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Monday, October 8, 2012

Poor Spending Habits

This past Sautrday's edition of Marketplace Money really hit home for me. Click here to read it. (Marketplace Money airs on 90.3 WBHM in Birmingham on Saturdays at 1 pm.)

It was about being poor, specifically being the working poor. It's so easy to judge people from where we are sitting, but the past couple of years I have spent juggling bills and barely scraping by sometimes have taught me to be more understanding of other peoples' situations.

I remember days when I worked 20 miles from home, back in early 2011, calling in sick to work because I didn't have enough gas to get to work and back. One day a friend (who was in pretty dire straits herself financially, I believe) came to see me at work and gave me three bucks in change and I was able to put about a gallon of gas in my minivan. It made a huge difference to me.

Have you ever suffered a major economic disaster that made your standard of living go way down? Did you come from means and then have to downgrade your spending as an adult because you didn't make as much as your parents? What's the "stupidest" thing you've ever spent money on? Did you regret it, or did it bring enough happiness to justify the expense?


  1. I have been in the position of thinking about selling one car that I couldn't afford repairs on to put gas in the other vehicle. Both my husband and I were working at that time. I have had a bankruptcy and a foreclosure. At that point in time, we were behind in payments and my husband got an extra job to make double payments on the mortgage that they misapplied and it went to the principle rather than our backed payments. I had PPD, a toddler, and a baby then. We didn't have the money for legal counsel, but the free legal counsel told us we'd screwed up too bad to fix it.

    I really didn't have to downgrade my lifestyle, but hubby did. It took a while to fix some bad habits that we picked up from my parents (living on credit, waiting for that big break to pay stuff back) and we're still scraping by. I don't know the stupidest thing we've ever bought. Maybe that membership to the discount club when we were 21. I think that cost us $1000, and it was a huge waste. Most of our mistakes aren't huge mistakes, just nickle-and-dime stuff that haunts us years later. :)

  2. We haven't made any huge mistakes because we don't have the money for huge mistakes. One thing the people in the MM piece talk about was having "status" things, like nice televisions. I heard similar criticisms when Rock Center ran a piece on food stamps. People get VERY up in arms about someone receiving any kind of government assistance having anything nice, ever. I had my nice things before I was broke, I assure you. Liquidating small assets to pay bills doesn't usually make sense, because it's a temporary fix. Sometimes you have to do token things to appease people (read: family) who are trying to "help" you but in the end you still end up not being able to pay the next month's bills and you sell off all your little spots of happiness.

    The hardest thing to give up has been haircuts. I have had two professional haircuts since July 2010. And it shows.