Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Today's Food For Thought- Being Poor

I've never been what most people typically label poor. My family always had plenty to eat, a roof over our heads, and transportation. I never lacked for what I needed. We never used food stamps. We did get government commodities from time to time when my Grandmother had more than she could use. I only vaguely remember one time when I felt anything near money worries. My dad had been laid off from his job and my Mom was supporting the five of us on her factory worker salary. My mom had taken me to Walmart to shop for some new church clothes and she splurged on a seriously marked down dress and and a pair of flats. My dad was angry about it. My dad never cared about what my Mom bought because she was always more frugal than him. But, I remember that one time he was angry about her shopping because he was very worried about money. I really loved that dress but every time I wore it I felt guilty about the money my mom had spent on it. My dad returned to work soon after that and things went back to normal.

There were times when I wished my family had more money. I wanted to go away to summer camp with my friend but it cost hundreds of dollars. I got the $12 week long church camp instead (where I had a ton of fun anyway). I wanted money for new clothes like Benetton or OP and I knew my Mom would never pay that much for my clothes. And I didn't realize that there was anything small or poor about my family's house until a friend's Mom dropped me off one time and gently told me, "You know, I used to live in a small house like this when I was young. There's nothing wrong with it."
We did shop at garage sales, Aldis, and the clearance rack. I did clip coupons for my Mom and once or twice we even dumpster dived at the recycling center. But, I don't consider those signs of being poor. In fact, I'm glad I grew up doing those things because those are skills I use and value to this day.

So, I really don't have any idea of what it's like to be really poor. That's why I've really enjoyed reading this old post by John Scalzi about what it's really like to be poor.

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