Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why on Earth Only 14k a Year?

This question was posed on another blog when I made a comment offering a few tips on how someone on a lean budget of $50k a year with 4 kids could trim the fat a little. Someone else questioned me right back asking

"Why on earth are you making just $14k a year? I’d really like to know your story. Your comment offers great advice. You’re obviously a thinker and very resourceful. How is it you’re not making at least double your income. It’s just not making sense to me."

And then...

"Ok. A quick glance at the blog, and it seems this standard of living is her conscious choice."

If you notice, it was not mean, sarcastic and ill intended in anyway, it was a genuine question- at least that is how it appeared to me. Yet I lost sleep over it! This question really, really bothered me and I  tossed and turned, mulling it over well through half the  night.

Many times over the years I have questioned the fact that if I consider myself an somewhat intelligent woman ( which I do most days!) why is it I never seem to fully break out of the poverty cycle? What is it exactly that keeps me and holds me there.

Is it a conscious choice? Have we become immune and complacent with it?  Is it because we chose to not go to college? A past history that still stops us today?  Generational Poverty? Lack of resources? Lack of time? What exactly is it?

I am a thinker and resourceful because of low income levels in childhood as well as adulthood.

Yet if I asked myself these questions a hundred times, why is it that it bothered me and shook me to my core when a stranger asked primarily the same question?  The quick addition of the taking a quick glimpse at my blog makes it seem this standard of living is a conscious choice bothered me even more.

As I lay awake most of the night,asking myself a ton of questions and giving a deep period of self-examination I started to realize a few things.

Our initial choices most certainly were conscious and I have written about that here before that we are where we are now from the choices we have made along the way that led us here.

When hubby had his 2 heart attacks with a third on it's way any day, we left a $30,000 a year job that would of gone to $50,000 within a couple the expense of a dead husband or open by pass surgery needed at the very least.  This was  most certainly a conscious choice and moving 1800 miles away for drastic change was also a conscious choice.

It was NOT our choice this all hit in 2008 and we moved to a very RURAL area in North Carolina at the crash of the economy. It was NOT our conscious choice that were were there a whole year and driving up to 50 miles away to every town we could find and for a whole year there was NO WORK AT ALL.  We lived off our garden, scrap metaling (heavy competition at the time down there!) and wild game. I also freelanced articles which later got bought out from another company and I was no longer willing to write $2 articles when I had been getting $10 for them.

It was again our choice to move back to Michigan to be closer to family, but not our choice in where we ended up.Everyone kept backing out at the last minute after we thought we secured a rental as they got scared about whether we would find work and did not like the fact I was a freelancer.

1 hour before we hit the road I got our current homes landlord who is self employed and was homeschooled to agree we could move in and we would see him in 12 hours ( how long it took us to drive) We wound up in a very, rural area of Michigan where for the first year and a half they did not even have any form of high speed Internet here! Dial-up was the ONLY option!

As far as why we only make $14k a year I can only guess some of the reasons may be

Rural America- Rural America which is where I have always chosen to live is quite different than Metropolitan or Urban areas. Resources are limited at best and while housing is MUCH cheaper in rural areas most work is limited to a couple fast food restaurants in town, Walmarts  and a factory or 2 ( which hubby was denied employment to because his heart attacks were less than 5 years old)

Another issue with rural America is that to be honest, I get to the point where much of the time, I am comfortable and don't push myself as much as I should because EVERYONE we know makes the same income! I know one person making more than $18,000 a year and they struggle more than I ever have because they have no clue how to manage money!

People online may seem baffled about our income level, but in my world, everyone we know is making the same amount so in our world - we are the NORMAL. I can not imagine a $50,000 a year income and in part, I am sure that is a problem, not being able to see it, or imagine it can make it harder to obtain.

Growing up we were poor, my friends were poor and this never really changed for me as an adult, they say to surround yourself with financially successful people if you yourself want that.....well so far the only way I have been able to do that is ONLINE because I never meet anyone locally who earns a decent living! My world is surrounded with families in the same boat and their stories, many times we fair far better because of my skills.

Sick Twisted Pride- This one hit me last night, that I actually do get a sense of pride in my resilience and ability to do whatever it takes to  live on what we make, carry no debt, do not use credit cards, and trying to get it to where we live below our means in order to build an emergency fund. I do take pride on feeding my family well on very little, not buying tons of unneeded clothes, riding a bike for 15 miles when needed........whatever.

Health-We seem to have way more than the Average Americans health issues and that most certainly plays a role in our income levels. I wont go into it all but Hubby, myself, and our 2 youngest children have had serious serious health issues over the last 10 years that it is not funny and on more than one occasion had to face the possibility of each one of them dying.

NEED- While I most certainly would love and do work on increasing our income, we live at a level that we manage quite well and do not have a need for tons of money ( which to me $40,000 or more a year is a ton of money!)  As stated our rental payments are extremely low and therefore we simply do not have need for tons of money. If we made that kind of money we would be saving over $20,000 and to be honest I am not sure why I  would have need to save that kind of money every year. So in this respect I suppose it is a conscious choice. 

Standard of Living- This is different for everyone but for me I do not know why this is brought up on a regular basis, our standard of living is no different than others living on far greater of an income. The only difference is my roof over my head is not overly excessive,  it is small but comfortable But do we not technically have the same standard of living that most others have? We have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, good food on our tables ( never missing a meal ever) family, friends, trips and vacations, eating out occasionally and new experiences on a regular basis. Why is our standard of living considered so low in others perspectives? We have game systems, TV, computers and things of that nature I call "fluff" other than our home is 750 square feet rather than 2,000 does not make our standard of living lower than another.

Poverty is suppose to mean that one can not even cover the basics of needs, complete destitute, this is NOT US.

Time-most certainly plays a factor, my husband works 9-5 and it is my job to do everything else. I am the one doing all the finances, budgets, researching new savings ideas, homeschooling, gardening, foraging wild foods, housecleaning, cooking, freelance writing, blogging, self-reliant activities, home business ideas (even though they all failed for 2012)making all foods from scratch, preserving harvests, you name it, I do it..... this takes considerable time and frankly I do not have much energy left to put into much more. Do I need to prioritize? Most certainly but for now I feel very scattered and energy depleted by all that falls on my shoulders and really need a mental vacation at this point. But I keep plugging on and pushing through  it.

Off to think on this matter more.........especially why is it that this comment bothered me so much?  Maybe because I tend to complicate things and I am missing the simple route to rise above? Or is it that I really see nothing wrong with our income level yet know we are really capable of much more?

Have I sold myself and deluded myself into giving up into thinking this is as good as it will ever get?

Do I give up my goals to early in the game? Not that they fail, but that I do not keep trying long enough for them to succeed?

I have many questions circling in my head right now yet I am thankful for the person leaving the comment to really have me go into deep reflection in search of some answers I have not asked myself in a long time now.........