I just got a chance to read "Hand to Mouth - Living in Bootstrap America". I've been wanting to read it ever since I heard that Linda Tirado, author of viral blog post "Poverty Thoughts", had been offered a book deal. For those of you who may not have heard, Tirado wrote an essay a while ago, attempting to explain the thought process (or lack thereof) of financially struggling people.
I have to say, I could identify with nearly everything she said in both the essay and in her book.
I just don't agree with it.
I get the grinding exhaustion, the feeling that you're running on a treadmill that's going too fast. It can leave you feeling like hopelessness is a natural state - that making progress is a pipe dream. She says that a certain income level, it makes no real sense to save money - after all, $5 a week is only $260 over the course of a year, if you can avoid spending any. Worthless! And useless, because she was talking about saving for a nice suit to wear while networking, and she could think of a dozen other things to spend that money on in a year.
But it's not true! Saving, even when you're broke, can improve your life and help pull you out of the poverty pit - by inches, it's true, but UP! and OUT!
For example, you can save that money to buy something that will help you keep saving money and/or time in future months. Ideas like -
a portable washing machine and a few drying racks to save the time, expense, and headache of going to the laundromat
a Republic Wireless phone so you can spend as little as $10 for unlimited talk/text every month
a bike trailer to make it easier to run errands by bike, saving money on gas and getting you some fresh air (good for both kids and stuff)
a bunch of LED lightbulbs to help lower your power bill
And the savings generated from THOSE things could be put toward bills, fun, another money saving toy - what could you think of that would improve your quality of life for $260?