The problem with money

Maggie SmithThe difference between me and the guy on the corner begging for money and sleeping on the street is $1244.00CAD per month.

In a recent post, Food as a drug, I explored my complicated relationship with food and how that relationship impacts my sporadic experience of not having any food. This post is about my other constant struggle. Money.

Filing for bankruptcy and being on income assistance at the same time is equivalent to a neon sign telling me how lousy I am with managing my money. People often say that money doesn’t matter, but on a basic level, it does matter. Money is how my rent is paid, how I get my daughter to school, how I’m able to access the internet from home, how I keep food in my fridge and cupboards.

In my very first post, The reality is not realistic, I broke down for you what income assistance gives me to live on. Because my ex is now paying more in child support and I’m a painfully honest person, my monthly support from them has decreased. 

So how to do I pay for my internet, phone, food, clothing, laundry, cat and anything else that comes up? With my monthly child tax benefit cheque, of course. That, and taking advantage of the services offering free to low-cost food and meals and the kindness of friends.

Currently, I’m living on $1244 per month. My family still helps out here and there, but it’s still barely enough to survive on. My rent and utilities alone take up 83% of that amount, which is 53% higher than the 30% of your monthly income that Statistics Canada allots for shelter when calculating low income rates.

A few days ago, I came across some old notebooks I use for recording just about everything. Instead of random papers scattered throughout the house, I use a school-sized notebook to jot down whatever it is I need to remember or deem as important. This can be anything, from recording the details of a call made to my cell phone company to writing down my to-do list to calculating my income and expenses to jotting down a book or movie someone recommended. And here’s what I learned:

Whether I’m making $3800 per month or $1244 per month, I’ve always been out of money.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that my problems have more to do with how I manage money than how much I make. Maybe the whole purpose of my journey into poverty is to learn how to respect and properly handle money. If that’s the one lesson I need to learn, I eagerly seek the answers and am already on the road to recovery.

How good or bad are you at managing your money? I’d love to hear your experiences.

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