I've been a bit distressed lately over some of the grumbling that has been going on in several of the blogs I read. People jumping in at one lady because she treated herself to some small pleasures in life--a fancy washcloth, strawberries, cut flowers and a shirt from a thrift shop. How can she be frugal? Why didn't she donate the money to the less fortunate? My heart really, honest and truly hurts for folks who are legitimately doing without necessities in this time of economic crisis. My mil is a good soul and donates time to the local food bank and this organization also helps out folks about to have their utilities cut off. These people have to bring in their "budget" or I should say proof of their expenses. Many of them have the premium cable channels, cell phones with many of the bells and whistles and huge car payments. Now tell me, if a person really has a limited income, doesn't it make sense to minimize expenses? Get one of the new antennas and voila, great television reception for the local channels. Cell phone expensive? Don't use it! Get one with a minimum of minutes or pay as you go and restrict usage to absolutely necessary calls only. Internet on the phone? That would be nice and fun but really, is it necessary? Internet and computer at home--nice, but with free Internet and computers at the library ones at home are not necessary. Expensive car payment? I will admit, a car is almost (you notice I say almost) a necessity where we live because there is absolutely NO public transportation other than a few cabs. Let's get real, a big SUV with 8 cylinders is not an economy vehicle. This is the sort of thing many of the poor are paying on as necessities in their lives and then coming in for help with utility and rent payments. They get the food cards to buy groceries with for themselves and children. Then, instead of packing lunch for the kiddies to take to school they are able to "double-dip" and the kids get free lunches at school and in some places free lunches are available in the summer too for kids. Don't get me wrong, I never, ever want to see a child go without food but the free food money needs to be spent responsibly so that it goes farther. The food cards can actually be used to buy already made cakes at bakeries and you know they cost way more than a box mix and tub of icing; better yet, go to the library, get on the Internet and look up recipes for cakes and use the ingredients already "bought" with free food money.
OK, now that I got that out, I realize that not all "poor" people are milking the system and are actually thrifty people having a legitimate hard time of things. Really, probably most of them are it is just the few that are taking advantage of the system that irk the living daylights out of me and are so noticeable. It is tax time again. When we bought our fixer-upper house at auction (there's a long story about that for later) we were able to only have a modest mortgage on it and at our ages, that was great and when we refinanced a few years later we were able to get a 15 year mortgage with an escrow account to pay insurance and taxes plus equity money to add a large bath off the master bedroom and our payments went up only $150. Ok, that's great right? Yes and no. We don't pay enough interest on our mortgage to deduct from taxes. So, as a responsible taxpayer, we helped bailout banks that lent money to the financially irresponsible who couldn't foresee that balloon payments or ARMs would cost them big bucks after a few years. Our children are grown and gone so no deductions there either. What does taxes have to do with the "poor?" At the time of our lives where we should be able to enjoy our money, our tax load is increasing and as far as the "poor" and their tax refunds, there are some who are getting back MORE than they paid in and where do you think that comes from? The working stiffs that's who. Do I donate to the "poor"? In the traditional sense, I'll put a little in the bell-ringers bucket at Christmas, donate gently used books, clothing and other goods to charity thrift shops and give canned goods for the periodic food drives. Do I feel obligated to do more? Only on a more personal basis if a neighbor, family or friend is going through tough times then I have gone to my freezer and given away "extra" foods that "the two of us can't eat before they get freezer burned so you might as well take it." The ridiculous amount of taxes we pay takes up the slack in my charity giving. I too am going to take a little get-away next week to Florida. I will be visiting family there. DH is staying home with the chis. Is this trip a necessary thing to waste money on? Yes, my husband worked hard for the money, time is short and family is important therefore I will visit and not feel that the money would be better in the poor box. Lets face it, if someone is sitting on their computer at home, paying for Internet service and crying about the poverty they live in then they are really not that poor. Sorry if I offended some. I'm just irked that some of the nasty, nasty comments I've seen recently on a normally cheery, upbeat blog I like to read. If you think I'm being cryptic about what blog it is, nope, it's Attic24 and I just don't feel like looking up the url.
Must be something in the air, after reading Pammy Sue's Blog and her rants yesterday it empowered me to let it out. If you're reading this, thanks Pammy Sue.