How to make lots of money and still be poor
I’ve been thinking a lot about money lately. Or rather the lack of it. I make a decent salary, and my husband works on commission, but makes a decent contribution to our combined income. I’m not going to get into my exact gross or net income, but let’s just say we make enough that we should be living the life of “luxury” or at the very least, we should be doing much better than we are. I’m sure there are a lot of other people who are in our situation. You’re making enough that you should be able to make ends meet, and be able to put savings aside. But instead, you’re living paycheque to paycheque. I have become an expert at living this way. I remember my first year of teaching, I was given the assignment of teaching a course about careers which included a unit on managing your finances. When my father heard this at a family dinner one night, knowing my financial history, his Diet Pepsi came shooting out of his nose with a loud snort. “Who are you to be teaching kids about finances?” He was absolutely right; and even after learning and teaching kids how to be smart about finances, I still have yet to practice it in my own life. So today, I’m going to tell you all about how to be poor.
First off, it is important not to use a budget. You can’t be poor if you plan and know where your money is going. Of course, be smart enough to be aware of the important bills like heat, power, internet and phones. But you never have to pay them on time. Even if you just put a bit on them at a time, it shows that you’re trying, and I’ve yet to be cut off. You may get a threatening letter, “Pay or we’ll cut your power/phone/heat/ etc. off,” but you just call and tell them when you’ll pay. Usually you can even get by without paying the full amount. They don’t care, because they’re charging you late fees.
Which brings me to my next way to ensure you keep yourself in a life of poverty…
Debt. Of course, if you’re not paying bills in full on time, you are accumulating debt. Then there are the other sources of debt: car payments, personal loans, consolidation loans. Some people may have mortgages but if you’re lucky enough to be carrying as much debt as me, it’s not likely you’ll ever be approved for a mortgage. A great way to ensure you keep staying poor is to use one credit card to pay the minimum payment on another.
You may be wondering now, how is it that you keep having to use credit cards to pay off other credit cards? Where is your money going? Well, first off, if you read my first cardinal rule of paycheque to paycheque living you would know that I don’t know where my money goes. But I do know one thing…A good portion of my money goes to shopping. Another great way to stay poor is to spend money on things you don’t need and can’t afford. There are lots of ways to do this- go shopping when you’re hungry. You’ll wind up with a cart full of food that will just sit in your cupboard. Or another way that ensures my cycle of poverty are sales. You mean this pack of wieners are a $1 each if I buy 10 of them? Sure, I’ll never eat 10 packs of wieners before they expire and my freezer is full of sale frozen pizzas and ice cream that I won’t be able to squeeze the wieners in there, but I’ll buy them anyway because it’s a good deal. Also, there is also just those times that because I’m not keeping track of what I spend, I think I have more money than I really do. Debit is the worst. If you’ve ever done the debit prayer, you know what I mean:
The Debit Prayer
I filled my cart with merchandise,
And now it’s time to pay,
I give the cashier my debit card,
And now it’s time to pray.
With fingers crossed (and toes),
I enter in my pin,
Please God, Please God, Please God,
My debit prayer begins.
Do I have money in my account?
Only God can know,
The seconds feel like hours,
And the connection is slow.
At the Walmart checkout,
Scenarios enter my mind,
Will I be humiliated and
Have to leave my goodies behind?
God forbid it says “Not approved”
And I have to do the walk of shame,
Worst of all, in a small town,
The Walmart cashier knows my name.
Or will my prayer be answered,
And the money will be there.
Oh God, I promise to make a budget,
I promise to take more care.
If the transaction gets approved,
I will be off to another store,
I’ll stand at another checkout,
Reciting my debit prayer once more.
If you or someone you know needs financial advice, I strongly encourage you to do the opposite of what I do. And if you live pay-cheque to pay-cheque, stay strong, and remember, money doesn’t bring happiness. It just makes people look happy. And gives you a serotonin rush when you go shopping with it. Okay… maybe money does make you happy. But it’s a temporary happiness. It is helping others, spending time with friends and family, and being your authentic self that brings happiness.
By Ocean Hayward