This post might make me unpopular among some readers, but it is how I feel. Poor people get a bad wrap.I'm tired of the rhetoric. It must be their choices are bad. They have too many kids they can't afford. They don't work hard enough. If a family needs to utilize public assistance programs, then so many people feel bound to analyze and judge their food purchases, any purchases. Snarky politicians out to slash budgets will tout budget anecdotes as the answer to the problems of the poor. "Look at this family featured on the news," they'll reference. "They feed their family of six for under $300 a month. Food stamps are way too generous and just encourage poor buying habits." Even though research has shown that drug testing for public assistance benefits costs more than any potential cost savings to disallow a person to receive benefits, weekly I still see the meme pop up on Facebook feeds. I disagree, but understand why people feel entitled to get angry. Life is expensive and feeling like someone else is getting a free ride is unpleasant. True, some people are poor because they perpetually self sabotage, but I do not think that is most.
Neighborhoods or whole communities will rail against affordable housing coming to their town, worried it will bring in all sorts of problems. They worry property values will decrease. I get it. We bought our house in a new neighborhood that was originally designated as 90% single family, but then a change happened and the amount of duplexes and four-plexes went up by five times. We know it impacted the housing prices in our neighborhood. Still, everyone needs and deserves a safe place to raise a family, come home at night to sleep, and live in retirement.
I do not want to be poor. I have lived on a very low income in the past, but have never truly experienced poverty. In part though, I worry about how my family would cope should the worst hit us financially. How low could our living expenses go? How long would our savings last? Could we sell our house and find a less expensive house, putting some cash back into our account to stretch our savings longer? Would I be able to feed, clean, and clothe my family for a month on an extremely austere budget? I hope I am not coming across as pompous when I write about my various financial challenges. I don't want to look like the snarky folks I mention that make flippant statements about how easy it would be to belt tighten. I do these challenges on occasion, and in effort to save more for other goals. I know I am not doing it because there is no money.
It saddens me to know there are seniors choosing between healthy food and medicine. It scares me to think that as well as we have prepared and with my rather good insurance, if each of had expenses to our max out of pocket, we'd save very little-imagine that when DD2 is in college and we are stretching the budget for tuition or once we are on a fixed income? I have the choice right now to challenge my spending patterns. While I like the fun of a self imposed target, I also see it as preparedness. Some day, the worst could happen and it might not be a choice.