Monday, November 28, 2011

UPDATED: Top 10 Ways to Not Be Poor

I've realized my intent wasn't exactly conveyed properly with the word "don't".  I've modified it to reflect a more positive suggestion.

You notice all those news reports about “poor” people in America (I put poor in quotes because it’s all relative.  Those we consider “poor” here in America would be at the very least upper class in some much more underprivileged societies), that typically it’s a young-ish couple…often with small children?  Of course this is an anecdotally-based generalization, but it always seems like it’s a young-ish (20-30’s) married couple with one or two or three small children.  Rarely do you see much older couples, or couples without children, or singles.  Interesting.
            Wealth is by no means a barometer for success or individual or familial health, but an individual, or couple, or family that doesn’t have to really worry where the next paycheck is coming from or how the next food bill will be paid tend to operate more peacefully.  The following suggestions/guidelines may not be liked by everyone, but they’re simple and don’t require a college degree (of course considering no extenuating circumstances like a life tragedy, physical disability, etc.).  They may not make you rich, but they should keep you from being poor.

1.         Don’t Wait to Get Married
            -Most of these young-ish couples in financial turmoil are finding out what they knew all along but never wanted to admit it while they were dating; that love doesn’t pay the bills.  Why get married if you are in the midst of financial troubles?  What’s the rush?  Why don't you spend a few months or even years getting on your feet?  There are no good answers.  Though when did those in love ever respond to reason anyways...

2.         Don’t Wait to Get in Debt
            -No you actually don’t need to buy that thing just because you want it real badly.  No, you don’t need that new car that will put you with a payment you can’t handle.  No, you don’t need that house that will put you in a mortgage you can’t do.  No you don’t need to go to that prestigious private school just because they have higher law school placement rates. 

3.         Don’t (I mean it here) Be a Slave to Interest
            -Pay off your credit card bill in total every month.  Do not let the principle of interest own you.  If you can’t pay off your full credit card bill every month, see #2.

4.         Get a Job, Any Job
            -For reasons I can’t explain I’ve had peers languish in unemployment because they’re looking for the “right” job.  Huh?  If you don’t have a job, and considering the good chance you’re not independently wealthy, go get a job, get back on your feet, and who cares what it is.  Starbucks, Walmart, or the many other establishments and local services would probably be happy to hire you as long as you’re not an ex-con.  I am befuddled when beggars become choosers in this arena.  Befuddled.

5.         Don’t Wait to Have Children
            - As much as they are bundles of joy, the fact remains that children cost money and you don't need to have one.  Why have a kid before you can afford to provide for that child?  Aren’t you starting off on the wrong foot when before the kid is even in the world you’re already being a bad parent fiscally?  There is no mandate you have to have a kid.  Just don’t until you can reasonably provide for its basic needs.

6.         Don’t Wait to Have Sex
            -There are plenty other reasons not to have sex (see The Virgin Manifesto for a few), but going along with the aforementioned reason, considering how much a financial burden children can be – and that sex sometimes ends up with a kid, why take the chance (despite the fact there are like a billion ways to enact birth control contingencies) for something so temporal?  This goes for married folk as well - at least you have “other” outlets than ones that lead to procreation.

7.         $80/month Cell Phone Bill?
            -Have you ever seen those really ironic and seemingly dichotomous photos of like a very poor, third-world nation family living in a mud hut but the parent is talking on their cell phone?  What a conflicting image.  Sure in America a cell phone is almost a necessity for everyone (almost).  But do you really need the latest iPhone with the full data package?  No of course you don’t.  If you’re struggling financially and have a cell phone bill over like $40/month, well come on dude.  Smart phones and data packages are not human living sunk costs.

8.         Sell Stuff
            -It’s amazing how much “stuff” we acquire as humans.  I have a lot of stuff myself.  But you can believe that a lot of that stuff will be the first to go if I need some cash.  Sell all that stuff you have that you don’t need or use or both.  Services, often free, like Craigslist and Ebay make selling stuff so easy nowadays there is absolutely no excuse to retain all the stuff you don’t need that is actually worth money.

9.         Get Your Hands Dirty
            -The amount of money people pay to have simple things done on their cars and around the house is amazing.  This may be more for the guys, but if you can’t change your own oil, fix a leaking faucet, or trim your own bushes and tree limbs...well you need to man-up a bit.  Save money by doing lots things on your own.  Don’t pay someone else to do it.  With the Internet there is no excuse to learn pretty much anything.  I don’t to subscribe to it, but the DIY Channel  is like the coolest cable channel out there.

10.       Ramen
            -This is more a principle of culinary frugality than specifically referring to Ramen, but you can’t argue with the price of Ramen noodle.  Believe me, the more you eat it the more you will like it.  It’s like a delicacy to me now.  And with resources like this, you can keep things new every night!

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