Poverty Is Not a National Problem, It’s an Individual Problem

Poor Family

 

How many can relate to these thoughts: “People need to take care of themselves and not live off the taxpayers. Stop being lazy and go to work. I am tired of working hard and my tax dollars to people that are lazy. Maybe we wouldn’t have to pay so much in tax if we didn’t have people leaching off society. I should stay home; I could get more money if I didn’t work. I could get food, medical, and housing.”

Sounds like a great life, doesn’t it? I have lived that life, and it really isn’t an envious lifestyle. I felt like a dog begging for the crumbs off someone else’s plate. You would be surprised to learn that many of these recipients are the elderly living on social security and Medicare. Others are physically/intellectually disabled and some of them are veterans. Most of these people on Government assistance have paid into the program.

Years ago, we had food stamps, today it’s called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP has a lifetime limit of 5 years.

Food stamps can only be used for food and doesn’t even cover all types of food. Non-food items must come from your own money or nonprofits that can provide these items to you. The amount of money that is given isn’t enough to buy healthy meals. It will buy ramen soup, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, hamburgers, and canned food.

Government healthcare was no better. They will only pay for what is “needed” including dental. Have you ever wondered why you see a lot of impoverished people or welfare recipients without teeth? I needed dental work and needed a couple of root canals. They wouldn’t pay for root canals for those over 18 years old. They pay to have your teeth pulled. My concern was the ability to get a decent paying job without teeth. I was told I didn’t need teeth to work. I told them, “I am in sales, who will take me seriously without teeth?” I was told to find another job. The only jobs that would be available for someone like that were minimum wage jobs, that do not require special skills. If the government wanted people off welfare, they would pay for their root canals so they could acquire a better paying job and not have to continue relying on the system. While I was working, I put some money aside so that I could pay for root canals. On welfare, you cannot have a bank account or vehicle where the value combined is over $2000.00, otherwise assistance ends.

Those that receive welfare are getting nothing more than crumbs, routinely filling out an absorbent amount of paperwork, eating substandard food, and getting substandard health care. Nobody gets weaned off welfare, there is an income cut off. For some, it creates a fear being over asset limits and being entirely cut off from assistance. I was cut off for being $100 dollars over. Imagine losing food, daycare, and medical all at once. This is a substandard existence. Most people that have experienced welfare never want to go back.

Escaping Poverty

Prosperity is about investing in yourself; this means your skills and abilities, not by getting involved in a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) company or taking real estate investment classes. These are for those who are not on welfare and can afford to make that investment. Most people that get involved in an MLM or invest in real estate classes fail. The odds are against you. Those at poverty level or low-income middle class cannot afford to do that.

Most of these investments cost thousands of dollars and those running the programs prey on the desperate. I have invested in the real estate classes and MLM’s. I still have real estate investments and have been involved in an MLM for over 20 years. The difference in my situation is that I had discretionary income to invest in those classes and the MLM complimented my business. I wasn’t recruiting people and selling them the dream to be rich. I sold a product that benefited them.

In poverty, the focus needs to be on a guaranteed income, and positioning yourself to get higher paying jobs. Maybe changing career paths when there is a labor shortage. Perceive labor shortages as opportunities to get higher pay. Save MLM’s and real estate for when you have prospered to the comfortable middle class.

Remember the days when you were loyal to a company and got rewarded for that? Those days are long gone. Companies have no loyalty to their employees. They are only concerned about their bottom line, and you should have that mentality. Being in sales most of my life taught me this lesson quickly, as there were always quotas to make; if you didn’t make quota you were replaced. It didn’t matter if there was a recession, or a market correction. It was about you not making quota. Most of the time I was a top salesperson, so it wasn’t an issue for me.

Paying attention to our strengths and weaknesses can help us determine which career paths to follow or change.

Opportunities become numerous by continuously adding skills, training, and education. Watch for industries where there are shortages because they usually increase pay, have paid training, and will sometimes sign on bonuses. That’s how I obtained my CDL-B license. I got paid training. I learned how to drive a bus in Boston as a tour guide for Old Town Trolley. I am also licensed to sell life, health, property, and casualty insurance.

People that worked during the turn of the century worked manual labor jobs that were dangerous and low paying. Very few people had college degrees, and those that did were earning more. As parents they encouraged their children to do the same.

Today more people have degrees than in the past, making college graduates a dime a dozen. Because the emphasis has been on college, its’ value is not like it once was; unless you go on to get a master’s degree or a doctorate. This has created a shortage in manual labor.

Stop following the crowds and doing what everyone else is doing. You will get advice from others with good intentions. It may have worked well for them, but it might not have the same outcome for you. You need to know your strengths and weaknesses and do what is best for you.

When I went back to college, I chose a major that would help with my ability to make wiser investments. I own both security and real estate investments, so I chose finance. Finance is math heavy, more so than accounting. Math heavy degrees aren’t popular, eliminating some competition where the industry was growing faster than average.

I wanted to ensure that I got a job that was in high demand when I graduated. What I didn’t know was finance is an ageist industry. Some might find it surprising that most investment banks do not like hiring anyone older than the age of 25 because of the grueling hours. Sometimes as much as 120 hours a week, but on average around 80.

Poverty is a real issue for people as they age and get replaced by younger workers; forced to take on jobs with lower wages. This happens most often during an economic downturn such as the 2008 recession and 2020 pandemic.

Sometimes labor shortages can offer an opportunity. Companies start increasing their wages to lure workers and become less biased. Today there are more side hustles. We can also turn our experiences to help others with training, coaching, and offering courses.

Don’t blame others for their financial misfortunes. Don’t assume that all those that are in poverty are to blame for their situation and are lazy. Be careful about giving advice to others. It may have worked for you, but it may not work for them. You do not know their story. They may have physical or intellectual disabilities that you are unaware of. Not everyone can do what someone else has done to be successful.

Making Rent/Lease or Mortgage Affordable

Rising Rent and cost of home ownership has made it very difficult to afford shelter, a necessity of life. More young adults have moved back into their parents’ homes. Some reasons have been the high cost of living coupled with school loans and the pandemic of 2020 didn’t help their situation.

Unfortunately, in American culture if you haven’t moved out of your parent’s home by the time you finished your education usually by the age of 24 you are considered lazy or irresponsible. Sometimes that is true. Conversely much of the world outside of the United States expect you to stay home until you get married. In some countries parents would feel disrespected or hurt if you told them you wanted to move out.

Having my children stay with me has had my life financially more stable when times got tough. I had children helping with the cost of living. I did the same when I lived with my mother. I started paying my mom rent at 18 which helped her pay the bills. For other parents that don’t need the money, it has helped their children save enough money to put down on a house by not charging rent.

If living expenses are more than what is earned, consider other boarders to share in those expenses.

Prosperity doesn’t necessarily mean becoming rich or wealthy. It means you can have a comfortable way of life by having all your needs met and money left over by incorporating strategies to reduce the cost of living and don’t let anyone shame you or those that love with you to help achieve that.

Valuable Lessons Learned from Poverty

Years ago, my husband and I had around 200 chickens we were raising for meat and eggs. To cut down on feeding costs, we asked stores if they would donate food they were discarding for our chickens. They said they had to throw it out and we weren’t allowed to dumpster dive, so we negotiated with the stores to throw the food items into garbage cans we provided, and they agreed.

We were shocked to see what the stores would throw away. You would think we were getting partially moldy or rotten food. That wasn’t the case. Some of it was still packaged in great condition. It had to be thrown out because of the expiration date. Grocery stores discard items past the expiration date to prevent lawsuits for selling food that has expired. We ended up keeping the good stuff for ourselves and gave the questionable food to the chickens.

Large companies have an expiration much sooner than when the item goes bad. Manufacturers intentionally put dates way before the item goes bad, to get you to throw it away and buy more.

Finding stores that would be willing to donate food isn’t very likely today, I did find an app called togoodtogo.com. Stores advertise the food they are about to throw away at below cost on that app. The app was created to eliminate waste and help low-income families.

For most, government assistance is not permanent. What are you doing to prepare for that day? I used my food stamps to buy in bulk things that can be stored. Living in Utah was advantageous as the stores would have case lot sales where people could be cases of food on sale. The Mormon church believed in having a food storage and being prepared. It’s part of the Mormon lifestyle.

The shelf life of canned items is between 4 -5 years. Frozen food anywhere between 3 months and a year for meats, up to a year on other items, double the life for shrink wrapped frozen food. This only works if you have a freezer or can afford to buy one. Freeze dried food as much as 30 years. I was using several food banks to acquire additional food for immediate consumption.

Health care is a little easier than it was when I was on government assistance. Making it more affordable.

An upside to taxes for the poor is paying lower taxes and if you have children there is earned income credit. I got over $5000 in a tax refund each year without paying into the tax system because of earned income credit. This might anger some people, but if it where you, would you send the money back to Uncle Sam? I used my refund to get myself off food stamps. I invested it in food storage and when I knew I was self-sustainable I cancelled my food stamp card.

Nothing worse than having to depend on the government and to answer to everything you do.

Cell phones are donated by nonprofits and government assistance. It is seen as a necessity. You need to be reachable to interview and acquire a job, for medical and dentists’ appointments.

Banking has nearly been impossible if your poor. You can’t afford a bank account because you can’t meet the minimum, then get charged for being under the minimum. If your rich you get paid to have a bank account. Luckily, with free smart phones donated to those who can’t afford them, we have cell phone apps that offer free banking without the minimums.