Being Poor

I’m absolutely terrified to post this. I’m praying that posting this won’t cause irrevocable harm to my marriage, harm my relationship with my kids, and/or lose my beloved readers but I have held this in for some time now. If I don’t get it out I’m afraid it me eat me hollow. Being poor is something I’ve tried to hide but it’s time to come out of the closet. Someone recently said something to me that really upset me. I won’t get into the exact words said but the fact that this person was so heartless and incredibly mistaken about me and my life was both depressing and infuriating. This blog has apparently led her to believe that Mr. C and I enjoy a high income lifestyle. But nothing could be further from the truth. But my dear friend (a sister by love) convinced me that sharing our story might help others. So here I go.
Being Poor isn't a choice people make

You see, since my spinal cord injury and Mr. Comfortable’s cancer we’re broke. And I don’t Hillary and Bill broke. I mean we can’t buy our medications, clothing, or groceries broke. You may wonder how I’m able to keep up the blog and post recipes and I really struggled with coming out with how we manage things but I realize that some of you may be experiencing the kind of financial hardships we are and thought sharing might help.

The tips and additional information will come in my next post but I know that there will be questions so I’m tackling them first and, if anyone is left to read, I’ll give the tips next.

Q: If you’re so broke why do you have this blog?

A: I have a blog because the internet is the only contact Mr. C and I have with the outside world. We cannot afford dinners at restaurants or movies in a theatre. We can no longer even afford gas to visit friends as we have to save it for required driving. Since talking exclusively to Mr. C and the dogs bores them (I tend to tell the same stories over and over because I don’t have new experiences) writing distracts me. And researching cheap everything gives me something to write about.

Q: If you’re so broke how can you afford the Internet?

A: We can afford the internet (sort of) because we’ve given up every other form of entertainment. As I mentioned we don’t dine out, go to movies, or visit friends. We haven’t taken a vacation in years. We don’t even rent DVD’s. We have a television which gets 4 stations as long as no trucks drive by and it doesn’t rain. Our antenna for that television is from the 1980’s and the rabbit ears are actually wire hangers we’ve bent and stuck into the little box that apparently does nothing but hold up wire hangers.

Q: If you’re so broke how can you make things like lamb roasts and shrimp?

A: We can’t afford groceries. Almost all of our food comes from food pantries in the county. Our son helps us as much as he can with groceries. My disability check (which isn’t enough to pay for my medications each month) and Mr. C’s social security check are just enough to disqualify us from any kind of financial assistance (because they don’t count medical expenses and spinal cord injuries and cancer are EXPENSIVE) but they’re not enough to actually live on once the house payment and some of the bills are paid.

Q: If you’re so broke how do you pay any bills?

A: Every dime we get from SSDI and SS goes to bills. We no longer buy our medications because we 1) can’t afford the prescription costs and 2) can’t afford the doctor visits required for them to renew our prescriptions. Our younger son helps us by footing our entire electric bill himself which is quite high due to a previous balance and by slipping us money on a regular basis but his work is seasonal so it’s very difficult for him. Our older son has 4 kids and is still in his apprenticeship so he’s barely making it himself.

Q: Why are you broke if you worked before?

A: Mr. C worked for a non-profit which means we did not profit but the upper executives did really well. And when he retired after 38 years his pension wasn’t enough to pay for health insurance so when he got cancer (did I mention cancer is really expensive?) it took every dime of our savings and his pension, which was a lump sum. When the bill got to over $800,000.00 Mr. C stopped everything. He no longer goes to his follow up oncology visits and has stopped getting the scans and other tests to ensure he doesn’t have a recurrent cancer (that’s cancer in other parts of his body after having the treatments).

If you feel compelled to scold me about any spending you think is unnecessary please realize it’s nothing I haven’t said to myself.

Please look at these photos that Google brought up when I tried to find “poverty-stricken senior citizens,” “very sad senior citizens,” and “poor senior citizens.” I think society needs to open its eyes.

Money to throw away? Not when you're poor.

Apparently the Internet thinks being poor means having money to throw away.

Google poverty stricken seniors and you'll see images like this.

Google poverty stricken seniors and you'll see images like this.

This is what I got when I looked for “poverty-stricken couples.”

Life is no party when you're poor.

According to the Internet every day is a party for poor senior citizens.

The Internet thinks this represents senior citizens who a low income.

This is supposed to be a group of “low income” senior citizens. Thank you, Internet, for your accurate portrayal.

And for another look at poverty read this interesting article on how we got article some well-known sayings because of poor folk!

 

UPDATE: As soon I clicked “publish” I went in and threw up. But I’m not going to delete this post. It’s too important for people to realize that things aren’t always as they seem and life isn’t always a picnic.

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24 thoughts on “Being Poor

  • December 7, 2016 at 3:09 pm
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    We may be broke, but we are never poor. Isn’t it amazing that one day you have it all and all it takes is one major health event for your world to turn upside down. This happened to us. We learned very quickly who our friends were and what was important to us. One of my guy’s meds is $400/month. Just one.
    But it’s the fact that despite our circumstances, we are still who we are and we can still share our lives and thoughts and recipes with others. A happy person is happy no matter what the circumstances.
    Thanks for writing this. It is very brave. Especially during a season when people are rushing around spending money they don’t have to impress people they don’t even like!

    Reply
    • December 7, 2016 at 3:12 pm
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      Thank you, Patricia. It is indeed very hard at Christmas. We have grandchildren we can never buy a gift for and our kids try so hard to help us and we can’t even have something for them to open. It breaks my heart. I don’t care about anything for myself but my Christmas fantasy is to be able give my family a little something.

      Reply
  • December 7, 2016 at 3:23 pm
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    You are certainly rich in courage, resilience, and most of all, love! My heart goes out to you. Many blessings and best wishes to you and your husband!

    Reply
    • December 7, 2016 at 3:26 pm
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      Thank you so much, Dolly! I was a total chicken for weeks but a friend who has lost so much (two homes, two businesses, and more) over the last 8 years told me to suck it up and post it. I’ve been crying since I hit publish and I did throw up but I know it’s important and also PJ (my friend) would kill me if I took it down. LOL

      Reply
  • December 7, 2016 at 5:15 pm
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    I’m so glad I dropped by and read your very brave post. I live close to the edge myself and choose to blog about the beautiful (and often free) things I see and do. I am a cancer survivor as well and my heart goes out to you both. Please continue to share your story and I will be thinking of you…

    Reply
    • December 7, 2016 at 5:22 pm
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      I’m so glad you made it through that brutal disease! I don’t know what it’s like to feel it but, as a caregiver, I know it’s beyond horrible! There are many free things we can do to enjoy ourselves and I’m really looking forward to reading your blog and seeing the great things near you!

      Reply
  • December 8, 2016 at 3:04 am
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    No one has the right to assume or judge anything based on your delightful blog! It’s none of their beeswax and you should never feel like you have to account for or justify your lifestyle to anyone. Based on your blog I know you are truly an amazing and wonderful person. A lot of low-income families and senior citizens, such as my 80-year old mother-in-law who has cirrhosis, still have internet or basic cable or a cell phone or eat out once in a while. My husband bought his mom her laptop. My sister and brother in-law live paycheck to paycheck but still have beautiful living room furniture. They’ve just taken good care of it over the years after they bought it on sale or clearance. Once a neighbor accused them of being richer than they let on because of that furniture. Shame on those who question or even care about such things! Don’t let this small-minded person get you down. Sending cyber hugs out to you as well as my prayers. 💛

    Reply
    • December 8, 2016 at 3:09 am
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      Camie, I am so grateful to you for these kind words. I have literally spent the last couple of days crying over this. And, since the comment was made to me, I’ve felt like having Internet and going to food banks makes me a horrid person. But, as I said, Mr. C and I don’t go out…ever..anywhere. The Internet is a lifeline and when my former daughter-in-law said I should blog I thought it was something that would help me and hopefully help someone else.
      I’m really sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. I lost an 8 year old cousin to that when I was a kid. Your mother-in-law is in my prayers. And thank you so very much for your support.

      Reply
  • December 8, 2016 at 6:23 am
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    Huge ((hugs)) to you, Elizabeth!! When I first read your post (yesterday, but I was too busy with the baby to comment at the time), I rushed through my thoughts trying to remember if there was anything I said that might have offended you, but I didn’t come up with any…I have such baby brain these days. Anyway, I’ll go ahead and comment but you let me know if I was the culprit, ok?
    I know how difficult this post must have been for you. I know because much of it I could have written myself. We aren’t totally broke, but there are things that I don’t disclose to my readers (or even people in real life) because I don’t want to be judged or looked at differently. I had a pretty successful blog a few years ago and I thought about sharing a post like this so that I could open my audience’s eyes a bit but I never did…I was too scared.
    My husband and I don’t have medical insurance and our kids are all on Medicaid. And I have been on Medicaid three out of four of my pregnancies. There! I said it! Feels good, lol. My husband is the only one with income in our family and medical expenses are the one thing that we can’t afford. Well, we also don’t take vacations or buy expensive things, or go out to coffee shops or movies… And we rent instead of owning our home (but we actually like it this way). It’s embarrassing to admit that we depend on the government for medical assistance but the cost of it all is so outrageous that my husband’s income of $50K a year is considered below poverty level!! Of course, that’s for six people but still! We have everything we need, and then some. But the price of a doctor’s visit or prescription are through the roof. It shouldn’t cost as much as it does. 🙁
    I am very frugal, but as I shared in my post yesterday, evaluating my spending in the kitchen, there is room for improvement. Not just in the kitchen, but in many aspects of life. That being said, we still couldn’t afford insurance for six people if I made every change I mentioned in the post.
    I think I worried (and continue to worry) that if people knew that the kids are on Medicaid, they would judge any and all of my choices. But, honestly? It shouldn’t matter. I am thankful for everything the Lord has given us. There’s no debt, we own everything we have (except the home), and we are happy. And I am thankful for friends like you!! Thanks for being so honest. <3

    Reply
    • December 8, 2016 at 9:34 am
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      First, my Sweetheart, you have NEVER said anything that offended me! This was a person I know in the flesh.
      As for being on Medicaid I’m happy you have it! I cannot imagine anything scarier than having little ones and not having insurance for them! I kind of want to kick Medicaid in its bureaucratic fanny because of what they did to us when Mr. C got diagnosed (You have Medicaid! No! Wait! You don’t! Oops. You have it. {Then after nearly a year of treatment} Sorry. We were wrong. You don’t. Ya know those hundreds of thousands of medical bill you thought were paid for…yeah, well, forget that.)
      I think a lot more people are struggling than we realize because there IS such a stigma about it that folks are afraid to admit it. I’ve got a quote for you: Benjamin Franklin said, “Having been poor is no shame but being ashamed of it is.” I love you for telling me I’m not alone. You’re one strong cookie, Cookie!

      Reply
  • December 8, 2016 at 10:59 am
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    How incredibly brave. I’m so sorry that you’ve been affected by illness. So many people in the UK moan and have no idea of the cost of medical care. I don’t think anyone would ever judge you for eating or having internet; these are basic pleasures and not extravagant. I wish you best wishes for the Christmas season and hope that there is more understanding of the situations that any of us could be in.

    Reply
    • December 8, 2016 at 11:12 am
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      Thank you. I’d like to think I was brave but the throwing up thing kind of shot that down. lol

      Reply
  • December 8, 2016 at 6:36 pm
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    Very good article, Beth. Most don’t seem to realize, just because you say you’re poor doesn’t mean you have zero money. All have some sort of income, be it welfare, foodstamps, social security, disability, but because it’s such a minute amount, one needs to S-T-R-E-T-C-H what they do have in order to pay a little here, pay a little there, keep all the bill collectors happy. And also one does without a lot of luxuries or extras. The cutting back on every little thing has to be done in order to just survive. There was a time, after we lost our home (the first time — because of a recession) that my husband and I did not eat at dinner, but just fed our kids. They asked, why aren’t you eating? We just had to tell them, oh, we’re just not hungry. So we do what we have to do in order to keep afloat, and it’s a struggle. We’ve been there, done that, and it’s no fun being “poor.” But if people REALLY ask you why you spend on this or why you spend on that if you claim to be poor, frankly, it’s none of their business! They wonder how you have this blog? Writing a blog is a life-saver when your life is in shambles. It’s a way to express yourself, get it all out there, and like you have done, possibly help someone else realize that the world doesn’t end because you’re “poor.” You just do what you have to do to survive. And if you have a little luxury like a BLOG, no one should lambaste you for that. That’s ridiculous! Look at all the response you’ve gotten from your post. I hope you are not terrified to post it anymore, because you are one of MANY who ARE or have been “poor.” It’s NOTHING to be ashamed of, because this is a tough old world, and those of us who have experienced “POOR” have an amazing BOND — and we understand what each of us has or are going through.

    Reply
    • December 8, 2016 at 11:54 pm
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      Thank you for your kind words, PJ. I’ve realized, since writing the post, that a lot of people…more than I thought whom I’ve met here have experienced poverty.
      And the kindness and support I’ve gotten are just amazing! I have literally spent days in tears because people have been so nice!
      And you’re right that this blog has been a life-saver. The writing and trying to create recipes and all is great but what pulled me out of feeling lost because of the situation is the people I’ve met. For going on a year I’ve had wonderful people here who have become friends. I love hearing from them and reading what’s doing on in their lives. I worry about them if I don’t see any posts from them for a while. These folks have become the neighbors I don’t have. I thank God for the Internet!

      Reply
    • December 11, 2016 at 7:26 am
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      ” Writing a blog is a life-saver when your life is in shambles.” – Absolutely!!

      Reply
  • December 8, 2016 at 9:13 pm
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    Thank you so much for sharing, and you have absolutely no reason to feel ashamed. I think there is this assumption that a “blogger” is someone who is privileged, naive, self-absorbed, and has lots of time to kill. I have to admit, before my sister coaxed me into starting one myself and I got involved in the community, I had that perception as well and was very hesitant to join. But we NEED people from all walks of life to contribute their perspectives. For so many of us, our blogs are a huge source of comfort and support. I am so glad that you worked up the courage to share, and I hope you and your husband are in good health now.

    Reply
    • December 9, 2016 at 9:13 am
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      I agree that people see bloggers that way. I had a friend ask if I could afford to blog because she kind of knows our situation & thought that blogging would somehow be expensive.
      Before my daughter-in-law suggested the blog I wanted to volunteer somewhere but it turns out you have to be able to stand, sit or walk to do the things volunteers do. I’m still looking for a volunteer thing that allows one to lie down every 20 minutes or so. lol
      My spinal cord injury is a permanent thing but it’s the gift that keeps on giving! lol It’s caused some other conditions that can be problematic. Mr. C., his oncologists now admit, will never recover from the side effects of his prolonged treatment. Large doses of radiation to the head aren’t good for you even if it’s meant to help. But I always say about my spine, “It could be worse. It could have been burns.” And Mr. C will be fussed over and taken care of as long as I’m alive! We’ll be fine.

      Reply
  • December 18, 2016 at 1:10 pm
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    Credit to you for writing this. When are people going to acknowledge that not having money doesn’t mean you did anything wrong, it just means you don’t have money. And while we’re at it, being rich doesn’t mean you’re smart or right.

    Reply
    • December 18, 2016 at 3:00 pm
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      We would have been doing quite well but I suffered a spinal cord injury and then my husband got cancer and we had no insurance. His bills at the time he quit his oncologist were over $800,000. I get really upset when the doctors act like we don’t care about his care. It’s that we cannot possibly afford his care! And I totally agree with you about not being smart or right because you’re rich. I know a few people who are quite well off and are, frankly, not the brightest bulbs in the box.

      Reply
  • April 11, 2017 at 3:47 pm
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    Writing really does lighten your heart. Keep posting because this post gave me a sense of encouragement and a reality check that anything can happen to anyone. And, no matter how much money you save, you never know when would it finish up.

    I pray, God bless you and your family <3

    Reply
    • April 11, 2017 at 8:29 pm
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      Thank you! Yep. We wee enjoying a really comfortable retirement then it was gone.

      Reply
  • April 25, 2017 at 6:32 am
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    This is an amazing post and you shouldn’t be scared talking about it. I think there are so many misconceptions of how people live their lives.
    Just recently I met up with a friend who has a very low salary and I mentioned that I was “broke” and she said, “how can you be broke when you have 5 times of my salary”…. It’s so annoying because even if you have a higher salary than others, they automatically think we are rich. But it’s not true.
    People should not make it their business talking about other people’s lives.
    I am really proud of you coming out. And I hope you are gonna be ok soon!

    Reply
    • April 25, 2017 at 2:43 pm
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      Thank you. I remind myself that Mr C is alive and so the cost of his cancer care was nothing. We’re holding on to the house and we’re eating. So far so good!

      Reply

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