With today's economy a lot of us are struggling to meet many day-to-day needs. Money seems always tight, gas and food prices are rising and help seems to be harder to get.
When you don't make much money to begin with, lump sum expenses like a broken wash machine, a failing heater or A/C in your home or a dying car can feel like a bad joke or a death sentence. You look at the problem and the growing frustration and helplessness feels like it makes it hard to breathe... What are you going to do now?!
While facing the problem of an old and worn car I did some research on the internet to find solutions for my desperation. No car means no transportation; means no job!
I live 15+ miles away from the nearest ...real town and the last time my car was out for a broken transmission (the most miserable 3 months of my life; thank God unemployed and not in danger of facing loss of employment), I would spend $70 for a taxi cap each time I went to town for food; a good 50% of what I spend on food that day!
Since then I discovered a few options available to those of us who can't afford a car payment or buying a new car cash.
- While the small town near my house doesn't have much more than two gas stations, a tiny post office and a small store, the next larger town has a bus route that goes to the even larger city that is roughly 35 miles away. The bus goes several times a day to and from the city and the ticket is only $4 per trip. When you compare that to the gas use, it does beat driving your own car!
- While driving for a non-profit organization that supported the local Vocational Rehabilitation program, I came to realize that many counties around me have transportation systems/programs available that cover even us out-of-towners aka bush-rats. The names and requirements for each transportation program vary, but the ones around here provide low-cost transportation for low-income, elderly, handicapped and other qualifying situations. All you have to do is call them, answer a few questions... and keep an eye on the road for the van or bus picking you up.
Of course there are limitations on distance, operating hours and such, but even bush-rat me still lives close enough to civilization to qualify.
- Free/Low-cost car programs can be found in most larger cities! Of course I had to live in a county that is too... country to have such program, but when researching words such as 'free car programs' in my State, quite a few programs came up. It is often that non-profit organizations we know well for low-cost thrift stores and emergency bill payment support, do also have such transportation support programs. Success is not guaranteed when searching your area, but it doesn't hurt to try.
- Veteran assistance programs. During my search I also came across several veteran's assistance programs that provide transportation and vehicles such as one providing cars to Purple Heart recipients.
- I was surprised to find out that some Social Services have transportation programs. I know that a disabled man I used to transport applied for the program and was eventually given the funds to buy a qualifying car, that was also altered to fit his needs.
- Some churches and non-profit organizations also provide assistance with emergency funds when your car breaks down and you get handed a repair bill that causes you a near- heart attack. While they may not be able to pay it all, they can often make the pain a little less intense. And at times like that every penny feels like a dollar!
I learned that help comes to those that have faith and help themselves. Just last night I wondered how I would pay a possible several hundred dollar car repair bill and still provide for those I love. ...And this morning I woke up to a phone call that started with the words: "Hey! Come by before work. I have something for you!"
No matter how hard things get, don't give up! Times are tough and, as the U.S. Navy SEALS say: "The only easy day was yesterday!"
Don't give up!
I am a firm believer in the "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger!" wisdom! Sometimes I feel like it will kill me; even if it may not right away! Just like steady dripping hollows the stone in those caves, the steady fight against all odds sometimes seems to hollow out my soul!
But those moments seize to exist and when I count my blessings, the problems seem less important and the blessings win!
Things could always be worse, so don't give up!