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Living In Poverty - real or fictional?

Updated on August 14, 2014


50% of Americans At Or Below Poverty Line
50% of Americans At Or Below Poverty Line | Source
Would we consider the homeless? Would you EVER do that? Why not?
Would we consider the homeless? Would you EVER do that? Why not? | Source, an organization established “to use visual media to raise awareness about poverty in The United States, dispel inaccurate and destructive stereotypes about poor people and encourage action to alleviate poverty.”, an organization established “to use visual media to raise awareness about poverty in The United States, dispel inaccurate and destructive stereotypes about poor people and encourage action to alleviate poverty.” | Source

Your Situation Verses "The Other Guy"

Are you having a hard time making ends meet? Do you always feel like you are trying to catching up? Do you feel like you see the end of the tunnel and then it collapses over your head, again?

If so, you are not alone. I am there too. Lots of people are as well. Poverty is not exclusive either. It does not discriminate due to race, creed, color, religion or gender. And yes, if you are not able to pay all your bills and live comfortably the classification is poverty. However, there are still things you can do and you'll see that other people are having issues too. Possibly even worse than you.

Remember that no matter how bad it gets, you can get through it.

Some people are of the opinion that most people who feel they live in poverty actually do not.[Don't forget to check out the video link below.]


Excerpt from the "State of the Union" The Stanford Center on Poverty & Inequality:

"If an overall assessment is to be had, it is that the country’s economy and labor market remain in deep disrepair, whereas our various post-market institutions (e.g., the safety net, educational institutions, health institutions) have a mixed record of coping with the rising poverty and inequality that has been handed to them by a still-struggling economy and labor market."



A Few Simple Facts for 2014

  • Today, most poor Americans are in their prime working years [16yrs-64yrs]: In 2012 = 57% versus 41.7% in 1959.
  • Less elderly are poor [over 65yrs]: In 1966 = 28.5% were poor; by 2012 = 9.1%. 1.2 million fewer elderly poor in 2012 than in 1966, despite the doubling of the total elderly population.
  • Childhood poverty persists [under 18yrs]: Poverty among children began dropping; from 27.3% in 1959 fell to 23% in 1964 and to 14% by 1969. Since the 2007-08 financial crisis, it has risen again.
  • Family structure of the Poor has changed: In 1973 (51.4%) of poor families were headed by a married couple; 45.4% were headed by women. In 2012, just over half (50.3%) of poor families were female-headed & 38.9% were headed by married couples.

Eliminating General Poverty

Poverty in AMERICA Doesn't Exist

What can you do?

First you have to decide what you need to have/can't do without and what you want but can do without. (see the Cain YouTube video "Poverty in America - doesn't exist")

Have to have:

  • shelter (roof over your head not a tent) at all costs.
  • food (staples) the four main food groups, which does not include,..sigh ... Little Debbie/Frito Lay or Coke/Pepsi)
  • cooking source (electric or gas) even a microwave oven and electric skillet help. Camp fires and fireplaces are time consuming at best in the grand scheme of our modern day daily food preparation.
  • personal hygiene (source of water for cleaning, not necessarily hot).
  • climate control (heat in the winter, fan in the summer. I do not classify a/c as a must have, but you can if you require it for your health).
  • personal or public transportation to work (if you are employed) and to interviewing if not.
  • emergency contact or non contract phone (most states have a link to get a free phone for emergencies) some are offered on the internet for about $20/month (requires qualification)
  • pet food & vaccines (or seek adoption options)

Like to have but definitely not necessary:

  • Cable, internet ...darn... (internet access is available free at libraries and wi-fi locations like McDonalds!)
  • subscriptions (movie, magazine, newspaper)...gasp ...
  • snacks, drinks other than water...yuck ...(the lattes are out too)
  • transportation other than to work or interview...stretch them legs folks...
  • entertainment (that costs money)....if you own board games, Scrabble & Monopoly are still free thank goodness...
  • cell phone plan with lots of minutes, long distance calling, internet, texting, picture mail way!...
  • pet grooming, treats, toys, specialty supplies (like scented shampoos instead of Suave)...Fido must do his part as well...

Sit down and decide these things as soon as possible. Contact any credit cards and tell them flat out that you will have to pay them as soon as you can. Do not make any verbal commitments & ask them to type that in while you are on the phone and send back all bills you can't pay with a personal note stating why. You will still get the calls, but the documentation will start from the day you tell them. It always helps in the long run. If you have a home phone they will usually suspend all but emergency calls for a specific period of time at your request.

Squeezing a buck


Making Decisions And Sticking To Your Resolve

Example: My husband has been unable to work for about six [6] months and will be unable to work for an indefinite period of time or never again. No disability insurance so no help there. SSI Disability denied twice so can't get help there. I have a job and so do my two sons and do not qualify for food stamps by about $1000.00 per year [that's 83.50 a month for those of you that don't do the math in your head]. Breaking it down, my two sons that live with us now give us half their income and frequently more each week [which when combined totals close my husband's prior pay], but they used to give us $100 each, so in summary of the three rather than four incomes in our home; a large chunk is still missing.

While things had been tight, they've gotten down right claustrophobic, but we are no where near as bad off as some. We have to keep car insurance, natural gas, electric, rent, water/sewer and our truck payment. These amount to $1650, then there is also gasoline to get to work (90 mi each way) five days a week (if I drive myself every day our cost is $450 a month), and oh yeah! Food. We have gotten rid of cable TV but kept internet $40 per month and started paying $11.99 for Netflix. We also got rid of our cell phone plan since we had Sprint Family share and Android phones. With all the fees added on for insurance, extra lines, etc. the plan topped $200 a month! Now my husband and I use I-wireless when we have a little money to spare. [$10 a month gets 100 minutes/texts plus 50mb data or $25 gets 200 minutes, unlimited texts and 200mb of data.] Last but not least, hubby needs insulin and we both need other meds, that's $150 a month after the yearly deductible [deductible hits in July not January].

As far as food goes, I know a really great lady that I carpool with to Charleston WV, she is a whiz at finding food bargains. We shop at bread outlets (day old) and things like that. As long as we [the family] do not require lots of meat, I can keep the basics for our 4 person family of adults to around $80-$100 a week. This has been extremely helpful in keeping costs down. That is veggies, salad, yogurt, pasta, rice, pancakes, eggs, potatoes, etc.

The bottom line is 2700 in and 2700 out so we are "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and trying to get to the surface of the pool. At least we still have a roof over our heads and the land lord has agreed to take 1/2 rent at beginning of month and 1/2 at the middle.

Things could be much worse. My friend I just mentioned related her early life adventure in moving to West Virginia. I am talking no electricity, gas lights and washer (eventually refrigerator as well). No hot water and outhouse over the creek so you bathed and collected water up stream from the outhouse. They gardened and hunted to supplement their income and walked more than five miles to town to get supplies, packing them back home on their backs. This type of living happens all over the country and a lot in West Virginia.


Do what you can for your self, wash those clothes in the sink if you have to. There are still programs like SNAP (food assistance) if you are worse off than us, free lunch in school, medicaid for your children in case they get sick & WIC for small children and pregnant or nursing mothers. Every place I have ever lived has had food banks usually run by church or civic organizations.

We played a lot of board games and read a lot of books. The kids played basketball after school and walked around a lot, rode bikes and skateboarded. (sounds like when I was a kid)

Above all else, know that no matter how bad it is you have not hit the absolute bottom yet so keep on swimming towards the bubbles!


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    • Marla Neogra profile image

      Marla J Neogra 6 years ago from Parkersburg, West Virginia

      You are not alone. Just remember what's really important and the rest can be over looked.

    • lucybell21 profile image

      Bonny OBrien 6 years ago from Troy, N.Y.

      It is really tough these days for anyone to really make ends meet. I live alone and have to follow a tight budget.

    • Marla Neogra profile image

      Marla J Neogra 6 years ago from Parkersburg, West Virginia

      Thanks for your comments, I will be checking out some more of your hubs soon.

    • laurathegentleman profile image

      laurathegentleman 6 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      This is great advice for everyone, ESPECIALLY in this awful economy. So many people today don't understand the concept of living below their means, and don't know how to survive when something like this happens to them. Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom :)

    • Esmeowl12 profile image

      Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      You're right. It's tough everywhere. You do learn quickly what is really important to have and what is not. For more ideas on living frugally, check out some of my hubs. Good luck.