One Day From Homeless, Our Story

 

ONE DAY FROM HOMELESS, HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?
People are in shock when I tell them that my husband and I had been one day from homeless. They respond, NO WAY! They can’t believe it. Friends knew us as middle class. We still look middle class. We behave middle class. There is not really anything that gives us away. Since everything fails to confirm our financial situation and living circumstances, I have no choice but to tell them our story, One Day From Homeless.

one day from homeless
This is the new suburbs, camps of homeless people who find refuge in suburban wooded areas. Although not legal, this is a place to gather as a community for safety and survival. From NJ.com.

OUR STORY
When my husband and I became a couple in 1994, everything was fine. We had a house at the beach. We each had a car. Both of us had college degrees. I had a small business. He had a job and was completing a Counseling Certificate.

We both came from good homes. I was from Long Beach, NY. He was from Manhasset, Long Island’s North Shore. We had good upbringings and were community members in good standing. There was nothing to foretell what was to come.

A MIDDLE CLASS LIFE
We lived a comfortable middle class life. Things all seemed headed in a great direction. The house we owned skyrocketed in value. We sold it at the top of the market right before housing decided to turn south and crash.

My husband was able to go back to school full time due to an injury from his job and a layoff. He studied graphic design and got a terrific job in NYC in 2000. I had my decorative painting business. It was going well. For a while, things were fine.

FINE TAKES A TURN FOR THE WORSE
But then the stock market showed signs of instability. My planner said it was just a bear market that would correct itself. My gut disagreed. But she was the professional, so I held on. At the same time, there were changes going on at my husband’s job. He had to commute one and a half hours each way to New Jersey during reconstruction of their Manhattan headquarters.

When they returned to NYC, he got a new boss. From day one, they were like ‘oil and water’. The working relationship went from bad to worse. As if it had been orchestrated by some quirk of fate, everything felt like an avalanche gathering downhill speed simultaneously.

One Day From Homeless
Dow Jones Historical 100 Year Chart Showing 2008 Depression

THEN CAME 2008
My husband had just turned 62. So he could collect social security. But he preferred to keep working and wait until age 67. But he got laid off. It was bound to happen. Better than the homicide or heart attack I feared would happen from working with his boss.

My mutual funds that were supplying a small income for me were competing in a similar down hill race. And it all crashed at once. That was 2008. Job gone. Income gone. If it had not been for President Obama’s extension of unemployment insurance from 26 to 99 weeks and his decrease in COBRA insurance from $1500/month to $500/month, our demise would have come much sooner.

THE HANGOVER OF 2009
As we continued to live on dwindling savings and my husband’s pension, I felt more and more despair. I had never felt this way before. I started carrying my toothbrush and dental floss with me everywhere I went. Something didn’t feel right. At first, I started having terrible pains in the area of my gall bladder. In attempting to heal that without surgery, I started to have a severe emotional swing, a downward crash actually.

As much as I fought it, I could not stop falling. I fell into a deep, dark hole where there was nothing. There was no hope; no future and time almost came to a standstill.

I was having a nervous breakdown. With five visits to the emergency room, I ended up in the psychiatric unit of the local hospital from two of the ER visits. That is where I spent much of my summer, in and out of it the unit. Then I was in the aftercare program. I don’t know which aspect of that ordeal was the worst part. I think all of it was. The only saving grace was that I was in air conditioning all summer.

VEGETABLE OR HUMAN
My husband was terrified that the prescribed medicine overload would leave me a vegetable for life. But he stuck by me visiting me in the hospital every day, twice each day. He didn’t even tell me about the day he got hit by a car when he was riding his bike. He didn’t want to upset me. He told me about it years later. Thank God, he was OK.

Somehow, I finally got on the right medicine, from seven at one point down to a reasonable, workable two. I found a wonderful therapist and started to see a pinhole of daylight out of that black hole.

SAYING GOODBYE TO OUR MONEY
But on thing did not stop. That was the drip, drip, drip of our money going down the drain, as we had to support a Middle Class life of expenses on a Poor Middle Class income. But we did not identify what it was at the time.

My husband continued to seek work to put us back in balance. But in terror, I counted the months our funds would last. By then, we were in ‘the system’, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps. But what were we going to do about our housing situation?

We had a two-bedroom apartment and no idea what we were going to do or where we were going to go. We thought the answer was to get evicted since that would bide us time or so we thought.

one day from homeless
The Grapes of Wrath written by John Steinbeck from ravepad.com

ALMOST HOMELESS
Thank God, we did not go that route. It would have been a mark against us for future housing applications. Our landlord was wonderful. He patiently worked with us, accepting what we had left to give him. First it was our deposit as a month’s rent and then one of my husband’s best paintings as the final month’s rent.

By then we were down to another level in ‘the system’, the search for emergency housing. Miraculously, with the help of a friend, we found a senior housing opening. It usually takes years to get in. First you apply to a waiting list to wait on another list to apply for an apartment.

LIFE IN A STUDIO APARTMENT
But the housing that we found in record time, two weeks, was a studio apartment. That was the only drawback. The building was lovely, centrally located and most importantly, it would provide a roof over our heads in a very nice building. For a number of weeks before we found the studio apartment, we thought we could end up homeless.

Then there was a paperwork screw up with the county’s bureaucracy at the very last minute. We had gone there for our ‘one shot’, the money for our apartment deposit. We waited over 3 hours for it. But at the very last minute, it was denied to us. We had $8. too much money to our names. We were supposed to be delivering the deposit for the new apartment the next day. I totally panicked. That was the closest we have come to becoming homeless. It is something I pray that we never experience again.

MIRACLES DO HAPPEN
At the last minute, the money we needed for our deposit was made available by a charitable organization when they heard our story. After the three unnerving hours we had spent in the county’s facility, we drove another hour to the place that saved us with their donation. But I have to admit that the six months starting with the countdown of funds to almost homeless was probably the scariest time in my life. I felt so powerless.

MOVING FORWARD
It is hard to believe that we have been living in our building for about four years. We were even able to move into a one-bedroom apartment about a year and a half ago. It feels like a palace after two and a half years in a studio. We see the trees out our window and feel like we live in the sky.

My husband was able to go for advanced training in the counseling field. He has been interning doing that. I have been learning how to adjust to being Poor Middle Class, not as a punishment but as a badge of courage.

A GIFT
We believe that we have been given the experiences of the last 8 years to learn how to survive from a place of surrender, gratitude and humility. It has been and is still quite a journey. What we have learned and continue to learn is a gift.

It is a gift that has been given to us to pass on to others. Let us continue to experience this new life as a gift. Let us also continue to pass on joyfully, what we have learned and continue to learn. Let our experience help others who are now where we once were, almost homeless and part of The Former Middle Class.

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Money, A Government Commodity

 

Introduction
Money
The Poor Middle Class Crisis, Financial Survival Resources Guide by Alison D. Gilbert © 2017
Money, as a government produced commodity is more friendly to the wealthy and decreasing so as one approaches poverty. As a Senior Suburban Survivalist, or a member of The Former Middle Class, The Poor and even the dwindling Middle Class, we need to find more impartial, equitable survival resources. They need to be less dependent on government produced and controlled money.

In addition to the inequity of money is the fact that many of us no longer have enough income or savings to live the traditional life we grew up with or used to have. In other words, we are no longer Middle Class Americans. We are part of the Poor Middle Class Crisis. Many of us are in debt. Many of us baby boomers are now seniors and beyond significant employability.

The most devastating causes of the loss of one’s money can be a serious illness, a death, the termination of a good job, as well as storms and earthquakes. A significant economic downturn can scoop up more of the Middle Class and deposit us, like yesterday’s trash, into the heap of The Poor Middle Class. Some people ended up in the depths of poverty and homelessness from the horrific hurricanes of 2005 and 2012 and the stock market crash of 2008.

Learn more about The Poor Middle Class Crisis and our story in the Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook available on Amazon.com, the introductory facebook page of the same name and the companion facebook resource, support group, Financial Survival Resources for The Poor Middle Class.

Time For A Change
Here is an introductory video to the homesteading life, Off Grid with Doug and Stacy.

It is time for a change, a paradigm shift to a new kind of economy. We need an economy that offers alternatives to money as its foundation. We no longer have a large Middle Class or the ease to be part of it. Our government’s focus has shifted. We have a growing Poor Middle Class and increasingly fewer people in possession of the government produced money.

If the economic paradigm does not shift, this is the direction we are headed in. Many people will have to live like slaves. They will continue to have to work two and even three minimum wage jobs. Even then, they may barely make enough money to survive. Also, they may still need government assistance, like food stamps to make ends meet and health insurance to survive.

money
This is the new suburbs, camps of homeless people who find refuge in suburban wooded areas. Although not legal, this is a place to gather as a community for safety and survival. From NJ.com.
Disastrous Results From Uneven Distribution of Government Money

If people are not fortunate enough to find work, are not able to work, can’t support themselves or their families and cannot get enough government assistance, they may also become homeless. The number of homeless people in this country is also increasing. One of the changes that needs to take place does not involve going backwards.

The problem will not be solved by increasing jobs in outmoded technologies that will be short lived and not provide health insurance. It will also not be solved by the government’s shifting money around where even less goes to the needy and more goes to national defense. As we know, the haves will rarely give enough to help the have-nots unless they are forced to. It does not look like the current administration is of the mind to force the very wealth to do so. This would require a substantial tax restructuring. This is not going to happen, either. Therefore, what is required is a completely new kind of economy.

money
Depression Era from Freshman English on Wikispace.com
Exempt From Disaster

The ultra-wealthy 1% and other very wealthy people might be exempt from needing to be part of this paradigm shift. They could keep their money. In fact, they would continue to monopolize this government commodity. But for those of us who suffer from the lack of money and the results of the unwillingness of the wealthy to share theirs with us, we need a system for The Middle Class, The Poor Middle Class and The Poor to rely as little as possible on government controlled money. As the saying goes, ‘the solution is not in the problem’.

Alternatives To A National Government Money Based Economy

I believe that we are in the beginning of this paradigm shift. Money is becoming harder to come by for too many of us. Therefore, we need to be less dependent on it. As a matter of fact, cash produced by our government is much less involved in our daily goods and services transactions. Here are some of the ways this has already changed:

money
Local Currency as shown on Wikipedia
• Paying with credit cards and being rewarded for it with cash or travel points. See posts about Cash Rewards Credit Cards and Travel Rewards Credit Cards.

• Community currency or local currency is defined by Wikipedia as “In economics, a local currency is a currency that can be spent in a particular geographical locality at participating organisations”.

• Bartering all kinds of food and products (on an individual or community cooperative basis) The Barter Network

money
The Barter Network

• Acquisition without money such as foraging for food, using natural sources of energy, street find, reuse of existing found materials, scavenging for food and other usable items

• Homesteading and off grid living as close to what nature can provide with a bare minimum of cash to live such as Off Grid with Doug and Stacy

 

Bitcoin is a digital, international coin system not produced by the US government

Conclusion

This is just the beginning of opening the doors and windows of the proverbial ‘thinking outside the box’. Paradigm shifts do not take place overnight. They only appear to in an historical perspective. We do not have that perspective, yet. This movement is much too new. But the good news for many of us is that is it a is happening and it is in its beginning.

Senior suburban Survivalism

 

 

 

Sources & Resources

The Viper Tool Storage Company

The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook

The Former Middle Class

Financial Survival Resources for The Poor Middle Class

Senior Suburban Survivalism,

Bitcoin

Off Grid with Doug and Stacy

How Bartering Works

Local currency

The Barter Network

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Senior Suburban Survivalism

 

Introduction

Senior suburban survivalism has become our new way of life. The purpose of this blog post is to explain what this new way of life or lifestyle is. I also detail our need for it. In addition, I explore this lifestyle so that the knowledge of survival tools is made available to others members of The Poor Middle Class. I want to inspire hope in others who are in the same or similar financial situation to us. Learn much more about The Poor Middle Class on earlier posts of my blog and in the chapters of The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook.

senior suburban survivalism
The Poor Middle Class Crisis eBook available at Amazon.com

Surviving In A Middle Class Suburban World As Part of The Poor Middle Class

Because we are part of The Poor Middle Class, life has become increasingly challenging for us. As seniors aka boomers and part of The Poor Middle Class, we have had to find new lifestyle tools to survive in suburbia. We strive for a good life in spite of our limited financial resources. We are proud because we are rich in resourcefulness and hope.

Both senior suburban survivalism and homestead/off grid living have contributed to our new life. By preference, we are adopting lifestyle changes that are intrinsic to homesteading and off grid living. By necessity, we have become suburban survivalists. In fact, one could say that Senior Suburban Survivalism is a new alternative lifestyle for suburban members of The Poor Middle Class. We are learning to balance these alternate lifestyles to create a new life that is affordable and that works for us.

What Is Survivalism?

senior suburban survivalismSurvivalism is defined in Wikipedia as “. . . a movement of individuals or groups who are actively preparing for emergencies, including possible disruptions in social or political order, on scales from local to international.” Preparation tends to involve the ability to live in rustic, primitive conditions. It can include altering one’s relationship to the political, social and economic establishment.

For The Poor Middle Class, serious disruption to our social (economic) order has already taken place. It means that we are no longer middle class financially. But we still live in a Middle Class material world. There are steep financial requirements to live comfortably and securely in that world. But they are beyond our reach.

Additionally, the current political climate may cause our social order to be disrupted even further. Be that as it may, there are aspects of survivalism as well as qualities of homesteading and off grid living that we are applying to our suburban, poor middle class lives. Out of necessity, we have become suburban survivalist. Out of desire, we are also adopting homesteading and off grid living qualities. Our hope is that our new formula for living will work even when life is more of a challenge.

senior suburban survivalism
This is the new suburbs, camps of homeless people who find refuge in suburban wooded areas. Although not legal, this is a place to gather as a community for safety and survival. From NJ.com.

 

Homesteading and Off Grid Living

Homesteading involves living off the land, in a simple and close relationship with nature. Off grid living involves the absence of municipal utilities such as electricity, gas, heating and cooking sources as well as water. This elimination of this dependency is by choice.

Both of these lifestyles sound exciting and romantic to me. But these alternate lifestyles are for younger folks who are more robust than we are. Therefore, a compromise of incorporating homesteading/off grid qualities into our lives as senior suburban survivalists is one way we can live our dream. Below is the video introduction to Off Grid with Doug and Stacy. They are well respected ‘leaders’ of the of homesteader/off grid living community. As you can see from the video, Doug and Stacy have found great joy in their homesteading/off grid life.

 

Our New Life As Senior Suburban Survivalists
We have been forced into senior suburban survivalism rather than able to chose homesteading/off grid living for two reasons:
• our age-the rigorousness life of homesteading/off grid living is for younger folks
• our financial circumstances-we do not have any financial resources to purchase land or materials to create an off grid homestead

Senior Suburban Survivalism
‘Ali’s Kombucha Kitchen: Home of Healthy, Probiotic Food and Drinks’ is one of my pages on Facebook

In spite of our limitations, we still derive great pleasure from aspects of our new life. Here are ways that we have adopted into our daily lives what we can of ‘the real thing’ as homesteader/off grid type folks:
• Housing-our senior housing is affordable, we have no mortgage to pay and we would be homeless or close to it without this amenity
• Food-the weekly food pantry we get food from has become our personal vegetable garden
• Foraging-local parks and green spaces make foraging still possible in the suburbs
• Traditional food & beverage preparation and preservation-these techniques are totally viable, easy to learn, close to nature, full of healthy probiotics, are frugal and avoid food waste

senior suburban survivalism
Making Kombucha, One of my Favorite Drinks and Hobbies
• Living a simpler and slower life-we have chosen to slow our lives down even though we still live in the fast paced suburbs
• Budgeting-we spend very carefully and as little as possible while sticking to a strict budget
• Acquiring things like Clothes and Furniture-we utilize free resources from our food pantry, our neighborhood, flea markets and thrift stores

 

 

Conclusion
I am an eager beginner in understanding what homesteading, off grid living and survivalism are and how we can incorporate them into our lives. I feel that we have embraced the spirit of them and welcome whatever works into our home and lives. So far, we have found that as we simplify and scale down, our lives have become richer and fuller. We look forward to the bounty of adventures and discoveries that lie ahead on this journey of our new life.

Senior suburban Survivalism

 

 

 

Sources & Resources

The Financial Survival Toolkit from Viper Tool Storage
The Poor Middle Class
Poor Middle Class Financial Survival Resources
Definition of Survivalism
Homesteading/Survivalism
Off Grid with Doug and Stacy-Homestead Homies
Living Off Grid for Thirty Years: A Story of Isolation Through happiness
The Secret Shame of Middle-Class America by Neal Gabler
Fifty Five, Unemployed and Faking Normal by Elizabeth White
The Homeless Encampment in Howell, NY.
Ask A Prepper
The Lost Ways
Food Preservation and Fermentation
Survival Food Reserves

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The POOR MIDDLE CLASS HEALTHCARE INSURANCE CRISIS

 
This post was originally written before The Trump Administration came into power. One of their campaign promises was to repeal and replace Obamacare. At this time, it is not known what the outcome will be. But an article in TalkPoverty.com indicates that a completely new plan could decimate Medicaid for seniors and people with disabilities.
 

The Healthcare Insurance Crisis
There is a Poor Middle Class healthcare insurance crisis in this country. In fact, this issue is of growing concern. The lack of sufficient medical care coverage for many people is the cause. The cost for others is also of great concern. The deepest concern is felt by the poor and poor middle class. Here’s the reason. With the election of the new President, the Obamacare Program was promised to be discarded and replaced. But now in spite of that promise, no one knows what would or could replace it.

At present closer examination, lawmakers see that Obamacare will not be so easy to repeal and replace. Instead of such an extreme measure, they are suggesting that refinement may be a more reasonable solution. But with the new President, this could be even more of a challenge. The reason is that he is not in favor of compromise. He would rather make a sweeping changes. That would mean erasing the blackboard and starting over from scratch. According to the map in Figure 1 below, Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansion could be in jeopardy. This could impact healthcare negatively for many people.

 

healthcare insurance crisis
Figure 1: Expansion states are split between Republican and Democratic governors as of January 2017.

 

Medicare and Medicaid
Essentially, the differences between Medicare and Medicaid is fairly straightforward. In other words, eligibility for Medicare is at age 62. Contrary to Medicare, Medicaid benefits are based on financial need and disabilities rather than by age. In addition, individuals above a certain income level pay a monthly premium for Medicare. Not only that, they have a co-pay for medical services. On the other hand, Medicaid recipients do not have a co-pay. Let’s go to Wikipedia for more thorough definitions of Medicare and Medicaid.

 

healthcare insurance crisis
Figure 2: Medicaid eligibility increased for parents and other adults in expansion states under the ACA.

 

The Wikipedia definitions for Medicare and Medicaid
healthcare insurance crisis
Definition of Medicare According to Wikipedia

healthcare insurance crisis
Medicare card and Medicaid logo samples
healthcare insurance crisis
Definition of Medicaid According to Wkikpedia

 

healthcare insurance crisis
Figure 3: Most of the growth in Medicaid enrollment was in expansion states and the West from Summer 2013 to September 2016.

 

The Prospects for Poor Middle Class Healthcare
There are added benefits to Medicaid over Medicare. Therefore, maintaining Medicaid is a major concern for poor middle class people’s health care insurance. Individuals on Medicaid have:
• a zero monthly premium
• 100% coverage for primary medical care
• referred coverage at no charge
• minimal charge for prescriptions

 

healthcare insurance crisis
Figure 4: About 11 million Medicaid enrollees in 2015 were newly eligible adults in the expansion group.

 

What Coverage and Financing is at Risk Under a Repeal of the ACA Medicaid Expansion?
The article begins:
healthcare insurance crisis
What Coverage and Financing is at Risk Under a Repeal of the ACA Medicaid Expansion?
Dec 06, 2016 | Robin Rudowitz, Samantha Artiga, and Katherine Young

 

healthcare insurance crisis
Figure 5: Uninsured rate drops more between 2013 and 2016 in states that adopted the Medicaid expansion.

 
This article concludes:

healthcare insurance crisis
What Coverage and Financing is at Risk Under a Repeal of the ACA Medicaid Expansion?
Dec 06, 2016 | Robin Rudowitz, Samantha Artiga, and Katherine Young

 

healthcare insurance crisis
Figure 6: From January 2014 – June 2015, spending for the expansion group totaled $84 billion ($79 billion in federal funds).

Cooperative working systems

 

 

 

Sources & Resources
Wikipedia Definition of Medicare

Their Definition of Medicaid

What Coverage and Financing is at Risk Under a Repeal of the ACA Medicaid Expansion? Dec 06, 2016 | Robin Rudowitz, Samantha Artiga, and Katherine Young

What Coverage and Financing Are At Risk With the Repeal of ACA Medicaid Expansion, footnotes

Navigating The Healthcare Landscape

What Coverage and Financing is at Risk Under a Repeal of the ACA Medicaid Expansion?

TalkPoverty.com

Republicans Have Lost Their Plot To Repeal Obamacare

Can Obamacare Be Repealed?

Fearing Repeal of Obamacare, Women Are stocking Up on Birth Control

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USING CREDIT CARDS

 

Credit Cards
WARNING, using credit cards can be like carrying a loaded gun. At the same time, they can be financially beneficial if you know how to shoot. On the other hand, they can be deadly if you don’t. In fact, many people do end up in debt using them. The interest that accumulates can make it impossible to ever pay them off. Groups that help people get out of debt prohibit their use altogether.

credit cards are a financial survival tool for the poor middle class crisis
Credit Cards from Linkedin.com

But in my case, using credit cards is part of my financial survival toolkit. With this caveat, I also strongly suggest the following. If you are not able to be vigilant using them by never missing a payment, do not include them in your financial survival toolkit.

 

How I Make Money Using Credit Cards
Yes, I have actually learned how to accumulate cash or credit towards purchases using my credit cards*. So far, I have discovered two ways to create income. If you know of others, please let me know. I have the following cards:
• a cash rewards card
• a travel points card
* The ‘income’ from them, the cash rewards are not taxable because the money is a discount or purchase rebate, not income itself.

 

Cash Rewards Credit Cards
Some banks offer credit cards that accumulate cash points for purchases. The points are a percentage of the expense. They range between 1% and 3%. I have been able to earn about $20/month with this system.

the poor middle class crisis financial survival toolkit
The Chase Freedom Unlimited Cash Back Visa
* Mention of this card is in no way an endorsement of it.

 
Travel Rewards and Sky Miles Credit Cards
I signed up for a travel rewards credit card when the bank had a special promotion. If I charged a certain amount of purchases within three months, I would receive 20,000 in travel points. I did this. The travel points will go towards a trip out of state to see family and friends.
Financial Survival Toolkit for the poor middle class crisis
Five Star Sky Miles Credit Card
* Mention of this card is in no way an endorsement of it.

 

Sources & Resources
Here is a list of the best credit cards for a variety of categories. You can explore these websites for even more suggested card categories.

Excellent Credit Scores:
Excellent Credit Score Cards

Cash Back:
Best Credit Cards for Cash Back | Compare Cards

Travel:
Best Travel Credit Card-BankAmericacard Travel Rewards

Credit Karma | Best Travel Credit Cards

General use:
Best Credit Cards for 2017 | Compare Cards

Credit Karma | Best Credit Cards

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Creating An Authentic Story

 

 

Tell Me A Story
We love stories. We can read a book or have one read to us. Perhaps a story is online or viewable on the multiplicity of media available. Ultimately, the results of the creation of an authentic story is a treat for us all. Besides entertaining, a story can be informative. In addition, it can promote a business or a product. Whatever the purpose, the process is basically the same. In this post, the focus is on the process.

The Creation of a Story
The process of creating an authentic story requires intensive research and lots of writing. I’ve created several stories containing the required elements. In all four authentic story situations, there was access to primary sources and extensive research. Sometimes having access to primary sources is impossible. So when it does happen, it can be very special for both the writer and the reader.

Four Authentic Stories
The authentic stories here touch upon four different non-fiction topics:
• business-a multi-million dollar corporation that started in a janitor’s closet
• social issues-The Middle Class Poor Crisis, a serious situation that exists today
• creativity-a creative-organizational process called Knolling
• music-some very special musicians

Each of these stories is set up as a series of blog posts. To read each of them, click on their link. That will be the first post of the story. You will be able to read the additional posts from there.
 

The Story of A Corporation That Started In A Janitor’s Closet
The Charrette Corporation Chronicles
The Charrette red van was part of my intense research & writing process
The Charrette Red Van Travelled from Boston to New York Daily Long Before The Invention of Federal Express Overnight Delivery.

 

A Social Issue called, ‘The Poor Middle Class Crisis’
The Poor Middle Class Crisis
poor middle class financial survival toolkit
The Secret Shame of Middle Class Americans

 

A Creative Organzational System Based on Florence Knoll Furniture Designs, Knolling
Knolling
 
What Is Knolling? From 10 Bullets. 2009 by Tom Sachs
What Is Knolling? From 10 Bullets. 2009 by Tom Sachs Posted on the CreativeMarket.com Blog, August 19,2015

 

Some Very Talented Singers
Expressions of Creative Passion
 
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The ‘Godmother of Rock ‘n Roll

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POOR MIDDLE CLASS THRIFTY SHOPPING TOOLS

 

Thrifty Shopping Tools
Poor middle class thrifty shopping tools are part of my financial survival toolkit. My toolkit is filled with tools that I have discovered and tools that others have shared with me. By participating in this process, we are all part of a financial survival support community.

This blog post is part of the series, The Poor Middle Class Crisis. Most of the thrifty shopping tools that I describe in this post and have added to my Poor Middle Class Financial Survival Toolkit come directly from a dear friend of mine, Danny Eitingon. He is very much part of my financial survival support community.

Using The Financial Survival Toolkit
Thrifty shopping tools from a financial survival toolkit can help many other poor middle class people survive, as well. Sharing this information is how we can help each other to survive. Not only do I welcome and appreciate input to fill my toolkit with but we also all benefit from sharing tools with each other. This give and take can helpful for everyone. In fact, it is why I call this exchange a financial survival support community.

poor middle class thrifty shopping tips
The Financial Survival Toolkit for All My Finaincial Survival Tools Is from the Viper Tool Storage Company

 

A Financial Survival Support Community
Thrifty shopping tools are intended to help Poor Middle Class people. In addition, these tools are prudent for use by people who are still middle class. Becoming an educated consumer is especially important now. We can all benefit from being part of a financial survival support community. We take tools when we need them. Then we add tools when we can spare them. The following tools that have been shared with me and added to my Poor Middle Class Financial Survival Toolkit.

Product Tools
Shop at Dollar Stores
• Shop at the dollar store for short-life items. For example, you can buy soap, napkins, toilet paper, shampoo, paper towels, etc. There are many perfectly decent products, including environmentally friendly ones, that really do only cost a dollar!

Save on Gas
• Go to Gas Buddy to find the cheapest gas in your neighborhood.

thrifty shopping tips
Not your usual ‘Piggy Bank’. This is one made out of a plastic laundry liquid bottle. From diytag.com

Alternatives to Expensive, New Furniture, Household Items and Clothing
• Consider a buckwheat mattress
• Acquire wooden furniture like tables, dressers, desks from places like the Salvation Army
• Shop thrift stores for good quality, second hand, even vintage clothes

Buy In Bulk
• If you are shopping for a large family or need large quantities and have the storage space, join Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s for less than $50/yr. You can save hundreds, possibly thousands per year buying in large quantities or bulk.

Buy Store Brands
• Try store-brand rather than name brand products. Many are significantly cheaper. In addition, quality is very often not compromised. This is especially true with cleaning products and other household items.

• Recycle soda bottles, cans and water bottles
You will be surprised by how much change you can accumulate using this simple thrifty shopping tip.

Services Tips
Negotiate on Utilities
• Contact your Internet service provider, telephone, and other utility providers every six months. That way you find out if the they are offering less expensive plans than you currently have. Sometimes, you can achieve significant savings by contacting your utility companies on a regular basis. Try to negotiate more economical plans.

thrifty shopping tips
Credit Cards from Linkedin.com

Compare Credit Card Rates
• Check your credit card companies on a regular basis. See if they’re offering new cards with lower interest rates or better rewards programs than the one you have. Banks will not automatically transfer your account to a lower-interest or better reward credit card. Instead, they will let you cancel your existing card and apply for a new one.

Join Credit Unions
• Join credit unions instead of banks. Their interest rates and fees tend to be significantly lower than banks. Credit unions offer the same exact products and services as banks. In fact, credit union customer service is often significantly better.

Get Online Savings
• Subscribe to online savings (21st Century coupon clipping)
Many companies offer discount programs if you provide them with an email address or text number.

thrifty shopping tips
Shop At Home – Coupons and Discounts

Save on Car Insurance
• Shop around at least once every 12-18 months for cheaper car insurance. This is especially important if you have an excellent driving record and/or are a senior. Significant savings can be realized by changing car insurance from time to time.

Compare Service Contractor Costs
• Always shop around for service contractors of any kind, e.g. plumbers, carpenters, electricians, car repair, etc. The competition among trade contractors can be fierce, but make sure you check out their reviews before hiring one. Angie’s List or similar services can be very helpful in this regard.

Subscribe to Consumer Reports

• Subscribe to Consumer Reports to check out their product reviews. Their research on the quality and value of appliances, electronics, and cars is really reliable. It can save you a lot of money in the long run.

thrifty shopping tips
The January 2017 Issue of Consumer Reports

 

 

 

Sources & Resources

My Financial Survival Toolkit

Amazon Prime

Consumer Reports

Credit Unions

Comparing Car Insurance Rates

Gas Buddy

Buy In Bulk

The Elite Core Alliance-My 1Dollar Business

Bitcoin

Shop At Home – Online Coupons and Discounts

Product Expiration Dates Why buy an expensive one if it is supposed to be replaced so soon.

Senior Discount Ultimate Guide from Deal Hack

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THE POOR MIDDLE CLASS CRISIS FINANCIAL SURVIVAL RESOURCE GUIDE

 

OVERVIEW
The Poor Middle Class Crisis is real and it is serious. This Financial Survival Resource Guide can help individuals and families alleviate the effects of the Poor Middle Class Crisis. The guide consists of a series of blog posts. The goals of this Financial Survival Resource Guide are:
1. to make people aware of tools to help build a financial survival toolkit
2. to encourage people to form ‘financial survival support groups’ or communities with other poor middle class people
3. to share our experience in the day-to-day survival as poor middle class people to give other people hope for survival

At this time, the guide is a series of blog posts written by me for people like me, the poor middle class. This post is an overview that introduces all of the blog posts in this guide. Because I am a visual person and I love tool boxes, I am using this great lime green tool storage box as the storage box for my ‘Financial Survival Toolkit’.

An example of a Poor Middle Class Financial Survival Toolkit Being Built
A Poor Middle Class Financial Survival Toolkit Being Built with Suggestions from this Resource Guide

 

LIST OF BLOG POSTS
Each blog post title is an underlined link to the post itself. Click on it to view a post that interests you. They include:

Part 1: The Poor Middle Class Crisis

my poor middle class financial survival toolkit
The Secret Shame of Middle Class Americans from My Secret Shame from The Atlantic by Neal Gabler

Part 2: A Budget Is A Crucial Financial Survival Tool For The Poor Middle Class

financial survival toolkit for the poor middle class
Free Online Accounting & Bookkeeping service

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 3: Using Credit Cards

using credit cards
Credit Cards from Linkedin.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 4: More About Poor Middle Class Financial Survival Tools

My Poor Middle Class Financial Survival Toolkit
Bottle and can recycling machines from recycle | ecycler

 

Part 5: Poor Middle Class Thrifty Shopping Tools

Thrifty Shopping Tips
A Homemade Piggy Bank to Hold Your Savings from Thrifty Shopping Tips, Homesthetics.net

 

Part 6: The Poor Middle Class Housing Crisis

My Poor Middle Class Financial Survival Toolkit
Foreclosure Defense from Christie D. Arkovich, P.A.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 7: Poor Middle Class Housing Alternatives

alternative housing
A Tiny Home Design from The Tiny Heirloom Company

Part 8: Poor Middle Class Affordable Housing

my poor middle class financial survival toolkit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 9: Alternative Living Resources


Franklin Caravan Renovation Project

 

Part 10: The US Homeless Housing Crisis

living off grid
The U.S. Cities With The Largest Homeless Populations by Niall McCarthy from Forbes.com

 

Part 11: The Poor Middle Class Nutrition Crisis

nutrition crisis
The Poor Middle Class Nutrition Crisis, Food Waste

 

Part 12: The Poor Middle Class Healthcare Insurance Crisis

 

Part 13: Our Story: One Day From Homeless
is under construction.

 

 

 

Sources & Resources*

The Viper Tool Storage Company

A Facebook group called, The Poor Middle Class Crisis

A Facebook Group Called, Next Level Minimalism

*All other sources and resources are within the blog posts themselves.

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THE US HOMELESS HOUSING CRISIS

 

The Crisis of Homelessness
The US homeless housing crisis today affects over a half a million people, both individuals and families. This post is one of a series of blog posts, The Poor Middle Class Crisis.
homeless housing crisis
The U.S. Cities With The Largest Homeless Populations by Niall McCarthy from Forbes.com

This post:
• introduces the homeless housing crisis itself
• is a vehicle for the public to become more aware of this crisis
• provides resources of services that are available to the homeless
• is part of the goal to help end homelessness

Mark Horvath and Invisible People Fighting Homelessness

 

How I Am Different From A Homeless Person or Family
What makes me different from a homeless person? I still have dignity, self-respect and a sense of belonging. Other people treat me with respect. I have a roof over my head and my name is on the lease. Without that roof and a permanent address, I become part of the homeless housing crisis community. This can lead to the loss of many other qualities of life. We take so many things for granted. Things like:
• having a dwelling with several rooms
• accessing a kitchen to cook in
• sleeping in a warm bed
• taking regular baths or showers
• grooming oneself regularly
• washing clothes
• having medical and dental care

Without these amenities, one can spiral down, beginning to look and even feel different. A homeless person can become so different that they ultimately become invisible to the rest of the world.

Invisible People
Mark Horvath, a champion for the homeless, calls the homeless, Invisible People. He seeks to end the homeless housing crisis in his lifetime.
homeless housing crisis
Smartphone & Social Media: A Solution to Combat Homelessness | TEDxSyracuseUniversity

 
A Homeless Spokesperson
This video bring out some crucial issues. Certain things are needed by a homeless person to become employed again. The public thinks these are luxuries. They are not. Everyone needs a cell phone and a laptop. Both the employed and those seeking employment need them for their work.

Smartphone & Social Media: A Solution to Combat Homelessness | TEDxSyracuseUniversity

 

A Homeless Person’s Lifeline
Social media, a cell phone and iPad in particular are the lifelines for a homeless person. They are often the sole means of communication with another person. It may be a family member, a friend, another homeless person, calling for help or a ‘warm line’ to hear a friendly voice at the other end of the line.
homeless housing crisis
James new smart phone from ‘Smartphone & Social Media: A Solution to Combat Homelessness | TEDxSyracuseUniversity’

 

Essentials For The Homeless Individual
Besides the ‘life and death’ things like food, shelter, clothes, blankets and medical care, these are also essentials for survival when someone is homeless:
• clean socks
• a place to receive mail like a PO Box
• a cell phone and laptop
• access to a cell phone ‘warm line’
• knowledge of wifi hot spots

Emily and her children

Shelter For The Homeless Individual or Family
Many homeless people agree that official homeless shelters are not the best place to stay. As a result, homeless groups band together to seek safe, optional homeless housing. Protected, warm spaces are the priority. The homeless create homeless housing communities like tent cities. Groups gather within the infrastructure under bridges. Abandoned tunnels are popular homeless dwellings. Assistance organizations do exist in some states. There are homeless housing programs for veterans, as well. Families are put in temporary hotel housing. But much more needs to be done to eliminate homelessness in the US.

 

How To Help End Homelessness
We can help end homelessness:
Donate to InvisiblePeople.tv.
• Increase awareness about the homeless housing crisis
• Speak in public about homelessness in our communities
• Hold a presentation about Invisible People
• Contact our elected officials

The federal government has been working on a plan to end homelessness. Ask them how the plan is coming along. You can read a print version of the plan here.
Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness

Remember, the only concrete difference between is and most homeless people or families started with one thing. We still have our own roof over our heads. Someone who is homeless has lost theirs.

homeless housing crisis
Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan To Prevent And End Homelessness

 

 

 

Sources & Resources
Facebook | Mark Horvath

LinkedIn | Mark Horvath

Twitter | Mark Horvath

Invisible People – Changing The Story of Homelessness

About – Invisible People

Invisible People.tv | speaking and consulting

Emily and Her Children Are Homeless in a Family Hotel

From Invisible People: Sandra Is Homeless In New Orleans

Get To Know Mark Horvath Keynote Speaker, Founder of Invisible People

Former Homeless Man’s Videos Profile Life On Street : NPR

Mark Horvath | The Huffington Post

Kern County bill paying assitance

Homeless Veteran Reintegration Project

Homeless camp shows divide between rich and the poor

The Cities With The Largest Homeless Populations

2016 Homeless Statistics

People experiencing chronic homelessness

Opening Doors

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POOR MIDDLE CLASS ALTERNATIVE LIVING RESOURCES

 

An Introduction To Unusual Living Possibilities
This post follows, Affordable Housing. Some of the ideas for alternative living resources are fascinating. They are definite considerations if they fit one’s lifestyle or goals. As I had mentioned in the first part of this series, some information would be geared to seniors. Most of these ideas are for younger people or for the young at heart.
alternative housing resources
House Sitting Australia from TrustedHouseSitters.com

Live Rent Free
Here are some alternative housing resources that are unique lifestyle options. Tips from the Yes, You Can Live Rent Free.
• Farm Livin’
• Fun With Fido
• Share A Home
• Work As A Nanny Or Au Pair
• Volunteer for Uncle Sam
• Move Back In With Mom and Dad
alternative housing resources
Yes, You Can Live Rent Free from Kiplinger’s Magazine by Lisa Elaine Babb

Invest In A Tiny Home
Tiny homes have become quite a craze. They are much smaller than a regular home. They cost much less. Therefore, they usually do not require financing. The can be mobile. They are available premade or custom built. Due to the nature of a tiny home, it is possible to become a homeowner at a very reasonable cost, for tens of thousands instead of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This allow their owner to have more mobility with their funds and their home. There are a huge number of links about tiny homes on Google. My favorite company is Tiny Heirlooms. HGTV and the DIY Channel both have shows about Tiny Homes.
alternative living resources
A Tiny Home Design from The Tiny Heirloom Company

I am a huge fan of tiny homes. The possibilities are endless. Vintage vans conversions fascinate me. Although at this point in my life I am not seeking to make a tiny house my primary home. As a ‘woman cave’ retreat in the woods, one would be ideal. The Franklin Vintage Caravan is a great example of one. Enjoy this video of the renovation project. View photos by Images © Jesz Carroll/YouTube at The Franklin Vintage Caravan Tiny House

Relocate to A Cheaper Area, State or Another Country
Either for a change of scenery or because someone lives on a fixed income, relocating can be a good alternative. There are online resources for all of these options. Chambers of Commerce are a good source of information. Websites for potential expats are as well.
alternative housing resources
From Expat Exchange: 10 Tips for Living in Colombia

 

 

 

Sources and Resources
My Financial Survival Toolkit from The Viper Tool Storage Company

Yes, You Can Live Rent-Free

Trusted Housesitters

House To Establish Financial Independence

Tiny Heirlooms

The Tiny Heirloom TV Show on The HGTV Network

Tiny House Talk

The Oceanside Retreat, A Tiny Colonial Wonder

Tiny House Newsletter

Simply Enough

Blue Ridge Mountains Simply Enough Tiny Home

Pink Tiny House in Portland, Oregon

10 Tips for Living in Colombia

International Living

Retiring In Belize

Retire in Costa Rica

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