancy aquisitions.
    But I don't know how you do it on your salary...for the 2 of you! I was literally broke and starving when I was single and made maybe 6 grand/ yr.
    But I wasn't as resouceful as I am now either.

  5. #4
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    Here! Here!
    Your definetely not alone. I'm actually proud at the moment that I don't have a negitive balance in my checking account! However I did get a flat tire this morning, so....where's that money going to come from? crap.
    Anyway, a good word of advice that I've always tried to keep in the back of my mind is a Buddhist phylosophy:
    We always want something, and when we get what we want, we just will want something else.
    That being said, I just try not to get compulsive with thinking about what I don't have. Sometimes there's no way to get around the things we actually need to survive, but the extras we can always do without. We live, with or without a fancy car, Ipods, diamond rings, stereo systems, ect., ect. As long as I have clothing on my back, food in my tummy, and a roof over my head I try not to get depressed over the little stuff.
    That's why I think diy is so great. It forces to see what you actually do have, and what you can do with it.
    So don't get upset Happyhats. You apparently have a hat that makes you happy! ha ha ha. That was corny, hope you laughed. ;)

  6. #5
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    As a recent college grad and working temp jobs and random freelance, I have a very tight budget. But it's all about your mindset. You have to make do with what you have and find happiness no matter what economic state you're in
    Rich and happy aren't synonomous.

  7. #6
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    The reason that "poor" is considered shameful in this country is because, in this country, our class system is directly based on how much money you have, and always has been. I agree that "poor" or "financially limited" or however you want to label it, is not intrinsically shameful. I was raised poor, have never had a great deal of money, and yet I don't think my life has been wasted, and I sure-as-heck don't feel ashamed! On the contrary, I have kept myself and raised five children on a very limited budget, and I look on that as an accomplishment.

  8. #7
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    i don't think being poor is something to be ashamed of, but it fucking blows.

    wondering where your next rent check or meal or pair of pants holes is going to come from isn't shameful. it's just shitty.

    being able to live on a budget is awesome, and it's how i was raised, but when i "grow up" and have a family i don't want to have to trade off whether i'm going to buy shoes for my kids or for myself because i can't afford both.

    maybe it's my upbringing, but i feel more ashamed about being financially stable than poor. i was raised by working parents, and all our friends were in the same condition. living paycheck-to-paycheck or being a blue collar worker was okay and possibly even a point of pride. i was taught by example that wealthy people were yuppies, and nobody liked them.

    so it's embarrassing for me to be in school to do something that i can make money with. i fucking love what i study, and honestly, i'd probably be in this program even i didn't have a good chance of getting a good job with my degree, but i'm really looking forward to being financially secure. someday i want a car with a stereo AND air conditioning, and i'm not ashamed of that.

    whoa, sorry that turned into such a rant. i totally agree with you though. being poor is nothing to be ashamed of. making ends meet is an art.

  9. #8
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    I'm glad that others see where I'm coming from. I defenitely agree with the Buddhist statement someone quoted. I often say something similiar, like, "yeah, I'd like more money, but everyone does?" How often have you heard someone makes double the income as yourself complaining about the cost of something or about how they would like to have more money for x,y,z? So, I don't think, there ever is enough money unless whatever money you have right then is enough. (Well, that's quite a simplified statement, you do need enough to pay your bills each month and eat, but I'm just trying to say that if you're not okay with what you have now you won't be okay with what you have then.)

    Actually, my only problem with my financial state is whether to call myself poor or not. I'm not poor, as in "oh poor me!". I have my family, a few close friends, a lover who cares for me, my health, and my creativity. I think that being financially limited made me more creativity, more humble, and a much more conscientous consumer. And I feel like it's a sense of accomplishment when I'm asked how I get by with such a little income, because it shows that I am resourceful and "independant" of the consumer world by large.

    Not that there's never been any stress over my financial state either. The reason that I'm so happy with what I have now is that I spent a year living on my father in laws living room floor. When you have no privacy, no bed, no money, and can't even sleep with your boyfriend you realize not to take things for granted. There's stress of getting sick and having no insurance, but luckily I educate myself as much as possible about taking care of myself and I also know where to go for free or cheap health care if something does happen. (Look for your county hospital. They are more likely to have a reasonable pay schedule to work out if you need emergency care, and they also can point you to free healthcare if you turn out to have an ongoing condition.) I know where my local food shelters are as well, though luckily I've not had to use them. I also know where the best prices on recycling goes (hey, if you're already getting free money, you might as well get the most you can!)

    I'd say that living a comfortable and successful life on such a small income comes down to being constantly educated on where the best deals are (grocery but also best areas for dumpster diving, best thrift stores in your area, etc.) and using the "three ds": Make Do with what you have, Do without, and Do it yourself.

  10. #9
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    My husband makes a good paycheck from a job he loves and I work at home and my on my art which I love, so we live on a single paycheck but I agree with everything everyone said.

    It doesn't really matter how much we make--if we are not happy with what we are and what we have now-- we won't ever have contentment not if we made 10 times as much.

    We own our condo. it's 715 sq ft. and we love it and it works great for the two of us and our dogs. So many of our friends and family ask us when we are getting a "real house" or remind us how small it is. Who cares! We can afford the mortgage payment and we are happy and comfortable in our lifestyle. My studio is in the closet; but hey it's mine.

    I work hard to keep our food costs within reason.
    Some of the best thrifty tips are really common sense:
    I remeber reading somewhere that the cheapest and best thing you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy is brush and floss. Preventing cavities and other dental problems saves money now and in the long run.

    Same with eating fruits and vegitables--I hear how expensive they are; but they give you vitamins and eating right prevents illness. Plus the fiber fills you up.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by stella
    i don't think being poor is something to be ashamed of, but it fucking blows.

    wondering where your next rent check or meal or pair of pants holes is going to come from isn't shameful. it's just shitty.

    being able to live on a budget is awesome, and it's how i was raised, but when i "grow up" and have a family i don't want to have to trade off whether i'm going to buy shoes for my kids or for myself because i can't afford both.

    maybe it's my upbringing, but i feel more ashamed about being financially stable than poor.
    Excellent post, Stella. This captured a lot of my thinking. I had a very complicated emotional response to this thread, actually, because I have been working hard for a long, long time to have a higher standard of living than the one I was raised with. For instance, although I try to limit my use of heat for environmental reasons, it sure is nice to know that if it gets really, really cold outside and I do decide to turn the heat on, my apartment will get warmer because (1) I can actually afford to pay my gas bills on time every month and because (2) my apartment is actually insulated properly.

    I struggle a lot every time I go home now, because I know my family now sees me as this prissy princess who comes home and turns up her nose at the state of the house and the way they live. And it's little things, like the fact that I've gotten used to sleeping on a bed with an actual frame instead of a mattress on the floor.

    I guess it's just that it feels to me like a really fine line between being ashamed of being poor or from a lower-class background (which I don't want) and glorifying poverty as an ideal and lovely state of happy anti-consumerism that would be great if only we could eliminate the social stigma (which isn't true of my experience either).

    Ah, I don't know where I'm going with this, so I'll just stop typing now.


 
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