I am poor. I have food, I have clothing, I have shelter. I have a job. I just financed a car. I have a kitten, I donate to the ACLU and I am still paying off my student loans and a credit card. On paper it all looks ok, but I know the truth. I am fighting every day for these things.
Let’s say I lost my job tomorrow or I was injured and became unable to work. I don’t have enough saved to last me a week. Sure, my cupboards have some cans of beans and veggies so I wouldn’t starve right away, but I wouldn’t be able to pay any of my bills. And bills don’t care if I can’t work.
This is the case for so many people that I know. We are walking this tightrope made of the thinnest fishing line. One unexpected expense drops us further into the pit of debt. It could send us plummeting. I am always playing catchup. I choose to pay this bill a week early because I can afford it and I pay that bill late because I have to wait for another paycheck.
And I am not underemployed. I am overemployed! I work 6 days a week for a total of between 42 and 70 hours. I spent the last year and a half saving all the money I could to put a down payment on a car, so I could get to work to pay for the car. I know this is the way many of us are living and it’s hard.
I have a college degree. I work in my field at one of the most prestigious institutions for my craft in the country. I work hard and I make a decent wage and I can’t get ahead. Something has to change. I need a wider net. I need a stronger plank. I, like so many Americans, need help.
I don’t know if things are different now than they used to be. It seems like everyone I know who owns a house or a condo bought it with money they borrowed from their parents. Has that always been the case? Is the only solution to go back in time and tell my Dad to bet on the Bears in 1986? Without the help of the older generation, how do people get ahead?
I’m going to keep doing the only thing I can. I’m going to keep working and save as much as I can. I probably won’t ever get to have my own property, but maybe I’ll be able to afford that trip to Japan my boyfriend and I dream of for our honeymoon. I’ll have to be very careful not to lose my balance on the tightrope that is poverty along the way. Most likely for the rest of my life. I hope I don’t fall. I hope my net holds if I do.