I Am Poor, and Very Afraid
I too am afraid of being poor. I grew up in an upper middle class South Texas family and never "wanted" for anything. I was in college during the materialistic Reagan years and my boyfriend at the time (husband now) grew up with a mother who was as liberal as they come as the state president of the League of Women Voters. We did not buy into the yuppie values and instead ran away to San Fransisco to follow the Dead. We lived off of falafel and bartered for everything and eventually ended up living in a commune of sorts and had our 1st child. As our baby approached her 1st birthday, I was desperately homesick for my large family. We packed our meager belongings into a trailer and headed south. We held onto our hippie values as many of our deadhead "friends" graduated from college and went to work for the same corporate pigs we all made fun of. Never did it occur to us to plan for the future, go back to college or try to better ourselves in any financial way. Devastating things have happened to us: My husband was diagnosed with a chronic kidney disease in 2002, right after graduating Culinary school in Portland and getting a job as a kitchen manager of an upscale deli making $45,000 a year. He was told to get out of the business as it was very stressful and he would end up on dialysis very quickly. Fast forward 20 years; My husband is unable to work as the result of a severe, debilitating panic disorder, and I make $13.00 an hour as an assistant director in a childcare center. We had to file bankruptcy in March and we live paycheck to paycheck. Our younger 2 kids know what it means to eat a jelly sandwich for dinner 2 nights in a row because we are 2 days away from payday. They know what it like to take all the change found in the car, couch and random places to scrape enough together to buy gas. Yes, I made my bed and now I lay in it. I should have realized somewhere around the turn of the century to get on my company's 401K plan. I can't now. That extra $? It goes for food on the table. Am I bitter? Yes, sometimes. More though I am afraid of where we will be when I can no longer work. We are $100 away from homelessness every week. Sadly, we are not alone. I just keep taking care of my family as well as i can and hope nothing catastrophic happens to us. I am 40 and I feel 80...such is this life of ours.