I want to write my opinion/2 cents on this article I saw on facebook today. I wholeheartedly agree with all of what the author stated and have lived with most of it for the past 8 years. Being poor does indeed come with its challenges and every day is most certainly a juggling act. When you have X amount of dollars per month and your bills and expenses are X to the exponential, you have no choice but to get creative.
#12 Cars It’s all about car maintenance because the poor obviously can’t afford any car that’s near new. And when your car is 10 or 15 years old, it’s going to have problems. Always. My last car was a steal for $400. Then over the course of the year, I needed four tires, brakes all around, a battery, and an alternator. That’s almost $100 a month on car repairs. But look on Craigslist, in this day and age, there is no such thing as an affordable used car – people are selling the older (cheaper) models for scrap, or driving them into the ground for necessity. And if a person like me can muster up some credit, a car payment is going to be at least a couple hundred a month – for a car that’s only 7 or so years old.
#11 The Dentist We are lucky enough to have Husky. That’s the state’s insurance, and it covers children up to age 18. And the mother who cares for them. Except that a couple of years ago, dental insurance for adults covered 6 month cleanings, and now it is only once a year. Still not bad. The only issue with the dentist I have, is that I have 6 kids under 18 and the dentist will only do two or three a day – and they are 45 minutes away – one way. Husky dentists are few and far between, and busy. So, if the kids need a dentist, and have to go back for a filling, it is about $40 that week for gas, just for the free dentist.
#10 & #9 Sick Kids Okay, these two don’t apply. My kids are remarkably healthy. Aside from the occasional runny nose or cough, we have never, ever had a major illness in the family. Thanks be to God, and a lot of nutritional research, my kids have always been super healthy. I buy about a bottle of generic ibuprofen a year.
#8 Food This one hits home. There is always more month than food money. No matter how much I plan or budget or shop at Aldi. It is virtually impossible to feed 8 people for $31.16 a day. Never mind when the older children come over, or guests, or the kids friends who are always here because they don’t get enough food in their own houses. I know how to bargain shop. I don’t know how to work, go to school, and do everything else I need to do and find the time to cook dry beans from scratch so everyone doesn’t go hungry.
#7 Peter or Paul Who to cheat this month. Because I get food stamps, I am on the do not shut off list for the electric company until March. BUT the way this house is set up, I only get that privilege for one half. Yep, even though my converted two-family, is now a one-family, I still have two electric meters and two oil tanks. Hence, double utilities. And no matter how much I explain (plead) to the energy assistance people, I get ONE oil discount, and ONE electric bill on hold. So on those months when the one month of the one tank’s assistance has run out – half the year in New England – I get to put the minimum in both tanks and pay the rent – $1400. It’s a rather difficult thing to do when one makes $1200 a month.
#6 Bank Fees I luck out here. The few times I actually overdrew myself, I played the, “I’m a single mother of a jillion kids and that fee is 1/4 of my take home pay!” And have gotten out of it each time. There are some sympathetic people still out there.
#5 & #4 School Stuff This year I not only had to contend with my school books ($1100), uniforms, stethoscope and supply tote, CPR class, countless drives to the doctor for immunizations I was non-titered for, but I had 6 kids in 3 different schools with 6 different lists of the required supplies and the need to actually have matching socks and shoes without holes – not to mention sneakers for gym, fees for this and that, the classroom parties, fundraisers, yaddah yaddah. On the plus side, 5 of them get free lunch and breakfast. On the minus of the plus side – I am told that the school food has high fructose corn syrup and msg, it’s gross. I consequence of my past homeschooling.
#3 & #2 Gifts When your kids have friends who have birthdays and they get invited to parties that actually involve bowling or bouncy houses and goody bags – they sort of want the same things when it’s their turn. When you have a lot of kids there is quite obviously a lot of birthdays and when there is a lot of birthdays, there is not a lot (if any) money for extras – like paying for all of their friends to bowl, have pizza, and a bag full of junk to take home as a remembrance of the occasion. Around here, it’s typically a homemade cake and one thing they really want – or need. Christmas is more of the same. Recently, one of my 11-year-old’s friends was over and announced that she was getting the new Iphone for Christmas. (Don’t tell her, but my 11-year-old is getting an outfit). I am and have been fortunate enough to have received very generous help each and every one of the last 8 years at Christmas time. It does take the edge off, but when you consider the cost of everything, the heating season, kids now in school with teachers needing a little something, and a family growing by inlaws and grandchildren – and holiday food at the end of the month … well, you get the picture.
#1 All the Other Stuff Toilet paper, shampoo, deodorant, tampons, windex, laundry detergent, dish soap, soap soap, etc. etc. etc. etc. Where does one find anything left for those things? Around here, those things are always in demand, and always empty. Always.