Poverty grinds a person down, like bone on bone, grind, grind, grind, dust. In my life, my "wealth" has been a roller coaster ride. I believe that children learn money skills from their parents, and mine weren't very good. They spent as much money, if not more, on booze than on their children.
Don't get me wrong. I never lacked necessities growing up, and I didn't consider us poor. My father was a hell of a machinist and brought home the bacon (and the booze). When things got tough, mom would get a job to help out. Jobs were plentiful then. Mom worked as a cook and waitress at "Whitey's," long gone. She also worked at Rainfair, also long gone. And Eisendrath Tannery, also long gone. Then she worked in the laundry at the old St. Mary's hospital, also long gone. I also worked there part-time while in college.
I couldn't have everything I wanted as a child (like a race car), but there was always something to eat, clothes to wear, etc., etc.
In my adult life, I've walked the street gutters of Austin, TX, looking for cigarette butts while my wife would scour the other side. When we were done, I got the straight tobacco and she got the mentholated.
I've also lived comfortably at times like when I managed a muffler and brake shop in Chicago. I received a base salary plus commission. I was making $40-$45K a year there. My wife's free lance work also brought in a couple thousand a year. This was in the late 1980's, so we were doing well. My boss called me a "schmuck" for not buying a house. but I could never see further than the end of the day when I could go to Bunky's, a neighborhood bar, and get hammered.
So my income has gone up and down over the years. While I didn't intend to retire a millionaire, I also didn't intend for this mess. If everything in my budget would just hold their costs, I might come out with enough to live on and pay off debts. But something always happens. The truck's brake pedal drops to the floor, so I borrow so that I can get it fixed. Always something, always something. Oops, forgot to budget for the $75 renewal fee for my truck's registration. It looks like my truck and apartment insurance premiums might remain the same in the coming year, but everything else will go up. Healthcare will be the worst. Costs will rise considerably, I believe.
I find borrowing money demeaning. I'm pretty sure that's due to my strong work ethic. There was always a job available somewhere in Racine so I didn't have debts. That's not true anymore. Nor am I the man I was even ten years ago. Getting old is a bitch. I can't stand for long periods of time due to the arthritis in my hips and poor circulation in my left leg. I get winded running up one flight of stairs. My back snaps, crackles, and pops. To top it off, I can't see a damn thing unless I get my face in it. Then there's my stomach troubles . . .
I wonder how many jobs, given those parameters, you can find today. Don't bother looking, I already have. The answer is zero. Every year, spring through autumn, 1 hear and smell the landscaping that I gave up to take care of mom. In my mind, there never was a question about sacrificing self for my mother, who gave me life. Still, every spring, landscaping beckons to me. I see, hear, and smell it, but those days are gone for me. Betrayed by my body.
So, I live on a fixed income in an un-fixed world. I'll get a slight increase, maybe, for next year. Whatever I do get, if anything, will be more than offset by the rise in prices of everything else. I've been losing ground for years. It's been slow and I plugged a lot of leaks with credit cards. Now I'm in the middle of a bankruptcy. This will "disappear" those credit card bills, but I start losing ground again from day one after the bankruptcy. It's also very expensive to go bankrupt. It's inane. If I had that kind of money, I wouldn't go bankrupt. So, more borrowing. More staring at the ground while speaking to someone. It just makes me feel more worthless, more of a piece of shit. I'll be in debt for years because of my bankruptcy. WTF? Nothing makes sense anymore.
Peter Francis Geraci, the patron saint of bankruptcy, said he got into the business after witnessing the aftermath of a man blowing his brains out over money problems. It's not that uncommon. What are you supposed to do when you are squeezed from all sides?
That's what poverty is: pressure. How much pressure can you stand?