January 30, 2012

Lessons from the Working Poor (January 30, 2012)

I've been doing a little looking in the mirror and reflecting as the second 3-month phase of That Poverty Project comes to a close after tomorrow.  As I experienced a small taste of the "Struggles of the Working Poor" there's certainly been  good share of difficulties (see Living On The Edge . . . Double Standards? . . . Cruel & Unusual Punishment), but right now I want to focus on the positive things that those who "have enough" may benefit from incorporating into their lives.  I believe learning is always a two-way street . . . others may learn from us but we can always learn from others.

Important Disclaimer:
  The following lessons learned can only really be appreciated when one has the choice to implement them or not, and they only really become benefits when able to be adopted in the context of having enough.  Perhaps those in working poor situations can take solace in knowing there are some benefits in their lifestyle, but the fact remains that with these "benefits" comes a whole lot of hardship.  For one in poverty the following items are, at most, a silver lining to a gargantuan black cloud.

Lesson #1
- With less clutter and temptations barraging us daily it's easier to identify the truly important things in life.  Choices, affluence, and an excess of opportunities are wonderful.  However, they also create busy-ness and can fill our lives to the point of being unable to remember what is truly important.  During these last three months, I have missed eating the same meals as my family and, therefore, made every effort to eat at the same time even if we were not eating the same thing.  I've also really appreciated taking walks with my wife more than I ever have before.  Sharing time together is so important, and it really doesn't matter if it is doing something new or fancy.

Lesson #2 - We can live with less . . . it saves money and reduces our impact on the environment.  If we have the means, we can spend a lot of our time . . . well . . . spending.  Buying the latest gadget and "keeping up with the Joneses" can be fun, but at the end of the day it's really not necessary.  Nor is it that fulfilling as you just keep wanting more once the novelty of the latest purchase wears off.  Of course, living with less, i.e. more simply, we not only end up saving money but our reduced consumption also lessens our environmental footprint.  This, in turn, may result in you being better able to help someone else and contributes to everyone having enough.

Lesson #3 - A simplified diet means less bother and less wastage.  Remember the old television shows that reflected days gone by when families had set menus . . . meatloaf on Wednesday, fish on Friday, etc.  There's something to that, but maybe not what you think.  Yes, such gets predictable and is less exciting than a continuously changing menu.  However, I've found that having the same things over and over . . . (i) simplifies shopping and one learns very quickly the exact quantities needed; (ii) I found out exactly how much to cook which resulted in less wastage (a.k.a. NONE); and (iii) it is easier to track what needs to be bought and clutter doesn't accumulate in the pantry.  Very little goes bad or turns into a science experiment in the back of the fridge.

ADDED BONUS - In addition to the above lessons, I personally received a very welcome added bonus.  Over the last several years, I've suffered regularly from a chronic eye condition involving a painful dry skin rash.  During this recent phase of the project, this condition has completely disappeared!  I'd always suspected that the condition was some sort of food allergy, but was never able to successfully isolate the culprits. (Yes, there's more than one.)  Prior to this phase of the project, I knew that Clamato juice caused it to flare up, and I learned at New Year's that certain dry cider does the same.  However, since I have those things rarely, and the rash still acts up regularly, it had to be something else, too.  Knowing all the things I have eaten during the last three months that have not caused a flare-up, I hope to better identify things that affect me as my diet changes in the days ahead.

I am grateful for these lessons.  I hope the situation for all of those who are working poor improves so that they no longer live in dire circumstances, and that they can have the choice to retain positives such as these from their lifestyle.  Of course, such CAN happen . . . we just have to collectively make it a priority to fix our system so that everyone can have enough.

Phase II - Struggles of the Working Poor Daily Report
Day 85 - 91 (January 24th – January 30th)

Weight at Beginning of Project:  233 lbs
Weight at End of Phase One:  216 lbs
Weight at Start of Phase Two: 221 lbs
Weight at Start of Today:  216 lbs
Available Funds:   $9.19 (leftover) + $6.00 (Jan 24) + $11.00 (Jan 25) + $9.00 (Jan 26) + $7.50 (Jan 27) + $7.00 (Jan 28) + $10.00 (Jan 29) + $9.00 (Jan 30) = $68.69
Funds Spent Today:  $24.85 (Purchases) + $15.94 (Loan Repayment) = $40.79
Remaining Funds:   $27.90

New Loan:  $0.00
Loan Payment Due Today: $0.00
Loan Payment:   $15.94
Outstanding Loan: $15.88 as at Jan 23rd (originally $50.00 Loan on Jan 3, $15.00 principal remaining) @ 3% per month = $15.94 Owing as at Jan 27th - $15.94 loan payment = $0.00 owing as a Jan 27th . . . full re-payment due January 31st (or earlier)

Items Purchased:   $10 Gas, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Potatoes, 6-Pack of Beer  
Free Stuff:   Brunch at Church, Leftovers from a Casserole (Church Brunch), Hot Cider at Meeting, Slice of Pizza from Friend

Gas Purchased* & Remaining:  $10.00 (i.e. 9.02 litres @ $1.109 per litre . . . 90.2 km @ 10 km/litre) + 3.33 litres (gas remaining) = 12.35 litres (123.5 km)
Driving Today:  60.0 km (i.e. 6.00 litres)
Gas Remaining:  6.35 litres (i.e. 63.5 km)
*Will not include any fuel or driving related to work that is paid for by work.

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1 comment:

  1. Now exhale a bit before Phase 3; THAT may be the hardest. God Bless/