“Anyone who has struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”
Living in poverty not only takes a toll on a person’s emotional and physical health but also on the meager financial resources they may have. This article from the Washington Post takes a look at some of the ways that the poor end up paying more for basic goods/services than many middle or upper income folks, just because of their lack of money and the (most likely) poor neighborhood they live in. Being forced to pay significant chunks of your small paychecks to check-cashing companies or having to buy food at the convenience store on the corner may not seem like big issues to those of us who have comfortable incomes but for someone who is living on a shoe-string budget these costs pile up week after week and month after month. These costs make it even more difficult for someone to get out of poverty.
With our Poverty Challenge we hope that people will be able to see some of these hidden costs of being poor. Choosing to drive a car will automatically put you over budget, so if you need to get somewhere you will have to take the bus or start going into debt. This means you will probably have to walk to your bus stop (which can be a long walk in some neighborhoods) and hope that the bus is on time. If you miss the bus, that means waiting for at least another 20 minutes for another one. Being late to work can mean instant firing for workers in many low-wage jobs, which would be a huge set-back because at a poverty level budget, odds are you haven’t been able to save much money in the last couple months.
The difficulty of finding steady transportation is just one hidden cost of being poor that people with higher incomes (who can usually afford a decent car) may not necessarily see. Reading this article and taking part in the Poverty Challenge is one way that those of us who do not live at the poverty level can begin to get some understanding of the unique difficulties facing those of us living in poverty.
Poor? Pay Up.
Having Little Money Often Means No Car, No Washing Machine, No Checking Account And No Break From Fees and High Prices
By DeNeen L. Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 18, 2009
You have to be rich to be poor.
That’s what some people who have never lived below the poverty line don’t understand.
Put it another way: The poorer you are, the more things cost. More in money, time, hassle, exhaustion, menace. This is a fact of life that reality television and magazines don’t often explain.
So we’ll explain it here. Consider this a primer on the economics of poverty.
“The poor pay more for a gallon of milk; they pay more on a capital basis for inferior housing,” says Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). “The poor and 100 million who are struggling for the middle class actually end up paying more for transportation, for housing, for health care, for mortgages. They get steered to subprime lending. . . . The poor pay more for things middle-class America takes for granted.”
Poverty 101: We’ll start with the basics.