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Monday, April 15, 2013

Is Being Poor Awful?

The current administration and news media would like everyone to believe that being poor is a terrible,  horrible thing to endure. I don't agree and I fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your viewpoint) have experience in this area of financial strain.

My dad used to say that being poor wasn't awful, just inconvenient. I have at times been poor and other times not so poor and I can relate to my dad's viewpoint.

When finances are tight, it can be inconvenient to have to cook meals from scratch rather than swing by the local fast food place to get a quick meal for the family. Shopping the thrift store for clothes takes time (people either have time or money in my experience) and can be inconvenient. Getting up early to go to yard sales to find furniture is not the most convenient of activities but can be quite a boon to a tight budget.

I don't find that I lack anything I truly need due to my reduced income. I do find that I have opportunities to exercise my creativity and intelligence when money is tight. I am more mindful of using what I do have responsibly. I have learned the difference between my needs and wants. Many Americans are confusing wants with true needs and teaching their children this faulty thinking as well.

Here a few examples of how we acquire needed items on our currently restricted budget:

Last week, my two youngest sons both let me know they needed new shoes. They had actually worn their shoes until they began to fall apart. I went to a well-known discount store to see what was available on clearance and found each son a pair of shoes they really liked. Total spent for TWO pair of adult men's shoes...$23.00!

A couple years ago my husband needed some shoes. He wears size thirteen and this size is hard to find and a bit more expensive so he usually makes do with just a couple pair of shoes. A person in my area posted on Freecycle ( that they had a bag of size thirteen shoes available for pick up. I quickly claimed them for my sweetie. He got eight pair of  really nice ,name brand, barely worn footwear: tennis shoes, slippers, dress shoes, and walking shoes-all of which fit and have filled his shoe needs for the past two years. Obviously this isn't a sure way to get shoes or anything else we need but by watching carefully we have gotten a full size Ikea bed for one of our sons, shoes for my husband, closet organizers, and more and didn't have to spend our earnings on these items, freeing up the money for other needs.

After a couple decades of honing these skills I don't think that I will suddenly go hog wild buying things at retail as my income increases. I enjoy the hunt and thrill of finding just what I or a family member needed and not spending a big chunk of the family finances.

I don't feel that my life is much harder than those who have more disposable income. My life has to be more intentionally planned and may be a little more inconvenient at times but we live a very rewarding life and are very appreciative of everything we have.

So, is being poor in America awful? I say emphatically, "NO!"

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