Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

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 poverty trap

Do you know what the poverty trap is?

A poverty trap is a situation in which someone would have even less money by becoming employed (or getting a promotion) because the financial assistance from government agencies and social service agencies would be reduced or not available due to the increase in income. In other words, you can’t get out of poverty because if you do, you loose what you have and will end up having less than before getting a job.

Remember these phones? You must be a senior.

Remember these phones?

People in their twenties or thirties still have the potential to break out of the poverty trap but people in their 60’s 70’s or 80’s have little hope of escaping. It not like we can go out and work a second job.  Who’s gonna hire us anyway?  Many of us can’t even work a first job much less a second one.

It not the cost of living that’s the problem for seniors, it’s the cost of simply trying to stay alive.  Things like food, medication, housing, utilities, and other day to day necessities all contribute to financial hardship. I talk with other seniors while waiting in the food bank lines.  We have the same things in common.  We are struggling with normal living expenses.

Food and kitchen 2015 156

Most seniors living solely on Social Security are just one major bill away from homeless.  Hmm…. Did you know the fastest growing segment of homeless people are the seniors.  Can you imagine being 70, 80, or 90 and living in a homeless camp?

Social Security is remaining the same due to the way the cost of living is calculated.  The cost of living is based on the expenses of a young working person not the expenses of an older person. While our income remains the same our expenses continually go up. Take for example; the cost of medicare and the supplement insurance premiums have gone up and so has our co-pay.  This means many of us older folks are having to choose between eating, paying our rent, or taking medications.  Some seniors are skipping doctor appointments to avoid the costs.  Some split pills or just don’t take medications in order to save money.  I admit I’m guilty of this too. I’m using diet as my medication.

Food and kitchen 2015 533

I don’t get any kind of government assistance.  No food stamps or medicaid.  I don’t qualify. Yes, I do have a small income from quilting.  Its just enough income to give my kids and grand kids birthday or Christmas money and to do things for my mother in the nursing home.

What is the point of this post? Nothing in particular.  I’m thinking about my future as a senior.  Where do I go from here today?  How long will I be able to continue quilting? If I’m already struggling financially what would I do without that little extra income if/when I’m no longer able to quilt?  I’m just thinking and type talking while considering what the future will be for me.  I have some decisions to make fairly soon.


12 comments on “The poverty trap

  1. Jackie
    December 17, 2015

    Thank-you for sharing. As much as I wish things were different, it helps to know others are having similar experiences and I am not alone. I get a lot of encouragement from you and the people who read and comment on your blog. All the best to you and yours.

  2. Donna
    December 15, 2015

    I feel your pain too. I have been retired since 2011. No increase to Ss yet my insurance went up $40/month! Food is so high we eat only what is on sale. We have a motgage and we fear a large expense which will take all our savings and what if it is more than we have. I worry about that all the time. We have quit eating out, cook from scratch fear utility costs increasing. We don’t qualify for assistance just trying to get by.

    • Na Na
      December 16, 2015

      If I didn’t know someone else wrote this comment it could have been me. I don’t have a mortgage but I still worry.

    • Donna
      December 18, 2015

      Your blog has been very helpful to us and we have learned many ways to save. Keep it up! It is inspirational to see others in our boat. We will just all have to row together.

    December 14, 2015

    It is often discouraging!
    The asset tests for govt programs haven’t been raised in DECADES!! When a person qualifies for more than 1 govt program, (food stamps, Section 8 housing, Medicaid, etc,) the asset limits for the lowest programs rules for all.
    The unexpected “de minimis” income amounts ($20-$50) allowed under waivers are not known to many caseworkers, so the recipients are penalized unnecessarily. How promptly, if ever, does the recipient get their money back??
    Thank God for willing caseworkers who interpret the rules for the clients’ benefits — waiting until work probation periods have changed into permanent hires, before counting income increases. Recalculating SNAP income increases in mid-month, after the current month’s amount has been already received, so that there are a couple of month’s lag time to adjust the food budget… Telling a client 45 days ahead of the 6 month’s review that copies of all monthly bank accounts must be used for source documents to qualify… Telling us which expenses are exempt (eg prepaid funeral costs) so that savings can be spent down before deadlines…

    The only way to survive is to have networks of help… We seniors are lucky if we have relatives or friends who give anonymous gift cards on our behalf for our birthdays, Mother’s or Father’s days, Easter or Christmas holidays or other faith traditions’ special seasons… So that we can go to the utilities or to stores where non-food goods (toilet paper, toothpaste, bandaids, etc) can be gotten without spending our cash money.

    May everyone’s strength & energy hold out over the holidays!
    Best wishes for the season to Na-Na, her family & all her readers. KMC

    • Na Na
      December 14, 2015

      Thank you and best wishes to you as well.

      Yes, its been years since the asset rules were last changed. Am I right thinking it was in the eighties they were last evaluated? But, you can be sure that the newly elected congress and senate will be voting themselves a raise very soon. They always do. The seniors I know have no one to help them. Like me.

  4. boblosan
    December 14, 2015

    I keep hoping the federal government will wake up and see that seniors are a valuable commodity and should be treated well. My mother is 76 and is on Social Security. She gets Medicare and it helps pay her medications and doctor bills. She is poor, too. She worked all of her life and saved money for the future and for her children. Thankfully, she lives in an apartment under my sister’s home. She has 2 of her 3 children that help her out. I cook extra and bring her dinners. I buy her clothing and household things for gifts. My sister pays her electricity and heat and watches out for her. She gets rides to doctor visits or to go shopping once in a while from my sister or my sister’s children. I would help more in those areas if I could walk better myself. I am on SS Disability and Medicare, too. I am 56. I don’t see good things in my future at all. If I lose my husband, I am in deep trouble. I am learning from you and I thank you for blogging!

    • Na Na
      December 14, 2015

      Your mother is so very lucky to have family that helps her. I’m usually the one everybody comes to for help which is why my small hobby income doesn’t last very long. I earn it. Everybody else spends it for me. I ride public transportation wherever I go. Except for once a month when I drive my brother’s car to take my SIL to do her monthly shopping. I believe there are a great many seniors worried about the future. Which is why I’m thinking and planning now. Before circumstances change.

  5. Dorothy cripplewing
    December 14, 2015

    I totally agree with you. I don’t see any easy answers. Keeping your health is a major step in the right direction though. I have been steadily lower the amount I spend for gifts and tucking the funds away for needs for the future. I sometimes feel so chinzy but this way I am taking care of myself and not having to rely on help that is disappearing( from the government.) I wonder how long I will be able to hang on to my home with the rising taxes and amenities such as water etc. I guess it is the old saying ” one day at a time” and grace for today. …looking for answers.

    • Na Na
      December 14, 2015

      We seem to be thinking alike. How long can I survive in my home? At what point do I give up and walk away? If I walk away where would I go? At my age could I survive in a homeless camp? No, no, no! The one thing I always, always taught my daughter is that the rent or the house payment MUST be paid before anything else. We can live without utilities or water or food in the house but as long as there is a roof over our heads we will never be homeless. Raggedy as it is, its still a roof over my head.

  6. pattinround
    December 14, 2015

    Oh Nana I know exactly how you feel. Especially at this time of year. I used to have money when I worked. I didnt save. I have credit card debt. Now it’s a struggle. My adult kids are having trouble adjusting to this. Small amounts spent here and there make a big difference at the end of the month.
    You are an inspiration to me. Many of the moneysaving things you do now are things I did in the past. Saturday was always breadmaking and baking day. A big pot of home baked beans went a long way and were really delicious. Gradually I’m getting back to the old ways. Every little bit helps.
    As for the future, let’s not worry about it now but do the best we can in the present moment.
    Take care.

    • Na Na
      December 14, 2015

      Its never too late to start frugal habits again. I live in the present but I do think about and prepare for the future whenever I can.

      New Year’s Day is when many folks think of financial matters and do some evaluations. The new year resolutions are just a few days away. Birthdays are the other time when people evaluate life matters. I happen to be a New Year’s Baby so I get a double dose of financial and life thoughts this time of year. There are some things I’m powerless to change but that doesn’t stop me from considering alternatives ahead of time.

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This entry was posted on December 14, 2015 by in ECONOMIC OBSERVATIONS, FRUGAL SENIOR, JUST THINKING and tagged , , , , , .

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