On Being Poor and Why It Really Sucks, Part 2

In the comments section of my last post, On Being Poor and Why It Really Sucks, Part 1, someone asked this:

So where’s the ‘donate’ button

I really appreciate people being interested in helping me (which I’ve experienced a lot of within the secular community; it seems to be full of kind, generous people, even if there are a few assholes). But this does bring me to my next sucky thing about being poor: accepting help.

Another thing that really sucks about being poor is accepting help when you need it. I grew up in modern American culture, which tells people that everyone can become rich, if only they try hard enough. So when you come to a point in your life where you’re barely even surviving, it’s hard not to blame yourself. I know I do. Any time people offer me help, specifically financial help, I have an overwhelming sense of failure. I’m very aware how stupid and unreasonable it is to feel that way, but when you’ve been feed the “bootstraps theory” (aka: pull yourself up by your bootstraps) your whole life, it’s hard not to internalize it. I even have a hard time with friends buying me a snack (there have been more than a few times that I was very hungry because I’d been away from my apartment all day but didn’t have the money to buy anything and a friend offered to buy me a snack only to have me turn the offer down).

Despite my feeling of failure, I’m beginning to learn to accept help when I need it. I’ve know for a long time that “anyone can become rich in America” is a myth, and others have begun to realize this too (as illustrated not too long ago by the 99% movement). I feel like I’ve come a long way on this issue of mine in a short time. I’ve even added a “donate” button to this blog (as you can see in the sidebar). But it’ll take more time for me to unlearn some of the things ingrained in me by a lifetime of being poor (even if it’s been a short lifetime so far). And until these things stop being a problem, I’ll keep talking about them

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One response to “On Being Poor and Why It Really Sucks, Part 2

  1. Just a normal guy

    Becoming rich in America might be a myth, however, it defines what you mean by rich.

    I consider rich to be someone who is able to make $300,000 a year in passive income utilizing multiple income streams, however at the same time a person needs to be able to live off of 75% of whatever they make in order to continue to build their nest egg and investment principle in order to keep up with inflation.

    I no longer work, I live off of passive income, however I grew up dirt poor in the Appalachian mountains. My family lived in a mobile home on some land that we shared with my grandfather, a part time coal miner, part time moonshiner, and full time poor drunk hillbilly trailer trash.

    I joined the Army in order to pay for my education, they also paid for my law school. In the summers of undergrad and law school, I sold Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door in Atlanta in order to build a nest egg and have something.

    While my parents and grandparents didn’t even have a checking account (because they didn’t trust banks) I taught myself to invest in the stock market, and by the time I graduated law school at 28, I had almost $60,000 saved and invested in index funds.

    Working full time as an attorney, I lived with some roommates, most of who were in grad school, and I spent no more than $20,000 a year (including student loan repayment) and was able to stash away about $30,000 a year for five years. Every year I bought a single family home that was in need of repair, I fixed it up and rented them out.

    Even in the lean years of the recession, due to investing in index funds, I was able to make a marginally decent rate of return on my investments and today I have a little under $70,000 from my original investment of $60,000 in the index fund.

    I quit my firm job, and am going to go full time into purchasing, rehabbing, and renting houses. I mainly concentrate on the college market, as that is what I know best.

    I know that I am not rich, but I am a long way from that Appalachian mobile home. I would argue with you that I have a good chance of becoming rich according to my definition, and my son has an even better chance than I do, because he will be starting kindergarten next year at a very good private school.

    No I don’t have as much as some people, but the economic advancements that I have made should be proof that anyone can do it, if they only try. I did absolutely nothing that anyone else could not do.

    I joined up and used the gi bill to pay for my schooling, saved money and lived very frugally, saving every penny I could get. I got an average job after law school, making the median attorney income, and just lived frugally, bought rental property and worked hard.

    Anyone can do it.

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