Thursday, March 11, 2010

Growing Up Poor

I bumbled onto this long involved post (including 400-plus comments!) on what "Being Poor" means.

A lot of thoughtful ideas here, though some are fueled more by frustration and anger, than they honestly reflect a desire to Stop Being Poor. Some are apt to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and vow they'll never again have to practice some of their previous economies. Examples:
     No more mac & cheese (Why not? It was a treat to us! My father hated the stuff, and we only had it when he was out of town.)
    No more secondhand clothes. (Some of my best luxury outfits have come from our local thrift shop -- smack in the middle of one of the wealthiest counties in Colorado.)
    No more used cars. (So paying for the automatic $ loss when you drive the car off the lot

So -- reading this stuff also means wearing the Hat of Common Sense while you're processing it.

We may not have had much money growing up -- by federal standards, I guess we were poor. (We've qualified for the label some of our married years, as well...a status we've both found amusing.) But we never took welfare or food stamps. We had a huge vegetable garden, raised our own meat, and bartered and traded with cousins for other stuff. (My first car, a present from Mom and Dad, was a hand-me-down purchase from cousin Steve...something I didn't know until a few years ago!)

Maybe this is less about being poor more than it is thinking poor. Being poor can be temporary, until your job prospects get better, or you're out of school, or you can afford to move away. Thinking that way, however, can take you over for the rest of your life. 


Sharyn said...

It always amazes me when people are surprised at the large percentage of children born into poverty. Most people have their children at a time in the early stages of their work lives. That is the lowest income they may ever make in their lives. My children certainly were born at a time when we didn’t even have a quarter for a TV guide. My husband was in the military and going to school full time while I was busy with the babies on a small base in the middle of nowhere. We managed. I am not much on goulash any more but life is good.

Cindy Brick said...

If you think about, the time when your children are young is invariably the time when you really do need more money -- for their accidents (thank God when you have insurance, but many don't -- and our deductible is $5000), school activities, college eventually, and so on.

Not to mention the basic needs.

You're right: expenses for us smoothed out after Daughters #1 and #2 left home. Although we still get the occasional frantic call asking for $$ "only until I get paid."

Thanks for writing.

It's a wonder that any of us get through this reasonably coherent!

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