Poverty is not without fierce pride

August 26, 2014, 6 Comments, Written by , Posted in Uncategorized

My original piece stirred a lot of emotions in people. Many of the emails I received were intense and pure. This is one such. The writer struck me with her passion and clarity, her declaration that she had not only managed to do better, but had done it without even the tools that I’d been given.  I asked her for permission to reprint it, because our experiences were different but the fire and the pride and the refusal to be underestimated were the same. Her perspective is as true and important as mine.


My senior year in high school, I was considered “poor” by the government standards. I received a free lunch.   However, I worked afters chool to pay for anything I needed, because my single mom was unable.  I, too, got pregnant out of high school.  I had a part-time job, and a boyfriend who did not want a kid.  I happened to live close to an abortion clinic (a privately owned one.)  My boyfriend, who worked as a logger, paid for my abortion.  Nevertheless, it would have only cost me 2 paychecks at my job.  I would have paid on my own, and I would have gone 3 hours away to do it because I thought it was the only way, the only way to get away from the “judgment” of being pregnant.  It was the worst decision of my life.  But that’s another story. This one’s about your so called “poverty.”

No one ever taught me how to cook, but I now cook fresh (ok, semi-fresh) meals for my family.  My school did not offer Home Ec. I taught myself from a cookbook I bought at Wal-Mart.  I could have gone to the library and borrowed it.  Those public libraries are great places. By the way, they may even have books on couponing.  Couponing also helps me provide fresh meals for my family.  I have never combined couponing and government assistance, but I bet you could really save some money that way.

I tried cigarettes as a teenager. They never stuck, praise God! It’s funny how some people keep using them and others don’t.  My husband used to dip skoal. He would make excuses like he used it to combat stress. The truth is that he was addicted. Did you know that there are scientific studies that addiction is related to your genetics? http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/topics-in-brief/genetics-addiction

Also, did you also know that coffee is a stimulant? Convenient stores are overloaded with energy drinks and even energy pills. I wouldn’t recommend the pills, though; I tried them once to study for a test.

Although we began to save at least $1200 a year when my husband was able to overcome his 10 year addiction, we didn’t use it wisely. Nope. We continued to make poor financial decisions.  We sucked at money only partly because no one had ever taught us any better. Mainly, we sucked at money because we coveted material things we didn’t need.  One meal a week at Wendy’s costs at least $260 a year. That would improve my life tremendously….  A small college fund for my kids…almost a co-pay to the ER.

One wise financial decision I did make was feeding my children breast milk. Guess what, it’s free!  Yes, I know that not everyone is capable of this because they don’t produce. (I have a feeling that is only a small percentage). But I would like to know how many “on your level” TRY to breastfeed.  I am not even going to attempt to calculate formula costs per year and how much that would improve someone’s life.

What the heck do you need to get a bank account that the patriot act requires?… An ID? My mother, WHO HAS BEEN TO JAIL FOR WRITING BAD CHECKS AND IS ON PROBATION, has a bank account!! By the way, my whole families’ credit is terrible, yet we still have bank accounts.  Ok, so let’s say you don’t have an ID or a social.  And you can’t afford to get an ID for non-drivers. Anyone can get a prepaid credit card that makes paying bills easier.  My grandmother still uses money orders to pay her bills once a month, not that complicated.

Poverty is not living in a weekly hotel eating nasty burritos.  It is having no roof over your head and drinking dirty water.  It is making $5 a month where a box of crayons cost that much.





  1. Arran McMurrough
  2. Stephanie Jackson

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