29 October 2014

the expense of poverty

My Major Work Event finished last week, so I am no longer driving all the way across town to spend long days rushing frantically about. I'm back to normal life, sort of. I get up and take the bus to work downtown. It feels almost unreal after three weeks of the rush.

I took the weekend off, but I still want to sleep for a really long time. I mingled with some lawyer people this evening, and their response was approximately, "How are you even standing after a three week long [Major Work Event]?"

Yup. Truth.

I am trying to take it a little easy. Today I took a break and went to the eye doctor and ordered the fewest number of new contacts possible, due to lingering brokeness and lack of vision insurance. I really had to shell out the cash, though, because my contacts were starting to hurt my eyes. I figure that is never good. 

I need my eyes to do this work. No eyes = no pay.

It's kind of sad when your break is a trip to the eye doctor.

One thing I have thought about a lot since I began this current period of brokeness is how being poor is expensive. It really is.

I called around about the eye doctor, and the cheapest place to go to the eye doctor is c0stc0. To go to c0stc0, however, you must be a member. Membership at c0stc0 costs $55, or $110 with a $55 rebate plus 2% cash back on everything you buy each year. 

The catch? You get the $55 back at the end of the year. 

If you become a c0stc0 member, you get things like gas at $0.60/gallon off commercial prices. You get things like my normal lotion $2.50 cheaper than other stores. 

The catch? You have to buy two bottles of lotion at once. 

If you are living on a serious budget, these things don't work. You don't have the extra cash to buy two bottles of lotion this month. You can't float c0stc0 $55 for a year. 

One of the reasons why I have been able to survive this brokeness is because I wasn't broke for the years prior. At the worst of my financial difficulties, I still had contacts in my box of bathroom supplies. I still had tubes of toothpaste that I bought in bulk. I still had a drawer full of spices. I still had a car that functioned well. And every day, I still got up and went to network and do small jobs looking like a professional, because I had purchased professional clothing in the years prior.

If you'd never had those things, I can't imagine where you would start.

If you had to have a nice suit for an interview right now, but you'd never owned a suit, how much more would it cost you than the suits I bought on clearance while I had the time and money?

If you had to have a car for a new job right now, but you didn't have any savings, how much more would it cost you than the car I found and bought four years ago when I had the time and money?

If you had to have glasses or toothpaste or lotion right now, and you couldn't afford to shop in bulk or pay for a c0stc0 membership, how much more would you pay for it?

In the long run, it's more expensive to buy packages of sliced American cheese than to buy the two pound block of extra sharp white cheddar, but what if in my grocery budget this month I can only afford the slices?

Everything is like that, it seems. It is much more expensive to be poor than it is to be rich. I think we forget that.

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