Some people may think that reading (or writing) a blog about saving money is just something to scan through every once in a while as they cruise along the internet on their way to YouTube or their Facebook page. And perhaps they are justified in thinking a money blog like this one is mostly fluff and no substance. After all, the title Super Saving Tips sounds a little bit like a place just to talk about couponing or discounts that get you to save a nickel or dime on something, and who really needs to bothered with that, right?
Well, I am here today to say that in spite of the title, this blog isn’t all fluff and no substance, Yes, that’s my biased opinion and you are ultimately the judge here, not me. But I truly believe that every once in a blue moon I actually write something here that is more than just a way to save nickels and dimes. And even if it was only just that, being a super saver would still be relevant and important today, in the 2019 war on poverty!
One of the Wealthiest Nations on Earth Still Has Intense Poverty
Poverty in America today remains one of the most entrenched social issues we have around us. To many people, it’s either hidden from them because they choose to close their eyes as much as they can to not see poverty or it’s “that place over there”, the poor side of town, that they never want to or have to cross so it isn’t really very important to them. That is the shameful reality.
The numbers don’t lie as it is said, so here they are: about 1 in 8 people living in this country fall below the federal poverty line, which means that 11.8% of Americans earn less than $12,490 a year.
Think about that for a minute. With an income like that, you need to survive on approximately $35 a day, all while paying for your necessities such as rent, food, and transportation. That translates to about $6 an hour in pay (based on 40 hours per week). How is that possible here in the USA? And it gets worse as your family size grows.
For larger families of up to five people, the federal poverty line rises to $30,170 a year, or just over $17 a day per person which is even further from any kind of comfortable standard of living. $17 dollars a day? Those nickels and dimes look pretty big to anyone one who lives on that amount, don’t they?
Income Inequality Is Not Just a Campaign Slogan
Campaign slogans that talk about income inequality do raise the consciousness about this huge issue. How many times are you going to hear about the 1% over the next year or so? My guess is that it will be more than just a few.
A close look at income inequality, even here in the United States, reveals the shock that today’s world of unaffordable housing, crippling college debt, energy costs, and all the other forms of human marginalization, traditional stereotypes, and assumptions about who lives in poverty just no longer apply. It’s even worse around the world.
Sometimes we dig into our pockets and try and help those poor starving kids in Africa and places like that, but really, does that get you off the hook and feeling better about it?
Giving your contribution is kind and I am not meaning to knock it, but the needs of poor people are not solved by your $25 check written once every year. The answers are much more complicated than that.
Strategy #1 – Save As Much Money As You Can
Each week I think about what I can do to save money, after all, that’s what a super saver does. It may seem like an obsession to some. I don’t live under the poverty mantel and never have. Even when I was a child, although we didn’t have a lot of luxuries in our lives, we never went hungry or without clothing or shelter. Being of a lower middle class background was never the same as being poverty stricken.
But because we weren’t part of the 1% (yes, it has always been around), saving money was really, really important to us. That’s why my mom and dad taught me how to save so carefully.
Having grown up and lived through the Depression, they were actually on pretty high ground by the time I came along and the 1950s rolled into the picture. But even while prosperity seemed like it was growing and touching almost everyone in those days, they never lost that fear that they might only be a paycheck away from some sort of personal financial disaster. Frugality and good money practices were a lifeline defense against slipping into such a personal depression. That’s the reason they taught all that to me and I am glad that they did.
Strategy #2 – Refer to Strategy #1
Ok, it’s a little more complicated that just that. Saving money can only happen when there is actually money you have that you can save in the first place. So in reality, earning money is the real strategy.
In times when we talk about “full employment” like we are in today, getting a good job seems hard. Good jobs are not always available and many people have to take lesser jobs and work overqualified and underemployed. That is a much hidden number in the full employment statistics we hear about each month.
That’s the reason that having other ways of earning money is so very important. You can and should plan on alternate sources of income to fight off any risk of poverty and only you can do that.
I feel like saving money each week is actually providing me with another source of additional income. Yes, I said it. When I save I don’t spend as much money on something, then I have more to spend on what I really need. I never spend without evaluating the entirety of the “how’s and why’s” of my spending.
I think of myself as a super saver, and I am not embarrassed by that at all. That’s why this is Super Saving Tips even on a day when it’s not about a specific coupon or discount spiel.
Where You Live Matters Now…and When You Are Older Even More
The cost of living can also vary widely from state to state, meaning you’ll encounter significant differences between the federal and state poverty guidelines. In reality, poverty in certain areas can be more severe than what the nationwide numbers imply. After all, when extremely limited in your income and daily spending, even a marginal difference in costs will eat up larger and larger portions of your budget. You do have a budget, right?
All that leads to some sage advice for many and that is that when you are retired and no longer earning a weekly paycheck, relocating and downsizing becomes a really good option. The cost of living and the poverty line differs from state to state. If you have the option to move, strongly consider it.
Every so often I have to get on my soapbox and today was the day.
It’s time we stopped treating poverty and income inequality as if it’s someone else’s problem and not ours. We are all in this life boat together or at least we should be. That’s why being a super saver counts and being a person that prioritizes savings helps fight poverty in some small way.
This past year, my wife and I tried to give more to try to help others with our charitable donations of clothes and money (and volunteer time). We aren’t going to solve poverty all by ourselves with all of the systemic issues at play and we aren’t in any financial position of building foundations or sponsoring scholarships, but perhaps you are? In any event, we have pledged that we will try to be part of the answer and not walk around ignoring poverty as too many do. Some of them even hold elected offices and that is something we can all have an impact on if we pay attention (by the way, today is election day, so make your vote count!).
That’s why I say that every battle that is waged has to have a strategy in order to win. Helping yourself first by saving money and earning more is a pretty good strategy to start with in my eyes.