Living on $6.50 an hour

  1. http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com...urAmIPoor.aspx

    To me, what is really interesting about this article is that the author has chosen to keep her dogs, despite the fact that it meant she had to give up a good job because she insisted on keeping them. I'd probably have tried first to find a friend or family member to take them temporarily. Maybe she did and just didn't put that part in the article. Failing that, I guess the decision to give them away completely would be much more difficult to make, but I'm still not sure it wouldn't have been what I'd done.

    I'm glad she differentiates her situation and abject poverty. Can you honestly be considered poor if you own your home and still have paid cable and Internet?
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  2. 27 Comments

  3. by   leslie :-D
    as a single woman in her 50's, it sounds as if the dogs are all she has: her family, per se.
    i also understand not wanting to sell her house but save it for her old age.
    i empathize with her.
    there's no help for the 'high-class-poor', who don't meet the guidelines of poverty but are obviously below the middle class criteria.
    i wish her well.

    leslie

    eta: yes mercy, i do agree about allowing for internet & cable. at least she has the flexibility of affording the non-necessities, or rather, what she considers the absolute bare necessities.
  4. by   mercyteapot
    I also agree, wholeheartedly, with her keeping her home. On one level I do understand her attachment to the dogs. I am sure my sister, who isn't single but doesn't have children and spends thousands of dollars a year on her pets, would do as this woman has done. I'm just pretty sure that I would choose a different plan of action. I don't think that's one right and one's wrong, just a difference in priorities.
  5. by   SuesquatchRN
    Except that she isn't close to poor. She has savings and retirment accounts, as well as equity in her home, that she refuses to touch.

    That's isn't to say her situation doesn't stink, but it isn't close to bleak.
  6. by   Tweety
    If my boss said "you have x amount of time to find a decent place to live that wouldn't reflect bad on my company", I still think I would search for a place that would accept my dogs and I'd be willing to loose such a job with such a boss to keep my dogs. It's a risk I would take. Although the article doesn't indicate that she was even given the option of time.

    One of the main reasons my financial situation changed for the worse these past few months is because I chose to keep my house. Besides being a wise investment choice, it is primarily because of the dogs. I would never be able to have the dogs in a rental unit, they are too loud and I know from experience with coworkers and friends - dogs and the apartments and condos here don't mix. So I pay the high mortgage alone to keep the dogs out of the shelter. No friends or family can take them.

    Anyway, I know what it's like to work for minimum wage. For a while after I lost my job with the insurance company I could not find a job. I moved back to my hometown, rented an apartment for $210/month, didn't have a car, and worked for $3.00/hr at Pizza Hut for the five years it took me to finish nursing school (by the end I was making a whopping $3.60/hr). It's tough living not quite on the welfare line, but right next to it. No insurance, eating ramen noodles and cheap food, never going anywhere, doing anything and buying anything. A cup of coffee out with friends was the best I could do for entertainment. Relying on friends and family for rides. I rode a bike to work, went to the grocery on my bike with a back pack, took the bus here and there. Never having new clothes. No insurance. Every little thing could break the bank, like an emergency trip to the dentist (bi-yearly cleaning was out of the question) or doctor (fortunately, not once did I need an MD).

    I admire her for taking the high road and not being too good to work in a kitchen, and doing what she has to do to survive right now. I hope things work out for her.
    Last edit by Tweety on Jan 13, '07
  7. by   mercyteapot
    Quote from Suesquatch
    Except that she isn't close to poor. She has savings and retirment accounts, as well as equity in her home, that she refuses to touch.

    That's isn't to say her situation doesn't stink, but it isn't close to bleak.
    To me, though, that was kind of the point of her article. Just what is being poor? Just because you have it better than some others, does that mean your reduction in circumstance is of no consequence or is any less of a personal struggle? I don't mean is it less of a struggle than abject poverty would be, I mean less of a personal struggle than she is experiencing? Do our problems mean nothing unless they are the worst? When it comes right down to it, if that's the case, it is hard to imagine most Americans, even those who live in the abject poverty of the Applachias and comparable situations, would qualify as ''poor'' using a comparison based on the rest of the world. I don't mean that they are not actually poor.

    Certainly, there is poverty in America, but it's based on the American perception of poverty. Based on what would be considered poor in some undeveloped countries that don't even have a clean water supply or the most basic of health coverage programs, probably not so much.

    The author of this article doesn't sound to me like she is comparing her plight to the truly disadvantaged. Compared to her peers, though, and the standard of living to which she had becomed accustomed (and had built for herself), I can certainly understand why there are times when she does feels that way, though.
    Last edit by mercyteapot on Jan 13, '07
  8. by   Tweety
    Quote from Suesquatch
    Except that she isn't close to poor. She has savings and retirment accounts, as well as equity in her home, that she refuses to touch.

    That's isn't to say her situation doesn't stink, but it isn't close to bleak.

    Yeah and did you see the mortgage? $310 a month? That's awesome.
  9. by   mercyteapot
    Quote from Tweety
    Yeah and did you see the mortgage? $310 a month? That's awesome.
    When we bought our first house 14 years ago, the guy across the street (that's the side with the ocean view!!!) had bought 17 years earlier and his mortgage was only $240 a month!!! It made me want to cry.
  10. by   Tweety
    Mercy, I agree. You have to look at her situation from American average standards.

    In America you might be considered poor if you can't afford and don't have a computer and/or internet connection. Or a cell phone. Or not owning a car. We've all seen the users of food stamps in the grocery store with clean clothes and cell phones, yet obviously qualify as being poor. Their situation isn't bleak because they have resources from the public, family, they have a roof over their head and food on the table.
    Last edit by Tweety on Jan 13, '07
  11. by   Tweety
    Quote from mercyteapot
    When we bought our first house 14 years ago, the guy across the street (that's the side with the ocean view!!!) had bought 17 years earlier and his mortgage was only $240 a month!!! It made me want to cry.
    I hear you. My parents very modest, but four bedroom home with living room and den, two baths was $15,000.
  12. by   VivaLasViejas
    Poverty, like most things, is relative IMHO.

    I've often said that back in the days when anything over $10,000 was a good year, we had nothing; now that it regularly tops $60,000 a year, we STILL have nothing.........only more expensive nothing Even then, we usually had a car, a phone, and at least one TV set; we were on food stamps, so we ate fairly well (and we managed to avoid starving the last half of the month); and we always had a roof over our heads, even if it did leak a little and wasn't in the nicest neighborhood. Poor, yes; destitute, hardly.

    Now I look around at our big house in the woods and see the two cars, neither of which are new; the furniture, which needs to be replaced due to age and abuse, the six TVs, four DVD players, three stereos, and several cell phones, none of which are top of the line..........and I think, holy crow, we really aren't that much better off than we were 10 years ago! We have everything we need and most of what we want, and we live in a much better part of town than we used to, but when you get right down to where the cheese binds, we aren't doing much better than our low-income counterparts.

    We certainly don't eat any better than we did on foodstamps........it's hard to have the energy or the desire to cook when you work long hours. Our cars and furniture are as old and tired as we are, but to run out and buy new doesn't make any sense because a) we can't afford the high payments, and b) we still have kids and grandkids at home with their grimy, sticky hands and a propensity for leaping onto the sofa from six feet away. And of course, now that we don't have the government handing us free health care and medicine, more of our income goes toward our family doctor's golf vacation and into the fur-lined pockets of drug-company CEOs.

    Don't get me wrong---I wouldn't want to go back to living on minimum wage, or something barely above it. But I think sometimes that one can be almost as poor on a decent income as on subsistence-level wages, because higher taxes, plus the higher cost of living, pretty much erase whatever benefits there are to making more money.

    That said, I'd still rather be poor or middle-class here in America than anywhere else on the planet.......when you consider what poverty looks like in South Africa or the Middle East, we are blessed indeed.
  13. by   SuesquatchRN
    Mercy, I guess she just annoys me. My oldest friend - and I love her dearly - is always doing "poor mouth." Scavenging thrift shops, whining about being poor and how unfair life is, eating day old bread - and she has well in excess of 6 figures in savings, the house is mortgage free.

    The woman in the article's circumstances changed. Boo freakin' hoo. DH and I were earning close to $250k a year just prior to 9/11 and now our systems jobs have been outsourced to Boris and Ivan, along with 1000 more just from our ex-firm. Mike found something at $35k and I got a job at JoAnn's at $6.50 an hour. We pulled out retirment money, sold the house because we couldn't carry the mortgage any longer, and blew out of NYC because we couldn't afford to live IN OUr OWN HOME TOWN any longer.

    The very idea of creeping up to the pot luck line at an event and snarfing up the leftovers if I had money in the bank makes my skin crawl. She got skinny because she's CHEAP, not broke. There are children in that hall who aren't getting sufficient food and this whiny-butt middle-aged woman is scarfing up their leftovers.

    Two months ago I lost my job and benefits. I'm now playing the get-cash-on-one-card-switch-to-the-low-interest-one game to pay for COBrA and the mortgage on the property we bought because we're down $2k a month plus $850 for COBrA. I got a forebearance on my huge student loan, which I was going to start paying off last month. And we still have a broke, now-longer-suicidal friend staying with us for free and we still feed some of the neighborhood urchins who magically show up here at dinner time. Anf our dogs, all of whom are rescues, and four cats, ditto.

    She is full of self-pity and she's cheap. Get over it and get on with it, and take a freakin' early distribution and buy some peanut butter and a steak.
  14. by   JeanettePNP
    Quote from Suesquatch
    Mercy, I guess she just annoys me. My oldest friend - and I love her dearly - is always doing "poor mouth." Scavenging thrift shops, whining about being poor and how unfair life is, eating day old bread - and she has well in excess of 6 figures in savings, the house is mortgage free.
    I have a SIL like that and boy is it annoying... Always complaining that she can't afford this or that because her mortgage is so high. Well who asked you to buy a 4,000+ sqf home and remodel it top to bottom? Don't whine to me who's living in an apartment that's barely 1,000 sqf.

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