How to Be Poor- What to Do When You Lose Everything

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How to be poor- what to do when you lose everything and tips on where to find help.

How to Be Poor-What to Do When You Lose Everything

Lose your job? Lose of a loved one? Divorce? Health Issues? Life Emergency?
We never plan for life crisis and yet, they always find us- when we are completely unprepared. Whether it is our own doing or no fault of our own we end up in a crisis situation, desperate and poor.

Most Americans are one paycheck away from poverty and over 63% of Americans could not handle a $500.00 emergency. If you find yourself in the middle of a life crisis, remember you’re not alone and there is help out there.

But maybe you were one of those people, the ones that looked down on Food Stamp recipients. Or think  why don’t they just get a job when you pass by someone holding a “Will Work For Food” sign, and now you feel guilty because you need help.
The truth is, we all have a story and the only story you really ever know is your own, so try not to be quick to judge others. Yes, there are those that abuse and use the system- the system is flawed, but there are thousands who are hurting and are truly needing help.

How to Be Poor: The first steps to getting help

  • Don’t feel embarrassed.
  • Let go of your pride.
  • Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help.

While working for a non-profit helping those in need, I realized that most people don’t know how to be poor. Let me explain what I am talking about.
Say you’ve been financially blessed your entire life, you have never really been told no you can’t have something, you have never truly been hungry, you have never had to come home to find a notice they were turning off your power. Then it happens- the life crisis.
You have nowhere to turn, no one in your circle of friends that understands (because they have all lived the same financially blessed life as you) and you don’t even know where to start if you wanted to ask for help.

The first key to moving forward and past your financial and life crisis is to forget about the way you were used to living.
Try (as best you can) to let go of all the material ties and modern comforts you have grown accustom to living with.

How to Be Poor: What do you need to live?

Let’s get to the bare bones, what do humans need in order to sustain life?
We all think we can’t live without _____.
In reality, we only need three important elements to live:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Food

Air

Air is the easiest one to obtain, just inhale- exhale and repeat.

Water

If your water has been turned off and you need water, there are many public places you can get free water: parks, public restrooms, public water fountains, gas stations, rest stops on the hwy and even beach access places have water hoses free for the public to use.
If you have a working smart phone there is an Android App called WeTap that you can download and find all the places that have free water in your area. Click here to learn more about WeTap.

Food

The most daunting resource to find is food. When we open the fridge and it is bare, an overwhelming panic sets in (especially if we have little ones to feed). This is where your community will come together and help you through this part of your crisis.
The most important thing to know about trying to find food to feed your family is that your community will not let you go hungry- IF you let them know your situation.
Friends, neighbors, churches, organizations, nonprofits, food banks, soup kitchens, grocery stores, and government agencies can and will help you- IF you let them know you need help.

You do not have to be a member of a church to call and ask them if they have food for outreach ministries.

How to Be Poor: What do you need to live by the law?

Did you know many cities across the nation are basically making it illegal to be homeless? Click here to read more.

In order to receive government assistance during a crisis you need to have a couple of requirements to qualify.

  • Insurance
  • An address- A roof over your head
    • In order to receive Government Aid you will need an address.
  • For insurance, contact your local Department of Social Services and ask them about applying for medical insurance.
    Prepare to bring proof:

    • Income
    • House payment or proof of rent
    • Water payment
    • Tax bills
    • Child or elderly care proof of cost
    • Driver’s license and or social security card

You may need additional paperwork but if you arrive prepared it can cut down on your waiting time.
Many cities also offer free medical clinics, a local pharmacist should be able to tell you where to find one.

If you have a home and you are struggling with making the payments, consider renting a room or your home monthly or weekly for a vacation home and moving into something cheaper or in with someone to share expenses.

How to Be Poor: What do you need to make your life easier?

  • Electricity
  • Phone
  • Transportation

Electricity
You may think electricity is a necessity to live, but it’s not. Contact your local electricity provider and ask if they have any assistance programs, you can also contact Red Cross, Helping Hands, DSS and local churches to inquire if they have assistance programs.

A friend from Homestead Honey and her family live without electricity, you can follow her and be inspired by their journey by clicking here 

Phone
You may have to give up all the bells and whistles your current phone has but you can get an affordable phone to use from your local drug store, Dollar General, Walmart, and save money.

If you are unable to afford a phone at all you can apply for a free phone with limited access here .

Transportation
Do you have a car payment? Sell it. What do you really need? The answer is a safe and dependable vehicle to get you from point A to point B.
Talk to the dealer where you bought your car and see if they can help you sell your vehicle. Save the money that you would normally be spending on a car payment until you have $1,000.00 – $3,000.00 to buy a used vehicle outright.
Make sure you take the used vehicle to a mechanic to look at it before you buy it, it will cost you around $65.00 but it is well worth it in the end.

During the time you are saving for your used car you can: ride a bike, take the local transit authority, carpool, walk, ask for rides from coworkers, or ask a family member to help you with transportation.

To find out about carpool opportunities in your area, contact Ridefinders by clicking here.

How to Be Poor: Luxuries You Can Live Without

  • Internet
  • Cable/TV
  • Dryer
  • Shopping
  • Going out to eat
  • New Anything.

Internet
We all love how ‘connected’ we are, instant gratification and the world of information at our fingertips. Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t be reading this article if you didn’t have internet. BUT- you can live without it. I have lived without it or most of my life and did just fine. The libraries have FREE internet to use and computers.
If you still have your smartphone you can go to almost any coffee house or public building and get free wifi. If you have a good neighbor, they may even share theirs with you during your crisis.

Cable
We decided to cut the cord almost 7 yrs ago and haven’t looked back since. Our cable was almost $200.00 a month and had gotten out of hand. After installing an old fashion antenna we are able to get almost 40 channels and the reception is better than we ever received through cable. The best part? It’s FREE.  365- 24/7!

Your Clothes Dryer
Depending how much your power company charges for kw hours where you live, you can save up to $30 a month off of your electric bill by line-drying your clothes.

Shopping
I am the spender in our family, I love a good deal and can never resist a sale. We recently decided to change things up and I started sending hubby to the store for our shopping needs. In twenty years of marriage we have never been able to save money, we have always lived paycheck to paycheck and never had anything for a rainy day- it was raining all the time. I soon realized my shopping and impulse buying was costing my family and my sale-seeking personality was actually hurting our financial bottom line.

If you are like me (maybe you are and just don’t know it) consider asking someone else to go to the store for you, take advantage of the online shopping services many grocery stores now offer, or make a list before shopping and stick to the list- no exceptions.

 

How to Be Poor: How to Treat Others Who Are Helping You

When you are in the middle of a life crisis, you are doing good functioning from minute to minute- the last thing you can focus on is showing appreciation to those that reach out to you.
From someone who has been on both sides of this situation, it is very important to know how to respond to those that are trying to help.

  • Don’t be late for appointments
    • If you are running behind call and notify the person.
  • Never take for granted the donations.
    • Sometimes people think because you are in need you will appreciate anything- a broken toy, torn clothes, leftover food, it is a tough situation. The donors really need to understand if something is not good enough for their family, don’t donate it to someone else.
      BUT, sometimes the donor is giving all they have. Sometimes the giver is actually going without to give you their donation so always show appreciation.
  • Respect their time
  • Don’t take what you won’t use
  • Remember no one owes you anything.
    • Did you ask for the life crisis? No. Should people have empathy and sympathy for your situation? Yes. Does anyone owe you anything for what you are going through? No.
      If someone reaches out to you, it is not because you deserve it, it is because they want to.
  • They aren’t getting paid to help you
    • Volunteers aren’t paid. They are taking time away from their families and loved ones in order to serve their community.
      Their gifts, no matter how big or small, are precious. Be mindful in your time of crisis to remember this.
  • Pay it forward
    • You won’t always be in this situation, there is light at the end of the tunnel. When you are back on your feet (and you will be) remember what it was like and try to meet the needs of others in the future and help as many as you can that are in the situation you were in. Pay it forward.

Do you have any advice to offer someone who has lost everything? We all need to reach out to our fellow man.

2 Comments

  1. Stacy Jo McDermott on June 16, 2017 at 10:12 pm
    Good post. I've had several friends/acquaintances, who despite having a good job here in the SF Bay area, found themselves just this shy of being out on the streets. In addition to doing most of the above steps, one can: 1) Going through the "stuff" and selling it. It's amazing how much "stuff" we accumulate! One person had a garage sale and she made $1,200.00 - enough to get her in a better position. Another person took the view that some of his collectable albums were better off putting on eBay...he too, was surprised at how much he was able to raise. So look through the "stuff" - not an easy task for sure, but in the end, that value will come in handy. 2) Something that should be used as an absolutely last resort - getting a loan against valuables (jewlery, art, etc). The interest rate is quite high, however, if the mission is important enough and there is no other avenue, this is worth serious consideration. 3) Is there an area of skill that can be monetized? A friend of a friend who was desperate after being laid off, was sitting in her truck outside of a self storage place...she saw an older couple struggling with getting furniture into their car. She went up to them and said that she had a truck and would gladly help them get the furniture from the storage place to where ever they were taking it...she got the furniture in her truck and followed them to their daughter's place and then turned around and gave her $50 for helping her. So, this woman decided to leave flyers at the various storage places offering her service of helping people transport those items that couldn't normally fit in a car. I don't know if she's still doing this, but it allowed her to get from point A to point B without too much stress. There will be times in life where it gets tough, but focus, determination and thinking outside of the box will get a person through even the toughest situations. Kind regards, Stacy PS. I attempted to sign up for your newsletter, but wasn't able to...can you add me to your email newsletter? Love your website!
    • The Coastal Homestead on June 17, 2017 at 10:58 am
      Thank you Stacy for your comment and ideas! I love how your friend saw a need, filled a need and made an income that was needed. I have a whole article on hosting a yard/garage sale and they are a wonderful way to de-clutter and make money. I really appreciate you asking about the newsletter. We are in the process of moving from the ocean (coast) to the mountains so I decided to build a whole new website called My Homestead Life. Eventually, I will transfer all of my articles over to the new site, but it takes a long time (much longer than I imagined. If you have a moment to spare, please go to the new site and register for the email there. http://myhomesteadlife.com/ I'm also on FB daily and you can pretty much get a direct response from me there. https://www.facebook.com/myhomesteadinglife/ Thanks again, much appreciated! Blessings, Amber

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