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Some politician LOVE to hate the poor. They see them as inferior, lazy moochers who just bask in their poorness and enjoy all of the happiness being poor brings them. They tell America that poor people could stop being poor if they just work hard enough.

What they forget to mention when they paint this fictional portrait of happy poor people are the struggles the roughly 50 million Americans who live below the poverty line face. Normal, everyday things that cause someone with little or no money to weep in frustration.

Here are twelve struggles that only the working poor can truly understand:

12.  The car maintenance struggle:

If you are poor and lucky enough to own a vehicle you know this struggle well. You pray that nothing happens to your vehicle, because you can’t afford the repair fees. For instance, new tires could easily eat up an entire month of grocery money. So you make those bad boys last until they are NASCAR slick. You might slide in the rain and almost kill yourself, but at least you won’t starve.

11.  The dental struggle:

You wake up one morning with a throbbing, swollen face and immediately are faced with horror that you have to go to the dentist. Holy crap! You don’t have dental insurance! Maybe you job doesn’t offer it, so those visits are paid for out-of-pocket. Dentists are expensive. A root canal and crown can easily run $2,000. So what do you do? You hope that the leftover amoxicillin in your medicine cabinet will do the job until you save enough to have that tooth pulled. But what about the pain?! Yeah, you’re screwed. Oh and if you’re really unlucky, you might die from that tooth infection. Because that’s not insane in the richest country in the world.

10.  The sick kid struggle:

Your kid gets sick in the middle of the week and you don’t even have $4 to your name. You can’t afford any Children’s Motrin or any other store-bought medicine.  Time to bust out that home remedy book your grandma gave you and hope things don’t result in our next struggle.

9.  The medical emergency struggle:

What happens if you or your child has to be hospitalized for something?  Bring on the stress! Not only do you have a medical bill that would make Jesus weep, but now you’ve missed time at work and your employer isn’t paying you for that. There’s nothing worse than focusing on the cost of a hospital visit and missed time at work while also worrying if your or your child will heal.

8.  The grocery struggle:

So there was too much month at the end of your food stamps or maybe you don’t even qualify for assistance, what now? Now you get to sit down and try to figure out how you can make $30 buy food for the week. Ramen Noodles forevaaaa!  Or egg dishes every night! Who cares about the cholesterol, the hospital will be happy to treat your heart attack if you give them your soul…and $50,000.

7.  The bill paying struggle:

Which final notice should you pay first? Water or electric. Well either you’ll be showering with your neighbor’s water hose next week or you’ll be using a flashlight to find your bathroom at night. It’ll be fun! Just like camping!

6.  The overdraft fee struggle:

You accidentally spent one dollar more than you had in the bank and now you have an overdraft fee. Bank overdraft fees are an awesome way to really stick it to people who are struggling to stay afloat. Banks usually charge an overdraft fee of  around $35, but if that one dollar overdraft causes other things to “bounce” then you are looking at multiple overdraft fees. Banks LOVE overdraft fees, it’s where they make billions! But a person counting every penny is basically screwed for the rest of the month.

5.  The school clothes struggle:

Winter is here and your kid has grown out of all of their winter clothes, oh joy! Now you have to siphon money from everywhere else to make sure your child doesn’t turn into an ice-cube this winter. It’s okay though, you really didn’t need trash bags, coffee, or a phone this month anyway.

4.  The school supplies struggle:

Next to Christmas and birthdays this is the single most dreaded time of the year. For one child, school supplies can easily run between $40-$80. That’s the water bill or half of the electricity bill. The start of the school year causes many parents to start fermenting their potatoes to make vodka. Don’t judge, we can’t afford to go buy real vodka, school supplies destroyed any hopes of that.

3.  The birthday struggle:

Yay, it’s time to celebrate your child’s entrance to the world! How exciting! Except when you realize that you have to buy a cake (especially if you’re like me and baking one is not a skill you possess), birthday candles, decorations, a present (and the older they get the more expensive they are), and a multitude of other items to make your child’s day special. It’s okay though, cake can be eaten for meals right?

2.  The Christmas struggle:

It’s the most wonderful time of year, right? WRONG! Every parent wants to make the holidays special for their child. It’s magical for them, but not so much for parents who do not have any money. This is the worst time of year. The desire to make your children happy is what puts you in danger of being trampled on Black Friday. It’s what causes your bills to pile up or a credit card to be maxed out. Christmas is when we check to see if our potatoes are done fermenting because we need to stay a little drunk, all the time, to get through until the new year.

And finally…

1.  The hygiene products struggle:

This is probably the most degrading of all the struggles. You’ve run out of shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper, deodorant, tampons (if you’re a woman), razors, etc. and you have no money to buy more. Maybe you receive assistance, but food stamps don’t pay for nonfood items. Maybe you just forgot to budget for those things because you didn’t think about it. Now what? You pray that you don’t smell until your next check. Or you sit in a corner and cry because you realize it really, really sucks to be poor.

By the way, these are not problems exclusively faced by people below the poverty line. There are millions of Americans who live just at, or slightly above, the poverty line and they struggle too — maybe even more since this group makes “too much” to qualify for any assistance, but not enough to live comfortably. We feel your pain, too.


DECEMBER 17, 2014

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