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.
I hear or read stories of rich folks pretending to be poor in order to prove that all the poor folks need do is simply budget better or educate themselves better or move to a different neighborhood. They (the ones pretending) decide to live for a month on the wages of a poor person just to prove better budgeting is the answer. Let me tell ya, the low and fixed income people (poor) are the worlds best at budgeting. The rich, meaning those folks with unlimited money, have no need for a budget.
I must also explain that there is a HUGH difference between being rich and being wealthy. Rich are the ones who believe poor people are put on this earth to serve the cruel needs of the rich. Rich people are those who believe poor people deserve to be poor because poor people don’t budget well enough or educate themselves well enough or need to find a better job. On the other hand, wealthy people are the ones who have money but you really don’t know it because they are like the friendly neighbors next door living in similar conditions as the poor families around them.
That said; now to my point. It doesn’t matter how well someone budgets if there isn’t enough money in the first place. Living on low wages or on a fixed income has forced many folks into a dollar store economy. Think about it. The 10 for 10 sales in grocery stores, the dollar menus at restraunts, the .99 cents a pound for produce, the pop up fruit stands on empty lots where all baskets are a dollar, and the stores that sell “everything for a dollar”.
So let me explain this a bit further. Budgeting can only go so far. Saying someone should start an “emergency” fund savings doesn’t account for not having the extra money in the first place. Fixed and low income (poor) people are the best at budgeting because they have to be really good at it to survive. Poor people know budgets don’t actually work. Poor people know what really counts is that unexpected flat tire, broken window, school fees, dental or medical costs, fast growing kids needing new shoes, or a sudden spike in the price of gas.
Have you ever opened a bill to find it’s two or three dollars higher than it was the month before? I’m talking about your fixed expenses like the utility bill or water bill or phone bill or insurance bill. These extra dollars are not expenses that can be accounted for simply by better budgeting, planning, or saving money from an already tight budget. The new bill is often only a couple of dollars higher which you somehow manage to work into a new budget rather than do without. But repeated raises of just a couple of dollars spread out over several months is in fact translated to a lot more dollars.
If, for example, a utility company announced a raise of 35% all at once there would a very loud public outcry against it. But, if the raise is done by one, two, or three dollars at a time the actual raise could actually become 45%, 50%, or more. We don’t notice the big change because its done in such small amounts over time. That means there is no public outcry. We slowly, quietly accept the small differences into our tight budgets.
It doesn’t matter how well someone plans, sometimes there just isn’t enough money to meet all necessary expenses because of an already very low budget. That’s why poor people will often end up with no teeth because they can’t afford dental care, which results in not being able to eat properly, which results in poor nutrition, which results in illness, greater expense, less ability to work, and possibly earlier death. Ok, a little dramatic perhaps but it makes my point.
Its the strong budgeting ability of the poor that has forced many of us into this dollar store economy. We know paying a dollar for something less nutritious isn’t healthy but it will fill bellies. We know paying a dollar for watered down cleaning supplies won’t be as good but its affordable. We know we can’t keep paying higher and higher fixed expenses but that dollar store economy tells us to pay the extra dollar or two rather than give it up.
No disrespect; but to those people pretending to be poor who say a failure to budget correctly is the problem really should educate themselves in economics. But that would require more work from them (the pretenders) than listening to the political rhetoric from rich politicians and picking a side. The strategy of creating an emergency fund savings account is ridiculous when the majority of low wage earners and fixed income persons have absolutely nothing to save after expenses. Its unrealistic to consider putting anything aside when we are constantly having to rob Peter to pay Paul.
We (low and fixed income people) have been so busy struggling to make ends meet on less and less that we haven’t noticed our entry into this dollar store economy. We no longer look to employers for more money and better benefits. We instead look to retailers for lower prices which has been the reason for the creation of dollar items. Nobody will complain. Its only a dollar for gosh sake. We can afford a dollar can’t we? Yes, we’ve quietly, slowly gotten used to this dollar store economy.
In my younger days we used to call it being nickle and dime’d to death. These days we are dollar’d to death. Golly gee, even the phrases we use have suffered inflation. 🙂