The high cost of being poor

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Gaverion, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. Gaverion

    Gaverion I need me some PIE!

    I was listening to some NPR and they were talking about guaranteed income which I think is a very interesting concept and one of many possible ways to combat poverty. It also got me thinking about a related topic I think about a lot, how expensive it is to not have money.

    Some context on my perspective, I work for a credit union so I see a lot of people's financial situations daily. Our members while biased towards Massachusetts and New Hampshire are from all over the country (and a very small number outside that).

    A few examples that come to mind:

    I had a woman call in, she was expecting funds to have been wired into her account. After asking a few questions I quickly realized she had been scammed. Looking at her account she was notably behind on her auto loan, she also revealed to me the vehicle was currently impounded by the city of Chicago. Desperate for funds so she could get her car back she fell victim to a scammer who had her buy 2 $100 iTunes gift cards with the last of her funds and send them to him so he could "wire" her the funds. Key thing to recognize is the desperation factor. You and I would probably recognize the fraud right away but for her the realization didn't hit until I mentioned it. This kind of predator specifically targets those with little and takes the last of what they have. As you can imagine when she called later that week to have her car voluntarily repossessed I was not surprised.

    Another example comes from a friend of mine. She lived on a very tight budget so when her car broke down to get back and forth from work she would either have to get a friend to take her or get a rental because she couldn't afford the cost of the repair. if she had to get a rental she was literally paying everything she earned that day for it. When you can't afford surprise expenses the stop gap measures add up fast.

    On a more general note something that overwhelmingly costs those with little as opposed to those with money, fees. Specifically late or non sufficient funds fees. I see this a lot and where I work we are generally pretty generous about giving them back if it is remotely reasonable but most places are not. When you have to chose between making your car payment on time or having dinner you probably are going to choose dinner which adds up pretty fast. Same goes for when that automatic payment comes out a day early and you were not prepared for it. $30 here or there may not be a big deal for most of us but on a tight budget that is one person fed for a week.

    Payday loans. I will just leave this

    The big recurring trend is that people on the low end of the income spectrum get along fine until an unexpected expense comes along. The vast majority of people I have to send over to collections are not wildly responsible people, they are people who had a budget, were able to make ends meet but then something happened, usually either something with their car, a medical bill for themselves or a loved one. Most of the people I send down to collections we are actually able to make arrangements for (usually something like pay only interest for a few months) but most lenders are not as generous as the one I am at and even so sometimes that still isn't enough.

    I am curious to hear some costs that overly affect the poor that I forgot and opinions on best dealing with the issue.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
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  2. Sokolov

    Sokolov The One True Cactuar Octopi

    One of the things that tends to come up in these conversations is lack of empathy. Yes, it's probably true the people could have made better choices, but it's also true that sometimes it's not as easy as it sounds when you lack a support network and the relevant life experiences.

    Momentum matters a lot in matters of health and wealth.

    In the case of being poor, the mental toll of constantly having to watch every penny is, itself, a tremendous cost. The biggest benefit, to my mind, of not living paycheck to paycheck is your sanity.
    Etherielin, Boozha, Tweek516 and 2 others like this.
  3. Geressen

    Geressen Forum Royalty

    of course you can alleviate the mentall toll by using alchohol or drugs or blowing all your extra cash on fireworks.

    which is then labelled as a poor choice.
    BurnPyro likes this.
  4. Baskitkase

    Baskitkase Forum Royalty

    I feel bad for anyone in that situation but not anyone who stays in that situation. I was really poor growing up and my parents didn't seem to mind and neither did I. I had a wonderful childhood. I got an actual job the day I turned 15. Joined the USMC at 18. Got a factory job out of the corps, paid my own way through TCU and got a couple decent jobs then a great one.

    I'm not the biggest strongest smartest prettiest guy in the world. I came from nothing, was handed nothing, and made my own way.

    I don't see how people can be complacent in their station yet not want to be there. Just do something about it.

    I get mental illness and even being a single parent can hold you back, but so many of these situations are people who simply won't take responsibility for themselves.

    That being said, I don't look down at them, and I hate that they are stressed or afraid or depressed with their situation.
  5. Gaverion

    Gaverion I need me some PIE!

    I would argue you were lucky, it happens, heck I was lucky myself when I first moved out a number of years back I was on an extremely tight budget but managed to get by on the back of good health, minimal repairs with my old car, and a bit of extreme budgeting but that is not the norm. I would challenge you during this time of struggle:

    How many times did you have a personal or family medical emergency that caused you to miss a significant period of time out of work with more expenses than usual?
    How would you rate your general health, do you often have to miss work because you are to sick?
    How many times did your car break down and you did not have enough funds on hand to pay for the repair?
    How many times did your employer cut back hours notably reducing your take home pay?
    If you did have any of these happen, how much did you pay for with a credit card or some other form of financing?
    Did you ever have college loan debt? Auto Loan debt? Personal loan debt?
    Did you ever have to work 3 dead end jobs to make ends meet leaving you no time to try and advance your career?

    I suppose I see a lot more of it than most because I deal directly with people's finances on a daily basis but when I get a call related to collections 9/10 times it is not for lack of trying that they are going there. I should say there are also the people who are applying for loans that I see as well, it is very sad to see someone get denied for a 5k auto loan because current obligations compared to income do not support it but it happens a lot.
    Geressen likes this.
  6. st3ck

    st3ck I need me some PIE!

    Anyone looking to buy some runes?
    BurnPyro likes this.
  7. Geressen

    Geressen Forum Royalty

    @Baskitkase @Gaverion
    I guess technically it doesn't count as being handed something if oppertunities fall into your lap.
  8. BurnPyro

    BurnPyro Forum Royalty

    I mean, it also isn't the golden 70s anymore where you could support a whole family on some factory job and have a nice house, card and no financial worries in normal circumstances.
    Saandro likes this.
  9. Baskitkase

    Baskitkase Forum Royalty

    Some items:
    Cars breaking all the time without funds to fix them. I did all the repairs myself though, learned this when young. Tires in bad shape and only buying 1 used tire at a time.

    Medical: daughters were born at 28 weeks after wife had a wreck. They were 2.5lbs each at birth. Heart surgery, NICU stay, etc. total bill: around $230,000 each. Wife's bill was over $15000. I was in the military, and only ended up paying about 10k, which was still a fortune. Wife had PPD. She was alone, I was fighting bad guys.

    When I came home I had serious re-entry issues. I was violent, PTSD, anger etc. they just wait for you to commit suicide, there's no real help for vets. My father took on the task of helping me find my way back. Seven brothers did not make it, 5 in the sandbox, two back home, one whose father committed suicide the day after his 1legged son.

    Got a factory job, still didn't make much. Worked 2nd shift 2:30pm-12:30am. Went to school during day and homework at 1am. Still crappy cars

    This all spans about 8-10 years. I had probably 6 family members die, 1 by murder.

    Wife almost dies during delivery of 3rd child. Needs blood transfusion, not in military this time. Total bill $60k.

    We bought a Ford Windstar. Only about 3 years old, our newest car ever.

    I graduate, go to work for Edward Jones, start making about 40-50k a year for two years. Oil booms in Texas, go into sales there at nearly 60k for one year then laid off.

    Got a job at JP Morgan and worked my way up through hard work over 6 years. Did pretty well there. Kids 4 and 5 come along. More PDD, more complications, get loans to pay for it.

    Eventually one of my customers hired me for what I'm doing today making monthly what I used to make in a year.

    If you make the assumption that just because someone is in a decent spot that it was easy, you need to be prepared to be way fkn wrong.

    And to say I got lucky is even more offensive, as if I was toiling along and someone just came along and gave it all to me or something.
  10. Geressen

    Geressen Forum Royalty

    And when cars where fixable by oneself as evidenced by the post above.
  11. Geressen

    Geressen Forum Royalty

    @Baskitkase Terry Pratchett had a way with words. and while I am sure you are content to know your glass has been filled through your efforts
  12. BurnPyro

    BurnPyro Forum Royalty

    Nobody is saying you "got lucky", as in "you ****ed about and life just gave you free Bane Shift and now you're a baller". Like, yeah, I know you worked hard for that. And you should be proud, really.

    But is it not possible that there are people out there that are trying to make an effort, work hard, but for some reason cannot make it past certain barriers (whether terry prachet glasses or for reasons Gaverion listed)? And that sucks.

    Look, I'm not saying all poor people aren't to blame. I'm sure some did legitimately dumb stuff, repeatedly. And had the opportunities and did not take them. And that's on them. But I'm also sure there's people out there working several jobs who can barely keep food on the table for their family. People trying their best but just not making it. And it is those people that we should be helping.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
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  13. Gaverion

    Gaverion I need me some PIE!

    So I think you and I are taking about different things. You are talking about hardships you were able to deal with/get ahead of. I am talking about ones you can't.

    It is great that you can fix your own car, not everyone has those skills and if you do not have them they are not easy to obtain.

    While a number of things that you describe are unfortunate, you were in a position to handle them either due to military service which isn't an option for everyone or reasonable earnings. While 40k is not the Ritz, it is far from what I would call poor and is enough to have discretionary income. I have a few friends trying to raise their families on 1/2 that income and that is in Massachusetts which is generally a more expensive place to live compared to the national average.

    I am genuinely curious what you consider poor. For me it is someone who earns less than 20k a year. Sure that is well above the government's federal poverty line but at least where I am from things will be very tight.
    Geressen likes this.
  14. Baskitkase

    Baskitkase Forum Royalty

    Ffs, it wouldn't matter what I said, I'm pretty sure you'd have a quip. Point is, you need to be happy in your station or do something about it, outside of a situation where you are mentally or physically handicapped or are a single parent. The vast majority of people have made a decision not to increase their station but want someone else to do it for them.
  15. Geressen

    Geressen Forum Royalty

    I live in an egalitarian soceity.

    we don't do stations. except for trains, we Firking love trains.
    NevrGonaGivUup likes this.
  16. BurnPyro

    BurnPyro Forum Royalty

    To quote Fox News and former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin:

    "we don't believe in raising wages because we think minimum wage jobs are stepping stones until you reach something better"

    I'm sorry, I usually respect your opinions even though they differ quite a bit from mine, but what you wrote above is just.. I don't even have words for it. You have been fed this "people want handouts, if you work hard you make it" narrative for so long while having a similar life experience, that you somehow believe that this is the be all end all. It's really not. I'm privileged as hell the way I was able to grow up and my parents did not have much but worked their asses off and made it happen. But I also know people who's parents did not have a great education and they were barely getting buy trying to get kids through college. In Belgium. Let that sink in. Parents working overhours and doing everything just so their kids could have a better future. Like they wouldn't have a printer cause they couldn't afford it, so we'd print stuff for them. Or go out so we'd pay for them.

    Let me tell you that it had Firk all to do with their unwillingness to move their station. It's actually insulting to me that you basically boiled being poor down to purely a choice. I'm not sure what dream fairyland you're living in where you believe that most poor people are just "midly unhappy" with being poor but not unhappy enough to do something about it, just waiting until someone helps them. It's not that bad being poor. People who work minimum (several) wage jobs their whole life must just be pieces of Bane Shift who didn't climb up the ladder. There's place for everyone on the ladder, nobody should be working the bottom tier, bottom tier workers are scum who want to be poor.

    Sincerely, an infuriated Belgian
  17. Baskitkase

    Baskitkase Forum Royalty

    Being poor is not a choice maybe (initially, and for some), but being mad about being poor while doing nothing to unpoor is my problem (outside of a circumstance that prohibits them from improving station). No reason to get mad about my opinions on the internet brobro, seems like a waste of time as you telling me what you think of me. Lesbihonest, we're just pixels.
  18. darklord48

    darklord48 Forum Royalty

    Working multiple minimum wage jobs when there are janitorial jobs, trash removal jobs, and warehouse jobs that all have openings is choosing not to improve your situation. I understand there aren't enough of those jobs, but there shouldn't be openings for months on end.
  19. BurnPyro

    BurnPyro Forum Royalty

    Are those not minimum wage jobs?
  20. darklord48

    darklord48 Forum Royalty

    No, minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Those are usually $12+

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