Once upon a time there was a poor little boy from a poor family. His Father was poor. His Mother was poor. The maid was poor. The cook was poor. The butler was poor. Even the chauffeur was poor. One day, he went to his father and asked if he could have a pony. His Father said no, because they were too poor to afford a pony. The poor little boy went to his piggy-bank, took out enough money to buy himself the pony, and put the rest back….
We are often so busy with our own lives, that without really obvious clues, we think that everyone is pretty much like ourselves. It takes an observant and analytical mind to notice the struggles of those at the bottom of the financial, pissed-on trickle down ladder. I am distressed that a $180 pair of distressed designer jeans looks just like my four-years-old $24.95 Wal-Mart pair.
This is why politicians, who are already being paid far too much to do a job that their predecessors did without pay, as a Public Service, feel free to waste millions – Billions – of our dollars, and still fraudulently pad their office budgets and expense accounts. They have no idea, and don’t care, what it’s like at the bottom of the pile, and it’s been this way since long before Marie Antoinette offered to “let them eat cake.”
It is just as illegal for a millionaire to sleep under a bridge, as it is for a homeless man to do so.
I recently had a conversation with a friend. It seemed that both of us were keeping an eye on family finances – total income vs. expenses – only I think that he was doing it at a much higher level than I was. I’ve never asked how much he makes. It’s none of my business, and doesn’t affect our friendship.
With his experience, training, intelligence and education, I suspect his annual salary is somewhere north of $100,000/year. His talented wife probably makes half of that.
With my learning disabilities, and poor short-term memory adding to my tendency for procrastination, I’m lucky to have accomplished what I have during my life. About 15 years ago, before I retired to live on Government and company pensions – with a bunch of overtime, I grossed $44,000, but the wife had been ‘downsized.’ Earlier, when I made $38,000, she added $19,000.
This is not a whine! I’m still doing better than a lot of people, including the little guy who busks in the cold, outside the local grocery store. As an engineer, Jim Wheeler says that it is not worth his while to stop and pick up a penny. I still grab the occasional one or two from the ‘Need A Penny/ Leave A Penny’ tray at the corner store. People abandon them because the Mint has stopped making them.
I always check the reject chutes of the coin-counting machines in stores. Sometimes I find Canadian coins, as well as foreign ones which I add to my collection. It’s quick and easy to eyeball the change chutes of vending machines. I’m not too proud to (discreetly) stick my finger in the few payphone chutes that still exist. The last time I did, I found $2. It’s all relative. $2 to a millionaire is nothing, although Bill Gates (or his minions) cashed a check for 39 cents. $2 to someone who is eating cat food (We don’t.) means a lot.
Having pets is a wonderful experience. I would not want to get rid of any that we have, but the wife wants even more. I cannot convince her that, between food, treats, litter, and vet bills, each animal costs us about $1000 a year. I would sooner have that money to pay down our still-existing mortgage, or use it to take enjoyable trips, while we are still physically capable of doing so.
Some people waste money, too often MY money! Some people scrimp and save, show restraint and fiscal control, and budget their money to get them the most they can. I’d be patting myself on the back, but I’m busy crawling around on the floor, trying to find that quarter I dropped. I’ll be back up at the computer in a couple of days. Please come back again then. 😉