I'm So Tired Of Struggling
I have been poor my whole life. In a nation as wealthy as America, i often feel like i don't fit in. My friends will say things like, "i'm so broke," while they have $4,000 in their savings account and parents who will hand them cash whenever they want it. Everything i see, read, or hear about is geared towards the middle or upper classes. The working poor are simply ignored.
I moved out on my own at 16 years old due to a bad family situation. I had to drop out of school to do it. I have been working full-time pretty much ever since. At 25, i went back to school, as i felt it was my only way out. I'm still there, at 28, entirely on loans and very small grants. Although i go the most inexpensive school in my area, I worry constantly about the debt i'm accumulating (it will be around $30,000 when all's said and done).
I have, at times, resorting to selling my possessions to buy food, and even once, to buy Christmas gifts for my niece. I resorted to much, much worse when i was between 16 and 18, and couldn't legally work without a work permit, which my mother refused to sign.
Being so broke often compromises my ideals. Any clothes that i can afford are made in sweatshops. I want to buy organic and ethically produced foods, but i have to buy whatever is on sale, generic, or i have a coupon for. There's no room for ideals in my checkbook.
My husband and i both work and go to school full-time. I have the happiest marriage you could ever hope for, and the only thing we ever fight about is money. I had to switch to part-time work this year in order to stay in school. I make about $100 a week. This doesn't even cover groceries for myself, my husband, and our pets.
We live paycheck to paycheck. My teeth are rotting out of my head but i can't afford dental care. I have not had health insurance for 12 years. We just had to go on government health care. I never thought i would be here, at 28, on welfare. I'm doing all the right things, but it never gets better. My husband and i are waiting to have kids until we are financially ready, and who knows if that will ever happen. In order to be responsible, and stay on birth control, i have to have annual gyno exams. My last one cost $775. When the clinic worker told me that if i paid up front i could get a discount, making my exam around $425. When I told her i didn't have $400 in my bank account, she said, "Can't you use mom's credit card?" like it was the most normal question in the world.
I'm tired. I'm tired of taking the bus. I'm tired of fighting over $30 purchases. I'm tired of worrying.
I'm tired of struggling just to get by.
Thanks to everyone who commented. I appreciate your kind words and shared stories. It's important that these kinds of stories are shared. People need to realize the severity of the problem we as country are facing.
Well, it's been 4 years since I posted this story and a lot has changed. I'm still happily married and still have my pets (and we're fostering a baby stray right now, too!). I graduated college at the top of my class (4.0 GPA!) after working, doing an unpaid internship, and volunteering while attending school. It was a very hard time but I got through it.
We moved out of state and I'm working at a non-profit and making $38,000 a year, which is a lot of money to me. The job is stressful and tough, but it pays the bills. The cost of living is very high here, so that salary doesn't go far. Our rent is $1,100 a month (not a great place or neighborhood, either) and my student loan payments are $360 a month. I won't even get into utilities! BUT, things are still better. I have health insurance! I had my teeth fixed! And my furbabies eat the best quality food. I am happy. I don't have much expendable income, but I also don't have to constantly balance the checkbook down to the penny anymore, which is a GIANT weight off my shoulders.
Things sometimes get better, but they also sometimes get worse, despite doing all the right things. I realize that everything is temporary, and I'm not getting too used to comfort. I do think the US does a terrible job of looking after our poor and working class. The assumption that these people are just lazy and have all the latest high-tech gadgets and just prioritize badly is flat out WRONG. Calling things like doctor visits "frivolous expenses" is just as wrong. Working class people in this country need job security, a living wage, and the ability to retire with dignity. That is not asking much.
At one point in time in this country, you could support a family of 4 with a factory job. That is not the case anymore. It's time we look at what has caused this change and reverse it. Working people should not have to resort to welfare. Not here. Not ever.
Sending positive thoughts to all those who commented and those who are also fighting to keep your head above water. I hope the winds change in your favor and you don't have to struggle anymore. Hang in there <3