Is there a course on how to live well in poverty?

Because we just aren’t getting it. (whiny rant ahead)

I have many friends who are low-income. Some have children, some are childfree. Some are married, partnered, or single. And the vast majority seem to have this poverty thing figured out. Their cars remain in working order, they have cozy warm houses filled with trinkets from far off lands, they eat organically and shop fair trade and buy groceries at the co-op. When they go to they go to the farmer’s market, they are able to buy their kids lunch, or at least a muffin. And they TRAVEL. That is the one I am most envious of right now. They fly home to see their families, and some of them even go to other countries. How? How do they do this? Is it parental help? An unseen trust fund? What? And it doesn’t seem to be sacrificing one thing to save up for the other, because a lot of them seem to be able to tackle a lot of the things listed.

I am feeling a bit grim right now. The frugal plan has not gone as well as intended. We did some smart things like pay off credit cards and prepay insurance. But we have been hit with some things like: the dog’s accident. She is still in a cast and has been going for bandage changes every week (or so) since the beginning of August. Plus the cost of the original treatment. So that has been $30-$60 a week, and I think the first bill was about $300. And we have been having some lovely car trouble that has run a few hundred dollars and isn’t fixed yet. Luckily the Dude knows his way around cars, otherwise it would have been a lot more and not fixed, since he did exactly what they said to do. I went to the eye doctor, and my glasses cost $100, and that was after the insurance paid a big chunk. I was having severe neck and back pain, and accompanying headaches due to my extremely heavy book load. So we went and purchased a really good backpack. Good news-no more pain. Bad news-$100 lighter. So there have been things like that eating into our funds. And there have been the bad choices we have made: ordering pizza for dinner a couple of times, joining friends for drinks, buying lunch at school a couple of times. None of them feel like bad choices though, it is our attempt to feel “normal” and not poor.

And that is what I would like to talk about. Feeling poor. Right now, I am definitely feeling poor. The things I listed in my first paragraph are things that I would like to do to feel like I am leading a rich, well-rounded life. There are a few others as well. Some I can manage, but others are not happening at this time.
Things we do:
We attend free or cheap concerts or cultural events through my school
We hosted a party on Halloween. The cost: pumpkins, dry ice, candles, and a black light bulb.
Also, I am so busy with my school work that I don’t have a ton of time to miss what I am missing out on.

But some things feel like they are lacking:
Hiking. At our old place, there was beautiful in-town hiking within a mile of our front door. And spectacular hiking was within 2 hours. Here, I haven’t found any great hiking in town, and two hours means a lot of gas money these days!
Travel. As I said, this is the biggie. I am constantly perplexed by people that travel home every holiday. The Dude hasn’t seen his father in almost 10 years, because we can’t afford the cross-country travel. We were going to visit our favorite city for a one day, two night getaway next month, but then realized that it would cost a couple hundred dollars just in gas and lodging. And we have never really figured out how to do dinner on the road. The other meals are fine, but dinner we want to be hot. And we are usually out and about at dinner time. But even without the food costs, $200 is extravagant right now. And it will be more than that. And there is the whole sketchy vehicle situation. I am very sad about this because I love to travel. But even if we camp, transportation costs run so high.

UPDATE: I wrote this post a while back but hadn’t posted it yet. At this point, we are planning to go. We will spend only one night there and make sandwiches for the road. Hopefully we can get the car issue resolved. However, it still leaves the larger question of how people do this on a regular basis.

Also, the doggie leg is healed and will not need surgery!

Leave a Reply