July 13, 2011
My family used to have a fairly decent, middle class income. Unfortunately, my husband worked in the housing industry. His company where he worked for 25 years, quickly downsized from 500 people to about 50. Many of our friends lost their jobs. We felt lucky that he only lost his bonus, which was about 35% of his take home pay. There were more lay offs that year and we sighed when he kept his job the next year and only lost 20% of his pay. The next year saw a 10% reduction in pay and we were just glad it wasn’t the 15% that some people made. I joked that if he kept working there, in a few years he would be officially a slave. Then he got laid off.
We might be poor but we can enjoy life!
So anyway, my family has really had to make some adjustments to a lower income. This is our 3rd year at less than 35k for a family of 3, but we’re doing it, and doing it fairly well. Meaning, of course, that the basics of life are provided for – our mortgage is paid, our bills are paid, and we’ve got food and love. In the post above, the guys even have beer – courtesy Budweiser and House Party Over 21, and cigarettes. I’ll do a post on how to drink and smoke dirt cheap another time for those of you that don’t want to quit. Stay tuned! (Note, I don’t smoke and very rarely drink!)
Love is really the most important thing. If you are going to be poor, it’s a lot better if you are spending time with people you love because you won’t have a lot of money to go out or for entertainment.
The next thing I can tell you is you have to prioritize, and you have to face reality. If you don’t have money for cell phones and cable, they have to GO. You can be creative though, and still have fun – USE the web.
Personally my Internet connection is about as important as ANYTHING, so it gets a high priority. That’s because I use it to help make up the difference with the other things I can’t afford. For instance, we use a Magic Jack phone. It’s 20.00 a year and it works just fine – for 20.00 a year. Sometimes we have to call someone back, but if your friends and family don’t understand that what you have, is what you have, then you probably don’t need to be worrying over them. Good friends appreciate your situation and are sensitive to it. That’s a per month savings for you, if you can get rid of your land line.
For a cell phone, we use Virgin Mobile. Get a pay per use phone and quit using it. It’s for emergencies. Believe me, you CAN live without one.
There’s other options as well. You might have a combined package like Comcast’s Triple Play that you can get super low for a year. Some people use Skype. We tried it but it didn’t work well for us.
It’s really ok not to have the latest high-tech gadget. Their big advantage anyway is that they let people be very mobile. Well, if you are struggling financially, you aren’t going to be globetrotting and needing to do a presentation across the country anyway. But, just for the record, I’ve done that, and I still know how. 😉
Now if you are thinking, ‘Oh but I NEED my cell phone for safety! I need it for….’ Well, fine. You may not be my target audience. I am writing for people who are worried about surviving on little to nothing! Safety devices are actually a luxury that for the poor, have to be carefully balanced by their living environment and any potential discounts they can get for having them! But an activated, pay per use phone that you never use, can BE there for when your car breaks down or for emergencies. You just have to discipline yourself to never use it otherwise so you can keep a balance on it and keep it working.
You will start noticing how really strange it is when complete strangers seem to make it a point to pull out their i-whatever and show you a video you didn’t ask to see. Being poor can really be an eye opener-it constantly is for me at least. I began to notice how desperate some people seemed to show off their money or expensive possessions. I began to wonder why people had to call friends and relatives in order to select an orange juice at the grocery store. Are people so lonely that they need that constant contact? Do people forget that if we strip ourselves bare, we are all just human underneath, so they try to make themselves more? Sometimes I think the answer must be yes.
I began to realize that money and material things really don’t do much for people AFTER basic needs are met. Of course, it is very, very vital to anyone’s happiness and well being that they are! If some little unsecured debt doesn’t get paid, or you can’t afford your cell phone bill that’s one kind of thing – but you have GOT to have a roof over your head, access to basic utilities, and food. So please – always put those things first and guard them well.
After your most basic human needs are met, well, people are either happy or unhappy, and they are either secure with who they are or they aren’t. I do think that being poor is a lot easier on me because I AM a happy person, and I think everyone should make that their top priority whether times are hard or not.
It isn’t the state of having money or not having it that makes a person. You have to be a kind person, who can laugh at, and forgive people, even your self.
If you really need a landline for some reason, or a regular cell, and you are low-income, there is a government program that can save you money. You can check it out here: http://www.lifeline.gov/lifeline_Consumers.html”>
If you are low income, and already receiving some form of assistance, you very well may qualify for a free cell phone and monthly minutes. You can check this link: https://www.safelinkwireless.com/EnrollmentPublic/home.aspx for more information on that program.
If you have questions, please ask! Remember, if you are going through hard times, you aren’t alone. wherever it chooses to be, keep your faith!