Stellar post by Revanche: Generational Poverty, and how she manages to ‘keep going’ in terms of saving money.
Personally, I never want to go back to my college days.
Working 80-100 hour weeks, school 40 hours a week, sleeping a few hours a night, and still slaving over a checkbook scraping the pennies together at the end of every pay period, under a tiny lamp light.
That was miserable. But memories of personal misery fade.
The memories of my mom and all she’s sacrificed for me.
The memories of how hard she worked, how determined she was to lift herself and her family out of their dirt-grubbing poverty.
Those ghosts are in my marrow, my tissue, the air I breathe.
I can relate to her, which is why she is such a good friend but also a fabulous blogger to read.
I’d also suggest reading:
- Sandy of Yes I am Cheap’s post: I grew up poor and survived
- Fabulously Fru-Girl’s own account of growing up poor
- Daisy’s From Rags to Riches Part One (Part Two is unwritten)
My parents grew up in poverty
I don’t talk about this much, and I say “middle-class” when you ask me how I grew up, but it came to be mostly by my father winning the lottery.
However, when my parents were kids, they grew up dirt poor.
I am not talking like they had barely enough to eat, I mean they had nothing to eat at all on some days.
My mom had to beg for food, and even steal it from houses where they’d dump it into a bowl outside for the cats or dogs to eat.
She tells me of how ashamed she still is to this day, to have stolen food from an animal.
My father had to deal with a rumbling tummy every night, and then force himself awake at 5 a.m. to get to class to try and pay attention when all you can think about are the ravenous wolves eating your belly.
Local people took pity on them and fed them as they could, and they even received help from western countries that we now live in: they were given powdered milk in huge bags for instance.
But with so many children in the families (19 on each side), you had to get into bloody fistfights for food, but would ultimately lose if you were the youngest and therefore, the weakest and the smallest.
Survival of the fittest.
Now, the fattest, as my mom jokes.
She says because she had nothing to eat as a child, it’s the reason why she’s “overweight” (I think she looks fine, considering she was skin and bones before.)
They managed to make it out of poverty, but never learned how to manage their money — who was there to teach them?
I also held a job while going to school
I didn’t grow up in poverty, or even lower middle-class to have the same kind of pressure Revanche did.
She also has to deal with a deadbeat loser of a brother, and my siblings are thankfully well-adjusted for the most part, working good jobs and staying out of trouble.
I can relate to working full-time while going to school (40 hours work, 40 hours school), but not to the extent of Revanche, and I had it easier, having lines of credit and student loans to help me.
I had to work full-time because tuition was $20,000 a year and my father basically lived off the lottery money, gambling it, working odd jobs here and there, and taking it easy for most of his life. My mom went back to school full-time while raising us kids (ranging from ages 6 – 15), and finally landed a good job.
My parents never saved a dime for me from that jackpot, even though they promised they would pay for my tuition or at least give me something towards it.
I felt betrayed by their lies when it was time to pay for college and they pretended they hadn’t said a word.
Ultimately please understand that I don’t care that they didn’t save any money for me because it worked out for the best, having student loans and learning how to get out of debt to take charge of my money at an early age.
You just do what you have to do
Revanche absolutely REFUSES to go back to what she went through before, which is why she’s such a careful penny pincher these days (girl keeps me in check!).
I just do what I have to do to get to where I want to be and I have a goal and a plan to get there.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) I am disconnected from that poverty my parents grew up in, which means I don’t have that motivation to stay out of the bread lines to do what I do.
Instead, my motivation is to never live or act like my parents.
I don’t want to lie to my kids, telling them I have money saved for them when I don’t.
I want my kids to learn early on, those money lessons I learned later in life (not much later thank goodness, but still, a lost 13 years of money mismanagement!)
I don’t want to waste or squander my money by being lazy and too easygoing about my financial future, but I appreciate that my parents valued life & their time.
I don’t want to end up as the clueless woman in the house who has no idea what anything costs and doesn’t know how to manage a budget.
I want to be financially secure, and to see my money saved last me more than just months, but years so that I have that peace of mind of not needing to work, living paycheque to paycheque.
I’ll still work of course, but I want to have savings so no one can tell me what to do with my life and to not have to worry about whether or not I’ll have food tomorrow.
After a while, it gets easier to be frugal
It really does.
I don’t have that frugal bone in my body and I am not really a saver by nature. I’m a spender!
(Hence the constant internal struggle to not spend, and to save)
I’m trying to make it grow but I think I should just work with what I’ve got.
I keep myself in check by managing my money with a budget by tracking my expenses, and I connect with other like-minded, money managers (also known as bloggers).
I am inspired by bloggers like Revanche, and not only that, by my readers. (THANK YOU!)
I am now on the path to making sure I don’t repeat my parents’ mistakes, and it even makes me happy to know that I enjoy saving my money now, and I have the money to do the things I want to do in life.