I Live on the Poverty Line...but You'd Never Know It
Before I begin, I need to say a couple of things:
1. I make more than the poverty level. Before taxes and other deductions, I make a little over double the poverty level for my state.
2. This post is not an attempt - in any way, shape, or form - to belittle or lessen the people who live in poverty. Poverty is a real issue with real consequences, so please don't take this as me trying to condescend to anyone in poverty about ways they can just not be poor anymore.
3. This post is strictly informational and describes my own personal situation.
My daughter and I live on the poverty line. It's true. We live on $16,800.12 per year and in our state of Nebraska, poverty for a single parent with one child is $17,308.00. This figure is what I pay, combined, for rent, utilities, food, car payment, gas for my car, car insurance, phone bill, household supplies, internet service, and even a YouTube Premium subscription.
It wasn't my intention to live "in poverty", but rather my intention was, and still is, to live as frugally as possible while still living a good life. Living a good life for me means living without fear of losing my housing, not worrying about where my next meal is coming from, never fearing my electricity will get shut off, and being able to provide the things my daughter and I need - like clothes, toiletries, and the like. Does this mean we never have fun? Absolutely not, I'm always doing something fun or adventurous...but I tend to do them all in the same frugal manner I do with the rest of my life.
The truth is, I spent most of my adult life making and living on the actual poverty line and I'm not ashamed to say that I relied on food stamps and Medicaid for my children for a few years. It was during those incredibly lean years that I learned all the frugal habits that helped us get by on such little money. Back then, it was necessary for our survival as the real fear that even the smallest of problems could make our situation most dire.
As I started making more money, those habits never left me, and neither did my fear that I could be that impoverished again at any point in my future. Now that I make more money, I still live on the same amount of money that I have become accustomed to. However, I can now invest in my future and squirrel away cash, food, and supplies in the event I should ever lose my income.
When people see how nice my home is, my new car, how I'm able to travel (whether far or near), and how I go out to eat with friends once or twice a month, they think I'm well off. They'd never guess that I was living in "poverty".
I spent months searching for the perfect place to live that fit in my budget and my patience paid off. I shopped for cars for months as well, saving a down payment, figuring out my budget, and deciding how much I could pay each month. I do credit card churning, which allows me to travel - often for little out-of-pocket expense. I can also travel cheaply often because of where I travel and I've mastered the art of taking a Day Trip. Because of my frugality, I can meet with friends a few times a month for a nice meal and drinks - not daily or weekly - which I can afford on the money I have left after paying my expenses and putting away money in my emergency fund/investments.
I rarely spend money on things that aren't needed which allows me to purchase wanted items a few times a year - within reason. I understand the power and danger that comes with a consumer lifestyle, which is a pitfall for so many people. Sure, there are lots of things I'd love to do and things I'd love to buy, but I envision my future and any scenarios that would put me in a bind, and use that to curb impulsiveness.
That doesn't mean I want to sacrifice having a nice life...and I haven't.
I'm off for a weekend of adventure visiting a friend for some good conversation, good food, and plenty of hiking. See you next week!