Some people think that being poor is a simple thing. They think that you do not have enough money to buy many things, so you are forced to live as you have to and not as you want, you have to live with less.
However, that is not how reality works. When you’re broke, you can’t do all the little things that will improve your income or budget in the long run.
This is why being poor is too costly.
For example, you can’t buy your food in bulk, buy quality things that last longer, or have your own gadgets or tech gadgets instead of renting them.
Even the simple act of saving costs you money, and worse still, poverty comes with certain expenses hidden and intangibles that all they do is get you even more into this terrible condition. here you have them
Any college student can attest to this, getting food when you’re poor isn’t that hard (or else, look how much microwavable food costs).
The problem is finding healthy food, since microwave noodle soup for example, is made up of 20% “empty” calories and 80% salt. If you spend most of your life eating this type of food, your health will be greatly affected and your life will be in danger.
When going through difficult economic situations, people value time over health, and fast food becomes a much more pleasant alternative to cooking at home.
What’s more, street food ended up being much cheaper than going to the supermarket and then going to cook. For example, a can of soda is much cheaper than an orange juice or glass of milk, so deciding what to drink besides water doesn’t require much thought.
Now, if you follow such a diet for years, the consequences will be terrible. It can even improve your economic situation and these habits are ingrained in your day to day life.
The safest thing is that you think: “Once I start earning more money, I will change the way I eat”. What you don’t know is what it costs to change a habit that you have been practicing for so long, you can ask those who have been trying to quit smoking for years.
According to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, healthy foods cost $45 more per month, on average, compared to “junk” food. If you have money, this is not a problem, but when you earn minimum wage and have no other source of income, the topic of healthy food becomes unprofitable.
Watch: How to get rich on minimum wage
You may be thinking: “Who cares about healthy food when you can barely pay your rent? Do you know what does have serious long-term health consequences? Get kicked out of your house. So I’ll pay the rent today and worry about cardiac arrest tomorrow.”
When you are poor you cannot afford to think in the long term:
Many people know that it is cheaper to buy food in bulk, but they do not have the capacity to do so.
Many know that those noodle soups and “junk” food will kill them one day, but as long as that day doesn’t come before rent is due, all will be well.
Many know that it is better to cook at home, but like many people in this situation, having two jobs to support themselves is not uncommon and there is no time to cook.
When you’re poor, you don’t have time to be healthy, and you don’t have enough money to save.
Having a job is useless if you have no way to get to it. Having your own car is expensive, even after paying the initial fee, which is the most difficult.
Now, public transportation may be cheaper and more viable for low wages, but it’s not always available in every city or to every place you need to go.
This is why when you are poor, transportation has two costs. hidden when you are poor
First, many of the expensive repairs a car needs are avoidable, as long as you have the money to fix it on time and make the necessary adjustments. For example, a change of brake pads, liquid or oil for the motor or a simple revision can avoid a much bigger problem in your car.
If you don’t change a few simple brake pads, this could seriously affect your wheel rotors. Which do you think is cheaper to change? The more time you let pass, the more expensive the repair will be.
When you are poor it is not a question of not wanting to spend money repairing the car, it is a question of not having enough to do it.
Public transportation is a good option, but as we mentioned, not all cities offer it, and if they do, that doesn’t mean it’s great either. With this transport you have to assume a totally different cost: time.
What would be a 15-minute drive turns into an hour-long drive. If you miss a bus, the delay will be at least 15 minutes. The worst thing is that you only have a few free hours a day, which you could use to prepare a decent and healthy meal, but you can’t because you have to travel by public transport.
Watch: A lot of work and very little time? This might interest you
Unfortunately, public transport is not the most optimal option. If your car breaks down and you don’t have money to repair it, you will have to adjust your salary again, or even lose it because you don’t have a way to get to it.
Even the cost of your time on public transport means that you cannot participate in activities that can lift you out of poverty, such as education. Ironically, the simple act of going to work is difficult, since working implies certain costs that poverty does not see as viable.
You need to dress well to make a good impression, but clothes are not a priority
Beyond the necessity, buying clothes is seen as an unnecessary and superfluous expense. Why should poor people buy nice new clothes, when they can barely cover their living expenses?
The problem is that if you don’t invest in clothes, you will have to pay a high social cost for not doing so.
In some jobs you have to buy the uniform, you have to spend money that you still do not have (and that you have not been paid) to be able to present yourself to your new job. As usual, the fact of putting on the same uniform and shoes every day makes it deteriorate, which gives you a bad image and worse, makes you invest in a new one, taking away credit to buy different and presentable clothes.
The problem is the following: if you are poor and have a presentable wardrobe, people will tell you that you are irresponsible with money. Now, if you dress poorly and don’t have an outfit for the occasion, chances are you won’t be taken seriously, especially in job interviews.
The way you dress can be the difference between landing a new job and not even having a chance to be taken seriously. This effect is so profound that the simple brand of your clothes can give you an advantage over others.
As indignant as you read this, you know it’s true. This is how society works and it’s unfortunate.
Now, the cost of not having presentable clothes is not only social. Having to keep clothes clean and organized takes time and money; and if you don’t have a washing machine, you have to spend time in a place where they charge you to use it.
Not only does this take away money since you have to pay each time you wash, but it takes away time that could be used to learn a new skill, to study, to meet influential people in your environment, or to spend time with your family.
Watch: 34 websites that will make you a genius
The worst part of this situation is that it seems to be unimportant. The simple fact of having to dress poorly because you have no other choice is overwhelming, and to finish adjusting, people see you differently, tell you that you should change your clothes and criticize you for your shoes, shirt or pants.
For most people, the way you dress is seen as simple vanity and something that is not necessary; food is necessary, a roof is necessary, transportation is also necessary. New clothes? Not so much.
If you buy something new they will ask you and they will judge you for doing it, they will tell you that you are broke because you do not know how to make good decisions… So you can ignore these comments, since it does not matter if they judge you for the poor quality of your clothes, or for spend your money on a new one.
Avoiding costs is a matter of life and death in low-income households. And do not think that this is not important, since when you are poor you have costs everywhere:
- costs for not having a bank account
- costs for having an account
- costs for paying late
- costs to pay with a certain card
- costs for not being able to pay the costs
An individual can drown in costs and interest, which profoundly affects the finances of a struggling family.
There is no better example of this situation than all those people who pay with their credit cards over 24 to 36 months. They think that it is much more comfortable to pay it that way, what they do not know is that they end up paying almost three times the initial value.
Surely you are thinking, “That’s why they are poor, because they spend money they don’t have”. What we don’t understand is that it’s not about spending what you don’t have, but a question of needing it to live, of being willing to pay three times if it guarantees some food or shelter.
Costs are everywhere when you’re poor. Banks, bills in general, the fact of paying with a card, paying something for your car, paying in installments, even interest for not being able to pay the same costs… in short:
When you are poor you have more costs than the rest of the people.
From everything you have just read, there is no doubt that being poor is something too expensive and difficult. Of course, being so you have opportunities to improve your life, but without a doubt, the probability of success is much lower.
In poverty you spend hours trying to stretch your budget, hours doing things that the rest should not do, hours working for a salary that is not rewarded enough.
It’s hard because you live thinking about how to get to the next month, and not about your future plans.
There are many people who live in this reality, many people with extraordinary abilities, but in a condition of poverty that prevents them from prospering and exploiting their potential. It can be in your hands to be that “lifesaver” that gives someone else an opportunity, that provides an escape route from that cycle of poverty.
If you can do it, don’t hesitate. Judging without necessity is very simple and practical. Help, not so much. Ultimately, being poor is too costly.
If you can, help. If not, find someone who can.
Written by: Eric Ravenscraft