This is a guest post by my husband, Beaker.
In my forty some years of life there has been one constant. Besides gravity and that the sun always rises in the east, I have never had a good job or have had a lot of money.
Until recently, I have made such a small amount of money that I was considered to be living in poverty. I am not writing this for sympathy or trying to ask for money. I just wanted to give readers my credentials to be able to state that I know poor. I believe that I know how to live in poverty. I want to enlighten people and give some advise on how to survive on a small paycheck.
Cheap Food, Shopping on Saturdays and Snacks
Buying cheap food usually consists of pasta or those Asian Noodle packs. I think everyone knows this, so I am not going to waste your time. I just want to emphasize there are other cheap foods that people sometimes forget about. Besides pasta, remember some other staples in a diet like rice and potatoes. Don’t forget to shop the vegetable isle for the fruits and vegetables that are in season. If you have a farmer’s market in your area, it is the best because you can sometimes haggle for a lower price.
In the past I liked to go shopping on Saturdays because most of the supermarkets have their free samples, and this gives you a nice treat and makes sure that you do not shop with the pain of an empty stomach.
I don’t buy snack food because I don’t snack. This is not a choice of trying to be healthy. This is a habit I picked up because I could not afford to buy snack food. I am a creature of habit and, even though, I can afford it now, I still don’t buy these things. I learned a long time ago that snacks are not needed, and I can live without them. To this day I still have a hard time trying to snack on fruits and vegetables. I am trying, but it is not a natural thing for me.
If You Don’t Have It, You Don’t Need It
I am grateful to my father for this lesson he taught me because it kept me from getting a credit card and engulfing myself in debt. I give my father credit for teaching me that I should never live beyond my means.
One of my regrets in college was getting into debt with student loans. Even though I was working part time, I was still poor enough to qualify for a Pell Grant. I didn’t need to take out student loans. My girlfriend, at the time, came up with the “brilliant” idea to take out student loans to go to Europe. I really wanted to go to Europe, so I agreed, and I forgot this important lesson that my father taught me. I was blinded by my strong desire to go somewhere without saving up for it.
When I look back at that time, I get really mad at myself. It reminds me that anything worth doing, or having, is worth saving up for. I will never again go into debt for the dream of traveling. If I want to travel, I will save up for it and I will enjoy every moment of my trip, knowing that it is paid for way before I get on the plane.
Accepting Food or Money From Your Family
One of the hardest things in the world is to accept gifts of food or money from friends and family.
I had to swallow a lot of pride and accept things that I didn’t want to at the time because I didn’t want to feel like a leach. It is never easy, but as long you don’t make a living off of your friend’s and family’s generosity I think it is acceptable to let your loved ones take care of you in your time of need, especially if you plan on “paying it forward” to them in the future.
Someday when someone I love is in need, I will go to them and offer whatever I can to help, and I hope they will be gracious enough to accept. I love them with all my heart, and I would love them whether they helped me or not. I know they are proud of me and my accomplishments, and I hope they know how much they helped me. I remember their generosity all the time and I remind myself that I would not be where I am without their help.