The Troubles of Money
There's plenty of hardships in the world. Saving money is one of them.
For those who are fixed into or below the 'low income' ceiling, saving money seems like an impossibility. When held prisoner by 'low income' mentality, getting ahead in life is a war against oneself. There's no way to crawl towards the light when the Chains of Darkness drag you deeper into the realm of shadows.
Into debt and self-loathing.
It is, quite literally, a nightmare for many people. It is one I have experienced, time and time again. Being in the 'low income' threshold, I know how hard it can be to save money when the budget is tight, and the demands of life constrict tight around the neck. It suffocates all it catches, breaking the mind with anxiety and sickness.
The trouble with money, however, is a matter of perspective.
People have an odd relationship with money. The way it defines our lives, to this day, is problematic. Everything we do relies on money and how much the wallets of our homes and families carry. Food, for most, has to be bought in stores.
Entertainment has to be bought through electronics, through costly movies and food that is, slowly, killing us from within. Money has come to have a deeper meaning for so many people when, in fact, it shouldn't have more importance that the underlying intent: supporting us in our lives.
Not ruling over them.
Why Am I Poor?
After two weeks of hard work, payday has arrived. Money spills into your banking account, the numbers jump, and, for a moment, there's a sense of relief. Then, as the days pass, the numbers begin to dwindle as bills are paid and expenses come up in leaps and bounds. Finally, without warning, there are only pennies left over.
This is a situation most people have experienced personally.
However, we all ask the same question.
Where Did My Money Go?
I haven't met a person yet, to this day, who hasn't asked that question. I've met my share of people. I've had many clients through my job whose entire existence is, in a way, ruled by the money they have. Or don't have, in most cases. These sort of people, they often bemoan how horrible their life is, how they don't have anything, how they have no food, are worried about the bills, and, getting to know them on a personal level - I am often confused once I see where their money goes.
The honest truth of the matter is the money was there, but it gets spent.
Each person can likely think of the things they spend money on, though the largest would be bills and utilities and IOUs to the bank for the new car someone bought not that long ago. Maybe to the doctor, if you're ill. Others drop money to the dentist when their teeth are in need of special care.
Insurance has to be paid, both life insurance and car insurance. Health, too, if you can afford it. Many people can't. Then there's money for food, for clothing, for the small things around the house like toilet paper and paper towels. Gas for the car unless you get around on a bike or tricycle. Then, if you have pets, there's a whole new world of costs and expenses to go on top of everything else.
When you're 'Low Income,' it's easy to see why we're Poor Serfs.
However, the cycle doesn't stop there. There's a more insidious realm in spending, one that happens without us being aware of it. There's spluring, the sort where it happens and then we're beating ourselves up over it. Perhaps you've just gotten off work and are on your way home; you're tired, you're hungry, and you don't want to cook once you get back, so, in response, you stop by KFC.
I'm guilty as charged! I've done this, myself. On the weekends, I work close to ten hours, 8AM-6PM (meaning I don't get home until around 6PM, depending on all I'm doing), and I don't want to go home and cook and clean. For those who have done this, it isn't all that odd to find ourselves in the drive-thru ordering $20 chicken (or whatever is your poison) and handing over the money without thinking.
That $20 is gone, right then and there. The food's hot, so, at the moment, it's worth it. The food is good, it's filling, and it tastes good. So, for some illogical reason, one I still can't understand, it's okay. That $20 could have gone to gas, to a doctor bill that pops up unexpectedly, or to a savings account...but, instead, it goes to KFC.
Then there are the people who have a kindle in their possession. Buying a book or two for $3.99, sure. That's okay. It's not that much money. It's certainly less than the chicken, but, when it comes to avid readers, the 'two or three books' quickly turns into something more. \
Five or six. Ten.
Or, maybe, a book catches their eye and they hit 'buy' without thinking.
That book, bought without much thought, is $30. Oops.
Music junkies do the same, in their way. Many songs on Amazon are $0.99, which is fantastic. I'm a huge music fan. I'm a big fan of YouTube for this very reason (cause I can listen to my music for free), but, at one point, I was buying music off Amazon like the store was on fire. I would, at times, spend up to $20 or $30 on music, alone. I have over a thousand songs stored on my account.
Now, if hobbies are involved, there's more money there! Art supplies cost money.
Games cost money. Computers and their protection (Norton, for instance) all cost money. WordPress users, if you're on anything other than a Personal Account, there's money there. Manga readers, beer drinkers, smokers, druggies...all money.
A good way to see where money is going off is to evaluate your bank statement. It is also a good idea to keep all receips. At the end of the month, go through and see what was bought that was necessary and what was a mere 'desire.' While, at the start, it looks innoncent, the final figure is anything but.
Looking to the Future: How to Save Money
Financial security requires an understanding that our lives are, in fact, in our control.
As a species, humans are able to think and reason and find ways to pull themselves out of the worst slumps. Saving money is the same as any other problem once we stop and evaluate the situation as a whole.
We know where the money goes, at this point. We've already taken a look at where our cash vanishes and which drain it's flushed down. Now we have to consider the solution - saving money, not losing it. Easier said than done, I know.
It can be done, however.
Cutting Back on Bills
The first thing to look at are bills that are mandatory. Electric, Water, Cable, and the Phone Bills are the best place to look (along with Gas Bills). These can be reduced, in most cases. Electric and Water is a matter of being aware: unplug all appliances that aren't in use (minus the refrigerator - moldy food is not okay). When using the toilet, make sure it goes off so it isn't continually running (and, thus, using water).
After you flush the toilet, the reservoir should fill and then the toilet should go quietly. If it doesn't, if the toilet is still making noise, then it's likely using water, which adds up. Dripping faucets also add to the bill. Fix them as soon as you can.
Also, turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms.
The cable and telephone aren't strictly necessary, in many cases. Cable tends to have a large number of channels. Depending on the company running the cable, it is possible to get a 'basic' plan that has only a few channels (news and a few select others). If you have a cell phone and a landline, you can do without the house phone. Portable phones are useful both in the house and on the road. They are a good measure of safety when out of the house, something that is needed in our world today.
Tips and Tricks for Saving Money
When it comes down to it, there's a lot that can be done to save money.
Being aware of our finances and where our money goes is the first step. However, to help, making a list of all current bills can help. There are other ways to help, too. All over the web, some little tricks and tips can be found.
A Few Tips & Tricks to Keep in Mind
- Round to the nearest dollar on all purchases. Put spare change in savings.
- Don't use Credit Cards
- Avoid loans, if possible. If not, pay on interest as time goes on.
- Keep a small 'gas pile' in the wallet
- If saving money is difficult, leave debit cards at home
- Withdraw a small amount of money as a 'wild card.' This money is all that can be used for 'personal reasons' that isn't a bill
Above all else, remember that, as long as you work at it, and as long as you are careful, you can save money even if you're Poor as a College Student. The key to any goal, saving money or a project of interest, is knowing what to do and seeing the faults (and then making a plan to tackle them head-on).
Venture forward, save money, and keep on living.
You are in charge, not your money.
© 2018 Britta Nicole Miller
LaZeric Freeman from Hammond on February 11, 2019:
Very interesting. Good job.