Amazon Affiliate

This blog is an Amazon Affiliate which means that should you purchase from one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Showing posts with label government assistance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label government assistance. Show all posts

Monday, August 27, 2018

Financial Struggling and Those Surviving It



When people think of struggling, poor people, I think that the most common image that comes to mind is either a picture of a homeless man who is sleeping on the streets in a worn out sleeping bag or someone who is abusing the government system for hand outs. According to this website at Center for Poverty Research at the University of California,

The official poverty rate is 12.7 percent, based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 estimates. That year, an estimated 43.1 million Americans lived in poverty according to the official measure. According to supplemental poverty measure, the poverty rate was 14.0 percent.  
I wasn't able to find any information for this year, but 43.1 million Americans living in poverty is  43.1 million too many. This information is just for America, I can't imagine what it is like for other countries as well.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links which means that I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you should you purchase from one of these links.
   

Unfortunately, there are many common misconceptions about poverty and welfare. There was a time when my husband and I had food stamps and medical care for my own family. For a long time, I was embarrassed to participate in WIC which is for women and children. It is essentially a food stamps program for certain items. I don't know how much it has changed, but with WIC, I was able to buy bread, milk, fruits and veggies, and cereal, to name a few. It had helped us immensely.

When my husband and I graduated from college, we weren't able to get jobs right away. I was pregnant, so I think that hurt my chances of getting hired and the jobs that we were able to take, didn't pay well. It was a scary time and by the time we had our third child and had bought our very own house we determined it was better for me to stay home than work because most of my paychecks would have gone towards childcare.

" His promotion was like a demotion "
My husband was just making enough that we didn't qualify for food stamps anymore. His promotion was like a demotion in ways because it felt like we had to struggle even more to pay for food that we otherwise had help for. It was tempting to tell him, "Maybe you don't need a raise because if you do, we'll lose out on getting "X amount" towards food." However, our pride told us that we couldn't do that because we would just be moving backwards instead of forward.

I knew that I couldn't be the only one who had ever felt this way, so I searched for volunteers to see if anyone would share their story. I honestly didn't thing that I would find anyone, but as it turns out, people like to share their stories and their success stories.

Interviews with Others Who Struggled Financially

I had some very special people answer some private, intrusive questions and they agreed to answer them. This is what they had to say.

Betty Anonymous-

Can you explain your situation now? Currently I’m 58, medically retired, a home owner, and debt free however that doesn’t tell my story!
Do you or have you ever used government assistance? Yes, for a brief time when I was first medically retired my son qualified for the school lunch program and we took advantage of it. In the far distant past, when food stamps were actual books of stamps, people would offer to sell their stamps for 0.50 for a $1.00 worth of stamps. I may have taken advantage of that (not incriminating myself here.)
 Did you try to make more money? Yes. I sold Mary Kay. I worked both a full time and part time jobs. I made & sold my own soaps and lotions (still do). I grew vegetables and sold them at Farmer’s Markets.

What has held you back from climbing out of debt? Nothing. It was a goal I set for myself, one debt at a time, and eventually achieved. 
If you’re in a better situation, how did you climb out? Ahhh! My story … I’ve been earning money since I was eleven, if you count babysitting jobs and detassling. I started working for companies when I was 14. That was used to pay for school, clothes and help put food on the table.
I made some unwise choices when selecting a life partner. We were in debt, living on credit (except rent and utilities), and paying the minimum on the cards. When we divorced, I took on all the family debt.
My income put us just above qualifying for assistance. I rarely received child support and had 3 children to place in child care while I worked a full time job. In other words, I was the working poor. Made too much to qualify for government assistance. Made too little to make ends meet. 
I cut up all credit cards (except one for emergencies, I think I used it once). I made a budget and stuck to it. With the budget, I removed all the extras. We had basic cable and one phone. I set aside our church tithe, money for savings, and then I tackled the bills; the mortgage, utilities, food, clothes allowance, children’s allowance and a small amount for ‘fun money’. I had several savings accounts … one for emergency savings, one for clothes allowance, one for Christmas & birthdays and one each for the children’s allowance and our ‘celebration savings’. All our clothes, except socks, shoes and underwear, were bought used. Christmas gifts were usually from the Dollar store, except for the books! All the utilities were set up on the budget plan so I was paying the same amount each month. 
We grew a garden to supplement our food. I canned the food we didn’t eat fresh. We ate a lot of rice, pasta, and hamburger (the hamburger was extended by grated potatoes or rice). 
As I paid off one credit card or loan (the one with the highest interest rate), I then applied that money towards the next debt with the highest interest rate. I continued this until all credit cards and loans were paid off, except for the mortgage. It took 3 long, difficult years. Was it hard? You bet, especially seeing my children going without things other kids had. We set a goal as a family though. Once all the debt was paid off, we planned on getting a new computer with all the current games and going on a 2 week vacation without worrying about what money we spent using the ‘celebration money’ we saved. It was the best vacation ever. 
If you had help to get out, would you/did you take it? What advice would you give someone seeking to get out of debt?Before I started on my own paying off my credit, I went to a credit counseling business. For $50 a month, I could turn my check over to them and they would pay all my bills for me, leaving me with no money at all, even for food, clothing or savings. In 5 years, I would be out of debt. I declined their offer.
In recent years, I’ve discovered David Ramsey and Financial Peace University (https://www.daveramsey.com). I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this!!!
Blondie Anonymous- 
Can you explain your situation now? Its not now, but 10yrs ago.
I lived with Gertrude Anonymous and 8 others all in one house. Gertrude and I were the only ones with jobs. 
Did you use government assistance? 2 of the people had food stamps. Only, 1 shared for the house though, which was around $170 a month. 
Did you tried to make more money?Some of the others worked odd jobs, or they stole things and returned them for store money. Or, they just stole food in general. A few times we got prepackaged food from dumpsters.

What held you back? Hmmm..... I think we were just dumb. I was the 2nd oldest at 20, everyone else was 16-18. 
If you're in a better situation, how did you climb out 
After Gertrude left, and Spencer went to prison, a year later. I more or less lost control of the house and everyone kinda went nuts, so I called my brother. Him, my dad, and like 3 other people showed up at 4am and we left. 
If you had help to get out, would you take it?I did. 
Why your brother, why not your mom? How is your situation today? My brother lived the farthest away. 
What's your situation today? 
Now, I'm fine. I own my own house, car, able to pay my bills, (barely, cuz we're working poor) No govt assistance, which kinda sucks because we fall in the cracks, so its hard to do groceries sometimes and get babysitters, which is why I have Debby and Sarah here.

Red Anonymous

This interview is a little more informal because it was a discussion that I had with someone which sprouted my idea to write this blog.

 Yep. I'm probably quitting my job within the month to be available for *other job option.
That's exciting and scary

I know! I've never really quit a full time job.

I just heard the dog drinking out of the toilet. I walked in there and the toilet is filled with poop water.

That's disgusting! Hahahaha
He better not think about licking me, today.

Ewwww

What type of blog post would you enjoy reading. I want to also Target people who are not parents and a lot of mine I've been about parenting lately
Sorry for any spelling mistakes I'm using the microphone cuz I'm making pancakes.

Being poor
I can do that. Btw! Craig finally got a promotion.



Yay! I'm so happy!
Yes there's like three different levels of being poor there's being so poor you have food stamps and you might be able to get a little bit of money assistance and then you think should I get a job because at least I know that I have food coming from here. Then there's being just poor enough that you don't qualify for food stamps and you don't qualify for money assistance but you still qualify for medical care but Medical Care sucks. Enough money that you don't qualify for food stamps you don't qualify for extra income you don't qualify for health insurance so you have to pay for your own health insurance you have to pay for your own food and you worry every single day if you're going to be able to pay for your bills for your loans if you're going to make your credit crappy and it's scary and you're not sure you want to do it then you think maybe I don't need that job after all but then you're just backsliding you're not moving forward and it sucks.

😍1

Solid point. I don't qualify for anything and yet I feel poorest of all.
But if you don't move forward you don't try to do better and you miss out on the pride that you could have had knowing that you made it because you worked your butt off. It's worse if you're single and you don't know is there going to be able to make this rent you're liable only to yourself you have no one to help you you're too prideful to ask for help and so life is more stressful you start smoking you start drinking and then you add to your cost of living you get even more poor because you have these things that you do to keep you on stress and get your adding more to the problem and it's never ending Loop cycle until you are able to move forward you're able to get that promotion you're able to do things to better yourself and then it sucks when you see somebody else who seems to have it better than you do because they're too lazy to work there too lazy to put the effort in and they are relying on people like you. Is there anything else you would add?

I collect jobs because I'm afraid to lose money. I'm paralyzed in dead end jobs because I can't handle the thought of letting go of money. I work long hours, bring work home, don't take care of myself
I don't even want children because of it. I struggle just to provide for myself and I'm miserable. I know children would be next to impossible to have and not resent them deep down because I'm even poorer than I was before.
I'm in a donut hole. Not poor enough to get help. Not rich enough to save money aside. I'm always an emergency away from destitution.
Someone I know just started paying for one of their school loans and it has raised to $350 a month or maybe for every like every other month, but it's more than a car payment.

Mine is currently 250 every month
And that education was supposed to get you a job with big bucks. I've never had to use my degree and I'm paying for something I don't use. I can't sell it back.

I regret going to college at Anonymous
I don't regret going because I had amazing friends and met a spouse there, but it sucks paying.



Finally, there's this interview from

Trudy Anonymous:
Can you explain your situation now? So currently, my husband and I live above the poverty line as a middle class American income. I work 2 part time jobs, and my husband works a full time job with some forced overtime. Both Jerry Anonymous and I grew up under the poverty line. Our circumstances are different by the way that our parents dealt with the financial strain. My family was hyper focused on money. Every decision revolves around the cost, such as “turn the shower off between shampoo and conditioning your hair” or standing at the cash register at the grocery store, with my mom holding out her cash calculating what we had to put back that week. My earliest memories are riding the city bus with my dad, going to the food pantry. I vividly remember my dad letting me pick which fruit we got and the big deal was that my dad would let me pick out the bread from the selection. I always picked cinnamon bread when it was there because it was such a special treat. 
Did you use any government assistance? My family used food stamps for the first few years after I was born but refuses them after I was 3 years old even though they qualified, and they still qualify to this day. My dad qualifies for social security disability due to a traumatic brain injury. 
What is holding you back from making more money? The biggest barrier keeping my family in poverty was the lack of driver’s license for my dad and his inability to keep a job. These both have to do with a traumatic brain injury my dad attained when he was a teenager. He was constantly struggling finding a job that would give him enough hours to survive for the week but not too many hours or he would lose his government assistance, meaning our family would go without. 
How did you manage life? My mom was in charge of our family’s finances. She budgeted every dollar. We weren’t that stereotypical family that got paid and went on a big spending splurge, even though it was tempting. We lived in a mobile home. We had a single car for a family of 4, living off less than $17k a year. We didn’t have vacations or decent cars. We shopped at thrift stores. I think not having a dependable car crushed my family’s ability to get out of debt. Every time we got some money saved, we’d have to debate between getting a different car and fixing our current vehicle. It impacted our ability to be able to participate in extra curricular activities and for my parents to get to work regularly. Jerry's family never talked about their money struggles with the family. They lived within their means and used food stamps until they could sustain the family without. 
What actions did you take as an adult living on her own? I remember the first time I got a pay check from a full time career job. My first thought was “I’m no longer living in poverty.” To get out of poverty, I first followed God’s will for my life, including living with 4 different families to get me through my undergraduate degree, study abroad, master’s degree, and until I found my first career job. I continue to budget and live in fear of losing a job, taking me back to pinching pennies. My husband and I have taken Financial Peace University, a scriptural approach to money management. I know that I am telling my money where to go instead of my money telling me where I can go. 
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get out of debt?My advice for people going through money struggles is surrender your finances, praying with passion that God will be faithful and promising that you’ll praise Him for providing. Reach out and accept help. That’s why it’s there. People feel good about themselves when they can help others. Allow others to have that feeling by helping you. Also, see scripture’s view on money. Scripture is very clear about it. Money can be a sense of security and pride; money shows where your heart is.
For anyone who is married, talk about finances regularly and be transparent. Schedule budget meetings. We know money issues are the number one cause of divorce. So be open and be honest. It’s not easy but it’s worth it to have a fulfilling relationship. Other assistance: One year we were the family that a local McDonald’s adopted to buy Christmas presents for. It changed my life. Even as a kid, I knew the sacrifice and love we had from complete strangers.

Conclusion 

I know that my parents had food stamps and so did my husband's. The assistance was only meant to be temporary because our parents would move forward and they did! I know that there are people who abuse government assistance and it really gives the half of America who don't use it a bad taste in their mouth. For those people, I'd like to have them know that government assistance could mean the difference between eating or starving. It could mean that someone who needs healthcare can receive it. For those who abuse it, I'd like to say, there are people who really need this help. If you don't think that you can live without it, then you don't really believe in yourself and you should.


I know that struggling can stop you from wanting to move forward, but all things are possible through God, who gives you strength. You can obtain financial freedom if you try. If there is something that is debilitating you in a way that makes it hard for you to get out of debt and moving forward, ask for help. There are resources out there to help you to live in a more comfortable way. Start with your local food pantry or DHS office. They will be able to give you assistance on figuring out how to get what you need without abusing the system for others.

I know that it sounds counter intuitive to buy a book about saving money, but this book by Dave Ramsey has been a great help for me.
                                                          
I was able to obtain the book from church at no cost to me because they had like an 8 week study on this book. It had many helpful ideas to get out of debt and also how to start saving and be able to have extra money to spend without hurting you financially. If you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck, this may be a book for you.

Have you ever struggled financially?
How were you able to get out of it?
 Are you still climbing?

Please leave a comment! I'd love to comment back and even pray for you if you need or want it.


About Me

My photo
Hello! My name is Brittany and I'm a writer, obviously. As a stay-at-home mom, there are many things that I have to figure out in order to run a house that appears to be more sane than insane. It's not easy to be a parent and I hope that this blog is able to encourage other moms out there to live life happily and to understand that there can be mishaps along the way, but those mishaps don't define you and anything can be overcome with perseverance and will.

Why I'm Making My Kids Practice Their Spelling Over Summer Break

Somehow, I have children who are old enough to read and write. I don't know how that time came, but it's here and it's up...