Is it your money to spend when you still owe someone or are getting assistance? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 30 Old 08-11-2011, 07:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What I mean is when you are spending more than you make on your own is it right to spend money on anything that isn't necessary? I don't mean owing a mortgage or car payment or something that you've entered into a very specific deal to pay a certain amount and it's within your budget.

I'm referring to when you owe a bunch on credit cards or to friends/family and you choose to buy and spend more than you need to when you could be paying back your debts. I'm also referring to when families are getting assistance (public and other kinds like free childcare or large gifts from their family and such).

What I'm asking is do you think families that do not make what they spend on their own should have a moral obligation to be more frugal than those who don't?

I'm NOT in any way saying people shouldn't get assistance and I can't imagine a way to force frugality on anyone. It's just something I'm wondering about because I feel like I'm often hearing things like "I just can't give up my gym membership or daily $5 latte while simultaneously telling me they are swimming in debt and wouldn't make it if they didn't have all this help from either family or public assistance.


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#2 of 30 Old 08-11-2011, 08:39 AM
 
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As far as credit card debt is concerned, I don't think there is a moral necessity to pay it off as quickly as possible - the debt will eventually be paid with interest, that is how the bank makes a profit.

 

Public assistance does not have to be paid back, so the recipient's spending habits are irrelevant as long as the money is used for the purpose for which it is issued.

 

Gift from family - a gift is a gift, the recipient's spending habits are irrelevant.

 

Loans from family and friends - this depends on the agreement made about repayment. If the recipient is sticking to the agreement regarding payment size and scheduling, the recipient's spending habits are irrelevant. However, if she is not sticking to them, then yes, she needs to scale back her spending to the point that she can keep the agreement.

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#3 of 30 Old 08-11-2011, 09:36 AM
 
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Well, yes, I do think people have a moral responsibility to spend money wisely if they are receiving assistance.  In these economic times, people are constantly being turned down for assistance and for others to receive assistance but spend it frivolously, well, yes, I would take issue with that.  Before it comes up, I'm not talking about the occasional latte, dinner out, or fun outing.

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#4 of 30 Old 08-11-2011, 12:03 PM
 
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I'll chime in because I have exposed my messy financial life and bad habits here while receiving SNAP benefits. Ideally, yes-I think while receiving public assistance we should be frugal. With that said, I don't think that if people qualify for public assistance they shouldn't take it if they could afford to say buy food by not sending their child to childcare-it's a means tested program, if you qualify you qualify and I don't think the idea is that you should have to be sacrificing all other spending before taking SNAP benefits if you qualify. I totally feel like a hypocrite and I think the vicious cycle is for me personally that habits are hard to break (not trying to sound sorry for myself just reflecting honestly) I grew up with a good amount of money and it is a challenge to break those habits and remind myself that we are not in the financial position to do what is normal for our friends (eat out, join the Y, buy clothing, etc) I think the stress of not having much money has sometimes weakened our willpower to stick to a budget and that credit cards have allowed us to pretend that we have more money than we do. I feel a decent amount of shame using the SNAP card and yes that I am not being responsible when I spend money I don't have. Work in progress


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#5 of 30 Old 08-11-2011, 12:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Mulvah View Post

Well, yes, I do think people have a moral responsibility to spend money wisely if they are receiving assistance.  In these economic times, people are constantly being turned down for assistance and for others to receive assistance but spend it frivolously, well, yes, I would take issue with that.  Before it comes up, I'm not talking about the occasional latte, dinner out, or fun outing.


But who gets to define frivolous spending? One might consider buying organic food frivolous, another might consider having one or more cars frivolous, another might consider vacations frivolous, and yet another might think that buying detergent instead of making your own is frivolous. Frivolous depends on who is doing the judging, really.

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#6 of 30 Old 08-11-2011, 12:33 PM
 
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With SNAP benefits- their entire POINT is to free up money in a budget to be able to afford other things and give a family some breathing space while keeping food on the table. 

 

Every $1 of SNAP benefits generates about double that impact in the local economy- it is one of the FEW economic stimuli that actually work.  

 

Should we say that people who receive those benefits are only to spend that freed up money on things WE deem appropriate?  I don't think so- it's a slippery slope. So maybe, after spending $200 in SNAP benefits on food for the family someone spends $50 on frivolous fun- say an outing to a county fair- is that really so wrong?  I don't think so.  I think it's wonderful that the burden is lifted enough that the family has an improved quality of life.  

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#7 of 30 Old 08-11-2011, 03:42 PM
 
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But who gets to define frivolous spending? One might consider buying organic food frivolous, another might consider having one or more cars frivolous, another might consider vacations frivolous, and yet another might think that buying detergent instead of making your own is frivolous. Frivolous depends on who is doing the judging, really.


 

Using the example in the OP, buying a $5 latte every day is frivolous.  There is no value to that.  Sure, it's a subjective term, but most people have a general idea on what is truly frivolous.  I'm not going to enter into a fruitless discussion about buying organic foods, buying vs. making detergents, etc.  It clearly isn't what the OP referred to when she said the following:

 

 

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Originally Posted by ilovemygirl View Post

It's just something I'm wondering about because I feel like I'm often hearing things like "I just can't give up my gym membership or daily $5 latte while simultaneously telling me they are swimming in debt and wouldn't make it if they didn't have all this help from either family or public assistance.

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#8 of 30 Old 08-12-2011, 06:52 AM
 
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I think everyone has a moral obligation to be conscious of their spending, but it's an obligation to only yourself and your family or anyone else that depends on you financially. (Well, obviously I can't determine what anyone else's morals should be, but to me it would be a moral issue). If you are able to provide for your family's basic needs for food, shelter, etc. -- by whatever means, including food stamps and other assistance -- and pay your bills/loans/etc. on time, then no, you don't have any obligation to forgo lattes or whatever. I will still think it's stupid and be annoyed if you then complain about financial stresses, but I don't view it as unethical or anything. This assumes it is OK with your family (spouse isn't stressed by your spending, kids have the little things they want/need, etc. because I feel you do have an obligation to them.)

Now, if you are buying daily lattes and then telling Uncle Joe that you can't pay back that $50 you agreed to pay by last spring, THAT would be unethical IMO.
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#9 of 30 Old 08-12-2011, 07:59 AM
 
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I don't know anyone who receives public assistance who isn't living at least somewhat frugally.  You should not have to walk around in sack cloth or brush your teeth with baking soda  just because you get food stamps.  And granted some people just don't know how to manage money and end up in all kinds of hurt.  But that is to their own detriment.  

 

As for receiving help from family etc....I think it depends.  Sometimes help from a family member is because its family and it is given with no strings.  I know plenty of people who babysit for free because they enjoy spending time with their grandkids.  I could live more frugal and pay for childcare but then when would my kids see their grandparents?  it is win win for my kids.  And think a lot of people see it that way.  My friends mom buys her kids entire wardrobe.  Not because good will isn't good enough but because she loves it.  Should friend be forced to live like a pauper because she doesn't have to pay for clothes for her kids?  Should she be forced to use the money saved in some super responsible way?  I don't think so.  

 

I do think if we owe someone money we have a responsibility to pay it back as quickly as possible.  I feel debt is a sin in the first place and to act gluttonous or greedy while owing money is heaping sin on top of sin.  

 


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#10 of 30 Old 08-12-2011, 07:37 PM
 
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A "friend" on FB recently separated from her dh and has a few kids is having trouble finding a job. She asked is anyone was willing to help (as in a gift) with her rent payment. I really wanted to, however, when her next post some hours later was about seeing a movie at the theater and other shopping, i felt that is she is still spending money on stuff like that, she is not at a place to ask for a gift of money... I think in general many people (especially in the american culture) think that MP3 players, movies, new clothes are NECESSARY to survive. I think these people need to be allowed to hit rock bottom, so they can take the proper steps (with help if need be) be make a better life for themselves. 

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#11 of 30 Old 08-13-2011, 12:18 AM
 
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Choli worded it so beautifully I don't feel a need to reiterate (which is rare lol) *thumbs up*

 

but...

I would say.. what if that latte is the mini vacation she needs and the difference from being a good person or snapping and road raging up someone's behind? might NOT be frivolous. I've been there done that and addictions suck.. even to coffee. I've driven around and around McDonalds (after detoxing from Starbucks to mcd's) talking to myself like a crazy person. Got myself down to a small $2.29 mocha once a week but boy do I think about it often often often lol. It use to be my "reward" for taking dd to rehab by myself and dealing with that. I've been known to sneak out at 3am just for coffee. Thank goodness I never got into drugs.. I'd be a crackhead for sure lol

 

I could also post on FB went to the fair! Was so much fun! We ALL went!.... ($30 value)    I think I would feel like a dork if I said the center called me and offered us free tickets to the fair b/c were poor losers. so we went. Sometimes you don't want to brag about stuff in that kind of way. I also go to the mall "shopping" I never buy anything but it's nice to go somewhere and not be at home ALL the time.

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#12 of 30 Old 08-13-2011, 12:28 AM
 
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we sure like to punish people who ask for help. Like they're suppose to hole themselves up in a closet and not move. Maybe they got free tickets or have coupons or saved a specific amount for such and such or HAVE to for school or just window shop.

 

Best thing is don't loan anyone any money unless you are willing to never see that money or get mad about it. It always happens. You put the person under a microscope and criticize them relentlessly. It will drive you crazy and it always ends up happening. So wash your hands of it and be done and don't loan any money again

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#13 of 30 Old 08-13-2011, 12:41 AM
 
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we sure like to punish people who ask for help. Like they're suppose to hole themselves up in a closet and not move. Maybe they got free tickets or have coupons or saved a specific amount for such and such or HAVE to for school or just window shop.

 

Best thing is don't loan anyone any money unless you are willing to never see that money or get mad about it. It always happens. You put the person under a microscope and criticize them relentlessly. It will drive you crazy and it always ends up happening. So wash your hands of it and be done and don't loan any money again


Or...if you do loan money, make sure that you and the recipient define the terms of the loan and the repayment schedule. I was burned numerous times in the past "loaning" money to a family member - I realise now that it was my fault. She asked for a loan(s), really she meant a gift. When I started making conditions about repaying (many $1000s later than the first "loan")   she decided to start hitting up other family members instead. I think maybe that is the type of situation the OP is talking about.
 

 

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#14 of 30 Old 08-13-2011, 08:08 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jeteaa View Post

A "friend" on FB recently separated from her dh and has a few kids is having trouble finding a job. She asked is anyone was willing to help (as in a gift) with her rent payment. I really wanted to, however, when her next post some hours later was about seeing a movie at the theater and other shopping, i felt that is she is still spending money on stuff like that, she is not at a place to ask for a gift of money... I think in general many people (especially in the american culture) think that MP3 players, movies, new clothes are NECESSARY to survive. I think these people need to be allowed to hit rock bottom, so they can take the proper steps (with help if need be) be make a better life for themselves. 


Although I agree with you to some extent, you don't know how the shopping & movie trip came about. Maybe another friend saw her post on FB and decided to cheer her up by treating her to an afternoon out. Maybe she got free movie tickets and was shopping at the thrift store or with a gift card from her bday. Maybe she wasn't being frivolous after all. But yes, it would drive me crazy to see that, especially since I haven't been to a movie in well over 5 years and 'shopping' for me consists of wandering around the store sadly wishing I could afford to buy a shirt that makes me look fabulous instead of the $2 one I can afford with the coupon I got in the mail and then crying every time I get dressed because I look fat and ugly. So yeah, it would be hard for me to want to give rent money to someone who could afford things I can't.


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#15 of 30 Old 08-13-2011, 09:07 AM
 
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As a student, living off student loans, I will say that yes: all money you have at your disposal is yours to use as you see fit.

 

However, you should also be aware that how you use your money will always have consequences. For example, if you have borrowed money from a friend or family member, it is in your own best interest to pay them back asap. If nothing else, so because you might need to borrow money from them again down the road. If you always borrow, but never pay back - and on top of that seem to be spending the money you should have used to pay them back on having fun - well...I would not give you another loan and be really upset with you.

 

As for getting economical assistance, if you fulfil the requirements, and are responsible and pay your rent, food etc. first and then somehow end up with money left I do think it is well within your right to spend that money however you see fit as a reward to yourself for being good. Be it by actually catching that movie you've been dying to see, getting yourself a new dress that you've been eyeing for months or for that matter having your hair cut. I see nothing wrong with that.

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#16 of 30 Old 08-13-2011, 10:53 AM
 
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Oh, geez.  I don't care what anyone spends their money on, regardless of if they are debt.  Credit cards, personal loans, borrowing from family, receiving assistance -- it's not really anyone's business.  If you are the one who is owed money and you are scrutinizing their purchases, well, then, I'd say you need to speak to that person and be upfront that you need your money back asap.  No good comes out of talking behind their backs or feeling resentment b/c they might choose to spend money differently than you do.  Don't loan money, if it's personal.  As far as other sources of income - credit cards or government help: it truly shouldn't concern others.  I've heard it, though, when people are gossiping.  "How can she justify buying that nice car when her kids are on medicaid?" or "How can they afford to go on vacation when they are up to their ears in debt?"  I mean, unless you are paying their bills, how is it your business?  You know, maybe they will regret that trip to Europe or getting locked into a car loan they probably can't afford.  That's on them.  I try not to judge. No good comes out of stressing over other people's finances.  We all learn the hard way, right?  I mean, I might feel bad to find out so-and-so owes six figures in consumer debt, but I wouldn't dream of complaining about the cup of coffee they buy each day. 

 

And, yeah, the assistance thing bugs me the most.  Choli has the wise.  Where is the line drawn?  Are kids who receive free or reduced lunch not worthy of a Disney vacation?  It's the whole looking down upon the mom who swipes her food stamp card with freshly manicured nails mentality that I can't stand.  "She's using our tax dollars to get her nails did!"  When really, you have no idea if she does them herself, barters for them, got them done as a gift, or it was her splurge b/c it's something that makes her feel more attractive and happy. In other words, don't even make an artificial line in your own head as to what is deemed acceptable or not regarding how people spend money. 


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#17 of 30 Old 08-13-2011, 12:08 PM
 
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Well, you are asking for opinions and this is mine.  As far as credit card goes... no, it's not your money.  You are spending money you do not have and was never yours.  Yes, there is a moral obligation to get that money back to its rightful owner on the agreed schedule.  Same goes for what is owed to individuals from whom you have borrowed.  They need to be a priority to be paid back as if it were a binding contract with a corporation.  It's not ethical to skip a payment to family or credit cards in order to have your lattes or manicures.  If you can do both, then it's not an issue, I don't think.  Gifts should be just that.  Once the giver has given, they have no right to dictate how the money is spent... unless there has been an agreement.  If grandma gives us money for diapers and milk and daddy goes out and buys a case of beer instead, then how is that any different than not using the money for diapers and getting a manicure instead?  There is no difference, in my mind.

 

In regards to government assistance... it is just that... to assist you when times are tough.  The system is not set up to enable you to get manicures every week and lattes every day.  It's to help you make ends meet during tough times.  It's not meant to be a long-term program and if by having your manicures and lattes you are prolonging how long you have to be on the program, then you should think hard about what you are doing .  Of course it's ultimately your money to do with as you need.  The question is actually about your ethical code.  I personally would never feel right doing vacations, lattes, manicures, etc. while on assistance (and I was once as a young adult) or using money that needed to be paid to another person.  I can't hold others to the same ethical code I hold myself to, though.

 

It's easy to say that it's none of our business how an individual or family on assistance spends their money.  On a personal level, it probably isn't.  However, it does affect us all and as a society, and it should be a concern of ours as citizens.  People who hold and default on debt eventually effect everyone.  It even trickles down to the cost of our food and fuel.  The longer a person or family is on social assistance, the more it costs the taxpayers.  I think the key is to find the middle ground.  If you are on assistance or have debt, you have to do your own PERSONAL due diligence to do what is right.  MYOB doesn't work in this case... it affects society as a whole.

 

To me frugality and living green are one in the same thing.  I'd like to think everyone is living frugally as they can for the sake of our environment.

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#18 of 30 Old 08-13-2011, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by ilovemygirl View Post

What I'm asking is do you think families that do not make what they spend on their own should have a moral obligation to be more frugal than those who don't?

 


Yes.  Definitely yes.  Don't spend what you do not have.  

 

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#19 of 30 Old 08-13-2011, 11:41 PM
 
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I think I'm supposed to be ashamed to say this, since I'm working on my MSW, but...

 

Yes, I do think that people who are surviving on the generosity of others have a higher moral obligation to spend their unearned income thoughtfully. I believe that as a society, we are morally obligated to provide for the necessities of life for ALL members of the society; however, I am equally baffled by the things which are frequently considered "necessities" by the typical American (for example).

 

It's not that I think "poor people aren't entitled to sanity splurges," I just don't understand why that splurge has to require money. Libraries and parks are free; board and card games provide very cost-effective entertainment; physical activity produces feel-good endorphins. Any of those would not only be a better use of one's limited resources, IMO, but they would also teach better habits for long-term self-sufficiency (i.e., taking a break from the consumer culture so rampant in this country).

 

I was brought up with very strong ideals of self-sufficiency. It would probably be fair to say I would be too proud to ask for help before I could say unequivocally that I had done absolutely everything I could to resolve the situation myself; or, said another way, that I would be ashamed to ask for help knowing I could do better than I was doing. And yes, I have been in a position where I needed help before.

 

But that's my take on things... I'd fully support tighter restrictions on the appropriate use of assistance monies, with a greater budget for education and support services for the people relying on that assistance. Give a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish, after all... =)


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#20 of 30 Old 08-23-2011, 09:12 AM
 
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My children go to private schools basically for free because of our income. We are also on WIC and the kids get medicaid. I'm confused by this post. Does this mean that I am never supposed to rent a dollar movie? Am I supposed to get rid of our Internet and telephones? I guess the iPad that I am writing on now, which was a bonus at work, should have been sold? None of them are necessary to live. I have expensive name brand shoes, purses, wallets, diaper bags. All are hand me-downs from other people. I'm sure the people behind me at the grocery store are wondering what the he'll when I pay with my WIC checks wearing my coach shoes and my petunia pickle bottom diaper bag. Should I turn to them and say "well really it's ok, because these are all gifts and second hand.".

Quit judging other people unless you've walked a mile in their shoes.


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#21 of 30 Old 08-23-2011, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OP Here .. Thanks for all the replies. 

 

Just to clear up... my question was in regards to people who regularly and openly flaunt spending that is constant and wasteful. I certainly don't begrudge a family having a nice time at the fair one day or renting a movie once in a while, having a special item or two that were obtained as gifts or inexpensively second hand, etc. 


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#22 of 30 Old 08-23-2011, 03:53 PM
 
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Does it even matter if they are obtained second hand or as gifts or even on sale?  I mean no one, regardless of how much they make should spend beyond their means but if a little help with groceries or utilities stretched your means you are entitled to spend it on whatever is important to you.  We all have a our things we spend on.  Spend foolishly on even. i would say the majority of our purchases are happy making anyway.  we could dress like hutterites, live in tiny houses, and eat beans and rice every day and get along just fine.  But we choose not to.  Because doing something else makes us happy.   I could live in  a much smaller house, share a room with one of my kids, get rid of our pets, stop lighting candles and burning insense when we pray.  Really my kids do not need birthday cakes or gifts, they have everything they need and they are a little over weight.  We don't need to go camping or out to movies, they can walk to school.  Don't need the fancy school supplies.  Would not die without air conditioning and could turn the heat down.  I could drive a beater car and take my chances.  Heck, I could get of the computer right now and learn some auto repair. There are lots of things we could do to cheapen our lives.  but we like little things that make us happy and comfortable and consider most of them worth the money.

 

there are a million ways I could cut back, but honestly how i spend my money and how that effects my family is my business.  I am on medicaid so my kids don't need health insurance...boom I have an extra $100 added to my child support, because we have the poor pass we get discounts on stuff.  Boom saved $100 on swim passes and art classes.  Now I have $200 above our budget to spend however I want.  and if i want a designer bag or name brand clothes for my kids I am really as entitled to it as anyone else.  Lets face it, no one needs it.  So long as I am providing for my family (be it with assistance or not) and no one is getting neglected and we are not going into debt, no one has a right to judge.


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#23 of 30 Old 08-24-2011, 02:29 PM
 
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If I owe my sister 50$ and instead I spend that money getting my hair done, yes, I should prob give her the 50$ first. However, a problem arises when someone else, who is not part of the situation, decides that they have a say. What if my sister tells me to go bet my hair done? And you only know that I owe her money, and that I spent that money on my hair? None of your business, and I don't owe you an explanation. Now if you are referring to this http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/19/leroy-fick-lottery-winner-food-stamps_n_864113.html. Then I think you might have something.
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#24 of 30 Old 08-24-2011, 04:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by terese17 View Post

My children go to private schools basically for free because of our income. We are also on WIC and the kids get medicaid. I'm confused by this post. Does this mean that I am never supposed to rent a dollar movie? Am I supposed to get rid of our Internet and telephones? I guess the iPad that I am writing on now, which was a bonus at work, should have been sold? None of them are necessary to live. I have expensive name brand shoes, purses, wallets, diaper bags. All are hand me-downs from other people. I'm sure the people behind me at the grocery store are wondering what the he'll when I pay with my WIC checks wearing my coach shoes and my petunia pickle bottom diaper bag. Should I turn to them and say "well really it's ok, because these are all gifts and second hand.".

Quit judging other people unless you've walked a mile in their shoes.


Wouldn't it be easier if all the poor people would just go away and then we wouldn't have to think about them?

Didn't you know? poor people shouldn't have nice things.

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#25 of 30 Old 08-25-2011, 07:05 AM
 
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I don't worry about it one way or another. If a person qualifies for assistance without cheating or lying, then they are entitled to that assistance regardless of what they do with all the rest of their money.

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Erika, mama to three beautiful kids (plus one gestating), and wife to one fantastic man.

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#26 of 30 Old 08-25-2011, 07:29 AM
 
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Originally Posted by lilyka View Post

Does it even matter if they are obtained second hand or as gifts or even on sale?  I mean no one, regardless of how much they make should spend beyond their means but if a little help with groceries or utilities stretched your means you are entitled to spend it on whatever is important to you.  We all have a our things we spend on.  Spend foolishly on even. i would say the majority of our purchases are happy making anyway.  we could dress like hutterites, live in tiny houses, and eat beans and rice every day and get along just fine.  But we choose not to.  Because doing something else makes us happy.   I could live in  a much smaller house, share a room with one of my kids, get rid of our pets, stop lighting candles and burning insense when we pray.  Really my kids do not need birthday cakes or gifts, they have everything they need and they are a little over weight.  We don't need to go camping or out to movies, they can walk to school.  Don't need the fancy school supplies.  Would not die without air conditioning and could turn the heat down.  I could drive a beater car and take my chances.  Heck, I could get of the computer right now and learn some auto repair. There are lots of things we could do to cheapen our lives.  but we like little things that make us happy and comfortable and consider most of them worth the money.

 

there are a million ways I could cut back, but honestly how i spend my money and how that effects my family is my business.  I am on medicaid so my kids don't need health insurance...boom I have an extra $100 added to my child support, because we have the poor pass we get discounts on stuff.  Boom saved $100 on swim passes and art classes.  Now I have $200 above our budget to spend however I want.  and if i want a designer bag or name brand clothes for my kids I am really as entitled to it as anyone else.  Lets face it, no one needs it.  So long as I am providing for my family (be it with assistance or not) and no one is getting neglected and we are not going into debt, no one has a right to judge.

 

I think lilyka put it well. 

 

I think part of the problem is the way we're framing the question.  We're asking, "Are poor people / people who owe money / people receiving assistance entitled to spend money on frivolous things?"

 

As though people who are NOT poor, do NOT owe money, do NOT receive assistance, ARE entitled to those things.

 

Perhaps we should be asking, instead, Why do any of us feel entitled to anything?  I mean, regardless of how much money we make, am I entitled to spend the money we have on anything I deem important or valuable?  Where does a responsible person draw the line?  At some point, I think we all need to say, "yes, this money is in my possession, but that possession does not give me carte blanche to spend on whatever I feel like having or doing." 

 

Here's two major reasons why:

 

1) I think we ALL owe a debt, somewhere.  My BIL is a millionaire.  Why?  Because he's a VP of a bank that got bailed out using taxpayer money.  And he got a big bonus as a result.  Argue the ethics of that all you like (I certainly have!!!) -- but the end result is, he's wealthy.  But he owes that wealth to the taxpayers as surely as the person who is receiving food stamps.  Perhaps MORE, because the food stamps are part of our collective responsibility as a society to ensure that nobody goes hungry -- and paying for my BIL's new grand piano just doesn't fit comfortably in my view of good use of taxpayer dollars, KWIM? 

 

Even people who have "worked hard" to earn a lot of money can't chalk that all up to their own effort.  At some point, we all owe what we have to someone else.  Poor people in developing countries subsidize our wealth every day.  I couldn't afford to buy clothes, electronics, food, if somebody at some point on the chain did not sew those clothes, put together those electronics (and mine the metals that go into them), grow and pick the food, etc., at rock-bottom non-livable wages.  Right?  We all know that. 

 

You could even track it back a few generations and say, to some degree, what I have depends upon the world into which I was born.  If I am born a poor woman in Uganda, it doesn't matter how hard I work, I'm not gonna have the opportunities to gain wealth that a middle-class man in Germany or Denmark would have (for example).  It's not as though the playing field is entirely even, right?  Everyone starts at at different place.  Loans, benefits, aid, etc. are an attempt to level that playing field enough to ensure that nobody completely falls through the cracks of survival.  And still they do, every day. 
 

2) It is part of the way that I understand my faith, and my responsibility to the world as a Christian.  As St. Basil the Great said, “The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot;
the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.” 

 

So no, as long as people around me are poor, hungry, oppressed by our economic system, inadequately clothed, developing foot abscesses from wearing bad shoes all winter on the streets ... I really feel that I am NOT entitled to luxuries.  Do I do a very good job of forgoing them?  No.  But I'm working on it.  And in the meantime, I confess that as sin, because I truly believe that it is.  For me, or for someone else, regardless of where they got their money. 

 


I'm traveling the world with my kids without ever leaving home and blogging about it -- watch, taste, and share our adventures at TheGlobalStayCation.com!
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#27 of 30 Old 08-25-2011, 08:04 AM
 
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Beautiful post, Comtessa. That is exactly what I wanted to figure out how to say! But taking one step back, I think the real sin is having (things, food, opportunities, health, love, whatever) without gratitude. It is the attitude of entitlement that irks me, whether it is a wealthy person expecting better service at a resturaunt, or a poor person always feeling they deserve more and more assistance. I don't begrudge anyone pleasure in life, in (almost!) whatever form that takes, but I am saddened when they can't appreciate it. 


Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)

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#28 of 30 Old 08-25-2011, 11:41 AM
 
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There's a really great challenge that a number of members of congress took part in a while back. They had to survive on the food stamp (now SNAP) budget for 30 days. In our state, citizens are eligible for assistance at 200% the poverty level (which is very outdated, btw...I believe HHS is working on updating the definition of 'poverty' in the US). That's definitely an income level that requires assistance. That might be a great challenge to try. Limit your houshold 'income' and only eat on a food stamp budget & only shop on a federal poverty level budget. You most likely wouldn't have anything left after paying necessities.

As far as 'luxuries,' I know there was a report released a few years back by one of the conservative think tanks saying that the 'poor' in the US aren't as 'poor' as folks in other countries. This is because most Americans have clean water, microwaves, tvs, etc. It's. Really absurd comparison. A family of 4 making $22k/year may own a second-hand television that they could sell on Craigslist for 25 bucks, but that won't pay the bills when the primary breadwinner is hospitalizd with no health insurance and no paid leave.

One more thought...We were on assistance when I was a little girl. My mom owned one pair of Calvin Klein jeans that she had on layaway for months. She worked her fingers to the bone to provide, but my deadbeat dad didn't pay child support, and we needed help. My paternal grandparents still talk about mom's jeans & it really ticks me off. She was frugal, worked hard & ultimately became very successful. (She and my dad who raised me are wealthy now.) And although she can't fit into them anymore, she still has those jeans in her dresser. smile.gif

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#29 of 30 Old 08-26-2011, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for these great and well thought out replies. I think what the last three posters said was more of what I was getting at. The whole -just because you can doesn't mean you should- type of thing. 

I know several bloggers have done the month long food stamp challenge. There's also a website called live below the line that's the same premise just more global. 


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#30 of 30 Old 08-29-2011, 04:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by insidevoice View Post

With SNAP benefits- their entire POINT is to free up money in a budget to be able to afford other things and give a family some breathing space while keeping food on the table. 

 

Every $1 of SNAP benefits generates about double that impact in the local economy- it is one of the FEW economic stimuli that actually work.  

 

Should we say that people who receive those benefits are only to spend that freed up money on things WE deem appropriate?  I don't think so- it's a slippery slope. So maybe, after spending $200 in SNAP benefits on food for the family someone spends $50 on frivolous fun- say an outing to a county fair- is that really so wrong?  I don't think so.  I think it's wonderful that the burden is lifted enough that the family has an improved quality of life.  


THANK YOU. ^^VOICE OF REASON, Y'ALL!!^^

 


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