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Old 11-09-2011, 09:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was searching for ways to trim our budget a little more so that we can build an emergency fund.  I went on our energy provider website to read about alternate billing options like budget billing that averages the cost over a year.  While on the site, I saw that we totally qualify for heating and energy assistance.  Not like, a little bit, but by a $1000/month margin.  I always think that maybe we could be doing more, being more frugal, but then I saw that and was like... .what?  Should I be applying for this? 

 

DP grew up on assistance and has said a couple of times how nice he feels not being on it.  I did not grow up on assistance but there were a couple times when we definitely qualified and my mom just hunkered down and made it work somehow.... I really don't know how.  So even though I'd tell a friend, "Just apply!  They will weed you out if others need it more!" ... I am having a hard time seeing clearly if this is something we should do.  We always pay all our bills, though not always on time.  We have a lot of expenses coming up, like repairs to the car to keep the inspection up to date, new tires for winter because the old ones aren't safe, and DP needs his teeth repaired badly but we are both afraid to find out how much it is going to cost.  And yet, I feel we are so much better off than many, it doesn't seem possible or right that we should be asking for help.

 

Thoughts?


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Old 11-09-2011, 10:51 PM
 
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My family was in a similar position last year and I went ahead and applied for the assistance which allowed me to be less worried about monitoring the heat control and the thermostat which was a relief for all.  What helped me to decide to apply was saying to myself that this will make things easier right now and I will contribute to the assitance fund in form of donation once my husband is through school.

 

I am not sure if this is helpful at all.

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Old 11-10-2011, 04:57 AM
 
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I actually have some very strong thoughts on this.  If you qualify for any kind of assistance, you must go and get it.  My reasons: if the assistance can help you with your household budget, you will open up funds for other things, such as education or starting a small business other ways of improving your life.  When you do this, you can contribute more in taxes, etc. to the economy as a whole.  The better you do, the more it uplifts your entire community.  The reason such aid exists is not because the government feels sorry for the poor (well there is that!)  but it is a pragmatic decision that saves money in the long run.  Higher incomes mean more opportunities, less generational welfare dependency, probably lower crime rates in the long run.  Providing Medicaid assistance now reduces government paid emergency room visits later, etc. 

 

When you get more secure financially, you will put back more into your community than you every accepted, you, your children and your grandchildren. 

 

Take the assistance.  Use the money that it opens up in your budget it to snowball your way out of debt, build up some emergency funds, start a college degree.  Whatever. 

 

Also, if only the unfrugal, conniving, extravagant types get aid, it really paints a bad picture of the entire group of people living close to the poverty line.  It allows politicos to point the finger and say entitlements are "bad": people should be willing to work 20 hour work days so that they can eat.  No one is entitled to food, or shelter or heat in this country. 

 

Go ahead, occupy assistance.  Use it, leverage it.  Make your world a better place.

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Old 11-10-2011, 05:09 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclamen View Post

 

DP grew up on assistance and has said a couple of times how nice he feels not being on it. 

 

Maybe he feels nice not about present absence of assistance, but about presently earning enough and being better off financially?

 

I wouldn't understand if someone really said "It is nice to not be on assistance anymore. It was not nice to have assistance before. It would have been so much nicer to go hungry every day. Having some food on the table sucked."

 

Apply and let your family reap the benefits!

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Old 11-10-2011, 10:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by jessaroo View Post

My family was in a similar position last year and I went ahead and applied for the assistance which allowed me to be less worried about monitoring the heat control and the thermostat which was a relief for all.  What helped me to decide to apply was saying to myself that this will make things easier right now and I will contribute to the assitance fund in form of donation once my husband is through school.

 

I am not sure if this is helpful at all.


Thank you, that is very helpful.  I like the idea of giving back to help others in the same boat once our situation improves.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by EmsMom View Post

I actually have some very strong thoughts on this.  If you qualify for any kind of assistance, you must go and get it.  My reasons: if the assistance can help you with your household budget, you will open up funds for other things, such as education or starting a small business other ways of improving your life.  When you do this, you can contribute more in taxes, etc. to the economy as a whole.  The better you do, the more it uplifts your entire community.  The reason such aid exists is not because the government feels sorry for the poor (well there is that!)  but it is a pragmatic decision that saves money in the long run.  Higher incomes mean more opportunities, less generational welfare dependency, probably lower crime rates in the long run.  Providing Medicaid assistance now reduces government paid emergency room visits later, etc. 

 

When you get more secure financially, you will put back more into your community than you every accepted, you, your children and your grandchildren. 

 

Take the assistance.  Use the money that it opens up in your budget it to snowball your way out of debt, build up some emergency funds, start a college degree.  Whatever. 

 

Also, if only the unfrugal, conniving, extravagant types get aid, it really paints a bad picture of the entire group of people living close to the poverty line.  It allows politicos to point the finger and say entitlements are "bad": people should be willing to work 20 hour work days so that they can eat.  No one is entitled to food, or shelter or heat in this country. 

 

Go ahead, occupy assistance.  Use it, leverage it.  Make your world a better place.


 

This is also very helpful.  We talked last night about what the right thing to do is and decided that the right thing is just what you suggested - take what we qualify for, do better, become more secure, and go on to contribute to our community.  It's really hard to let go the feeling of shame and failure, and even harder when it's not a matter of "starving or not."  If we were hungry, I'd have no qualms.  On some level I think we both believe that since we are doing much better than his family was at when he was little, and better than my family was doing when I was a teen... we don't deserve help.  But it's not about deserving.  Hard to let go of that idea!  Thank you.


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Old 11-10-2011, 11:39 AM
 
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I'm so glad you came to that conclusion.  I was going to say much the same as the PPs.


 

 

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Old 11-10-2011, 02:32 PM
 
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thumbsup.gif  thank you so much for posting this.  I needed to read it.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by EmsMom View Post

I actually have some very strong thoughts on this.  If you qualify for any kind of assistance, you must go and get it.  My reasons: if the assistance can help you with your household budget, you will open up funds for other things, such as education or starting a small business other ways of improving your life.  When you do this, you can contribute more in taxes, etc. to the economy as a whole.  The better you do, the more it uplifts your entire community.  The reason such aid exists is not because the government feels sorry for the poor (well there is that!)  but it is a pragmatic decision that saves money in the long run.  Higher incomes mean more opportunities, less generational welfare dependency, probably lower crime rates in the long run.  Providing Medicaid assistance now reduces government paid emergency room visits later, etc. 

 

When you get more secure financially, you will put back more into your community than you every accepted, you, your children and your grandchildren. 

 

Take the assistance.  Use the money that it opens up in your budget it to snowball your way out of debt, build up some emergency funds, start a college degree.  Whatever. 

 

Also, if only the unfrugal, conniving, extravagant types get aid, it really paints a bad picture of the entire group of people living close to the poverty line.  It allows politicos to point the finger and say entitlements are "bad": people should be willing to work 20 hour work days so that they can eat.  No one is entitled to food, or shelter or heat in this country. 

 

Go ahead, occupy assistance.  Use it, leverage it.  Make your world a better place.



 


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Old 11-10-2011, 04:06 PM
 
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For our family, we decided to follow the golden rule.  If we were the ones with the money, would we give to our family?  It's hard for me to explain.  There were times in our married life where we definitely would have taken help and truly, truly needed it.  But then, there are times, when we could have done more to improve our own situation.  For example, I'm a sahm now by choice.  I could go back to work, but I don't want to.  So I don't take help, even though we qualify for it.  This is a choice we've made. There are times I couldn't go back to work and did take help.   Also, there are things we could cut out of our budget---cable tv, fancy cell phones, which we love, but definitely not a necessity, ya know??

Years ago, when we both worked and before children, we had more disposable income.  I worked with a lady who was really under water, mostly by spending choices (eating lunch out every day, nail appointments, expensive cable tv, nice new clothes all the time) , but she also had a dead-beat ex-dh who didn't pay child support.  She told us she was driving without car insurance and dh and I wanted to help her out until she could get back on her feet, however long that might take.  So I asked her if she was willing to meet with a financial counselor (NOT ME!!), maybe from a debt consolidation place or wherever and get on the budget that they recommended.  We would give her the amount of car insurance as long as the debt counselor said to.  Well guess what??  She wasn't willing to do that, and I was kind of surprised, but it was her choice. 

 

I know other people that work under the table and collect benefits or other people taking unemployment with no intention of going back to work or don't want to work the jobs available to them that they think are beneath them.    Some of these are in my own family! They justify it that the money is being given, so they might as well take it, even if they have to fudge.l    I would not want to donate money to someone who was deceiving the system, but of course, that's not what you're asking. 

 

 

 

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Old 11-10-2011, 10:59 PM
 
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I agree with what EmsMom said earlier, and I also have some strong thoughts on this topic.  They may or may not be in line with others' values, but this is my perspective:  

 

My DH works, and I stay at home for my kids.  We don't buy superfluous nothings, don't eat out, and generally are as frugal and responsible as we can possibly be.  We have to pass on a lot of fun things for us and for the kids.  My DH's job is simply not enough to make ends meet on a regular basis--which, unfortunately, means that we still can't pay all our bills on time every time.  Now, I could go to work, and put my kids in school/daycare, and we'd improve our finances significantly.  (it probably would still not be enough to no longer qualify for assistance, but either way)  

 

However, I feel that staying at home, being with my littles, homeschooling my older kids--is going to make a HUGE positive impact on their lives, moreso than if we were to become a two-parent-working family and (potentially--only potentially) were to get off assistance.  I feel that I'm giving the kids the emotional grounding and life skills they need now, so that they won't be on assistance when they're adults.  Is this all theory?  Of course.  But I do think that the general aim of government help should be to prevent ppl from needing help over long periods of time, to help them to pull forward and get off assistance permanently.  

 

If you can accept assistance for awhile, and it lets you build a brighter future for yourself and your children, then I think that is utilizing the concept to its finest.  


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Old 11-11-2011, 09:05 AM
 
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Hi,

 

Just to give you another perspective -- my family of origin was completely against any and all public assistance.  I eventually dropped out of high school to support us because the collective strain of all that, plus my dad getting sick, tipped us over the edge in a way that wasn't salvagable.  So my advice is, take the assistance, get on your feet and stay on them.  Sometimes you need a little help, you know?  Denying the help you need will only hurt you in the long run.

 

Anka


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Old 11-14-2011, 01:40 PM
 
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If you're at the point of deferring needed dental work, then yes, you do need assistance from somewhere.  You can set yourself a deadline for getting off it, if you want. 

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Old 11-14-2011, 05:17 PM
 
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Hi Cyclamen, I hope that you are feeling more positive about this.  I agree with the PP re the dental work - this is really important.  I wanted to share an older friend's story - I know she wouldn't mind.  When her father died at work, she was still at school and had been offered early entry to a prestigious university course in her field.  Her mother refused to apply for a pension because she was fiercely independent.  As a veteran's daughter, my friend was also entitled to assistance from a veterans' organisation, but her mother would not let her accept it because she didn't want others knowing their business.  Her mother refused to apply for workers' compensation.  My friend left school and she and her mother scraped by doing piece-work.  Eventually she was able to give private lessons in her field and moved from there to teaching.  She finally got to study in her fifties.  Now my friend has nothing but kind words for her mother but I can't help thinking how different her life would have been had her mother just accepted the help she was perfectly entitled to.  Independence is a fine thing, it really is, but it is important to reassess when it comes at a cost to people who are dependent on you.

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Old 11-15-2011, 09:24 PM
 
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Go for it!!  If you qualify for the assistance,  you "need" it. Don't defer dental treatments please.. These assistances are there for a reason.

 

When you get back on your feet, give it back to the community.

 

Even after reading all these comments, IF you are still thinking twice about accepting assistance - maybe you can volunteer your time somewhere in a food bank or tutoring kids..or something else... That would help you feel that you are also giving back something in return to the community that is helping you with the assistance. Think about it..


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Old 11-15-2011, 11:43 PM
 
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For anyone who thinks the the LIHEAP is a "handout" is it not.  It is a subsidy.  Now companies and energy providers receive tons of subsidies. Does anyone guilt trip a business person if they receive a grant for developing their business?  Or farmers who receive subsidies for growing row crops?

 

LIHEAP is no different.  In fact the energy company (if it is electrical, gas, etc) probably receives a bigger benefit from participating in this program then you receive by getting a few hundred bucks taken off of you account. It isn't like they are giving it to you for free--they likely receive a big fat tax break or other subsidy.

 

Also, the oil and gas reserves in the US belong to everyone.  Sure, the companies do a lot of work to extract the resources and deliver them to your home.  And you are paying for a service.  But it is also the case that a few are benefiting off selling you what is rightfully yours to begin with, right?

 

So it isn't really a hand out. You qualify for a subsidy.  Take it.


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Old 11-16-2011, 07:18 AM
 
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Even without the "assistance" debate, I tend to agree that LIHEAP is not really in the same category as welfare overall.  Even families with totally liveable incomes can find winter heat bills to be *very* difficult to manage.  We are keeping our heat at 60 and I am terrified of our bill for this month. :s  You can only control your usage so much--if you live in an area where you need heat--well, you need heat.

 

I'm interested to see the post about subsidies, never thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense.

 

Personally?  While I have some generally negative feelings about our welfare/assistance system as it stands, the fact is, it's there.  Anybody who is working or has worked has paid into it.  I see no moral problem with people using any assistance as a temporary safety net in hard times.  And actually, I think that hesitance to be on it is natural and a good thing.  It's good to be motivated to work your way out of that need, but it doesn't need to be a shame-based motivation. 

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Old 11-16-2011, 01:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post

Even without the "assistance" debate, I tend to agree that LIHEAP is not really in the same category as welfare overall.  Even families with totally liveable incomes can find winter heat bills to be *very* difficult to manage.  We are keeping our heat at 60 and I am terrified of our bill for this month. :s  You can only control your usage so much--if you live in an area where you need heat--well, you need heat.

 

I'm interested to see the post about subsidies, never thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense.

 

Personally?  While I have some generally negative feelings about our welfare/assistance system as it stands, the fact is, it's there.  Anybody who is working or has worked has paid into it.  I see no moral problem with people using any assistance as a temporary safety net in hard times.  And actually, I think that hesitance to be on it is natural and a good thing.  It's good to be motivated to work your way out of that need, but it doesn't need to be a shame-based motivation. 

Well,  think of it this way: utility companies basically have a monopoly on energy/gas in a specific market. It is in the best interest of communities to allow all people some basic level of standard of living (like not having children and elderly freezing to death), in exchange for not having any competition.  

 


 

 


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Old 11-17-2011, 05:42 AM
 
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Chiming in to stress the importance of your DH getting dental work.  That's got a huge long-term medical benefit and will lead to his ability to be more productive over a longer stretch of time.  To put it coldly and pragmatically, I think of assistance as a societal investment.


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