It can be said that the working poor are those who work full-time jobs, at times even two jobs, making $29,000 or less struggling to make ends meet. In the past this group was referred to as the “Lower middle class”, but as of 2016, according to CNN Money, it has become known as the poor. The median salary for the Home health Aides and Certified Nurses Assistants who take care of your ailing grandparents in their final years of life fall between $21,000 and $25,000 respectively which places them square in the same category as those who didn’t go to school to receive this specialized training…poor. The average Child Care Assistant who helps care for your child who is too young for kindergarten and aids your child in learning valuable building blocks for later success in school makes $21,000 on average; this is the same for the average line cook who makes your food at the little mom and pop shops and cafeterias at which you like to eat……..also poor. What used to be honest, respectable work has become a life of financial struggle for those who choose to occupy these positions.
When you are struggling to make ends meet, it’s inevitable that at some point in time, if not multiple times, you will definitely miss the mark and fall short. Especially since, in many companies, these very same jobs don’t offer sick days or paid time off, so lord forbid if you get really sick and have to miss a day of work on top of constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul. That one day can sometimes be the difference between making it through that month, and your entire budget spiraling out of control before crashing and burning. Next thing you know you come home to your house in complete darkness, or go to turn on the faucet and nothing comes out. Maybe you wake up to the sound of your car being repossessed from the driveway, or you go to cook dinner and realize there’s no gas coming out of your stove top. If you are disciplined enough, there are a few things you can do to either avoid these times altogether, or at the very least, weather them in a way that disrupts your life the least.
Avoid The Situation Altogether
As a family with two of the above mentioned incomes, it places you into the “Middle Class” and you can get along better than some. As a single person, the above mentioned salaries can go a long way if you live modestly and budget properly. For those reasons, this post will be more geared toward single parents. As a parent, your children are your dependents, and if you have more than one it means you are seeing at least $5,000 every year at tax time. i know when you get that check it’s tempting to square everything you feel you couldn’t do throughout the year. New wardrobes for everyone, maybe new furniture, a bit a frivolous spending “Because you’ve earned it.” etc. Set yourself up for the incoming year. $200-$300 in the hole on your gas, electric, and water bills? Pay them off, it will cost you roughly $900 give or take, that leaves you with $4,100. If you live in an area where you definitely need a car, then to heck with a car note; find you a decent used car lot and buy a car outright. Voluntarily surrendering that car you have the note on (If it hasn’t already been repossessed) will leave you with one less bill, if you can snag something dependable for $2,000. If you can’t score something decent for $2,000, then it will become your down payment on a car with greatly reduced your payments provided you spend no more than $3,000 or $4,000. That leaves us with $2,100.
Shop around for a decent full coverage auto policy. Both Geico and Progressive are good, but if you can find something cheaper then rock out with it. Why full coverage with the higher premium? Because if you or someone else wrecks or steals your car through the year, you can’t afford to fix it or replace it. If it’s your only means of transportation, you now have no income. With full coverage you will at least get enough to pay off that last little bit you owe on the car and have some leftover for another down payment on another car. Full coverage also comes with free roadside assistance which keeps you from having to pay a tow truck &75 on the spot in case your car breaks down. A policy with either Progressive or Geico should cost you approximately $700 for 6 months, pay that in full. That’s another bill you wan have to worry about for at least 6 months. What you will do each month, is put the money you WOULD be paying on insurance to the side, because you’ll need it in 6 months. the good thing about this is because you won’t need it for 6 months, if you have to skip a month of putting it aside because something unexpected came up, you have time to make it up and put it back. Once your initial 6 months is up, repeat the process so that your car insurance is never really an issue again. Leaves us with $1,400. If you don’t already have a credit card, get a secured credit card, Capital One offers s pretty good one, and deposit the $400 onto the card. This becomes your emergency fund. Keep this card with you, but try you absolute best to never have to use it. This will come in handy if you need an emergency part for your car, or something similar. That leaves you with $1,000 left to spend. Use this money to pay for big-ticket activities your kids may need paid for through the school year you usually can’t afford like that $300 registration fee for your son to play football, those $200 dance classes for your baby girl, and the $300 baseball registration fee for your middle kid. Can’t pay any of those fees right now, put that money into a savings account and DON’T YOU TOUCH IT until it’s time to pay for the fees and ONLY the fees. Doing things in this manner will free up money throughout the year, and also prepare you in case of emergencies. With some of your newly freed up money, get a membership to Six Flags or some other theme park for you and the kids. I pay $40 per month for me and 4 children which means that even if I don’t have the money to do anything else, we can go to Six Flags AND their sister park White Water all year because that’s already covered by a monthly automatic debit. All I need is gas money and to pack a lunch. That is money well spent, and it will relieve a lot of financial stress. if you have anything left over, spend it on a vacation for yourself like the $599 island trips to Cancun, Jamaica, and similar places often offered by Book VIP.
How To Weather The Storm
So you’ve done all of the juggling you can, have narrowly missed shut off date after shut off date, now somehow it’s all caught up to you. You’re sitting at home in the dark crying your eyes out wondering what you’re going to do. The electric company is telling you that now they not only want the past due, but they also want the current due and a re-connection fee to turn you back on. You get paid Friday, but it will take a pretty good chunk of your check to pay it, and the shut off notice for the water bill won’t wait until next pay. what should you do? Don’t pay it. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? seriously, if you want to get out of that vicious cycle you’ve found yourself in…don’t pay either of them. We have come to a belief that electricity and running water are necessities when they’re not. They are
actually luxuries. People all over the world live their lives daily without either. If you really want to get yourself into a position to get off of this treadmill of financial stress, you’ll have to think much more creatively.
If you make $21,000/yr and are paid bi-weekly that breaks down to roughly $700/pay. Take that check, and go buy one of these (or another lantern of the same brightness and price) for each bathroom, bedroom, one for the kitchen, and one for the family room.
This will cost you approximately $70 give or take. Add to that rechargeable AA batteries needed to operate them (Two 8packs at $13.97 a pop plus one Rayovac battery charger which comes with 4 more batteries) $37.94. Grab a pack of these screws to attach each light to the ceiling (or a different fastener depending on which lantern you chose).
That brings our running total to approximately $114 which is much less than you would have to pay the electric company to illuminate your house. If you don’t already have one, purchase one of these to round out your electrical needs.
Every morning collect your family’s electronic devices and the rechargeable battery charger, plug them into the outlets, and place it all inside of a duffel bag. take the duffel bag to work with you, open it just enough to pull out the cord for the outlet strip and plug in. If you can’t charge at work, after work stop by your local McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc. sit awhile, get 30min-1hr of peace while you charge up there.
For your cooking needs, purchase 2-4 Sterno Folding Stoves and two 3 packs of Sterno Cooking Fuel.
Here is a video on how they work
These will be great to use as substitutes to your stove top cooking. You can also purchase a Coleman portable camp oven.
Here is a video of how the camp oven works
Without a running refrigerator, you’ll also need to change the way you shop for food. Unless you want to stop on the way home to pick up your meat for the night, you need to make some of these staples in your cupboards.
A simple Google search will lead you to a wealth of various recipes you can do with these meats. Of course canned vegetables, fruits, and boxed or bagged pastas, bagged or boxed rice variations, and canned or boxed soy, almond, or evaporated milks will help you provide balanced meals. Purchasing the stoves and oven comes to a total of $58-$68 and finishes up the list required to meet your electrical needs with our running total now up to $179-$189.
Next, we need to take care of your water needs.
You will need:
- One 6 gallon Ozark Trail Desert Patrol water jug marked every 2 gallons of measurement for use with each bathroom. These will be used to flush your toilets throughout the day. You will use two gallons per flush to get a good flush, and you will do this three times per day. Once in the morning after everyone has gotten up, gotten dressed for work and school, and have used the bathroom. Once after everyone has gotten home from school and work and had a chance to use the bathroom, and once after everyone has gone to bed for the night. Keep a box of baking soda near the toilet so everyone can sprinkle some into the toilet if they have a bowel movement. Also make sure you use a thin toilet tissue like Scotts original so it goes down easy when its time to flush. No quilted TP
- One 6 gallon Ozark Trail Desert Patrol water jug marked every one gallon for your kitchen. You will use a gallon to wash your dishes at the end of the night, and a gallon to rinse them. The other 4 gallons is to be used for cooking.
- A one gallon water jug per room in the house for mopping and one large spray bottle per room for wiping down.
You’ll need a linen closet where you can stock your reserves of water. Although you’ll only need one gallon per room for cleaning each day, do you really want to have to refill your bottles daily, or would you rather go once per week? build your gallon bottles for cleaning over time as money allows, until you have six for each room of your house. Likewise, you will want to add five more 6 gallon Ozark Trail desert Patrol for the bathroom(s) and kitchen. Each time you buy one, it will increase the time you can go between fillings. I’m sure you’re wondering “Where am I filling all of these bottles on my refill day?” The answer is, right here
If you don’t have a relative who doesn’t mind you doing your fill ups at their home, then a self-serve car wash it is. Just know that once you have accumulated enough jugs to only fill up once per week, you’ll be sitting for quite some time doing your refills, but it will be worth it. Last, and certainly not least, you need to shower. For that you need……
This is the solar shower with the best reviews by off grid homesteaders who use these showers as a way of life. There are plenty of camp showers available, but many are only good for a few uses. This one has been touted to stand up to a year’s worth of daily use. While the shower holds 5 gallons of water, I would suggest limiting your showers to using one of your 2.5 gallon jugs. You’ll use a funnel to pour 1 gallon of room temperature water into the bag, and heat the other gallon of water on your stove top before pouring it into the bag. This way, you get a nice hot shower at just the right temperature.
So instead of breaking down and being overcome by stress, you’ve just become a homesteader by CHOICE for a total of $250 give or take. If you are making this choice in the winter and decide to grab 2 of these……
This mean for setting up an off grid, utility payment free life you just paid a one time fee of $490 give or take. You still have roughly $200 in your pocket left over from this paycheck. Remember, next paycheck you won’t have to complete this set up again, you only need to maintain it and tweak it at YOUR discretion as YOU see fit spending what YOU choose. Continue to be a homesteader for as long as you choose, or at least until you can leisurely pay down and eventually pay off what you owe the utility companies, and even pay a month or two extra just to give yourself a cushion. Remember, you’re not the only person in the world who is struggling; with proper planning, the right attitude and laser focus you’ll make it through.