Saturday, November 19, 2011

Middle Class Poverty

First thing's first: when I refer to "poverty" in this post, I'm really just talking about not having any money in my bank account. I know there are people in much worse situations. This is relative poverty. With that said...

I've been tracking my poverty since the Christmas hours in work were given out. It's fair to say I'm going to be poor with the presents I have to get and the various social gatherings I'm expected at (one a week for three weeks in a row). While I'm not complaining that I have plans (for once), I'd like to at least be able to say I have money afterwards. I don't think it's going to be a possibility.

It's one of those times when I really wish I had more hours in work. While I like working only weekends, the 1-5 shifts I get on Saturdays (yes, a whole four hours...) really don't do it when it comes to saving money. I have the same sort of expenses every week. I have to spend around ten euro a week just getting to college - not a massive amount in and of itself, but it adds up every week. On top of that, I have my own particular buying habits... I've been buying comics a lot, lately, but I'm cutting down on the number I get now. Aside from not really enjoying some of the stories, I can't afford fifteen euro a week every week.

Anyway, in order to actually track how little money I would have, I've had to write how much I'll be getting each week and write in the costs for the days involved. It will work a lot better if I can plan it more expansively, but I don't really know how much certain things will cost. The way things have worked out, I've had to spread out the buying of presents over a number of weeks. I literally cannot afford to buy them all in one go, like some people. It also doesn't help that I don't know what I'm getting some people yet, either.

I write about this, of course, because it's an insight into what I can only determine as being a first world problem. I very much doubt that people in poorer countries worry about the extras at this time of the year. For them, it's more about survival.

For me, survival means having the money to go out with friends, to get something for my parents and brothers at Christmas, to maintain the same sort of life I led before the holiday season came in. I'm glad we don't exchange presents in college, or I'd be in trouble. (Read as: they wouldn't get anything...)

Every year I tell myself it will be different, but then something new and shiny comes along and steals my money. Though, in my defence, the main thing that cost me a lot of money this year was my trip to Taizé, which I had to go on for college. (I didn't have to do the module, but in choosing it I had to pay up.) I paid for this trip myself (what was left of the cost, after the college subsidy) and that pretty much drained my bank account. Suffice to say it hasn't yet forgiven me.

There are things I could do to try get more money, obviously, but they're mainly based on chance and a lot of hard work. I could have tried to get some freelance writing work, but that goes on the assumption that (a) I get the job, (b) that I'm good enough, (c) that I had an idea in the first place and (d) that I wouldn't be overwhelmed with college work at any particular time. I could have set up ad-based material on my website but that wouldn't pay off quickly, and it would have required a lot of work in itself.

Long story short, I'm going to be repeatedly poor until my pay-days over the next month, I might have been able to do something about it, and this is very much a first world problem related to a middle-class student with a weekend job, living at home. Also, poverty sucks.


Unknown said...

I know the feeling. I'm taking out a substantial amount of loans each year just to go to college period. And I'm planning to study abroad this summer, which requires even more money I don't have (hoping for a generous scholarship).

-sigh- I'm seriously hoping for a decent job right out of college because I'm going to need one. My parents keep telling me it'll be fine, but I'm not blind. They barely make enough money to keep us all going.

I'm seriously hoping I can get on the fast track to a good job...Don't know what I'll do if I don't.

Paul Carroll said...

This is where the first world problem gets worse: American college fees. We have much lower ones here that our parents can afford (thankfully, or no one I know would have gotten birthday or Christmas presents for the last four years!) but you're required to pay a helluva lot more! Keep at it, though, because it'll be better to have a qualification than to try get a job that doesn't pay enough. Good luck with it all!