Today was spent among friends, and you all know how I love my friends. These people have become my wish list family, accepting me as who I am, for where I am. Knowing I could be better, and loving me despite my many faults.
In a conversation with one said friend this evening, I discovered that I have not laid out what it is like to live everyday without money. It is normal to me. For most of my adult life I have rarely had extra income with which to dispose on frivolous things. If I am in need of something, I cannot just go to the store and get it. Chances are I do not have the money on hand for it. I do receive some government assistance and I am not proud of that so I try to hide it. If I am in need of food, I can get food. But if I need anything else I cannot get it. Gas in my car, any kind of soap (laundry, shower, dish) I cannot pay to get my water back on, which means I cannot afford anything else.
Living day to day with no money has become a lifestyle for me. Sad, but true. Currently I am in need of new underwear, because I always buy the 5 for $7 packs at wally world, they tend to fall apart faster. So the waistband elastic is coming away from the waistband, oh well. They still function. We are getting low on toothpaste here, so we use less to make it last longer, and when that runs out we can use our toothbrushes and mouthwash. If I don't have the money for gas, then I do not go anywhere, and when I need to go somewhere I ask for a ride, or dig around the house for enough change to put $5 in the tank. I don't know if any of you live like this, or if any of you are appalled at how I live. I am just giving you the facts.
When my son was 3 months old, my sister bought me a plane ticket to go visit her. My sister works herself to death and makes a good living at it. She loves her career. When I got to her home, and we started to spend time together, ultimately we needed to go to the store for something. I was simply blown away by the fact that my sister could have anything she wanted within the store, disregarding the price because she had ensured that she had a career worth her time. I just couldn't wrap my head around it. What it must be like!? One day on my trip, we went into target, I think my son was running low on diapers (back when I used disposables) and on the way toward the front of the store, she saw several articles of clothing that she liked, so she bought them. In my world, those things do not happen. Not here. I have yet to be so affluent in my life that I can simply pay my bills, and have money left over for anything. Every purchase I make is wrought with decisions.
If I need two items of equal importance; chances are I can only afford one. gas or the internet, electric or water, rent or the car payment. None of these things are equal in price, but they are almost equal in value. We are going on 3 weeks without full running water. There is a trickle. It takes 4 minutes to fill up my huge gumbo pot with water. 6 of those pots equals a load of laundry. One pot equals a sink of dishes, or a shower. I have already prioritized my electricity over my water. I can keep my food because my refrigerator runs. I can keep my phone charged for the ever important phone calls from my bill collectors, and potential employers. We can run the heat on the cold nights.
Money is a tool. It is not something to be run by. Not something to aspire to have. I do not panic because I have no money, I do not feel bad about myself. It is simply how I live, and how I have lived for a long time. Even though I have been to college, I have no degree. Even if I did, I am sure the career I would choose would not make me wealthy. All money does, is give you more options. More options for the easy road. I am not choosing to live a life with no money, I am choosing to live a life that I lead. Money would be nice. There are many, many things that I would like to have - mainly more craft supplies, but as long as we can afford to pay the bills we have, extras will have to come later. Which, at the moment we can't right now, so everything has to come later.
For those of you have been to my home, you have seen the great many things my husband and I have collected through the years of value. There was once a time when we did have money, and when we did we bought nice things, we did not manage our money well, and I believe we are here, in our tight spot now, to learn to manage it well. But, while we had money, we bought nice things, and we have held on to them as dearly as we could. We do have a lot of stuff. Most of it was given, a large portion of it was purchased second hand, and there are a very small number of things that we have paid outright for. Even when we had money, we did not buy things on a whim. What we did wrong, was we thought there was always more. We would cut a check for rent, knowing it didn't come out until our second paycheck and we would spend that check. We spent $200 a week on groceries, mostly junk, we would go out every weekend, whether to a movie, a mall, dinner or the bar, sometimes all of the above. But we did not watch. We did not pay attention to what we spent, more often than not, we would forget to pay something. The phone or the internet usually. We failed to budget when we had extra cash.
There is one more thing we have done, and not always to survive, and that is dumpster dive. Aha! Now you recoil in disgust! I haven't met very many people who have seen something outside of a dumpster and not taken it home with them. Or on the side of the road. Dumpster diving is not a survival skill, it is a way of life. I see things that other people do not. (Like my personal cop radar everyone appreciates) I see the value in things broken, or misused. There is no good reason that I cannot revive something! After all, I have revived myself many a time. Remember, money is just a tool...
Good Night and May the Lord bless you for your work today, with rest tomorrow!