Friday, August 07, 2015

Do as I say, not as I do (on being poor)

This is a followup on the previous entry.

After telling about our idyllic lives on twenty acres (and then six, and then forty-three acres), I need to take the time for a disclaimer:  If you ever want to have anything, don't follow our examples.  

We never had a dime to put into a savings account.  We didn't do "sweat equity" by doing upkeep on a house.  We were outdoor people.  Who cares if the house is depreciating yearly, as long as we have a place to eat and sleep?  Cliff's area of expertise is not in remodeling, and we never had the money to afford to pay someone else to do it.  And, as I say, that wasn't on our list of priorities.  Live for today!

I only held down jobs for perhaps ten or twelve years altogether of our forty-nine years of marriage, partly because I didn't drive.  Everybody asks, "Why didn't you learn to drive?"  

Because every time I tried to learn, whoever was trying to teach me either made fun of my efforts or got angry and began cussing my ignorance.  That pattern began with a driver's training instructor in high school who derided me in front of the other two students who were in the car with us and ended, I believe, with Cliff's late brother, Warren.  Cliff was somewhere in the middle there.  I don't take verbal abuse well.  

So, how are you going to get a job if you live in the country and don't drive?  I wouldn't have worked outside the home when my kids were small anyway, but I probably would have tried once they started school.  Who knows?  That "should-have, could-have, would-have" cycle really doesn't get you anywhere.

Look around:  If a married couple is going to get anyplace in the world today, they both need to have jobs.

Another gigantic thing we did wrong:  Credit card debt.  It wasn't usually for non-essentials.  When we needed new tires and didn't have the money, we used the credit card, that sort of thing.  And I will confess that we bought a cow or three using those "checks" credit card folks send you to use.  Maybe even a tractor along the line.  I don't know.  It seemed like the thing to do at the time.  We finally kicked that habit about fifteen years ago.  We still use a credit card, but we pay it in full each month. 

I remember hearing a saying years ago that went sort of like this:  If you think your life has no purpose, at least you can be a bad example to others.  I know that isn't exactly how it went, but you get my drift.  

We were lucky.  We were blessed.  We made it through, often without any health insurance.  

Don't do as we did.  But if you should find yourself in that position, be sure to have fun while you're at it. and pay your bills so you can keep your good credit rating.


Jon said...

I can relate to a lot of this.
My father was so verbally abusive when I was learning how to drive that I gave up - until my mother finally taught me.
You can never count on the value of a house. I lost BIG money on the house in Texas, because the housing market was so bad and nobody was buying. If I didn't eventually GIVE the house away, I would have still been there.

I never had health insurance - and I'm paying the consequences - but I simply can't afford it.

Margaret said...

I can't imagine not driving because I hate being dependent on anyone to take me places. (just how I am--very spontaneous at times) I would be bankrupt if not for health insurance, so I'm extremely thankful for it. Any major accident or disease(like cancer) will devastate the finances. Even with medical insurance, it is tough. We all make different choices and pay whatever consequences we have to for them, I guess. (or none if we're very fortunate) xoxo