Estimated reading time: 16 minutes
Breaking the poverty chain can seem easy if you’ve lived a comfortable life, but it’s an issue for those with lower incomes & dual-income families.
Can poverty be solved? We explore how to break the poverty chain.
Perspective Can Come From Chance Meetings
Breaking the poverty chain seems like an easy thing to do, especially if you’ve lived a life where money hasn’t been a stressful event for your family.
You also don’t have to live in the hood to be part of the poverty chain, even though there is a stigma attached to such neighborhoods.
It’s not just moms and dads collecting money from the government but also those people who can’t seem to get ahead no matter what they do.
Are they doing something wrong? Possibly, yes.
There are plenty of families who have a dual income that simply can’t manage their money which leaves them struggling month after month.
There is a face for poverty, and then there is a hidden face for poverty that can weigh heavily on the shoulders of every family member, especially the kids.
While I was making tea at work, there was a guy I had never seen before at the lunch table reading the Toronto Star and having a bite to eat.
Out of the blue, he said, “I don’t understand why people complain about price increases” to which I replied, “Are you talking to me?”
Turns out he was talking to me or anyone who was in the room who would listen.
I finished steeping my tea bag and added a splash of milk before I sat across from this guy.
I’m guessing he had his finances in order, as he was vocal about his views on people who can’t make ends meet.
I was only speculating based on what he had said in hopes that someone would hear him so he could validate his reasoning.
In other words, he wanted someone to talk to.
Luckily I wasn’t due back at work for an hour because this guy would not stop talking which was unusual as I’m always that guy.
I learned a few things from him, especially about coming from a low-income family and how he broke the poverty chain.
When I asked him what he was going on about he said that he was tired of reading about price increases and listening to people complain about paying the bills without doing anything about it.
Spend less, work more, or find new ways to make extra money he mumbled under his breath.
He went on to say that he’s lived a life of poverty and decided that it wasn’t for him.
Face Of Poverty
Growing up, Stanley (name has been changed) lived in a run-down apartment with his mom and dad.
However, he said his dad was hardly there as his parents had a rocky relationship.
His father did not work because he was too busy looking for money to buy the next pack of smokes or a case of beer.
There were hardly any smiles from his dad, nor did he want to hang out with Stanley much.
Stanley’s mother was a stay-at-home mom who collected welfare, so they rented a small apartment with hardly any furniture.
Over the years, they managed to buy bits here and there and were given stuff for free.
His mother was frugal and loved numbers, but only because she had no choice (or so it seemed).
There were hardly any trips to the dentist because they couldn’t afford it and buying anything new was out of the question.
Weekly trips on the bus to the food bank meant that there was no going to the grocery store. This was not unusual for his mother as she grew up in poverty as well.
Almost all of her friends were other mothers who were on welfare and stayed at home to watch the kids and lived in the same housing complex.
She had no one to guide her financially and frankly being poor can really wear someone down he could see in his mother’s eyes.
I could almost feel the painful energy coming from him across the table as he was reliving his past.
There was too much thinking about what she could have been instead of finding a way to make it happen, he said with his eyes looking out the window.
If you asked her anything about savings she would tell you she had none but that it was important to save.
To Stanley, she didn’t seem the best with the money she had and frankly, he didn’t want to learn finance from her.
Some of Stanley’s friends lived in modern homes and when he went to visit them after school he felt like he was in a different world.
This was a world he wanted and dreamed of. His father was a lost cause and he knew there was NO way that he wanted to grow up in the same financially stricken environment or bring a family up in one.
The Poverty Chain Was Starting To Break
He left home to go to University to which he funded with scholarships and working as much as he could in between school and during the summer.
Stanley saved his money and only bought what he needed to get by.
This seems a common scenario among many students who can’t get funding or just don’t care for any debt after graduation.
Stanley studied finance and started working for a firm after graduation where he earned a generous income.
He was able to live a lifestyle he had never lived before just like some of his friends did growing up.
Buying cars, a nice house, and going on trips were on the table waiting for him but he declined.
This was a guy who grew up wearing the same clothes for a couple of days, slim pickings in the kitchen, and parents who weren’t interested in going to work.
Over the years Stanley bought a mid-sized house which he still lives in today with his wife and young daughter.
They are debt free including the mortgage and save their money aggressively by living a frugal lifestyle.
Recently they followed Scott McGillivary from HGTV, a well-known young Canadian real estate investor whose net worth toppled 4 million dollars in 2012.
They were hoping to rent out the basement as an apartment and to see if the rental game was in his blood.
Stanley knows what financial direction he wants to take and says he’s able to retire early but chooses not to since he’s only in his 40s.
His wife is still working full-time as a nurse and his daughter goes to school.
Related: How to retire early
I didn’t dig too deep into his situation (you know me, all ears), but what he said about his financial success was intriguing.
He told me that had he listened or followed his parents he may not have broken the poverty chain.
In a way, I’m sure most kids don’t want to follow in those footsteps but are forced to due to circumstances.
The good thing is that things change and things can get better if you want them to.
Stanley didn’t want to worry about money and he wanted an education so he had skills to start a career.
He did all that and more.
These days he says he adds a bit of finance into the conversations with his daughter so she learns slowly about money.
He also continues to budget, and when his mom comes to visit, her eyes light up when he looks at her, and he knows she is very proud of him.
Many people believe it’s the parent’s job to teach their children about finance.
However, if your parents can’t even get their own money under control how will they teach you?
That makes sense to me although everything is situation based and Stanley felt the same way.
This is another reason so many people are fighting to get the education system to include finance as a course for the next generations of children.
If we can make sure that they understand the basics of finances before leaving school we may have a better chance of breaking the poverty chain for many people.
These kids are the faces of the future.
This may mean fewer people relying on government funds and more people staying away from bankruptcy and struggling daily for money.
Education can mean so much, especially to a child who wants to learn like Stanley wants to.
The earlier a child starts saving money, the harder that money will work for them.
Hiding Behind The Face of Poverty
The poverty chain doesn’t just strike people who live in low-income housing on welfare or other government assistance.
I’m talking about all parents even those who hide behind the face of poverty.
These people seem well-off but behind those smiles is the hidden face of poverty.
Financial worry comes over them just as much as the next person, but they hide it well.
If you want the best for your child and you know deep down that you can’t manage money please don’t try and teach them until you understand how to.
This might mean that you attend a financial training course, talk to a bank, or read as much as you can online about money management.
Just because you know what to do doesn’t mean you can do it.
Challenge yourself, create a budget, set goals and find your way before you try to help light the way of others who look up to you for guidance.
I asked Stanley what the most important parts of his financial journey have been so far and he said,
- Believe in yourself
- Never give up trying.
- Love yourself
Mrs. CBB caught up with a friend of hers who works for the federal government and her husband works full-time in a processing plant.
They appear well-off through the eyes of social media, but that’s far from the truth.
They live with their in-laws because they can’t afford to purchase a house as they approach their mid-40s and have plenty of debt.
Without the in-laws, they would struggle to find a place to live and pay off their debt which is why they continue to stay.
Moving is not an option, as her husband wants to be near the family.
Wait a minute? Debt…where did that come from?
Bad financial decisions and job loss put them into debt, and they’ve been there for years, trying to catch up with their masks on.
Their financial future seems tied to the in-law’s house unless they can pay off their debt and venture independently.
Believe In Yourself
Before Stanley left the lunch room I stopped him to ask one more question.
“So, whatever happened to your mom?” he replied, “She’s a retired bank manager.”
His mother returned to school because Stanley believed in her and knew she could do it.
She leaped because someone was there to motivate her, so I need to share my personal finance knowledge with all of you.
Later she found a job in a bank, where she was promoted to a bank manager.
She eventually retired two years ago.
As for his father, I don’t know where he ended up.
What a lovely ending to a story from a guy who just wanted someone to talk to about increasing prices,
Yet ended up sharing his success story about breaking the poverty chain.
There is hope for everyone; never give up.
Discussion Question: Did you take financial advice from your parents, who weren’t great at managing money?
Please leave me your comments below.
Thanks for reading,
My Week In Review
I had a relatively quiet week with the family after the holidays, which was nice.
We didn’t go away for Christmas as long as we normally do and this year, we went just after Boxing Day to celebrate.
The great thing about this idea was that we first celebrated Christmas as a family in our own home.
We’ve decided that we might do this every year as gifts are much cheaper to buy and it’s less stressful for everyone.
We had a great time, and our son finally found the presents.
Almost all of his gifts came from the Goodwill, Value Village, or the Dollar Store and he loved them all.
We’ve been purging the house the last few days, and I finally managed to get our son’s bed set up and the crib taken down.
Mrs. CBB has given away lots of items for free to her mommy friends, and I know we have much more to eliminate.
It has been a nice feeling stripping the house of “stuff” considering when we moved in all we had were our clothes and very few items.
This year on the blog, our main focus will be saving money, retirement savings, and minimizing the stuff in our house and our lifestyle.
More on these topics in upcoming posts.
If you’ve adopted a minimalist lifestyle and want to share your story with me, please message me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s all for this week, friends,
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Most times funny, Sometimes serious.
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That’s all the fun for this week, thanks for dropping by and, we’ll see ya all again next Saturday!
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