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Dealing with poverty or near poverty..or thrifty ideas to help you get by

January 5th, 2008 at 05:04 am

You know, a lot of the blogs here deal with saving and investing and those things are so important. Some of the members are real financial pros in my opinion. I hope to be like Julie (Ima Saver) when I grow up and be able to save money seemingly with each breath and have investments for the future. But I'm not there yet.

It isn't just that I never learned how to save, though that is a factor. It's also that for most of my life I've lived at, just below, or just above the poverty level. I make minimum wage or slightly above and my other half has struggled with several failed businesses. Technically, we're poor. He tells people we're so poor that where we come from it's spelled poooor. He jokes but there's some truth to it.

The 2007 poverty guidelines show this for a family of two:

100% of poverty is an income of 13,690, 120% is 16,428, and 133% is 18,207. For the last few years I've generally been somewhere around these figures, sometimes a little higher. But you get the picture.

It's not easy to live day to day with that kind of income, much less save. Yes it's manageable but it can also be incredibly stressful and wreak havoc in lives.

I'm really working to improve the saving issue and am making headway on it. But it's an uphill battle because, simply put, after bills are paid, food is bought and gas is put in vehicles, there's precious little money to save.

There are things we do, though, that help us not just get by but get a little put back here and there. It's a work of progress, learning to save and the folks here at SA have helped me tremendously. Someday I'll need advice on investing and when I do, I know where I'll look. In the meantime I want to share some suggestions that can help anyone, rich or poor, get by just a little better. So my next entry will be Part 1 of Thrifty Ideas.

7 Responses to “Dealing with poverty or near poverty..or thrifty ideas to help you get by”

  1. luxliving Says:

    Can you help turn hubbie away from 'poor mouthing' as we call it in this neck of the woods?

    One of my parental units was really bad about doing this when I was younger, and I spent a lot of years trying to get that noise out of my head.

    The other parental unit had a different mindset. Later they divorced and now years later each have the lifestyle they speak of most often. One has more, the other less. Care to guess which is which?

    Here's the kicker. They both were colleged educated in the very same field, doing the very same job, in the very same state. So it wasn't a matter of earning potential.

    You are on a journey. Out of Poorsville and on to Rich City!

    Could you change the viewpoint and direction and reap a different result?

    I look forward to reading your thrify ideas!

  2. denisentexas Says:

    By 'poor mouthing' do you mean talking or acting like he's poor when he isn't? Or do you mean something else?

  3. luxliving Says:

    Poor mouthing - Just always saying "we're too poor" to do this or that.

    Some of my family's examples:

    "Well, we could do that too if we weren't sooooo poor."

    "I can't afford to do that."

    "We're just barely scraping by."

    "Getting by, by the skin of our teeth."

    "That's for the rich folks."

    "Who are you, Miss Van AstorHorse?"

    "Welllllll, aren't you Ms. Fancy, with all your finery??"

    "Yeah, maybe in the next lifetime."

    "If I had two nickles to rub together."

    "...if only we had some money."

    "That's not for po'folks like me."


    It's a habit. I still catch myself saying this kinda thing from time to time and am trying to change the mindset.

  4. Ralph Says:

    First of all, I admire what you are doing Denise. Digging out and just living can't be easy with a low income, to say the least, but you seem to be attacking it full force and refusing to accept defeat. Very cool!

    It seems to me that "poor mouthing" can easily be confused with being realistic and trying to live below or within your means. I'm guilty of it, not so much saying we're poor but saying that we have a problem and need to spend less than I make for quite a while to pay off some debt and to pay for college and retirement. My wife hates when I say that because she is in financial denial right now, which is the main reason I'm here, trying to figure out a solution.

    And my biggest fear is raising daughters with no sense of financial reality and a sense of entitlement. It is a fine line. Money matters some how wind up being too emotional in our home. At times I wanted to just chalk it up to the old Venus and Mars syndrome and assume that all women have this problem, but more than one woman has called me on that, that not all women are financially challenged. And they are definitely right.

  5. luxliving Says:

    Ralph is right, we have to be realistic and I understand the situation is/has been tight. I'm not saying we should all run right over to fantasyland. To me, it's more a figuring out of how I can get off poverty row and into a more financially healthful way of thinking.

    Just as my car cannot operate on too little gas or oil, I have to figure out a schedule for not only paying for the necessities but also how to get actually GET IT. If I put rootbeer in the tank it just isn't going to run the same.

    The Indians have a way of talking about the concept - it is described as 'fear calling'. Think of a rabbit that smells a predator and gets soooo scared that they squeak, calling the very thing they feared most to themselves. I just think we can do better by ourselves.

    Here's a for instance: Hubster was raised in a big family w/only one fatherly income. When we first married I wanted to go on a foreign trip. "No WAY, we can't afford that." I begged to differ and started working out HOW I could afford to do it. I did, and I went. I garage saled unused items, gathered pop bottles, took donations, shaved here and there on the household budget, etc. When it was getting down to the wire I even considered plasma donations. Didn't have to, but to prove my point I would have and I hate needles. Big Grin Three times I went, as a matter of fact.

    He didn't - couldn't - go because he never figured he could. See the difference?

  6. nance Says:

    Denise, luxliving is right. A lot of finance is a frame of mind. I grew up in a family that had little money, but knew how to manage what they had. They never talked of being poor, and my dad hated it when people "poor mouthed".
    My uncle made more than my parents did, but they spent money on things that weren't necessities. They always had their cigarettes and beer! They looked poor and acted poor. Their kids thought WE were rich! They really believed we were, because we had a small, but nice house. It is sad, but true, that attitude has a lot to do with success.
    There are people who live well on what they have because they make good choices, and have a positive attitude.

    After my divorce, from my kid's dad, I was determined that I was going to keep the house (yes, I got the house and also got the mortgage, and no child support) and disrupt my kid's lives as little as possible. That is when I went to the envelope system, started shopping at Goodwill, eating on loss leaders from several stores, cooking all meals from scratch, etc, while rearing three kids, and working full time. I didn't get any financial help from anyone.
    I looked at what I was doing as a challenge, and actually enjoyed it. I didn't use credit cards. If I didn't have the cash to purchase something, I didn't buy it. Finding great buys at Goodwill, was exciting. Cooking good meals from food I purchased at loss leader prices was fun. The glass really can be half full or half empty. It is a choice.
    I wasn't able to save much during those years, but I did have a retirement plan at work, and that is most of what worth I have, besides my house, which has appreciated greatly in value. I continue to live frugally, and am now concentrating on building up savings.

  7. denisentexas Says:

    Thanks for the input, y'all! You're all right, of course. Smile
    Poor mouthing is something I hear a lot around here, meaning this area. Most people around here are not rich and never will be but just because you don't have money doesn't mean you're poor!

    My granny always told me no matter how poor one is they can be clean, have a clean house, clean clothes, and food in their stomachs. And if they had that and a family that loves them they aren't poor after all. I miss my granny!

    Fortunately, DH isn't one to poor mouth but he IS realistic. So am I. Like I said, he pretty much is joking when he says that.

    We know we aren't financially well off - sometimes we barely make it. But we DO make it and we're making progress! Smile

    We both agree there's light at the end of the tunnel and it doesn't appear to be a train! Yeehaw!


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