[This post was written in collaboration with Matty Brian from the UK. Therefore a lot of the following information will be provided in both U.S. and U.K. currency. You can find more of his work here. He specializes in financial and economic writing, and his insights can help benefit every aspect of your life!]
I Can’t Afford to be Poor.
Let me just say that again to make sure you heard me right.
I CAN’T afford to be poor. Like… Really. And that isn’t a cry to say “Hey look at me, give me money!” It’s just a fact. I really – truly – cannot afford to be poor. Neither can my partner. Or, really, anyone for that matter.
Because the truth is, being poor is fucking expensive. And it looks like there would be an easy solution right? Just make more money. Except… It’s not that simple. Because unless you are extremely lucky chances are if you are poor you will be poor your entire life. And the cost of living below the poverty line is more than just a label that is thrown around in politics and in Hollywood productions. It’s a lifestyle. A. Very. Expensive. Lifestyle.
And there’s a lot of factors that go into this that many people don’t understand. Something as simple as purchasing shoes or clothing is often a taxing experience that leaves more angry than satisfied when I think about it. And while it is easy to see that there are cheap options for people with not a lot of money, most people (in my experience) don’t tend to purchase these items. Because many people who are poor will tell you that one of the biggest reasons they have a lot more “pricier” items is because they last longer. For example, I would rather spend $50 on a pair of Sketchers tennis shoes for work than have to repeatedly buy a new pair of $15 shoes every 2 months. I at least trust that the Sketchers will last me about a year or two.
Hell… Earlier today my partner was making fun of me because I still have underwear that I have had since high school.
….. I’m 25 years old.
When you are forced to consider the possibility that you won’t have money to continuously replace items, you have to find things that will withstand years of use. Shoes, clothing, electronics, vehicles, etc. all have to be able to last 3+ years in order to be considered for purchase. And yeah, while it may seem a whole lot fucking easier to just buy whatever is cheap and accessible, if it will ultimately cost you more to keep replacing it when it breaks or wears out, then what is the point?
Finding a Place to Call Your Own.
While we are on the subject of spending money for something that lasts, let’s make a small detour to my favorite topic to bitch about: Rent and housing.
I will never be able to buy a home.
Because of college I stand with roughly $75k in student loan debt as of now (I still have 2 more years left mind you) that I will eventually have to pay back. Because of this, my chances of buying my own home and “living the American dream” are slim to none. Emphasis on the none. This means I will probably be renting my entire life. And it is a reality that many in my generation have come to acknowledge and accept.
Even in the State of Indiana where I reside, which has the lowest cost of living in the country, the average rent is about $700 for a one-bedroom apartment (Matty Brian estimates for the country as a whole it is about $988 for the U.S. and £758 for the U.K as a national average). Just to give an insight, I make roughly $1300 a month before taxes are taken out. That leaves me about – roughly – $600 left after I would pay rent to buy food, put gas in my car, pay other bills, and have maybe $50 for any unforeseen expense that may arise.
I don’t know how good at math you all are, but I know I suck at it. And yet I can still tell you that those numbers fucking suck.
So, as a result, Dallas and I are trying to find an apartment in a complex that allows income-based rent payments. Except – surprise surprise – many places like that will not rent to college students based on the fact that college is looked at as a privilege, and if I can afford to go to college then I can afford the regular rent rate of an apartment.
I refer you again to the statement above about my crippling student debt total.
We have even had people SUGGEST to us that we should have children so that we could qualify for reduced rates. Needless to say my feminist, millennial opinions had a field day with that.
How to be Rich while being Poor.
I want to end this post on a light note. Mostly because I feel like I have been ranting, and also because if I don’t then I will start spiraling and end up a meme on the internet. As shitty as life is some days, there are plenty of reasons why being poor doesn’t upset me:
- Quality Over Quantity: Yeah, my stuff may not be great, but the few good things I do have, I know that they are of good quality and are something to be proud of. To be honest, I’m a sentimental piece of shit so this goes for memories as well as objects. I have kept wristbands and other memorabilia to events such as concerts because they remind of of how spending $65 on a pit ticket was worth it.
- Finding True Friendships: This one is a bit cliche, but it’s true. Less money means less people who try to use me. As sad as that sounds, that’s the fact. You find people who want to be genuinely in your life. And further more, the friends that stick around for better or worse are generally the ones who help you out of shitty situations. And as someone who has been on both sides of it, I can’t express how thankful I am for many of the relationships I have made.
- You Enjoy The Simple Things: Again, this is cliche. But not having a lot of money has really taught me how to value the small things. For example, getting a simple $1 candy bar for my birthday or even a cheap meal with my partner really makes me happier than most people could ever imagine. It’s not about what you spend money on, but who you spend the time with.
So yeah. I think that’s where this will end. On a bit of a lighter note.