Living On the Edge of Poverty

When you hear the word poverty, what do you think of? Poor? Homeless? Dirty? Uneducated? Let me paint a different picture for you. I am one of the millions of people living on the edge of poverty. 

edge ofNo one plans to be here. We sure didn’t.

We don’t fit the mold of what you think of when you hear the word “poverty.” My husband and I are private school grads and college-educated.  He is a teacher and although I’d like to claim to be a writer… I’m just a stay at home mom who works odd jobs to make ends meet. We have three kids, two in school and the youngest stays home with me. Our family is clean. My husband and I don’t drink, smoke, or gamble. We don’t have credit cards. But, we do qualify for some government assistance and receive food stamps. We live paycheck to paycheck.

Our family has had a series of bad decisions and bad luck that left us in the position we now find ourselves in. We simply don’t have enough money. We never have. There were no nest eggs saved for us. We don’t have rich parents that bail us out of our financial obligations- or even offer to help! We’ve experienced a sudden job loss, we’ve started over TWICE, we’ve moved four times in two years. We’ve scraped by. 

My husband and I try to budget and we have to make cuts some where.

We only have one car. Every piece of furniture in our house is a hodgepodge of hand-me-downs. Our house isn’t pretty or stylish. We make sacrifices. Being on the edge of poverty means, we go without wants to have necessities. I give up all my wants to provide for my children. I pick them over myself EVERY time. 

We’ve been late on rent and found eviction notices on our door. We’ve had our power cut off several times and had to boil water for baths. I’ve sold our kid’s clothes, toys, and our furniture to pay bills. We’ve gone to the library and fast food places just to use the free WI-Fi. I’ve worked odd jobs- MLM companies, selling crafts, babysitting, and blogging. We’ve done without the extras over and over again. 

Sometimes, we ask for help but most of the time we try to figure out on our own. Recently, I was accused of sharing too much good stuff on social media to be “poor.” Some people saw my positivity as a sign that everything must be perfect for us.

We have too much fun for a family that is struggling to get by.

One of our friends gave us FREE baseball tickets and someone wanted to know how we had money to go to games if we didn’t have enough for rent. I didn’t post that the tickets were free. Our family went to the movies. We were criticized because we didn’t save our money. What I didn’t say was, my husband received the movie gift card from one of his students and we didn’t pay a dime.

I’m sorry I don’t share all our hardships on Facebook. Would it make you feel better if you knew all the details of my private life? I don’t want my friends to feel sorry for us or make them uncomfortable. I’m not looking for pity or even financial help! So when we have good times and good news, I share that instead! 

I’ve been applying for jobs.

I’ve been told that writing is not a job, although it seemed like a job when I majored in journalism. I apply for jobs and send out resumes. I don’t announce every time I don’t get a job. I’ve tried to start my own business.I don’t have a car. I have a potty-training child at home. It’s painfully hard to find a job that works for us in this situation!

Recently, I saw a need and went to a company and asked them to create a position for me. They took my idea and hired from the inside. It hurt! I cried. I didn’t post it on Facebook. Apparently, my resume says all I am qualified to do is child-rearing and laundry. I’ve been told that being a stay at home mom is silly when we have bills to pay. People want me to spend money for daycare and get a “real” job. 

I say all that to say, I see value in what I am doing.

My youngest will go to school next year and I will return to the work force. I know our financial problems will end and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But for now, I don’t get paid for cleaning our house or doing the laundry. I don’t get a paycheck for car line or helping with homework. No one gives me money when I comfort my toddler in the middle of a meltdown. I’m OK with that.

I have a husband who appreciates me. My kids love that I volunteer at their school and that I devote my time to them. My children will turn out to be be pretty decent human beings. They are not spoiled or entitled. They mind their manners and make good grades. And although its a tough sacrifice that comes with a lot criticism, its worth every unearned penny!


One Response to Living On the Edge of Poverty

  1. Nicole Tongue August 27, 2018 at 1:10 am #

    Kudos to you for (1) being a great mom, (2) holding it down, even during the tough times, (3) keeping it real, and (4) for clearly not losing your sight – or your sense of humor – through it all.

    It appears that good things are on the horizon for you and I am cheering for you from up here in Boston, Massachusetts!

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