Finance 101 for the poor…

I work with the poor, I have for many years. While its emotionally rewarding work to make a difference in the lives of others, truth is I don’t make much money. Over the years many of my coworkers despite their degrees have not been much better off than the clients we serve. At one shelter I used to work at in Chicago, one of my coworkers often had to grab a bag of food from the shelves we fed folks from since he often ran short before payday.

Over the years, the only coworkers I have had who were not financially struggling were ones who were either partnered to partners who earned a good income or the do-gooders who came from well off families, otherwise folks were broke. Lets just say no one goes into social services for the money.

Regular readers know I am struggling with cash, in part I work in a low paying but rewarding field and despite the fact that I am management, I know for a fact that a management position at a burger flipping gig, would pay me more. But I love my work and thankfully when the economy picks up my side business should pick back up as well.

So with all this talk of money, I found myself sitting in a class last night on financial management. Now the class was for our clients, problem is none of our clients showed up instead those who showed up were fellow service providers. See we make no money and need help.

Problem was that the class assumed everyone was solidly middle class and merely bad at managing money and needed to rethink their relationship to money. However the supposed target audience is not middle class, these are folks who if they do work are working at minimum wage gigs, type of gigs that don’t offer any extra money.

Which leads to my vent….how come there are no financial management classes for folks with no money? Look, bulk shopping does indeed save money. I know because normally I tend to stock up and thanks to that stocking up for the last few months, I have been eating out of my deep freezer thus keeping my grocery costs down with money so tight.

Problem is now that I am running a grand short every month, stocking up is not something I can do…sort of like my clients. Yet the teacher of the class despite saying anyone can benefit from her class, had a lack of understanding about how the poor truly live.

Another example was that if you save $100 a year, in3-4 years that can turn into thousands of dollars. See eventually you can get yourself a sewing machine and sew your clothes, maybe even some crafts to sell. Buy a deep freezer, and stock up and so on.

Look, really poor people have a tendency to not only suffer from a lack of cash, in many cases they suffer from a lack of time….its easy to get a handle on your cash if the problem is you are eating too many meals out and just wasting money. Problem is for the truly poor and look while my cash is tight, even I will acknowledge I am not poor…I just feel like it. The truly poor suffer from a al around lack of resources and that includes time.

Yet as I sat in this class with my mind wandering, I found myself thinking we need former poor people (not I was a millionaire who went bankrupt and now I am wealthy folks) giving out the advice. So if you or someone you know was poor, I am talking minimum wage level of poverty and you pulled yourself up, I would love to hear your tips. I am thinking of designing a class myself for my clients and would love some input.

Off to work  I go…happy Hump Day.