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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2007
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    Default Spin off from Wrong: What does poor vs. Poor feel like?

    Over on the "This is Wrong" thread about folks of foodstamps buying edible crap on the taxpayer's nickel, and also on the "What is Rich" thread, we all are speaking in generalities. It's as though everyone felt as we do.

    I also suspect that most of us haven't walked a mile in the shoes of the very poor, or what I called the "perma=poor"-- people who come from families that just get by and seem to choose to do the same and not much else. Or maybe we have never walked a mile in the shoes of people we consider rich.

    I also suspect that most of us--rich or poor by our own definition-- have been in the same socioeconomic class for much of our life.

    That could be wrong, but I have three questions for you guys that's about learning how people in other situations view the world.

    1. Did you feel different about yourself or the world at large when you had a lot more or a lot less money, security or opportunity than you do now?

    2. What do you think makes you feel about the world as you do?

    3. Have you learned from people unlike yourself-- with much more or much less-- how things look to them?

    I hope to learn a lot. Thanks!
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  2. #2
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    Apr. 1, 2008
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    4,569

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    I did not feel differently when I had less. Having less did not make ME less.

    What makes me feel about the world as I do? My job. That's it. 22 years have changed me and how I see the world. The first 12 months was simply eye opening.

    have I learned from others? Yes. I've learned how to be generous to those I know need it and I've learned that just because it seems like others have more, doesn't make them happier.



  3. #3
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    Mar. 18, 2005
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    When hubby and I married he made 7 bucks an hour. I worked and made 6 when he left his job of 20 plus years 7 years ago due to having breast cancer he was making 10. Then after his breast cancer he went to a union job that paid well over 30 an hour while I worked for 10 we tucked moneya way put a new roof on our house, installed a corn burner and started to put new fence up around the pasture. Then one friday he went to work came home and got a call from his boss the next day saying he was sorry they sold the company and he no longer had a job. He went to a job for 10 bucks an hour I was making 12 shortly after that I had my accident and for over four years have been unable to work because of my injuries I will never beable to work as I can not sit or stand for lengthy periods of time. Wich forced us to sign up for benifits wich we recieved 119.00 a month till he got a 50 cent raise wich resulted in zero benifits. So with the help of my daughter and neighbor I grow a garden and grow enough veggies to get us threw a year by freezing and canning anything I can. Even when he had his union job we didn't live like we had money as we knew what we needed to do to ensure a roof over our heads. It was 10 grand top put our roof on wich pretty much wiped us out but it was worth it because it saved our house and saves us money in the winter time.
    I wouldn't change anything about my life because it's the every day struggles of life that have made me and my family stronger.



  4. #4
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    Mar. 11, 2007
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    Montana
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    I grew up upper middle class, I've lived as an adult more lower middle class I guess. Blue collar husband, I'm a SAHM.

    I have friends and family that range from quite wealthy to dirt poor.

    The more money I have at any given time the more I enjoy life; it reduces my stress, makes it so I can buy oddball improvements. We don't have new cars, the newest is a 1999 truck, but we have horses and enjoy life though it's stressful.

    More money= less stress to me.

    My poor friends and family are fun to me b/c we can gripe about the cost of groceries, we all garden, we all look for good deals, we all hunt and can and have big freezers and help each other save money and get by. Not a food stamp/EBT card in the whole bunch.

    My wealthy friends and family give me insight into a world that I am not in, which is fine really. To me, most wealthy people live in houses that look alike and have cars that look alike and there isn't as much individuality as I find with my po' folks. My wealthier friends and family have good books and good wine and good clothes and time for vacations and take their hobbies to a higher level than other people I know. I can pull things from their lives and make room for them in my own.

    I like my perspective, I've always been a floater-I can always relate to and understand people, I can be in one place and then the other. I was friends with a homeless man one year while he built fences for a ranch I worked for and my aunt runs a major communications company on the west coast. I talk to people a lot, find out what they're thinking a lot.

    In most of my friends and family, regardless of economics, there is a thread of conservatism and individual responsibility. There are left and right leaning politics, in some cases extreme, throughout but the same attitude about taking care of your own business. My family doesn't have many divorces anywhere in it, I can think of one uncle that is divorced and that is it, including my inlaws. I have a cousin by marriage that should be spayed and her kids taken away. I'm sure she's on every form of assistance possible. Nobody else in the family is...

    There's poor but holding your own and then there's going nowhere sorta poor...



  5. #5
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    Mar. 18, 2005
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    My family and I also fullfill our needs before our wants and I truielly believe that it is one of the many things that has made us stronger.

    Any loose change we get when we do make purchases goes in a can. In november of every year we cash the cans in and use part of that for LP and the other part is for xmas for our daughter. we do usually keep 50 bucks and we splurge and get a family thing. Usually it's a couple dvd's or board game or like last year we needed a dvd player and we were able to get a new dvd plalyer with vhs.



  6. #6
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    May. 8, 2006
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    Northern Indiana
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    I think there needs to be a fundamental distinction:

    Poor is a state of mind. Broke is a financial situation.

    You can be poor and have lots of money. But you can be broke and not poor. That's where I put us right now -- broke, but not poor. We make ends meet and sometimes the month can be a little tough, but we don't consider ourselves poor by any stretch. We're broke, but we're just passing through broke on our way to comfortable and eventually wealthy!
    To be loved by a horse should fill us with awe, for we hath not deserved it.



  7. #7
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    Mar. 1, 2003
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    Happily in Canada
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    1. Did you feel different about yourself or the world at large when you had a lot more or a lot less money, security or opportunity than you do now?
    Yes, when I had a lot less, I felt stressed out. But I was scrounging to buy groceries and my horse's hay - I know that is not dirt poor by any means. I knew if the worst came to the worst, I could probably move home, but I really didn't want to do that. And, I have always had someone that would help me out (e.g. cheap rent) or I would make it work by doing casual labour.

    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    2. What do you think makes you feel about the world as you do?
    Tough question. The sum of all previous experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    3. Have you learned from people unlike yourself-- with much more or much less-- how things look to them?
    Yes. My parents decided to take a job in a 3rd world country when I was 9 years old. I thought my world was over since we had to sell my pony (whom I'd had for one month).

    While we were there, we saw real poverty. 18 people living in a 2-room shack without electricity, bathing in the streets, and malnourished. We befriended a girl in my class who walked 4 miles to school each way, because she couldn't afford 25 cents for the bus. She wasn't a scholar - it turned out she didn't finish her homework because she had to babysit her cousins and siblings after school, and then it got dark and they didn't have electricity, so no lights to do her work.

    To her absolute credit, with her incredible determination, and some financial help from my parents, she has been the first person in her family to go to college. She finished her undergraduate degree and went on to do a Master's. She has a good job working for the government (because they have a loan forgiveness program).

    I have also seen some much richer people, and often been surprised with how unhappy they can be.
    Blugal

    You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng



  8. #8
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    May. 10, 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    1. Did you feel different about yourself or the world at large when you had a lot more or a lot less money, security or opportunity than you do now?

    2. What do you think makes you feel about the world as you do?

    3. Have you learned from people unlike yourself-- with much more or much less-- how things look to them?

    I hope to learn a lot. Thanks!
    1. I've been unemployed for eleven months, and yes, I feel different about myself than I did before. I feel ashamed, I feel angry, I feel useless. I've never had what most would consider a lot or even a medium amount of money-never made over $38K a year before taxes. But now, after eleven months without so much as a phone call for an interview, without even a letter acknowledging receipt of my application, and these aren't jobs I'm underqualified for, they are jobs I should easily be able to get. Pretty much the only option left to me is something like Walmart, and if I do that I will do it a couple of towns over because I'm so ashamed of it. I quit my job to start my own business and I don't want people I to know what a failure I am. I guess that the hardest part for me is that when I was younger, success came so easily: top of my class or near it, got pretty much every job I applied for, IQ far above average. And that's not to say I haven't worked hard-I started working summers when I was 13 and have worked my ass off my whole life. I have done everything asked of me at every job and more, and yeah, I resent that going above and beyond has gotten me nothing while some people just slide by and get everything. I feel betrayed because I feel hook, line, and sinker for the "if you want it bad enough and work hard enough, you can do anything" line of crap. It's not true. I worked my butt off to be a better writer, I have a national press award in my field, and I can't get a job. So yeah, I feel differently about myself and the world, and I hate myself for that.

    2. I'm feeling pretty jaded right now because of the nepotism I see in the world. How getting a job or getting ahead often happens to those who know someone or who have a certain look while hard(and often harder)-working, qualified individuals are completely overlooked Also, I grew up poor, but because my mom was an admin assistant at an exclusive prep school, I went to school with kids who had so much money that I never felt included in anything-while my classmates were off to weekends in the Hamptons or Newport or the Cape, I couldn't go because I had to work. I never had any real friends at that school, though I value the education I got very much. I was one of the poorest kids there, but in the top group academically. I don't like the fact that my view of the world is jaded, and it hasn't always been. I used to believe in the American Dream and was totally willing to start at the bottom and work for my goals. I trusted that hard work, brains, and strong moral values would get me where I wanted to go eventually. But the last year has really taken a toll...I've worked so hard and have nothing to show for it, while I see others do so little and get so much. It's not a class thing for me-I respect and admire people who work hard for what they have, whether it's a thousand dollars a month or a million. What has me down is the fact that hard work is valued so little, and that people who don't work hard or treat others right get ahead.

    3. One thing I learned in my exclusive New England prep school was that problems aren't exclusive to one class. I knew kids who were there because their parents didn't want them at home, or who lived in fear of one parent showing up at school drunk. A classmate's mother killed herself in the middle of our senior year. My family was close and loving. Money can't buy happiness, and I think I'm honestly better off having grown up poor, because I understand the value of a dollar and of hard work, while many off my classmates never did. I truly and completely appreciate every opportunity or gift I've been given and everything I've earned-I don't take them for granted. I have a huge sense of responsibility, and if I want something, I will work to get it and I don't expect anyone to do anything for me. I'm resourceful and know how to stretch a dollar. I just wish I didn't have to do it all the time.



  9. #9
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    Jul. 31, 2007
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    15,798

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    ^^
    Thanks for that post, Henry.

    I kept reading and thinking two things:

    1. Man, HenryisBlaisin' is in good company.

    I finished my grad degree in 2008 and spent that fall/winter in NYC. It was amazing to be broke (but at an ok time in my life to be broke) when others were loosing a lot of money and it was NOT ok to be doing so. But for the first time ever, I felt that I didn't have to keep my poverty a secret. it was a relief, frankly.

    2. It seems to me that the "American Dream" can turn on us--especially if we start to believe that the playing field was level. Then a bad run turns to our making up bad stories about ourselves to explain it. Couldn't it be that the American Dream was (or has become) unrealistic?

    I'm looking down the barrel of taking a job that very few of my friends and none of my colleagues will admire me for. In talking about this even a little bit, I have found it to be painful.

    Many of them don't get it because they don't want to have to think that someone "like them" has to make do in a way they couldn't imagine themselves doing.

    Meh, f*ck 'em. I know who I am, and I'm not afraid to do what I have to do in order to pay my bills. But I *have* chosen a new policy for myself: I won't spend time explaining to people who can't be supportive. Period. It's purely pragmatic. I don't have the emotional strength to keep me propped up and to make a really good case for myself to nay-sayers. That's too hard. It does me no good and doesn't make a difference to them one way or another. I ain't no masochist!

    I think many people will have to choose new heroes for themselves now. We can still want or admire wild wealth. But we need to learn from those who are happy and at peace with themselves even without that.

    Oh, and your childhood experience matches mine a bit. I think it put a stamp on our way of looking at the world if we were way richer or way poorer than the people around us while we were tykes. It raises questions and makes us think hard about things that other kids in more homogenous schools or neighborhoods don't have to try and figure out until later.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2005
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    Spotsylvania, VA
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    "Poor" for me was being scared to open the mail.
    "Poor" was being terrified when my car made a funny noise.
    "Poor" was being laid off a few days after Christmas.
    "Poor" was having to sell my horse trailer and saddle to pay bills.

    That's not really poor
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.



  11. #11
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    Jan. 4, 2007
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    TX
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    For a bit different perspective on these questions:

    Growing in a war devastated Europe under a dictatorship, no one permitted to move from where they ended up after the wars, many adults having to go every day to sign at the police station, so the police could keep track of them, with little for anyone and that rationed, if you were rich or poor was but one more of several problems to survive.
    The family still persecuted, keeping low, as so many others were, waiting for the knock on the door in the middle of the night and a one way ticket to nowhere, well, right then, being poor is just one more problem.

    Fearing directly for your life makes going hungry less important.
    Somehow, many managed to survive in those circumstances.

    Most living in the USA don't know what lack of freedoms means, forget being poor or poorer.

    How does that phrase go, "I thought I was poor because I lost my shirt, then saw someone walking on glass without shoes".



  12. #12
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    Sep. 24, 2004
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    Piedmont Triad, North Carolina
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    I grew up poor. Poor as in money being tight. Rich in having family, friends and church.

    I learned to manage money from mom. Make a little go a long way. Needs vs wants vs desires. Save today instead of spend. Drive same first little car for 10 years (during an era when cars self destructed in a few years) waiting for the Porsche. Finally leaving the dealer with MSO in hand. Still living frugally on 10 times what single parent made. (inflation adjusted)

    Lessons learned: Having money saved is security and freedom. Having money saved is making hard choices every day.



  13. #13
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    Jan. 27, 2004
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    Yonder, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    1. Did you feel different about yourself or the world at large when you had a lot more or a lot less money, security or opportunity than you do now?

    2. What do you think makes you feel about the world as you do?

    3. Have you learned from people unlike yourself-- with much more or much less-- how things look to them?
    1. Money has always been a tool for me. Having it means more potential opportunities and/or on a faster timeline. I spent the first 25+ years of my life below poverty level. It was very frustrating seeing how utterly wasteful and entitled a lot of people are and how little they accomplish with what they have. After all, it's very human to see what someone else has and think how much more YOU could do with it and how much further up the ladder you'd be already with that kind of advantage. It was also a very different kind of stress, knowing I would absolutely be on the streets with nowhere to go if I got too sick or injured (or pregnant) to work versus now having the luxury of merely losing the horses, farm, retirement savings, etc. I worked so hard to get.

    2. I know the experience of working my way up from literally being homeless to being comfortably well-off has certainly made me pretty eye-rolly about all the armchair pundits who've never been truly hungry, homeless, or faced with really awful, basic decisions (so, do you sell your body to survive, or choose to suicide?) pontificating about "The Poor". Particularly the ones who are sure everyone else is lazy, stupid, and just needs to work harder to be as good and worthy an American as they are... Because using and abusing the system is bad when 'they' do it, but 'you' deserve it.

    3. I've learned that people adjust pretty quickly to whatever situation they find themselves in, and that an individual's fundamental nature doesn't really change with their financial situation. Someone who lives for today and for material possessions will spend however much or little they have. A saver will save, even if literally only pennies. Those without shame will work the system to their advantage, while those with it will turn themselves inside out to avoid using a public safety net. Most everyone is going to judge most everyone else--it seems human nature to need someone to envy and someone to look down upon. And, again regardless of financials, most people think they're good citizens and the majority of problems are caused by someone else.
    ---------------------------



  14. #14
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    Jul. 11, 2004
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    I grew up in a wealthy family...I highly recommend it. Nice house in Chevy Chase, MD. Had private schools etc. My horse, even when I was a young kid...I had to work for. I cleaned windows at the barn, groomed, mucked and exercised and showed horses for board and later taught lessons. Family didn't pay a nickel for my riding. Not fun, but they made it clear the hobby was mine (actually, selfish parents except for good schools).

    After high school I went in the Army for the GI Bill and educational support (parents wouldn't pay for college..so much for valuing good schools). I earned $238/month before taxes to start and the salary was low for the DC area. I gave riding lessons to afford my own horse's board and expenses. Always worked full time during undergrad & grad school. No student debt when I graduated either.

    Started in the Gov't at $16000 year with 2 BS degrees, and gave lessons to pay for my horse and showing.

    My heart doesn't bleed for the leeches/permanent-poor. I worked, did some crappy jobs because I had to pay for myself. Fought for an education, didn't get anyone pregnant, didn't buy what I couldn't afford and had no problem with buying a used car or generic jeans/clothes. Never took a dollar of any government handouts (I earned my GI Bill) or wanted any. I don't care about the non-working poor, they made their choices, the government steals my money to buy the votes of the 49% who pay no federal taxes and get back more than they contribute to society.

    Rights without responsibilites is the definition of a child.
    Responsibilities without rights is the definition of a slave.

    It's not whining to want to spend your own money on your own family vs. a parasite.
    "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"



  15. #15
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    Nov. 8, 2005
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    NC
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    I think the experience of being a "poor student" (which is, of course, more a matter of being temporarily but chronically broke than truly poor) is a very valuable one for those of us who grew up in middle class families. It provides a sense of perspective on managing priorities, some form of budgeting and on scarcity.

    My parents were very financially conservative and from them I learned about the importance of getting good value and good quality. I never wanted for anything but from high school on was expected to earn things rather than expecting parental handouts.

    My first wife's parents gave her a nice year-old car when she went to college. I had to buy my own from savings when I was in high school, and when I upgraded to a more reliable one, was given a loan that I was expected to repay, in order to do so. We had an argument about whether getting a free new car was a good thing or a bad one.

    Once I finished my undergraduate work, I was on my own to manage the best I could.

    My ex wife and I literally spent my last dollar getting ourselves moved across the country and moving into an apartment after we finished graduate school.

    It was an experience discovering outside the campus environment where everyone we knew was in the same straitened situation, just how the deck is stacked against people with no funds.

    There was a personal property tax in NC at the time in which unless one itemized, the state simply defined the value of apartment dwellers' goods, and defined it in a way that greatly overvalued one's possessions for tax computation purposes.

    Recall thinking at the time how doubly burdensome it was to the hard-working poor who lacked either the time or perhaps even the ability to itemize their possessions to avoid being taxed at perhaps four times the rate of those who did. The same thing held true in other respects, such as bank and credit fees, etc.

    It came as a shock to me and changed some of my attitudes when I realized just how hopeless and unfair was the situation for those who didn't automatically have the prospect in a few years of readily earning their way into a better existence.
    "Things should be as simple as possible,
    but no simpler." - Einstein

    “So what’s up with years of lessons? You still can’t ride a damn horse?!”



  16. #16
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    Nov. 2, 2006
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    North Carolina
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    Haven't been there myself (thank god), but it's funny that this thread should pop up because I just read a heartbreaking blog post by writer John Scalzi titled "Being Poor". It's well worth a read: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2005/09/03/being-poor/



  17. #17
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    Feb. 4, 2004
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    Most of us are incredibly lucky--the freedoms and quality of living here are so much better than in much of the world. Spending time in truly poor/unstable countries is just an entirely different view of life/survival/priorities.

    Personally, I've always felt an embarrassment of riches in terms of opportunity. My parents didn't have a lot of money (by choice--hippie types) but did have a lot of education, and I always felt I had the opportunity to do anything.

    Life is unfair. People who grow up in an environment where it is easy to be successful tend to be, and then judge others who are not. We have no way of knowing that our smart and resourceful selves would have been successful in other circumstances.

    My most eye-opening experience was in elementary school. My town was split between a small college and dairy farming. It was considered a very good public school. The farm kids were much less prepared (less family support--those families worked a lot harder, kids too, instead of reading books etc.) and the teachers just viewed them as a worthless distraction. As a little kid I just assumed that adult authority figures were always right, always stuck up for every kid, and was utterly shocked by the range of disinterest to cruelty. I had never seen adults behave badly.

    That was my first indication that the system was very much stacked against some people.



  18. #18
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    Dec. 1, 1999
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    Default We all have different stories....

    I have been pondering whether or not to add my two cents worth and have decided I'm in.
    I grew up in a lower middle class family. I have one sister. We were never encouraged to go to college. My parents said they would pay if we wanted to go, but i hated school, and wanted to go get a JOB. So I did. I thought about going to college for a bit later. But several of the things I looked at had a two- or four year degree, and I was already making more money that the particular job I was looking into. As I see it now, my parents just didn't value education. My dad only went thru the eighth grade, and my mom took a few college classes. What I have come to realize is that my mom has the small mentality of being desperately poor as a child. She does look to the government, and ALWAYS makes excuses for the poor. When discussing politics, she will complain about the 'rich'. Well, they might have earned it, but it was on the backs of the poor. Life isn't fair, yada yada yada. She never sees hard work and sucess as goals! My sister married a jerk, and had 3 kids. They have never had money but she always worked hard, [he didn't] As I look back, I don't know how I ever suceeded.
    Well, my sister has been out of work for 3 and a half years. Long story cut short, she is on food stamps, but no unemployment. She has NO income. My mom has been giving her $400 a month for 3 years.
    I have been out of work for 2 and a half years. I did get unemployment for a bit but it has run out. I worked for a good employer for 30 years and retired so I have a pension. I retired young but not early, so I went out and got other jobs. Mostly, what I did was drive. But in my last job, I had an accident. I have sent out resumes and applied all over. You cannot begin to know how worthless you feel about yourself when you have supported yourself for 40 years and now need a little help from others. Just so you know, I have applied at Wal Mart and McDonalds, but haven't gotten a call back. I am going today to apply at a bus barn to drive kids to school! I don't have kids! Not good around them! Scared to death to do this! If I hadn't been working [for free] as my church secretary, I would probably not even get out of bed.
    As an aside, I do think people shouldn't buy pop or ready to eat things with food stamps. They used to not be able to do that. But I guess things change.
    Another killer of threads



  19. #19
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    Sep. 9, 2007
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    I grew up in a very poor family. My dad was a blue coller machinist and my mom stayed at home. They had four of us and there were days that meat was a luxury. We never had McD's unless there was McD's gift certificates. My mom would take us to the playground sometimes and buy us one drink that we had to share. There was many nights we would have pancakes made with water and not milk.

    All my clothes were made by my mom, and my brothers had hand-me-downs. Horses were not in my life at all. I had cut outs from horse magazines and would go see the ponies at the farm down the street.

    I make a VERY good income now. I also have worked my way up from the very bottom and been persistant. I didn't have my own horse until after 30. I put myself through a BS and MS degree while working full time. If push came to shove I would sell my horse. However, I would sell my trailer first.

    I know what it is like to go to bed hungry. I know what it is like deciding to pay the rent or pay a utlitiy bill. I gave up a phone for 4 years because I couldn't afford it. I didn't get my own computer until 2009 because I didn't want to cough up the cash. I went to the thrift and garage sales for clothes. Went to the doller store for groceries. Volunteered at soup kitchen so I could eat. On paper I made good money at that time but reality..My ex fiancee ran up many bills in my name. I order to save my credit I had to pay them off. Being poor gave me the ability to cut way back and not suffer.
    OTTB - Hurricane Denton - Kane AKA Bubble boy
    Boxer - Tugger's - outlasted my marriage



  20. #20
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    Nov. 13, 2007
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    In my car, between work, home, and the barn!
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    For a while growing up, we had money. I had a horse and showed a bit locally. When my single mom's work went south, the horse went, we lost the house, the car, moved in with family. We went to the food bank. My teenage job bought groceries for the family, as did my brother's paper route. We ate mustard sandwiches and bought a package of Oreos when the rare child support check showed up.

    But I was lucky - we were in an area with great public schools and a mother who would heat up dinner for me when I got home from the library, where I went for a quiet place to study after school let out. The years of riding paid off and I was able to barter stall cleaning for a ride to the barn and turned that, eventually, into part-time training and giving lessons.

    I was pretty well-prepared when college time rolled around and worked two or three part-time jobs year-round to keep the loans low. I've got a husband, house, three kids, stable job, and a PhD now. I've got several years to go on paying back student loans, and I'm grateful that they were there to get me through college.

    I wouldn't call that "Poor-poor," though. There was support from family, there was always a way out, even when circumstances were bad at a particular point in time. I knew that the way things were at times wasn't "right," and I knew what needed to be done to "fix" it. Didn't make the mustard sandwiches taste any better, but it sure did make a big difference in the way things turned out.



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