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Poor Family Support Tribe- NO DEBATE - Page 4

post #61 of 832
I've been watching this thread with interest and thought I should stop lurking and introduce myself. I'm Amanda, mama to Aravine, who will be three in May, and partner to Mark for 6 years. My family doesn't live in poverty, but we are lower-income and have to scrimp to afford or make-do without many of the things that are commonplace in the area in which we live. I will be nice to get to know other mamas in the same situation, since we only have one car and I can't make it to playgroups.

Being poor(er) has forced me to become more creative, so I can't see it as a bad thing. And it really has made me grateful for the things we do have. I grew up in a very wealthy home. It wasn't unusual for me to buy a Coach handbag every month, just because. But today, I treat the things I own with much more respect. I care for the things I want to last. I'm far more mindful now, and have to work hard to own something I want. I feel a pride in my $750 dollar a month apartment that I never did in my father's million dollar home. In that sense, I don't see it as a burden, but as a blessing.

On the flip side, I do worry about retirement and living in poverty in my later years. We can't save as much as we'd like, and although we know we want another baby we can't afford to get pregnant right now. We squeeze every last penny out of our budget so we have a small (and I do mean small) amount put aside for true emergencies (and a credit card in case it's something catastrophic), but I do remember the days of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

We don't use anything disposable, we shop at Aldi and Save-a-lot, get SHARE boxes once a month, we (I, my boyfriend can barely boil water!) cook from scratch. We haven't eaten out in over a year (this includes fast food). I'm so excited because for Christmas we were given a giftcard from my boyfriends boss for a dinner out. We're using it tomorrow to celebrate my birthday. We don't have cell phones because I despise them, but we do have cable. : (Boyfriend insists, and since he's the one working, I conceded.) I've also recently fallen in love with baking our own bread. Who knew it was so addicting?!

I'm looking forward to getting frugal tips from other low-income, creative mamas!
post #62 of 832
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nursingnaturalmom View Post
I don't think anyone was being "high and mighty". I believe the ladies were trying to help by offering you some ideas and or options.

It seems you are the only one being defensive and downright angry. I understand that your situation isn't the best, I"m sorry for that, but if you didn't want any one to brainstorm with you for options and or ideas, what is the point of this thread??

Just trying to help, not being high and mighty

Chandi:
I'm not the OP but I totally understand why she's getting defensive, she started this post for SUPPORT from other mama's in the same boat over in FYT and a mod moved it over here for reasons beyond me since she was WASN'T ASKING for help, merely support.
post #63 of 832
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaWindmill View Post
I wasn't asking anyone to lay out their family income. I am not talking about Africa, I am talking about people in the US, for example in Appalachia, where people in poverty live without running water, basic necessities of life like electricity, children frequently go without eating (sometimes for days) or healthcare of any kind, and people sometimes freeze to death in the winter for lack of heating oil. There are examples of poverty like this all across this country. I was trying to point out that having to live in difficult financial times does not necessarily mean we are in "poverty," and that being able to sit on a computer and post to MDC means you are already better off than many people who are actually living in poverty.

I'm so not trying to knock anyone's experience - we are very low income, and my husband lost his job last year, putting us in an incredibly precarious position; further, we have no health insurance, no savings, and no particular "assets" - but I think it's disrespectful to call unfortunate and difficult circumstances "poverty," when there are so many who have so much less than all of us do.
I think that it's pretty hard, though, to really sort out where the line is. Poverty in America has a zillion different faces, and sometimes they're contradictory. It's just not easy to generalize about what it means to be poor in America.

I have a colleague who does a lot of poverty relief work in Appalacia, and I know the description you gave is definitely accurate. There are people in America, a LOT of them, who live without any running water or adequate food, who sometimes even starve to death. There is no question that is extreme poverty.

But poverty can include working people who might, for instance, live one paycheck away from homelessness, or who might have enough food for the week/month but who don't know where next month's pay is going to go. The fact is that living beneath the poverty line carries with it a whole series of risks (e.g., likely to die earlier, more serious health problems, more learning disabilities in the kids, etc.) that are statistically very similar regardless of where exactly beneath the poverty line the family lives. In other words, in terms of their life outcomes, the working poor are a lot closer to the extreme depravation in Appalacia and in other areas of the U.S. than they are to the middle class. That's why I do not feel it is at all disrespectful to use the term "in poverty" for people below the poverty line. It's accurate, not disrespectful.

Basically the government establishes a poverty line as a means of providing social services, and in my work I've found it a useful definition, because it's otherwise really hard to assess poverty. People have really contradictory aspects in their ways of dealing with poverty. Somebody might have an email address but be unable to afford the medicine he needs to live. There is a homeless guy who sits near my office that has a cell phone. A friend used to counsel a guy who had an internet connection but who regularly didn't eat on Sundays because he had no food by the end of the week. It's just not so easy from where we sit to say who is in poverty and who isn't.
post #64 of 832
Quote:
Originally Posted by secondseconds View Post
I would be careful about using the word "poverty". Having to stretch sometimes beyond our means to pay our bills isn't the same as living in poverty.

If you really wanted to...
I find the criticism in this thread interesting and disturbing.

We have gone from um, "low-income" (is that better term?) to middle-class over the last 12 years of our marriage. Some of the hardest times we had were when we were just beginning to be "middle class". The low-income friends I have/had all have a cooperative spirit because we couldn't survive without helping one another. The middle-class don't have that. It's really sad actually. From my perspective it seems like they have very few true friends because they never have to depend on their friends. Although low-income friends (or friends who also grew up low-income) were still willing to help out, that point where you barely make enough to be out of poverty, but make too much to qualify for any help is really tough. Probably tougher than it was being poor.

I can tell you that if your relationships survive being poor, they will be stronger in the future.

If you can make it on less, you'll be better off in the future.

I know people with similar incomes to ours who max out their credit cards, buy new cars, and have their houses financed at 120% (I prepare taxes and you really get an interesting look at where people choose to put their money.) We still pretty much live like we did when we were broke, and knowing how to do so allows me to go to school, for us to live on one income, our kids to have some extras like playing baseball, and we refinanced our house not to pay off the credit cards, but to a 15 year loan at a really low interest rate so it will be paid off by the time ds #2 starts college.

What you are learning now can create the building blocks for a very healthy financial future. We still live hand-to-mouth, but with the knowledge that if anything dire were to happen I can go back to work, we have home equity, we have money in retirement accounts. (It can also mess with your head and cause you to spend too much going overboard after being "deprived" for so long, it's a balance. Be careful.)

So to you struggling with a light at the end of the tunnel, hang in there, it does get better.

To those of you who on disability or to whom things aren't likely to get better financially, just remember where your real wealth is. I have a friend with over $30,000 in the bank, working a dangerous job "just a little longer" until she feels secure. I told her, "Sweetie, your security is that if you took penny you had out of the bank in cash and walked across the street to put it in a different bank and were robbed on the way over, you have friends that would find a way to get you back home even if they had to hitchike cross-country to be by your side, and who would welcome you in their homes for as long as you needed. That's real wealth." Find your tribe. Cultivate it. Find what you have to offer, and share. Our group of friends has a non-official plummer, chiropractor, herbalist, mechanic, computer technician, babysitter, counselor, secretary... etc. The middle class and beyond will rarely know what it's like to be truly valued like we are to each other.
post #65 of 832
For those with an Aldi nearby, http://www.momadvice.com/aldi/ has an Aldi meal plan. I haven't used it, but it looks interesting. I'm sure it could be adapted to any grocery store with a slightly higher cost.
post #66 of 832
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azuralea View Post
Basically the government establishes a poverty line as a means of providing social services, and in my work I've found it a useful definition, because it's otherwise really hard to assess poverty.
It's even crazier when you find out the origins of the so-called "poverty line"...

http://maroon.uchicago.edu/viewpoint...l_poverty_.php

This was just a site I googled, but it's consistent with what I've learned from other reliable sources. There's also a little factoid that if the "minimum" wage increased with inflation from it's inception it would be at about $12 an hour now.
post #67 of 832
I think poverty lies in the eyes of the beholder - if you feel desperate, with no hope, that's poverty for you. I think you should abandon the numbers and verification of poverty by your circumstances and just be there for one another when you feel desperate.

I was teaching in "Appalachia" (funny to hear people use that term like it's another country LOL) and knew a family who lived in a condemned trailer in one of the "hollers" near my school. I went there. They had no water or electricity. There were 3 children under 4. They ate moon pies and bologna and white bread. The water for cooking came from a stream across the road. They "relieved themselves" in a hole they dug behind the house - they moved it when it got full. The children were filthy.

Meeting that family totally changed my perspective on poverty. The sad thing is that there were several families in that situation who lived in the "holler" too.
post #68 of 832
Maybe the OP should change the title to "Poor Families Support Tribe" or something like that? Clarifying the title should keep out the people who don't have anything to add to this thread and make it clear that we're primarily looking for support, not a semantics debate.
post #69 of 832
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azuralea View Post
I think that it's pretty hard, though, to really sort out where the line is. Poverty in America has a zillion different faces, and sometimes they're contradictory. It's just not easy to generalize about what it means to be poor in America.

I have a colleague who does a lot of poverty relief work in Appalacia, and I know the description you gave is definitely accurate. There are people in America, a LOT of them, who live without any running water or adequate food, who sometimes even starve to death. There is no question that is extreme poverty.

But poverty can include working people who might, for instance, live one paycheck away from homelessness, or who might have enough food for the week/month but who don't know where next month's pay is going to go. The fact is that living beneath the poverty line carries with it a whole series of risks (e.g., likely to die earlier, more serious health problems, more learning disabilities in the kids, etc.) that are statistically very similar regardless of where exactly beneath the poverty line the family lives. In other words, in terms of their life outcomes, the working poor are a lot closer to the extreme depravation in Appalacia and in other areas of the U.S. than they are to the middle class. That's why I do not feel it is at all disrespectful to use the term "in poverty" for people below the poverty line. It's accurate, not disrespectful.

Basically the government establishes a poverty line as a means of providing social services, and in my work I've found it a useful definition, because it's otherwise really hard to assess poverty. People have really contradictory aspects in their ways of dealing with poverty. Somebody might have an email address but be unable to afford the medicine he needs to live. There is a homeless guy who sits near my office that has a cell phone. A friend used to counsel a guy who had an internet connection but who regularly didn't eat on Sundays because he had no food by the end of the week. It's just not so easy from where we sit to say who is in poverty and who isn't.
You make a good point. I'm certainly not trying to upset the apple cart - I'm just trying to point out that we should remember that our situations can seem so overwhelming at times, but there is a difference between being in tough times and being destitute. i am also not trying to strictly define poverty - I'm just asking people to think carefully about their circumstances before declaring themselves impoverished.

I wasn't really trying to argue semantics, but I think we can all agree that when we start talking about our dire financial straits, it's important to maintain a sense of perspective.
post #70 of 832

Modest Needs

Have any of you applied for assistance from Modest Needs? They can't help with ongoing bills, but they may be able to help get you out of a jam... I know they helped a dear friend of mine pay to get her brakes done, recently.

This same friend (who is a fellow MDC'er) works 40+ hours per week to support her 4 children. They are not destiute, but she has to be very careful with her money. (Even working as much as she does at her office job, and counting the $300 or so she recieves in Child Support every month, she is still well below the poverty line.) She lives in a small apartment (heat is included in her rent, so that helps), drives a 15-year-old (fully paid for) car, shops sales, thrifts, cooks everything from scratch, hand washes and hang dries some of their lighter-weight clothes to save money at the Wash & Dry, turns off the lights and uses candles (that she melts down and repours when they get too short to use), gardens, preserves surplus food, (and has even gone to the food bank on occasion...), and basically could teach Amy Decyczyn a thing or two about pinching pennies. The long and the short of it is, her family gets by, but only just.

She asked me this Christmas if I thought it would be wrong for her to apply to the MDC Holiday Helpers thread, because she didn't know any other way to provide Christmas for her children, but she felt guilty doing so, because her family (in her words) "are so blessed compared to others". I told her that may be true, but if she needs help she should ask for it, so she did. (I also did some "Secret Santa" stuff for them, but I can't get into it here; she'll know it was me!)

Just recently I (finally) conviced her to apply for Food Stamps, so that she can free up some of her cash for other things.

My point is that you should never be ashamed to seek out and ask for help when you need it, nor should you ever let anyone else make you feel like you don't need it, because your circumstances are not as bad as someone elses.

to you, mummas. Keep your chins up.
post #71 of 832
Subbing....we are poor too and I don't see it changing anytime soon. We live in Appalachia but are not anywhere near as poor as a lot of other families. We drive by a family every day, and can't believe the home they live in has not fallen down yet. Maybe it's because we live where there is still a lot of poverty, but we don't feel poor. I think the difference too is that we are poor because of choices that we've made and still choose to make. I could easily get a job paying 40k or more but I'm much happier being a SAHM. I know most people think I'm nuts but that's okay, we have to live for ourselves, not anyone else.
post #72 of 832
Quote:
Originally Posted by daekini View Post
I think poverty lies in the eyes of the beholder

I see where you are going with this, I really do. The whole "man with no feet" concept. There is ALWAYS somebody worse off. It's a big world.

But honestly, it's this sort of attitude that bothers me, and think the OP as well. When your life is just bone grindingly hard, and you are under a constant state of stress because just one little thing could cause it all to go terribly wrong, someone who *isn't* as poor saying, "Oh, you could be worse. Or you could do better with what you have," feels like a judgement. It sucks. It is disheartening and anger inducing.

With fixed expenses being what they are here in America (housing, utilities, transportation) poverty means something different. In most areas, if you try to live without things like utilities, you are going to lose your house. And I think we can all agree that homelessness is indicative of a state of poverty.

Daekini (or anybody else, for that matter), I'm not trying to hurt anyone's feelings. But it can be hard to hear what another person is saying when they are coming from a place of economic priveledge. And when you are living three people plus tution on $13,000 a year in America, virtually everyone you encounter is more priveledged than you.
post #73 of 832
I am Suscribeing to this one!!!! This is me!!!!

WE ARE POOR! wE ARE STRUGGLING, ONE INCOME AND HAVE BEEN SINCE HE LEFT THE ARMY. sorry for yelling but it's a real pain to be so poor and have everyone tell us we're not using our brains when we are!!!!! I'm starting school next month and he is struggling to keep a decent job...70 weeks and we still are having issues..

So glad you guys are here!!!!!
post #74 of 832
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leta View Post
I see where you are going with this, I really do. The whole "man with no feet" concept. There is ALWAYS somebody worse off. It's a big world.

But honestly, it's this sort of attitude that bothers me, and think the OP as well. When your life is just bone grindingly hard, and you are under a constant state of stress because just one little thing could cause it all to go terribly wrong, someone who *isn't* as poor saying, "Oh, you could be worse. Or you could do better with what you have," feels like a judgement. It sucks. It is disheartening and anger inducing.

With fixed expenses being what they are here in America (housing, utilities, transportation) poverty means something different. In most areas, if you try to live without things like utilities, you are going to lose your house. And I think we can all agree that homelessness is indicative of a state of poverty.

Daekini (or anybody else, for that matter), I'm not trying to hurt anyone's feelings. But it can be hard to hear what another person is saying when they are coming from a place of economic priveledge. And when you are living three people plus tution on $13,000 a year in America, virtually everyone you encounter is more priveledged than you.
:

I think it's pretty unsupportive to "remind" people that other people have it worse. People living in poverty are hyper-aware of how something could go wrong, some little setback that a middle-class family could absorb easily, but in a poor family it would mean that suddenly everything IS much, much worse. Believe me, they already know that things could be a lot worse.
post #75 of 832
Thread Starter 
Thanks mamas.

Let me expound on this a bit.

Currently we have 80 to our names. That is from checking and savings, cash on hand. We actually spent Kailey's savings of 150 dollars. We have not paid rent for April. We paid electricity and water.

If one of the cars was to break down, how could we get it fixed?

Tell me this? 80 is for gas, we could not afford to get it fixed. There is no public transportation in rockingham. We have taxis (but to Pembroke 45 minutes away?).
post #76 of 832
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leta
I see where you are going with this, I really do. The whole "man with no feet" concept. There is ALWAYS somebody worse off. It's a big world.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azuralea
I think it's pretty unsupportive to "remind" people that other people have it worse. People living in poverty are hyper-aware of how something could go wrong, some little setback that a middle-class family could absorb easily, but in a poor family it would mean that suddenly everything IS much, much worse. Believe me, they already know that things could be a lot worse.
I didn't mean to be condescending, honestly.



That was my clumsy way of saying that if you feel like you are in poverty, then you are. No one has a right to judge your right to claim you're in poverty based on your "numbers" - if the amount of money you have coming in is not enough, then you are in poverty. I think you misunderstood my intention. Don't worry, I won't post here again. I was trying to be supportive.
post #77 of 832
Thread Starter 
huh? I wasn't referring to you

Ok this must be the day for misunderstanding.
post #78 of 832
Quote:
I'm not the OP but I totally understand why she's getting defensive, she started this post for SUPPORT from other mama's in the same boat over in FYT and a mod moved it over here for reasons beyond me since she was WASN'T ASKING for help, merely support

I get that. My train of thought was that the ladies here were trying to give her suggestions to maybe make her situation a bit better. To me, that is support in some ways.
Some of the other posts were pretty harsh.

I've been poor my entire life. I just didn't know it. I was raised by a single mom and it wasn't easy and I went without sometimes. But never on food etc.
We aren't doing so great these days ourselves. My DH is self employed and its been a struggle since Jan. Bills are getting paid but only the essential bills.

Its tough..
Chandi
post #79 of 832
just to add my two cents -

someone has already said that there's a difference between having very little and being happy with it and feeling impoverished. my whole life i've gotten by on very little and been happy with it. i've never had expensive anything and i've never gone on fancy trips, but my life has been rich and i've (usually) never minded the things i haven't had.
but since having my son things have changed. all of a sudden i need to have the money to buy all sorts of stuff that i didn't worry about before. (for example, vegetables. i can't let us run out and i can't go dumpster diving with a baby strapped to my back, that would be a great way to have him taken away.) and i need to have some cash on reserve in case something terrible happens. if an emergency occurs i can't just go work an extra job for a few months to pay for what's needed, since my son needs me with him. i need to be responsible and provide for him consistently. all of a sudden i feel my poverty. i've been going to the food bank and getting every handout i can, because this boy (and the one on the way) need more than i can provide with my two shifts a week earning minimum wage. i'm doing everything i can to avoid debt, but the most important thing is that my family has its needs met.
i make less than i would on welfare. i think that counts as poverty.

oh, and for the people talking about conditions in appalacia (sounds like conditions on some native reserves here in canada) that's the difference between rural poverty & urban poverty. as a city dweller you can tell i'm poor because i have no car and can't afford to take the bus most days. if i lived in the country i'd be worse off because i wouldn't have so many services & agencies helping me out. but i would have a bigger space to garden in...
post #80 of 832
Quote:
Originally Posted by josybear View Post
i can't go dumpster diving with a baby strapped to my back, that would be a great way to have him taken away.
Is there someone you trust who could watch your baby while you go? Maybe you could offer them half of whatever you find? (Or watch another mama's baby for the same deal?)

Also, is there a Food Not Bombs organization near you? If so, check it out. They use the food they find (through diving and scrounging) to make nutritious meals for anyone who wants/needs them.

It's difficult.
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