A few weeks ago, I was browsing the internet and came across the story of a single mother trying to make ends meet in the tough economy. It got me to critique what this mother was doing, both right and wrong. As I started to write about this story of poverty in America, I felt bad that I was “attacking” her by pointing out all of the things she did wrong. The real person I should be attacking is the writer of this story because it is slanted to make me feel bad for this mother and her daughter. While the story doesn’t come out and say it, I get the impression that the author thinks that something should be done about it, meaning some sort of assistance.
When I think of poverty in America, I realize that there are many impoverished that did nothing wrong to get them in that place. There are others though, that made dumb choices which lead them to poverty. I am all for creating a system to help those in need, but I don’t think it is the current system. Before I get into all of that however, I want to run through this story.
Poverty in America: One Mother’s Story
The link above will take you to the full article for you to read. In a nutshell, the mother didn’t want to raise her daughter in a bad area. So she moved to West Hartford so that her and her daughter could be safe and her daughter could go to a good school. This is all fine and well, as I would do the same and I am certain many of you would as well.
But her first mistake was quitting her job BEFORE she had another one lined up. Quitting a job before finding a new one should never be done in a good economy, so the fact that we still have unemployment around 8% makes her move a total boneheaded one. Even if you make the argument that she hated her job that does not make what she did OK. I had a job I hated. Check that, hate is too nice of a word to use. I couldn’t stand it. I would come up with reasons to take off. It was taking its toll on me emotionally. But I didn’t quit until I found a new job. I’m not telling this story because I feel that I am better than the woman in this story. I’m telling it because I wanted to show that I’ve been in the situation and know what it is like. Sure if didn’t have a mortgage to pay or other monthly commitments, I might have quit without having a job lined up. But I did have those obligations, as does this woman, so she shouldn’t have quit.
Here are some other mistakes that this mother has made:
She owes $400 to her daughter’s club lacrosse team. If you are in that bad of financial shape, you should not be paying to let your child play in club sport. It’s one thing to play a sport in school, like the school lacrosse team, but playing a club sport is out of the question. Yes, her daughter may be heartbroken but you cannot go into debt just to put a smile on your kids face. There were many times growing up where my parents couldn’t afford something that I wanted to do. I got mad, cried and ran to my room. But I got over it. And now that I am older, I totally understand why they didn’t pay for it – because they couldn’t afford it. (Note: I’m not sure what the legal age to work is in their state, but her daughter could get a part-time job to help out.)
I ran some numbers on her income and expenses. The article says she has a take home pay of $460 each week, meaning taxes were taken out. That comes to $1,840 per month. She also gets $127 each week for child support. In total, she has $2,348 each month to live on. Her rent is $1,125. That leaves her with $1,225 per month for other bills. I don’t have a kid, but is it really that hard to make ends meet when you have $1,225 after paying your rent? She has no car payment. Groceries shouldn’t cost that much for her. I just can’t imagine where the money goes. Looking at the first picture in the story there is a smartphone charging. Why does everyone NEED a smartphone? If you are struggling that much to make ends meet, the smartphones have to go.
I get that it is hard to make ends meet when you aren’t making that much. I even link to a game in a post asking if you can live on $1,000. I won’t lie, it’s tough, but this woman is making over twice that much. I get the sense that she simply doesn’t know how to handle money.
I think what angers me most is all of the stories like this that I read. Like at said at the start of this post, there are many people in bad financial shape but not because of anything they did. But you never read about them. You read about this woman or the kid who graduated college with $100,000 in debt and no job prospects. It seems like we now live in a society where “I want it” is a higher priority than “I need it”. People go out and buy what they want, when they want without thinking about the consequences and then when the proverbial sh!t hits the fan, it’s “woe is me”.
Readers what are your thoughts? Am I just in a bad mood because the past few days have been stressful and I’ve lost touch with reality?
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net