My childhood poverty experience still affects and influences me. My poverty and my capacity for healthy emotions are inextricably linked in a way that I cannot possibly disaggregate, despite trying to do so for many years. Poverty is a specter that has always been a part of my life. I have no idea how to live otherwise.
Despite being a firm member of the rapidly declining middle class, my experiences with extreme poverty still influence my behavior. The thing is, my behavior shifts from one extreme to the other, more frequently than I would like. At a given moment, I will refuse to buy my daughter a Yakult drink because we have stuff to drink at home. An hour later, I just copped four pairs of sneakers for her.
Make no mistake about it, poverty is trauma inducing. Here are a few tips and tricks I've learned to address my internal scarcity model and the insidious poverty consciousness:
- I save something every single day. I will transfer anything less than a dollar to my savings. If I have $12,987.92 in my checking account, that .92 is being shunted to my savings. It is a little, but the satisfaction I feel is monstrous.
- Eating out is now for expediency or special occasions. My family and I used to eat out every single day. Not fancy, I'm talking taco trucks, etc. I also would eat lucky out everyday at work. But now we hit the Farmer's Market on Sunday, and buy groceries for the entire week. Including food for everyone's lunches. I did the math for three months and the amount of money we saved made me sad that we weren't doing this before.
- Paid off a credit card (yeah!!!) and now I use it only for my rotating monthly small bills: Netflix, Hulu, and my email service. The card is charged every month and I pay of the card every month. Wonderfully positive effect on my credit score.