How to stay poor

Snark alert….I am working on day two of minimal sleep. My old friend insomnia has decided to visit again, despite my use of melatonin and herbal tea in the evening. So I am letting you know ahead of time I am in a bitchy mood, and lately these are some of the thoughts floating around in my head.

I have spent most of my of my professional life working with people living with financial scarcity, also known as living in poverty. Now most days I feel deeply for the folks I work with, even now I still remember clients I worked with over a decade ago. Most folks I meet are decent folks dealing with fucked up circumstances but I have to be honest and say about 15% of the folks I deal with are knuckleheads. No, I really mean that. People who just need to be hit by a cosmic two by four. This post is for them.

Why is my life so hard? Why am I poor? Why won’t people help me?  Notice a pattern? It sounds like a fucking wine fest, all we need is the cheese to go with all that damn whine? Look, the best way to stop being poor is to make decisions that would help change your life for the better.

Number one thing you can do, stop making babies! Kids are a blessing but if your housing situation is precarious, you are not quite sure how you are even going to eat say next week…then this really maybe a bad time to have a baby. At the very least when you have a baby, you want to know you can handle the essentials. Which brings me to another point around kids, why have so many? Seriously, they get real fucking expensive as they get older. Um…its hard to dress a teenage boy with clothes at the thrift store. Kids really do cost money, yes babies can be cheap but teens are not.

Number two, choice of mate. I swear but white/black/latino, I have seen women make the worse choices when it comes to mates. May I delicately suggest that if he has no job or resources when you were dating, sexing or whatever you did before you became an official unit. What makes you think he will change when the babies come? I have seen women lament the fact that their loves did not provide but damn, you had a road map…. there were signs and you chose to ignore them.

Number three, not working. It is great if you can be a stay at home parent but generally that requires that someone else in the family is working to provide the cash to keep the family going. Now I have had way too many women tell me but I can only get a minimum wage paying job and after childcare I won’t make any money, what’s the point? The point is you get experience. I hate to break it to you but no one is going to hire you for a professional good paying gig with no experience. It ain’t happening. First job I had in my field, back before I went back to school, paid minimum wage, and I had to work the worst shift. Yet I really wanted to work at this agency so I did it, in less than a year I was promoted to a full-time salaried position, it was still a low-level position but it was light years away from the initial position. My point is you have to start somewhere and you generally have to prove yourself.

Number four, wasting money on dumb shit. Check this out but if you liveon a fixed income of government assistance, I don’t mean to be a bitch but you should not be spending what money you have on trinkets like iPhones and big ass televisions. I have had clients over the year, one almost 10 years ago so I don’t feel bad about sharing the story. He was living in the shelter that I was working at and he had a job and was trying to get back on his feet. Well for Christmas he wanted to buy his kid an American Girl Doll. Those things were an easy hundred bucks back then…and I am sorry but if your home is a shelter with 39 other people, maybe it is not the time to buy your kid a pricey doll.

Hell, this is a common issue with the folks I work with and as a person who grew up with little I really understand the mindset but if you want to not be poor, ya gotta change your mind. In my area we commonly deal with folks who spend the bill money on lil Timmy’s birthday and now they need help with the lights. Taking your bill or grocery money to spend on non-essential shit is just bad.

I am going to stop now since I know I am cranky but the point of this post is the fact that some folks stay poor and in bad financial shape is no mystery. You make bad choices and bad shit happen, it’s really that simple.

4 thoughts on “How to stay poor”

  1. Shay, I’m sending you lots of hugs! You’ll make it.

    I really appreciated this post, though. I think we get used to hearing “all you need is love”, which is true. BUT!

    I’m not planning to have kids anything soon. But, at 33, it crosses my mind often. And, from where I’m sitting, I don’t think I’ll be having any AT ALL unless my financial situation changes. I don’t think you have to be rich to have kids. But, I think you have to be in a decent financial situation. I’ve invested lots of money into my education (like I would into a child). And by the time I finish grad school, I will have a reasonable amount of debt that I can pay-off in a reasonable amount of time with proper due diligence. That said, since I made the conscious decision to invest in my education, I don’t see myself having kids unless I’m in zero debt. And that probably won’t happy until I’m in my early 40s. It’s a choice I have made and something that I am willing to live with without remorse.

    Society has made us believe that we can have it all. And we can, under certain circumstances. But why put ourselves under undue stress just to fulfill a “dream”? You make choices and you adjust your life to accommodate those choices. Plain and simple.

    You hit the nail on the head with this post.

  2. A friend of mine lives with her mom til she gets on her feet. Well, he mom is wearing at maybe $13/hr but can’t pay her rent most of the time, electric bill, or other essentials but she surely rushed out to get a “big ass TV”. I don’t know what it is about poor folks and TVs but it’s sadly true.

  3. It’s okay everyone is entitled to vent every once and while. And you know first hand how things go down. The only comment I have to make is about the father who wanted to get his daughter the American girl doll. It’s hard to be able your kids something nice. But the funny things kids don’t care as long as they get something. I’ve already prepared my kids for a humble X-mas. And if I hear one Awww, I’m snatching things back.

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