Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
The first of April I paid the very last payment on my house. It’s mine now. It no longer belongs to the mortgage company. My first thought was….. I’m wealthy at last! I began to daydream about the possibilities because of having that extra money to spend every month. The way I can pinch pennies (or stretch a dollar) means a little money will go a long, long way. These thoughts came to mind as I dreamed…. I can get the leaky faucets fixed. I can get a professional to rid my house of biting ants. I can replace my 10 year old shoes. I can replace my several years old glasses. I can buy an Accuquilt die cutter. Yes, I felt absolutely wealthy knowing there was no longer a house payment every month.
Well, it was not to be. Reality suddenly set in. Without a house payment every month my income has changed. I have $200 more spendable money than I did last month. Two hundred more a month also means I no longer qualify for any of the social services programs for seniors anymore. No more senior food commodities. No more help paying medical insurance premiums. No more medical clinic assistance. No more LIHEAP utility assistance once a year. The financial amount I received was very little but I had grown dependent on it. Twenty nine dollars toward my utility bill once a year may not be a lot but it helped.
I had one goal on the day I bought my house. To pay it off by the time I retired so I could live rent free the rest of my life. Now, 30 years later, I finally did it. What did it get me? I gained in spendable income and lost probably two or three times that amount in benefits. I won’t know for sure how much financial assistance I lost until I get some totals together.
Ok, so that no one reads this post and thinks I’m extremely depressed, or that I’m gonna set around crying for days, let me explain. Yes, I’m bummed out for the moment but mostly I’m upset because all my routines must now change. Routines are predictable and easily achieved. Seniors with memory issues do better with routines. Changes upset the balance of routines. Quite honestly I’m more bothered by the change itself than what caused the change. Do you understand what I mean?
I do live in a poverty area. Most of my neighbors are dependent on government social services programs. They are extremely dependent. They get section 8 housing, food stamps, medical cards, welfare checks, utility payments, food bank foods, and clothing closets are a few. Without the social service programs it’s like they can’t function. I have told them for years to appreciate what they have now because tomorrow it might be gone.
Which is exactly what happened to me. Five weeks ago I qualified for several programs for seniors that made my life a little easier. Today I no longer qualify. Those programs are gone for me now. I could set around and grouch, complain, moan, or cry but what good would it do? Today I must follow my own advice and survive without government help. Today I must do what I’ve been preaching to the neighbors for years.
The loss is also liberating. Liberating? Yes, it means I no longer have to fill out government paperwork every year to qualify for a few dollars here and there. I don’t have to ask neighbors to sign papers for me anymore. I’m actually looking forward to the change. Am I serious? Yes, I’m serious, I’m looking forward to the loss of benefits. It’s a new chapter in my life and I want to see what happens.
Look for even more penny pinching blog posts coming soon as I adjust to my new liberated life.