September 23rd, 2016. Hector International Airport in Fargo, ND… the first and only time I paid for extra or overweight baggage at an airport. I swiped to exchange $250 for 18 pounds, most of which I probably never used. Not to mention, I did this on my way to work for a $450 monthly stipend over the course of the next two years. It was a wake-up call.
Fast forward one year, and we’ll go on a tour of my room. I’m happy. I love my job, my roommates and friends, and I’ve figured out that limited budget. So I happily show you my mattress on the ground, next to which a pile of books sits directly on the floor. The suitcase in the corner is not tilted upright on its wheels in storage mode, but rather it’s laying flat on the ground. If you opened it, you’d see it’s not packed for the next trip but functioning as a drawer.
Last but not least, I’d show you the decoration. That’s right! Only one item of decor, being an empty Absolut Mango vodka bottle (that only sometimes had flowers in it). That sole decoration didn’t need help sprucing up the room. It was a one-vodka-bottle job.
Yep, you could say I was a bit “poor”. And now that Covid19 has turned our working world on its head I’m going to tell you what I learned during that time.
All jokes aside, if your housing or meals are now compromised, message me immediately. I may not be able to help financially but we will work together to find an individual or organization that can.
So without further ado:
Tricks of the “Poor”
- Your car. Forget about it. Heck, sell the damn thing. Walk, bike, carpool, Lyft, borrow, and use public transportation. Your car is holding you back. When you drop your car, you add a free workout. You also help the environment. Yeah, gas is cheap now but car parts are not. And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll connect you with my dad who is a genius at buying used cars.
- Find your staple meal. This should be cheap food you like, and that you’ll eat often. The repetition avoids buying extra ingredients that eventually land in the trash. Mine is scrambled eggs, toast, and frozen veggies.
- Reduce toiletries. We are stuck inside anyways. Keep it to shampoo & conditioner, face wash, toothpaste, and deodorant. That cheap shampoo will also be your body wash for the time being.
- Visit the local library (virtually). Most have bestselling books and resources accessible on several devices. Minnesota peeps see LARL.
- Thrift shop. When things do open up, chances are this cramped budget will still be a thing. So when you go looking for a tank and shorts for the summer–go secondhand.
- Borrow with respect. I couldn’t have done anything in the past five years without my family and friends. Clothes, plane tickets, crashing at houses, and much much more. Some of these were gifts, some borrowed. The bottomline is: check your pride at the door. Ask for help with the utmost respect. And when it is given, do what you can to show appreciation. My personal favorite is mowing lawns and scrubbing toilets.
- “Make the money, don’t let the money make you.” As said by our friends Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Your income is not a reflection of your worth. If you are reading this furloughed, hours reduced or “let go” and feeling down, that’s not on you. That’s on a faulty system and set of societal beliefs poorly reacting to the current crisis. So wear those mismatched thrift shop finds proudly, because “Uncle Sam is my pimp when he puts me on his track”.
Finally, poor is put in quotations here for a couple of reasons. One, you should never seriously use it to refer to a person or group of people. I don’t think there is a great replacement, but “low-income” is a start. The former attaches the quality to people, the latter redirects to their situation.
Second, through all of this I am still extremely privileged. As mentioned above, many people have got my back. If that’s you I’m sending a million thank yous!! Also mentioned above, if you need someone who’s got yours, MESSAGE ME.
Hang in there, friends!