My Slap of Reality
Have you read a book or an article that just slaps you in the face with reality? Not just an ‘aha!‘ moment, but a ‘wow, I’m a complete asshole‘ kind of way? I’m quite good at making my own assumptions and running with them, so I deal with this slap in the face fairly often. Here’s my latest.
“Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America” by Linda Tirado will absolutely knock the wind out of you with it’s blunt, straight to the point musings. I disagree with several aspects of it, and I could argue with the author on some points, but I still think it’s a book everyone should read.
Tirado truly revealed to me what privileges I have as a middle class woman. I was born an able bodied, mentally sane person, to two, able bodied, mentally sane people, with good jobs. Not only that, but my parents always supported me, and implemented the beliefs that anything is possible for me. I’ve never been hungry. I’ve never been financially stressed. I’ve never really had to do without anything I want or need.
I drive old vehicles with lots of miles, but they’ve never disappointed me.
I know what it’s like to have an ugly snaggle tooth, but I’ve also had the privilege of getting it corrected.
I’ve been without health insurance, but I’ve always been privileged with great health in general.
I have lost a parent to crime, but my family was able to afford an attorney.
Though I don’t fully agree with Tirado, her writings got me thinking. Beyond the obvious, “I have more money” what other privileges do I have, that those in poverty do not?
Saving Money is Easier for Me
- I can buy my goods in bulk. If I see a five gallon bucket of detergent for sale for $25, I have the ability to buy it, rather than buy six 100oz bottles at $15 each. “an extra ten dollars” is a luxury that many don’t have.
- I’m able to use coupons. I have the transportation and the $3 to stop by a store once a week to pick up a newspaper. I also have the skill and knowledge to know how coupons best work, and when to use them. I also have the free time, and the energy, in my schedule to leisurely cut coupons.
- I have the knowledge and the additional cash to be preventative. I can change my oil on my own. If my heater is making funny noise, I have a husband who is knowledgeable, or who can at least hire a handyman. If I do lose a tire, I can put on the spare, that I had the spare cash to buy, to continue on my merry way. Many people don’t have that privilege. To them, losing a tire means that they’re late for work (which is a loss of money) or even fired.
- I’m also able to buy higher quality products that last longer. My $75 boots will last me at least a year, if not two. Someone who doesn’t have $75 to spend, will have to buy a $10 pair of shoes, ten times or more.
Keeping my Morals is Easier for Me
- If I don’t want to do a certain task, I can reject it. I’m not so desperate for money that I’ll just do anything that is asked of me. This can range from declining to clean a toilet, to turning down sexual favors. I have control of my life.
- Because I have access to money, I have access to fun, and safe hobbies. I have fun traveling, spending time with my horse, hiking, biking, kayaking, camping, etc. My hobbies aren’t affordable or accessible to many in poverty. But on the other hand, alcohol is just a few dollars a bottle, cigarettes are $5 a pack, hard drugs cost $4-$45 per use, and casual (unprotected) sex is free.
- I know that sleep is good for me. I don’t have three jobs, so I have the luxury of sleep. Because of this, I don’t need cigarettes or energy drinks to keep me going.
I am Judged Less
- I wear the same style of jeans and a tee shirt every single day. If it’s hot, I wear a ball cap. If it’s cold, I wear a coat. As a middle class woman, this is just quirky. If I were impoverished, I’d probably be pitied or judged for my clothing choices.
- My messy kinky curly hair is just ‘who I am’ but being poor would make me look like a wild cave woman.
- If I eat at Texas Roadhouse with my husband and post a check in on Facebook, its just a date night. But for someone who doesn’t have a lot, their friends will judge them for wasting their money on a that luxury.
- If I’m buying a car, and I tell the salesman I don’t like a price, he sees me as smart, and most likely wants to compromise. Someone who is known to be, or at least looks impoverished, is just being unrealistic. Where I make the dealer come down on his price, he makes them go down on their quality.
I have Control of my Life
My husband and I try our best to be financially smart. We save money, we do our best, and we make sacrifices. We build that savings account. Sometimes it gets dipped into, but we say “that’s okay” and we start building it again. We understand that some expenses and issues are unavoidable. But, we don’t feel that someone else runs our life for us. People in poverty are struck much harder by our inconveniences than we are. Like I mentioned earlier, if there’s a flat tire, it just gets replaced. Someone who only has $20 in their possession, can’t do that. They walk to work, or they don’t go at all. These devastating setbacks make people feel helpless, and it takes away their motivation and confidence in their ability to do better.
The belief that many (myself included!!) love to preach, is “if you barely have enough money to pay the electric bill, don’t buy cable for a month”. While I still strongly believe that you should save money whenever possible (especially when you don’t have it), it’s easy to understand why some people make these sorts of choices. Every aspect of my life sucks, and no amount of saving will change that, I might as well just enjoy what I can right now, which is television.
What’s Your Take Away?
Do you have a different perspective when it comes to your financial standing? Perhaps a little more compassion for the impoverished? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and as always, thank you for stopping in!