How well can you survive?

By MAYS Latest Reply 2012-09-08 15:51:46 -0500
Started 2012-09-03 16:07:33 -0500

Economic times are hard for almost everyone.

That "siver spoon" in a newborn's mouth has now been replaced with a piece of plastic cutlery, and they are lucky if you can provide them with that!

Believe it or not, many people (and their families) are now just one paycheck away from being homeless!
Factor in healthcare and it brings a whole new meaning to the word "impoverished."

Can you survive on a low income?

Look at this video, then click the link below it and find out just how hard it can (or could) be for you, if you dare!

You will never know how valuable your job, and health insurance areuntil you no longer have them and you become inflicted with a chronic disease such as diabetes (or any chronic illness for that matter).

If you took the challenge, how well did you do?


66 replies

Graylin Bee
Graylin Bee 2012-09-08 08:57:20 -0500 Report

Chose not to play the game. Played it in real life.
Like Gabby, I weighed the options of tent life during the awful time that preceeded an even worse time. Hubby dealing with sudden spinal cord injury and recovering from back surgery that helped a little with the pain. The wonderful state job gone, disability denied by the state, seems them that makes the rules can break them too. Okay, I'm tough, there's some place we can exist on my just over minimum wage job. No, I guess not. MRSA and me had a battle. Then spent a year of fear and little income with periods of no income.
It has been almost a year now that he and I both have a paycheck. Last month when the van broke it took my carefully hoarded emergency fund to fix it. Rent payment covered, 40 bucks leftover from paycheck for food and gas. Emotionally I was pretty spent.

Nana_anna 2012-09-06 10:49:14 -0500 Report

Let me tell you my story. October 18, 2007, was my last official day of employment, by my choice. I had to make a choice. It was hard but I had to do it. I worked in home health for 5 years. That position requires you to travel. We only had one car. I did great and worked up to 60 hours per week. Got paid weekly. My biggest pay check was 960.00. (In one week.) That was because I was on a role. They kept calling me into work. But, my husband worked at a Correctional Institution, and felt that he needed the car more than i did. Even though I can be done before he got off at 4p.m. He's problem with me was, I started work at 6:00a.m. in the morning, and needed to be done by 7:30a.m. to go and pick him up to take him to work. Well he didn't like that. He would arrive right at 8a.m…he liked going there early. When I dropped him off than I can go back to work, and be done by 4p.m. That was great for me. I still can't figure out what the deal was there. But one morning after hearing him gripe the night before. I decided enough was enough. This wasn't working and keeping my husband happy was more important then money. So I quit my position that morning. Never to return to it, because of no notice give prior. I lost out. I miss it today. Not the money, though it was nice, but just doing something I loved to do and did it well. Anyway to answer your question, I haven't worked since 2007. I have tried, but because of my health issues now, I am not fit to work in my last position. I have lived without a pay check since then. My friends know that. I go to there house, and end up walking out with food, clothing, books whatever. Because they know I do not work. My husband still works. He has to pay all the bills now. He is facing financiial hardship. But is doing good on keeping things going. I have learned to live without a paycheck. I have learned that God will provide whatever needs I do have. I have learned to wait, and to be thankful for what I have. With or without money.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-05 13:15:29 -0500 Report

Mays this morning on the news there was a topic on the high cost to live. A stay at home mom started a baby boutique for designer baby clothing rentals. Her reason was so moms could have nice clothing for their children to wear to parties and other special occasions. The cost of rental depended on the designer. I was waiting for a story on how to live at a lower cost when this was what I got. I wanted to throw my shoe at the tv.

Before I rented a high end designers baby clothing, I would go to Wal-Mart and buy a beautiful dress or suit for my baby. The children don't care who made the clothes because a 2 yr old would not know an Oscar de la Renta outfit from Dolce and Gabana. When the woman said moms of all economic levels want their kids to look good and this is a way for them to do it. My first thought was do you think a single mother is going to rent a designer dress for her child to wear to a party or use that money to pay a bill, buy food or gas to get her to work? I was never so disappointed in a news story. I was ready to take notes.

red flower lady
red flower lady 2012-09-05 20:44:44 -0500 Report

Well, every parent has their reason for doing what others don't understand. I'm sure if it was a choice between paying bills/buying food or renting the clothes most would not get the clothes. However, if there is an event then it might be a good way to go. Also, not all single mothers are having financial difficulties and there are people who are not having to worry about the economy like so many others are.

I guess it is to each their own?

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-05 23:06:45 -0500 Report

I of course know that not every single mother is struggling to pay bills. I am also well aware that not everyone is worried about the economy. I for one am not because it is not in my control. People do make choices that leave them sitting in the dark, choices that omit paying bills and doing things that is not beneficial to them or their families.This is done all the time. I wonder how many people at the party would even care if a child had on designer clothing?

I totally agree that every parent has their reason for doing what others don't understand. However, your statement is true regardless if the person is or isn't a parent. It still comes down to choice.

I also agree to each his own.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-09-04 22:09:20 -0500 Report


This is certainly a timely discussion. I talk to so many people who are feeling anxious about the economy, who are cutting back, worried about their jobs, or have lost thier jobs. I always say that we are living in the age of anxiety. I think that many of us, incuding myself, have learned to live with less, but are also realizing that less is more. LIfe is changing, so let's accept change and make the best of our lives. I have found in my own life that acceptance, and living life on life's terms, is a good antidote for anxiety.

I have managed to get a basic healthcare plan for self-employed people, but the cost is still mind-boggling. I really worry about people who are struggling to get basic healthcare, and to feed and house their families. I know that a lot of people are really suffering.


Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-05 13:07:14 -0500 Report

Dr. Gary, during The Great Depression, people were committing suicide because they lost all their money, and these were rich people. The poor didn't do this because they already had very little or no money. These are the people who knew how to survive many off the land. This still happens today only the loss of a job brings suicide, anxiety and depression to the point of violence. People are killing themselves and their families all because of a loss of money. These people do not know how to survive and make do with less.

Unemployment can only get you so far and most people who lose jobs can't afford the COBRA payments. Today it is very hard for some families of four to survive on one salary if the other loses a job. Health care is expensive and just about any illness these days can practically bankrupt a person or family.

The cost of feeding a family seems to cost more every week. It breaks my heart to seen senior citizens in the grocery store putting items back at the register because they now are making choices of what they need over what they want.

Two years ago, I worked for a non-profit. When the housing market crash was in full swing, my boss decided to do Foreclosure Prevention workshops. Together we put the program together and took it too area churches. People would call for the workshop with houses about to go into foreclosure who wanted to attend but didn't want people to know they were about to lose their homes. I would ask them what is more important to you, having a roof over your head or pride because everyone on your street will know you house has been foreclosed when the Sheriff tapes, tacks or nails the notice to your door or the bank padlocks it. That usually got them out to get help.

Everyone of us can complain about the economy but there isn't a thing we can do to change it. What we all can do is to do the best we can to keep our houses, cars and furniture. The finance company and the bank do not want the property they want the money. Auto finance companies are faster to work with people than banks. Sometimes selling the property if possible before it is foreclosed can help. However, people have to learnt to live with less. If you have to sell your 70"tv and downsize to a 30" at least you still have a tv.

MAYS 2012-09-05 12:32:00 -0500 Report

Well said, respected and accepted Dr. Gary.
I see people struggling whenever I am at the hospital and the finance/charity care office is always fully packed with people whenever I walk pass there, standing room only both inside the office and outside in the lobby.
It's sad when so many people cannot afford healthcare, tet their survival depends on it!


tabby9146 2012-09-07 19:49:42 -0500 Report

very sad. ours is decent, but not great and I am so thankful we have health insurance. Many years ago, my husband had a plan that paid it all, we paid nothing from his check, that was a LONG time ago and if anything happened, we paid hardly anything at all. an old job I used to have at a local university had an excellent plan and I was very thankful for that, what we have now doesn't compare much to how good it was back then. I don't see an end in sight, but hopeful that something will change in the future.

MAYS 2012-09-07 22:51:05 -0500 Report

Just hang in there and plan for the future and hope for the best.
Times are hard no matter where you turn, the so called, "middle class" is slowly being phased out and healthcare is essential for everyone, unfortunately everyone doesn't have it and the cost of both medical care and insurance keeps increasing on a daily basis (or so it seems).

MAYS 2012-09-04 12:14:38 -0500 Report

Joyce, in my opinion the only race(s) that matter in life are the "human race" that we are all a part of, and that "race" that we all have against time in life.
What a person does in their life as a positive, productive member of society whether it's the smaller society of their family and household, or the broader society of their community, country, or this world is of the utmost importance.

We are remembered for who we are, and what we do (or have done) in life, people keep us alive long after we are gone based on that based on our legacy that we have established and eventually left behind.
So unless you (or anyone else) is using the word "race" in a derogatory manner, I see no reason for you to get into any trouble here, poverty, disease and illness do not look for a persons race before it invades their life, neither does love, compassion and happiness.

We all make choices, but sometimes we have no choice but to play the hand that we have been dealt until another hand is dealt or we decide to play another game in the ganbling casino of life!


Nick1962 2012-09-04 10:23:45 -0500 Report

Well, I made it through the month with a little left over, but there were some tough choices to make. I think (at least for some) that the ability (or inability) to make those tough choices is a big determining factor in how they live. I live between two such examples. To my left, an elderly gentleman who raised three kids (who mostly have been successful), and outright owns his own home. He also has many people who respect him (myself included) and are very willing to help him keep his house up, and make repairs that would normally cost hundreds of dollars. He’s achieved this through many years of hard work and making good use of his talents. And during a time that his race was not really a benefit for him.
To my right is a mixed family of now 4 including an unemployed relative. The yard and general upkeep of the house is minimal and brings down the value. They do recognize this, but claim they can’t afford a simple bag of grass seed; however the youngest does have a 36” flat screen in his bedroom to play video games on. There are three licensed drivers in the house, and 3 cars in the driveway, however only one leaves each day to go to work. You’d think with two adults home 7 days a week, someone would find the time to throw a coat of paint on the house trim and clean up the overgrowth, or at least cut the lawn regularly. They do manage to get the 2 cases of beer each week, but to their credit, it is the cheap stuff.

I wasn’t born privileged, but I wasn’t born into the conditions that Joyce or Gabby describe either. I have managed to put myself through 6 years of college (although it took 25 years and I still don’t have a “proper” degree) and have managed to survive a divorce. Yes, I walked to work many years so the one car we had the wife could use, and when I was single I had a bike. Grocery shopping for me those single years meant whatever I could fit in my bike packs. Not having a car saved me $2K/year. It also put a stop to the weekend bar runs, saving another $1.5K/year. Sure it made it tough to go Christmas shopping, or to get items to keep the house up, but I managed. My decision to buy a cheap house and fix it up paid off in the long run because my mortgage was half of what most were paying in rent. I also sold it for a good profit after it was deeded over to me in the divorce. The judge thought I was crazy taking on the burden.

My choice of work ethic has helped as well. I don’t simply go to work. In each job I’ve had (that I cared about) I’ve tried to make sure that I learned it well enough that I’d always get promoted, or at least be the guy who was indispensable. I wasn’t afraid or too important to take out the trash (and I still do). Like my elderly neighbor, I don’t try to be a superstar, just a good worker and it has paid off. Hopefully, the choices I’ve made will carry me through the rest of my life.

GabbyPA 2012-09-05 09:51:39 -0500 Report

You hit the nail on the head in your last bit here, "work ethic" That is key. Those who have little, but have work ethic will survive because you do what you have to. Those who have a lot and loose it and don't have work ethic, will never climb out of that hole and most are content to stay that way.

We are amazing actually. The things we can go through and still come out shining. THAT is the true test of survival. I call it thriving, and even if we don't have a lot of stuff, we still can thrive.

Nick1962 2012-09-05 12:01:42 -0500 Report

So very true. I’m perfectly content (and prefer) to live a very minimalistic life. It frees you of a lot of the negative influences out there, and leaves you with a real and applicable education. I learned how to make a pretty accurate level out of a soda straw and iced tea this way (and, as it turns out, way more accurate than the I-phone level app).

It disheartens me to see people who can’t make simple decisions without trying to find the easiest way out. Couldn’t make a simple dish of chicken salad without a food processor, couldn’t tell you which direction they were driving with just a watch, or feed themselves without the aid of a microwave. Oh geez, I better stop, I feel a rant building.

I guess that kind of dovetails with diabetes management. You can make it as complicated as you want, have all the tracking apps and fancy meters, but in the end the one simple link is what goes between your fingertips and your lips. Manage that, and everything else is unnecessary.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-04 11:34:24 -0500 Report

Nick, I know I am going to get in trouble for discussing race. I was actually told I could be removed from the site. However, for many people race is an issue when it comes to better jobs and economics. Your neighbor is an example of how you can still be successful in spite of race. I have found in my community, many of the elderly do what they can to keep their houses in good condition. My neighbor behind me is a retired federal employee who has had a serious medical problem. We look out for her as does her daughter and grandchildren. Thank you for helping your neighbor. This is what neighbors should do.

On the other hand she has neighbors who put their filthy trashcans in front of her house, do not cut their grass, live in an apartment house they are slowly destroying, will not call the owner to make repairs and play loud music at night. Only one person in the two apartments work.

People make choices but not wise choices. Why a child needs a 36" tv is beyond my reasoning. You are right grass seed is not expensive and mowing a lawn makes gives curb appeal. I have neighbors that I call on all the time for throwing a sofa, trash or toys on a vacant lot. All they have to do is pick up the phone and call the city to come get it on bulk trash day and they won't do this. If I find out who it belongs to, I put it back at their house. Just because you choose to live worse than pigs does not mean everyone else wants to live that way.

I had to get rid of my car when mom got sick. I could not pay for insurance or upkeep since I had no income. My sister used her over time hours to take mom to the doctor once a month. I don't mind public transportation it gets me where I need to go and I don't have to pay to park the car.

What you did, you did to survive. Those of us who have to do this have it down to a science and we know what resources are out there to help us.

Nick1962 2012-09-04 13:44:40 -0500 Report

Well, I can understand how things like race, religion, sex, and even politics here have to be discussed with some amount of discretion. I usually avoid them. My neighbor, born in 1930 to immigrant parents in New York, sure illustrates the fact that if you want something good for yourself, you can have it. His father-in-law at the time must have seen something in him, because he helped him build (from scratch) his family home when he first got married. A home that still stands today and is worth well over 1.5 million dollars.

I live in a very racially diverse neighborhood, and can honestly say, that at least by me, ignorance, laziness, instant gratification, and a sense of entitlement is the problem. Yeah, I can’t understand the thinking my other neighbors go through, which is probably why I try to avoid them.

I don’t know if what I did would be classified as “surviving”, but I knew even though I could live in my tiny one bedroom house forever, I did want a shot at better things. I am very content not having a big screen TV, or a motorcycle, or other such things (heck I still have a flip phone). The fact that my good neighbor remembers me in prayers whenever I’m the least bit sick tells me, well I may not be wealthy, but I’ve made it where it counts the most I guess.

tabby9146 2012-09-07 19:59:50 -0500 Report

ignorance, laziness, instant gratification, and a sense of entitlement is the problem. (I agree Nick, Amen! that is the problem with so many people today, including many young adults, not all, but I know quite a few and I also know quite a few much older that this is their problem) so many won't save money when they have it to save, they want that instant gratification, they can't wait, so many want to keep up with the Joneses.

Nick1962 2012-09-08 15:44:53 -0500 Report

I also think we did a great disservice to our young ones during that "esteem building" period during the late 80's and early 90's - the one where every kid got an award just for participaing in whatever it was. Now we have a generation of apathetic kids coming out of college, the really bright ones having the attitude of "why try, the reward is the same if I don't" and the other half that think that just participating in college will land them a $50K/year job. Heck, we had less than average kids being told they were doing great, even though they really sucked and should have tried harder that are hitting the real world with no tools to survive.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-04 18:44:01 -0500 Report

Nick, people who want more out of life find a way of getting it. Sometimes it can be pure luck while others work hard or have it given to them while others only need someone to believe in them. Your neighbor was fortunate to have in-laws to have enough faith in him to help him and he is just as fortunate for having you as a neighbor.

My community is 98% diversified. Although we are an under served community we have doctors, lawyers and teachers living here as well as business owners, federal, state and local employees. We also have renters and homeowners who care about their property and renters and homeowners who don't care if the house they are living in falls on their heads. Many of them try to live a luxurious lifestyle. Some are sitting in the dark with a Lexus parked in front of the house, others kids go to bed hungry but the parent/s are dressed in the latest fake designer fashion. If I had to choose between power in my house or a Lexus, I take the power.

Currently the only thing I want for myself right now is either a tablet or a kindle. Going to the library is boring and I can't carry my lap top with me just to read books on the computers Kindle App. I had to upgrade my blackberry to an android for our business we need to be able to use The Square for transactions at fairs and places where we do not have access to power outlets. We don't have big screen tv's a fancy car(my sister uses her Explorer to haul tables, the tent and gardening tools), and we don't have designer clothing.

You did what you did for betterment and I will never knock anyone for that. "What we do doesn't define us. What defines us is how well we rise after we have fallen. People go through many problems in life", which is my favorite line from Maid in Manhatten.

tabby9146 2012-09-07 20:05:09 -0500 Report

yes, so true, what defines us is how well we rise after we have fallen. Also, good character and integrity, loving people, helping others, that is so much more important than a title, what a person's occupation is , how much money they have. That is what I have always believed, and was taught. We choose not to buy big screen TVs, and all the latest electronics and things like that, we don't buy designer clothes either. I am quite happy just having what we need and extra , and feel very grateful for that, I try to spend wisely, we decided years ago not to buy new cars anymore, only good used ones, things like that. Not everyone, but many people who are always buying expensive things are trying to impress others, or they think all those 'things' will make them happy, when most often they do not .There are so many unhappy people trying to do that with material things ,my brother being one of them and he shows off all the time, how he got like that is beyond me, because we certainly were not raised by parents who did that sort of thing.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-07 20:45:50 -0500 Report

Tabby, material things are what destroy people. My neighbor bought a $200.00 pair of Nike shoes and was complaining that he was hungry and didn't have enough money to last till payday. I said that is what happens when you choose to use money for shoes simply to impress someone.

My former boss said she grew up dirt poor. Her father was a sharecropper in Mississippi. Her mom did sewing, laundry and cleaned houses. On Saturday mornings her and her sisters would walk to town to turn in bottles they collected all week for money to help put food on the table. Her father in a drunken rage shot her mother in the back when she was running from him. Her uncle came and got them and her mother and moved them to Michigan. My boss ended up marrying a man who was just as abusive as her father but he made her go to college. Today she lives in an expensive condo and drives a Porsche. Everything she does screams "I am RICH" only the rich people she meets do not accept her. She brags about her condo, her business and her car to the point it turns people off. She has only one true friend. The others tolerate her. Even worse, she looks down on people with less than her. One day at lunch she said to me and another coworker we all knew what it was like going to bed hungry, cold and only getting a new pair of shoes when school started. When we each said we never lived like that she was stunned.

Material things do not make a person. Fire, floods or loss of a job can cause you to lose all of those material things. I have what I need and am grateful to have it. When people do things to impress others and those who are impressed are shallow people. The reality is in most cases no one cares because just like them, you can lose it all at any time.

Nick1962 2012-09-05 12:17:13 -0500 Report

That’s the nice thing about my neighborhood, even as transient as it is. The fakers and posers don’t last long. If you are less privileged, most of us long-timers will help you out one way or another, whether we like you or not. But show up in a BMW to try to make $20 raking my leaves, oh hell no. That’s really the only thing that keeps it from turning into a bad neighborhood.

About the tablet/kindle; the wife got a kindle as a door prize and didn’t like it. She sold it and used the money for a tablet and is finding it far more useful. Eventually it will probably replace the I-phone. I still get my paperback books cheap on-line. I guess I’m just too old fashioned.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-05 12:46:10 -0500 Report

Same here, during snowstorms guys show up wanting to shovel snow for $50 bucks. For that much I will shovel my own snow. We have a guy who is a former drug addict who will clean our back yard, shovel snow, mow peoples lawns and he does not ask for money. We all give him money for the job and we don't cheat him.

The development across the street has front and back lawns. The renters lawns and common areas are cut through a contract with housing. The homeowners are mad because they have to pay to cut their lawns. Some can be cut with a pair of scissors. Drive through there and you see renters who have well mown lawns, some have planted flowers and have beautiful fronts. Homeowners have BMW's Lexus's, Mercedes with weeds almost knee high yet they complain that renters are destroying their development.

I use to stop at Good Will to buy books but since the bed bug problem I no longer do that. A kindle would be easier for me because I have to carry a meter and snacks in my purse, add a book and it gets heavy. I am leaning more to a tablet because they are lighter and I can still keep up with my Words With Friends games.

Nick1962 2012-09-05 14:59:27 -0500 Report

You know, I think you might really like a tablet then. The one my wife got is the same size as a kindle and you can plug in a bar code scanner as well as the Square credit card reader and never lose your place in your book. If you’re not in a wi-fi spot, it saves your transactions until you’re in an area where you can hook up and post them all at once. It does e-mail and stuff as well, just a slightly limited version of a laptop.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-05 18:03:40 -0500 Report

We have wi-fi in the area. We have wired and wireless internet in our house. We have been using the square since May and we both love it. I am not worried about email, I can do that with my phone just want something portable for books and I can download the kindle or nook app. This way I can borrow books from the library without leaving my house.

Nick1962 2012-09-05 18:48:29 -0500 Report

We found that selections with kindle are limited by the format, and everything we use outside of the house is right there. The way things are going, I'd bet within 5 years everything will be combined into the single device fomat.

CJ55 2012-09-05 18:28:57 -0500 Report

Joyce.. Regarding the comment Nick made about the Kindle… I purchased one and I didn't care for it either. Not at all. Just wanted to give you another opinion. As for all of your comments on this discussion, very well said.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-05 18:57:25 -0500 Report

I am leaning towards a tablet because it will come in handy at meetings. I often need something I forgot to print. This way I can email it to me or save it on a flash drive and open it on the tablet at the meeting. Thanks CJ. And thanks for your Kindle input

CJ55 2012-09-05 18:06:21 -0500 Report

Hi Joyce, I have an iPad.. How can you borrow books from the library?? Very curious. That sounds wonderful !! Have a great evening.. Hugz

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-05 18:12:23 -0500 Report

I can do it through my kindle app but I have to download the Overdrive App. In my city we have to have a library card to do this. The good thing is I can borrow books from any library in the country if my local library doesn't have it. I currently have 101 books stored on my kindle app. This is why I want the tablet because with the books I have electronically and my library books, I have tons of stuff to read.

If you have a Facebook account, like E-Reader News Today and you will get listing of all the books they have for the day. I also go to Amazon and look at their free listings of books. However, with a tablet I can have my Angry Birds, Words with Friends, Free Pogo Games and my books all in one place.

CJ55 2012-09-05 20:58:43 -0500 Report

I will check with my library. Thank you for the info. On Apple you can get the game Chuzzle… it is a matching type game and my husband is addicted to it. LOL.. It is fun to play but I also enjoy Angry Birds.. I don't see how they get angry but I sure do when I can't blow the darn things up. LOL.. Have a great night. Hugz

MAYS 2012-09-05 13:04:46 -0500 Report

Whatever your choice concerning tablets, choose wisely and continue doing your thing!

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-05 13:17:29 -0500 Report

I will Mays, I went to the front door phone in hand when my neighbor yelled why haven't you sent any words…LOL we are totally addicted.

MAYS 2012-09-04 15:43:40 -0500 Report

Nick, Your line, " ignorance, laziness, instant gratification, and a sense of entitlement is the problem" is very well stated!

Nick1962 2012-09-08 15:51:46 -0500 Report

I remeber in high school I was …well dating's not the word…"spending time" with a foreign exchange student. After senior year, she went back to her home country and we wrote frequently. Phone calls were out of the question because they ran about $75 for just 15 minutes. Funny thing is, even though it took two weeks to get messages between us, I really enjoyed the anticipation when that letter came. And letters were well thought out. Not like the instant crap that passes for communication today.

GabbyPA 2012-09-04 06:27:57 -0500 Report

Unfortunately, I cannot play the game (my old computer cannot download Flash), but I came very close in 2008 to living in a tent. My husband and I had already lost nearly everything in 2006 after I lost my job in the housing industry. Then we were loosing our home in 2008. As hard as we tried, we could not keep it and we seriously were looking at how we could survive living in a tent on a friend's property. At least we kind of had a place to go, but the prospects of my husband in a wheel chair and in a tent for more than just a camping vacation was not something we relished. We actually sat and figured out how to make a 16 foot tent become living, sleeping and kitchen quarters with an outhouse for a toilet. It was scary, but enlightening.

Fortunately, providence stepped in and a home became available for us through a friend of my mom's. It was a god send, and though much smaller, it was home and still is. Choices (as I presume SPENT offers) are hard. We don't have the cell phones, gaming consoles, giant TV's, gadgets or cars. Shoot, we had to borrow a car for over a year after we lost ours as we scrimped to save up to buy a used van with no A/C in Florida. UGH.

We only have internet because it is where I work now. We have no credit cards (thank goodness) and we live on cash only. Sometimes the van sits in the driveway for days until I get some money to put gas in. Our priorities are very different from many of my contemporaries. We go to food auctions because many of the food ministries have gone under. But to be honest, we do just fine and miss very little of it.

I have lived without insurance since 2006 because I work for myself and cannot afford the outrageous premiums. Now that I am diabetic, those premiums are worse, and I just keep hoping that my ship will come in. I have already come to terms with the fact that I will not survive a major health issue simply due to finances. I'm okay with that. I kind of have to be.

In all of this though, we are happier than we have ever been. No burden of bill collectors hoover over us. We have greater freedoms to do things like our garden. I am not controlled by a boss in fear of loosing my job because my husband needs me to take care of him.

tabby9146 2012-09-07 20:23:34 -0500 Report

I was sad to hear your story Gabby, but so glad you did not have to live in the tent. as this economy has worsened over the last few years, we have downsized some things and that did not bother us, I have been happier with less for sure. it's a great thing to pay with cash and have no credit cards, we don't either. I use a debit card often, hubby does too, but we don't owe on credit cards thank goodness. I hope you do not have any major health issue to come up and hope things get better. sorry about your husband. I scaled back work a few year ago to take are of my elderly mother, who has had health problems, she will be 85 soon and it is more important for me to help her, and spend this time with her, than to have more things, or for things to be easier financially. I"m so glad we have what we need and that I can do this for her. My brother refuses to help.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-04 11:55:28 -0500 Report

Gabby, I gave up a job to care for mom. I didn't work for 10 years. During that time I got a college degree and thanks to a friend got a job. Today I am again not working as grant funding ended. I did qualify for food stamps and I will get energy assistance. Because I wasn't working, we were not able to pay rent. We knew the landlord would not fix the house for it to be rented and who is going to rent in an area with a lot of vacant homes around both corners. So we made a deal with the landlord. Let us live here and we will make all repairs. My sister offered to buy the house. He wanted $199,000 dollars for a house assessed at $6,000.00. Earlier this year he offered to sell the house to us for $14,000.00. We are going to buy it out right with no assessment. My sister is a real estate agent but cannot use her license because of her job so she told him she did not want the house assessed we will buy it as is.

People ask us why would we buy a house that needs a new furnace, electrical upgrade, a new kitchen floor and two bathrooms that need updating. My response is we have a marble fire place in the living and dining rooms, an upstairs back porch, oak mantels in the upstairs front and middle bedrooms, a full basement, 12ft ceilings 4 of six rooms that are larger than 9x12 and plaster ceiling medallions in the living and dining room, a first floor bathroom with a closet and white marble front steps.

My sister can get a new gas furnace and central air unit from her job at cost. The maintenance guys will do the installation and do the kitchen and bathroom floors. A neighbor is going to help us take down the wall between the kitchen and dining room and help us install kitchen cabinets and counters. My sister and I are going to sheet rock the ceiling in one of the upstairs bedrooms and bathroom and we are going to have new windows and doors installed. Most of the work we can do ourselves. Dad taught us how to use tools and my sister spent 14 years helping to build houses for Habitat for Humanity.

I have not been down the road you have traveled, I am so glad you and your husband are not in a tent. No one should have to live in a tent in this country. Gabby had I known you needed a new computer, I would have sent you one. The job I had sold theirs refurbished for $25 bucks. I promise you if they sell them off again I will get one for you and ship it to you. I bought one as a spare in case this one gets ill. Someone gave me a Gateway and I gave it to a guy at the flea market and told him to fix it or keep it for parts. If another one comes my way, I will have it checked out and it is yours.

I pray that I don't get so sick and have to go into the hospital. I have not had health insurance since 2010. I was in a program that afforded me health care at no cost but funding for the program expired. We do what we have to do to survive. There is a line in an African American gospel that goes, "I don't believe He brought me this far to leave me" God never leaves us. As long as we have faith, the ability to help others and the will to survive no matter how hard it gets, we will make it. Peace and love to you always.

tabby9146 2012-09-07 20:24:22 -0500 Report

I don't believe He brought me this far to leave me" God never leaves us. As long as we have faith, the ability to help others and the will to survive no matter how hard it gets, we will make it. (I love that Joyce, never heard it before so true)

MAYS 2012-09-04 10:20:35 -0500 Report

Wow!, that close?
The cost of staying healthy, and healthcare cost can really push the issue of surviving, pretty soon there will be no such thing as "middle class" in the U.S. of A!

CJ55 2012-09-05 18:43:14 -0500 Report

I agree, it is very costly to survive now a days. Healthcare, food, gas, it is crazy!! We help out as many people we can, especially through our church. Everyone needs to help everyone. Weather it is a hot meal or to help buy school supplies for a child. Isn't that what America is all about.. It used to be that way. Joyce, I loved the "line" from the gospel you wrote.. God Bless Everyone !! Hugz too all.

Anonymous 2012-09-04 09:32:24 -0500 Report

a tent isn't so bad really…in 2008 my job cut hours for everyone & then the economy tanked..i lost everything except my camping stuff…2010 that job laid me off…by then i had gotten a storage unit and managed…i am in Ohio & we get SNOW…2011 i found a job but 12/24/11 i suffered 4 doctor induced strokes…i have health insurance that refuses to pay so now i am looking at bankruptcy, applied for disability approved by state but not fed yet, on SNAP, have medicaid and now a friend is letting me buy her house on land contract. i never told anyone i was homeless or that i had managed my diabetes while being homeless. i have managed my on going rehab while homeless. i was so thankful for "Obamacare" passing & the thought of wReck & Ruin getting into office scares me. i have limited use of my right arm and hand. i walk but it's a struggle…i was never suppose to walk or talk again but i do. never count yourself out because there's always a way…

GabbyPA 2012-09-05 09:46:42 -0500 Report

Yes, when we are at our lowest, providence steps in. That keeps us humble and mindful that we are not in control. I don't care to use government assistance. Don't believe it is their place. My husband is on disability, but for my personal self, I will do for myself and let the charity of others fit in where it may. I don't seek that, but it comes when I least expect it.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-04 12:14:21 -0500 Report

You know what really ticks me off is the feds will give people disability for depression. I have been depressed, repressed and oppressed at different times in my life and never thought about getting disability. Yet people like you and others who really need it often have to go through an attorney to get it.

Wreck and Ruin, I love that. I call them Beavis and Butthead. "Obamacare" has helped a lot of people. I think people who are against it don't want the poor or working poor to have good health yet they want to raise money for research. I do not give money to research, I give it to the people. I would bet that many who are against it have health insurance and a job. Let them lose that job, everything they have, get sick and need medical care. They will then sing praises to a President many do not like and hate for getting health care passed for those needing it.

Never ever count yourself out or give up. Giving up is defeat and I never want to feel that way even if I have nothing. My job was suppose to end last year the week of Christmas. My boss told us on 12/6/11 that it was our last day of work then shorted us $60.00 in salary. When she called me and asked me to do something for her for three months for a flat fee I told her to add an extra 60 bucks to it. She tried not to do it. I told her I have a copy of my last time sheet and pay check that clearly shows she shorted us the money. She claimed she gave us a $50.00 bonus. I said the bonus is not salary and if she didn't include it, I was going to the state labor board. I got the job, the money and she gave me a check to mail to the other employee. Life is short, I do not have time to play games with people.

I hope things work out for you. Life has so many twist and turns that can cause a person to just give up. You clearly are a survivor and I hope and pray all works out for you

tabby9146 2012-09-07 20:30:09 -0500 Report

thats right about the health insurance and obamacare, my 21 year old son can not afford health insurance, and the fact that he can be on our plan, and I think the age is until 26 or something, that is great. That is one of the other good things about it. He wouldn't go to college, hard as I tried, and talked to him about for so many years, and with just a high school diploma these days, it is way too hard for most to pay rent, utilities, food, and gas, much less anything else.

MAYS 2012-09-04 10:22:25 -0500 Report

I agree that there is always a way, it may not be the way we want, but when iut comes to surviving one must do what one must!

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-03 19:06:57 -0500 Report

I played the game and got a temp job at $9.00 an hour.

Mays anyone living on $9.00 an hour is struggling. These are the people our government classifies as the working poor. Jobs paying this kind of salary do not offer health insurance.

Out of that weekly salary, at the end of the month, the person has to pay for rent, water, gas, electric, buy food, gas or fare for public transportation, toiletries, clothing and hope and pray they do not get sick.

Many of these people qualify for the SNAP program, energy assistance and some for Medicaid. Factor in children and their benefits will increase based on the amount of child support if they receive it.

Some of these people fall into the working poor category because they lack High School Diploma's/GED or have one but no College Degree. Many of these people are highly skilled because of the kinds of jobs they have had.

Unfortunately for some they may not qualify for some of the benefits. To make matters worse the system works against them. For instance here in my city the person whose name is on the mortgage or lease agreement is responsible for the water bills and landlords often do not include utilities in the rent. If the water bill is not paid, the city will put a lien on the house. People have lost their homes because of this. Prime example, we got a water bill for $1,500 dollars and according to the city we had taken in 155,000 gals of water in a 3 month period. We refused to pay it. Our city councilman learned that the city had not read our water meter in 7years and estimated our bill for that time period. The water department demanded payment. Our response was we will have a press conference at the meter they did not read. Don't know what happened but the bill was erased.

With the economy the way it is today, people are struggling to live on a day to day basis. Factory closings, businesses closing have cause people who had well paying jobs to lose them. Some are now taking what ever job they can find just to try to make ends meet. If you looked you can find people like this in many cities around this country. People who don't want soup kitchens and shelters in their communities are now some of the people using them. People who closed their eyes to keep from seeing the homeless are now homeless. People who bought houses they knew they could not afford but the bank said they could are losing those homes or are walking away from them.

Prices go up on everything yet salaries stay the same. So very sad but so very true.

MAYS 2012-09-03 19:19:14 -0500 Report

Joyce, I agree with you 100%!
The cost of living did not keep up with the cost of inflation for many, many years and the "freeze" on minimum wage did not make matters any better during the past two decades and once you factor in the cost of healthcare, as well as the omission of such on jobs today it makes it much, much harder for many people to survive let alone having to deal with a chronic illness such as diabetes.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-03 19:35:26 -0500 Report

Mays today whether the illness is chronic or acute, it is going to cost you a fortune. I got a $2,000.00 ER bill only to have the ER doc misdiagnose me. People cannot afford to get sick.

The government raised minimum wage but that didn't help people because when the cost of everything rises, the increase is sucked up practically before you get the pay check.

Depending on the chronic disease, maintenance of that disease is costly over the years. There is no valid reason I can think of why a meter can be cheaper than the cost of strips for the meter. Added to this if supplies are covered by insurance, you are only allotted a specific number of strips per month so people still have out of pocket cost.

For the person on a fixed income or working pay check to pay check, your health care can cause you to start making decisions you never thought you would have to make.

CJ55 2012-09-05 18:56:58 -0500 Report

Unfortunately, hospitals and healthcare individuals do not care about your financial well being. People cannot afford to get sick with or without health insurance. I have had 5 major surgeries in the past 1 1/2 years and my husband and I had to take out a substantial loan to pay off the medical bills or get sued or loose our house. All they care about is their money. Several asked me to get a credit card to pay off my bills and I said no, I am not going to pay interest on your overpriced bills and One doctor charged me 2,800 for misdiagnosing me. That was insane. Anyway, I won't rant on about my problems, it just makes me angry as to how bad our country has gotten. It is very very sad.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-09-05 19:59:52 -0500 Report

CJ I took one Correctol and had severe allergic reaction. It ended up being an error filled night. Because I fainted my sister called an ambulance. The paramedic told the triage nurse I had a bad case of the flu. The ER doctor told me I had COPD, asthma and something else. I had to see a doctor a week later. I go to the doctor which was no charge because it was a follow up. Turned out I did not have COPD or Asthma. My cough was because of dehydration and he put me on more fluids and an antibiotic because I was getting a respiratory infection and the doctor told me had I taken two of them they probably would have killed me. I got the bill from the hospital. When they called for payment, I said my attorney told me not to pay the bill because of a misdiagnosis and the fact I am suing the hospital and the ER doctor. To pay the bill would mean I accept what happened to me. I then get a call from the hospitals attorney who said he would send a letter to my attorney saying the bill was forgiven. I told him to fax it and he faxed it. Misdiagnose me and I won't pay them a penny. I will sue them first.

I then reported the Paramedic for his diagnosis that he had no business doing. He is suppose to give them the conditions he found and since I told him what happened and that I did not have the flu, he was out of line for giving false information to the hospital. I did not have to pay the $75.00 ambulance bill.

I was also in a program that paid for my diabetic care. When I lost my insurance, my doctor put me in the program. When it was time for my checkup I called to confirm and was told that if I didn't have insurance I could not come back.Two days later the doctor called wanting to know why I missed the appointment and to come in right away. When I arrived the receptionist told me again that I could not see him if I couldn't pay. I was leaving when he came out and asked where I was going. I told him what I was told. He called her in the back and you could hear him chewing her a new head. I asked her if he fired her. She said no. I said too bad you have no right telling someone they can't see him since he is your boss and he told me to come see him. She did get fired after he called all his patients in the program and learned she had told them if you can't pay or have insurance you cannot be seen.

You are correct the first thing they ask is insurance and how will you pay.

CJ55 2012-09-05 21:30:59 -0500 Report

Wow… it is terrible how things are now a days. I am very sorry that happened to you. I don't blame you at all for not paying your bill. You could have easily taken 2 and then what. Not a good outcome for you. I am glad they dropped the bill, but you didn't receive any compensaton out of it except the bill portion. Also, the girl in the Drs. office deserved to get fired. Regarding my incident, I didn't pay either biill I am letting my attorney handle it. The hospital did drop their portion of the bill, however, the Dr has not. He was the attending physician and he gave me the wrong medication and then I was admitted into the Pulmonary Intensive Care Unit, given my last rights by the priest and I thought that was it. I am not just loking for a bill to get paid, I want his license taken away. We have now found out he has 9 other pending lawsuits against him.

About 2 months ago I had to go to the dentist, my tooth had chipped in half while on vacation in Florida. When I returned home, I did not have a new Dentist under my current Insurance. Well, I found one, and I made the appt and was in the office in 2 days. The first thing they wanted to know was if I had Dental Insurance or not. I told them I only had a little bit under my b/c b/s plan and I didn't know how much they covered. I saw the dentist, and he said he needed to fix the tooth with a crown. I knew it would be expensive and I asked how much and he said, not to worry I could work out a payment plan and I said well I want to talk to my husband first. Well he started drilling but he said he was just going to polish around the broken part so it wouldn't be sharp. 10 mins later, most of my tooth was gone and there was a tiny piece left. He said now we can put on the Temp Crown. I said what???? He said it's ok and I said no I wanted to talk to my husband first. He said well I can't stop now you cannot have an open stub tooth so he put on the temp crown. When I went to the front desk to check out, I told the women the dr said I could be put on a payment plan. At this point I was soooo darn mad I could scream. She very nicely said to me with a smile… I am sorry we do not do that for 1st time patients. Oh, first time I had heard that. I had to use my credit card and pay them 2,100.00 right then. I paid my bill and slammed the door on my way out. They have called me 2 times to see why I haven't been back.. Finally yesterday after the 2 calls I called them and told them why… I wasn't very nice to say the least. I am in the process of writing an article to the local post that everyone gets here in my town. It is free and everybody reads it. Let's just see how they like that one. I'm not a mean person, but don't make me mad.. Sorry this was long… I usually don't go on like this… Just had to add my 2 cents about how bad things are with doctors.. Thanks for listening.. Hugz CJ

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