Being Poor Is…

Being Poor
Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.

Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.

Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they’re what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there’s not an $800 car in America that’s worth a damn.

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends’ houses but never has friends over to yours.

Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won’t hear you say “I get free lunch” when you get to the cashier.

Being poor is living next to the freeway.

Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching that box of Raisin Bran you just bought and trying to think of a way to make the kids understand that the box has to last.

Being poor is wondering if your well-off sibling is lying when he says he doesn’t mind when you ask for help.

Being poor is off-brand toys.

Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house.

Being poor is knowing you can’t leave $5 on the coffee table when your friends are around.

Being poor is hoping your kids don’t have a growth spurt.

Being poor is stealing meat from the store, frying it up before your mom gets home and then telling her she doesn’t have make dinner tonight because you’re not hungry anyway.

Being poor is Goodwill underwear.

Being poor is not enough space for everyone who lives with you.

Being poor is feeling the glued soles tear off your supermarket shoes when you run around the playground.

Being poor is your kid’s school being the one with the 15-year-old textbooks and no air conditioning.

Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal.

Being poor is relying on people who don’t give a damn about you.

Being poor is an overnight shift under florescent lights.

Being poor is finding the letter your mom wrote to your dad, begging him for the child support.

Being poor is a bathtub you have to empty into the toilet.

Being poor is stopping the car to take a lamp from a stranger’s trash.

Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw.

Being poor is believing a GED actually makes a goddamned difference.

Being poor is people angry at you just for walking around in the mall.

Being poor is not taking the job because you can’t find someone you trust to watch your kids.

Being poor is the police busting into the apartment right next to yours.

Being poor is not talking to that girl because she’ll probably just laugh at your clothes.

Being poor is hoping you’ll be invited for dinner.

Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.

Being poor is people thinking they know something about you by the way you talk.

Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise.

Being poor is your kid’s teacher assuming you don’t have any books in your home.

Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.

Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.

Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you’re not actually stupid.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you’re not actually lazy.

Being poor is a six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap.

Being poor is never buying anything someone else hasn’t bought first.

Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that’s two extra packages for every dollar.

Being poor is having to live with choices you didn’t know you made when you were 14 years old.

Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful.

Being poor is knowing you’re being judged.

Being poor is a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa.

Being poor is checking the coin return slot of every soda machine you go by.

Being poor is deciding that it’s all right to base a relationship on shelter.

Being poor is knowing you really shouldn’t spend that buck on a Lotto ticket.

Being poor is hoping the register lady will spot you the dime.

Being poor is feeling helpless when your child makes the same mistakes you did, and won’t listen to you beg them against doing so.

Being poor is a cough that doesn’t go away.

Being poor is making sure you don’t spill on the couch, just in case you have to give it back before the lease is up.

Being poor is a $200 paycheck advance from a company that takes $250 when the paycheck comes in.

Being poor is four years of night classes for an Associates of Art degree.

Being poor is a lumpy futon bed.

Being poor is knowing where the shelter is.

Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.

Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor.

Being poor is seeing how few options you have.

Being poor is running in place.

Being poor is people wondering why you didn’t leave.
My family would like to add these items to the above list:

Being poor is being really happy when the school calls to tell you about the resources available for “new” families in the area.

Being Poor is your childs teacher “loaning” your kids school supplies and knowing you can’t replace the pencils and paper and being grateful she didn’t make you ask for the help.

Being Poor is being too white, too married and too employable to get any help.

Being Poor is hoping no one gets sick because you can’t afford to go to any clinic and don’t even think about the ER.

Being Poor is having an illness that people can’t see from the outside so they don’t believe anything is really wrong with you.

Being Poor is not being “disabled” enough.

Being Poor is your kids needing shoes and jeans and getting pissed off that they grew again and they are not any of these things at the thrift store when you need them.

Being poor is having a computer and one car so…your are told and it is deemed that you can’t possibly be really “poor”.

Being Poor is saving cooking oil for re-use and telling the kids it adds flavor to food and it’s a old family secret recipe.

Being Poor is knowing the new box of cereal won’t last long enough.

Being poor is waiting for the kids to get done eating, and then finishing their food and telling them you weren’t really hungry anyway.

Being Poor is knowing you have family members that will never know what being poor really is and can’t understand why you “choose” to continue living the way you do, and having friends think you are going to ask for help every time you look at them, so you don’t have friends or family anymore.

Being Poor is hoping that the local temp job that is paying $7.50 an hour will be close enough to home so you don’t have to spend half of your paycheck on the gas to get there.

Being poor is hiding from your kids in the bathroom with the shower on so they won’t hear you crying about having to pay the bills.

Being Poor is knowing no one really trusts you because your poor and that means your “nasty, a theif or a lier.”
So this year when you are stressing out about what to buy for Christmas presents…think about what being poor in America or wherever you are really means to some “real” people…and think outside the box. Tis the season for Peace, love and goodwill to all Men…that includes the poor too.
Have a blessed day,


  1. pinky
    December 7, 2006

    This isn’t about being poor! This is about being poor-mouthed and depressed. I’ve been poor and more than some of the things on this list. And I NEVER looked at any of it every single freaking day like that. That’s horrible and I can bet you that most poor people don’t think that way. Being poor at Christmas is decorating with paper chains and the ornaments your children made from random crap. Being poor at Christmas is being thankful for what you have and buying things that you TRULY want, not just shit on the TV. Being poor at Christmas is making it work, as a family. Being poor at Christmas is giving handmade gifts that will be cherished for generations. Being poor is what you make of it. You can either choose to be happy and work to get through it, or you can choose to be miserable and depressed and bring the whole world down with you. 8 bucks an hour is a good thing when you’ve got mouths to feed and a home to run. It’s enough, just barely, but it is and it’s better than nothing at all. And giving up food for yourself to feed your children should be done out of love, not out of martyrdom. Being poor is none of those things you listed, not if you don’t want it to be.

  2. HMBT
    December 8, 2006

    Well Pinky I salute your abilty to be compassionate! Wow…like I had never thought of those things! Such an eye opener for me and mine…I will sleep better knowing that I was so wrong to think that being poor was a BAD thing! I was very wrong to express myself on my own Blog…to post my own feelings about the frustrations of being poor in America…how Dare ME! I am really just, oh my goshed suprised at how stupid I was to never think of those paper chains and such! (fuck you…if you can’t afford paper you can’t make chains) This BTW is a reprint (if you had bothered to check the post links) of an award winning article by someone else. And why oh yes…7.50 an hout to support 4 people is great! What was I thinking? I mean I don’t have a husband worth half a million to support me and my child, or a family to “help” out when times get tough… (Oh I mean children, so what the fuck would I know anyway?) Like I said I’ll just crawl back into my hole of poverty and be grateful for what I DO Have! Being grateful being one of the main requiremnets of being a good poor person…And Oh yeah…I’ll be more grateful so you can be comfortable in your indignity. I mean stating that I give up food for my kids being an act of love…not being an act of martyrdom…why do you think I do it…so I can see them go to bed hungry or just for the satisfaction of having something to Blog about…get off you fucking high horse…I do it because I love my kids…I was stating a fact…when was the last time you were hungery Pinky? And Buying what you truly WANT?!…are you Kidding me…look up the word POOR Pinky…that means I can’t afford to buy any fucking thing…Geez for someone so freaking enlightened…you sure are dense. What if you don’t have any crap for the kids to make ornaments out of…what if your flour and salt have to be used for FOOD Pinky? What if you paper has to be burned for heat Pinky? Well, I guess I should just shut my mouth…because being that you were really POOR, you know better than I DO, about my living in this reality. Being that you have offered so much information on how I can be a Oh so much better Poor person…I’ll just stop here. Shame on me…Oh yes, Pinky…shame on me, indeed. Have you fed the homeless this year? I have. Have you offered your brilliant wares to the poor for Christmas? I have. So again…I stand totally ashamed (NOT)for offering another view of the world, have you been taking a pole of the poor lately? So, you know what the majority of poor people feel on Christmas when facing their children with a box of cereal or goodwill underware for Christmas…? For Sure…shame on me, indeed.Heather

    1. sawa1sy
      April 20, 2011

      I love your story.
      The way you told these two insensitive ばか(idiots) where to shove it!

      1. Filburt
        April 21, 2011

        Thanks so much, glad that you felt the love. Peace and prosperity for us all. 🙂

  3. Anonymous
    December 8, 2006

    Wow, Pinky might have 0ver-reacted a little but your response was just hateful. That has nothing to do with being poor.

  4. HMBT
    December 8, 2006

    Yep that’s me Miss Hateful 2006! I have every right to be angry about being personally attacked for expressing a personal view of my own world…being called names and made to feel bad about my own life in my own “house”. You’re right…I totally over reacted…I should have taken the high road and just kept my mouth shut…because I made myself look bad by getting angry and standing up for myself. You know it wasn’t easy to post about the subject in the first place, emotionally revealing and scary. To then be told what a worthless person I was for feeling badly…well if you poke the bear…the bear will bite back.Being a human being…it ain’t easy and sometimes it gets messy…but the thing is anonymous…No, never mind…you are going to think what you want no matter what I say, and because you are protected by your anonymous status…I can’t take the time to care what you think about me, now can I? I was attacked, I reacted…that’s all there is to it. And you are SO right…it had nothing to do with being poor, it was a personal attack, and I fought back…plain and simple.

  5. G
    December 8, 2006

    I won’t comment on the back and forth. You are right – this is your blog, your home, you have the right to say and write what you feel. I have read this very heart wrenching post and I really do have tears in my eyes. I did not follow the links, yet, but will. I wish you good luck and better times ahead for you and your family. Nobody should have to know of hunger or raising children and struggling to provide.May you know easier times.

  6. HMBT
    December 8, 2006

    G,I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to post here. I also appreciate you not commenting on the back and forth…it’s really just silly and so not the point of my original post to begin with anyway. I wanted to vent my frustrations, I wanted to get it out in one big blast and move on and up in my life, I wanted to share the darkness so that I could bring in some light…I am sorry it did not end up being that easy to do.I also wanted to thank you for your heartfelt expression of kindness…it means a lot to me. I have gotten several private emails today from people I don’t know, and have never met, all of them being so very kind. That makes me feel wonderful and not crazy with grief…So, I thank you, with a whole heart.Have a wonderful Holiday.Heather

  7. pinky
    December 9, 2006

    I’m sorry you felt personally attacked, that was not my thought nor intention in any way. I forgive you for the angry words that were written and I will remove myself and my family out of your life. It appears we have done nothing of use for you and yours.

  8. HMBT
    December 9, 2006

    Thank you Pinky for the apology, I accept it and offer my own as well, I am sorry for the heat of my anger.Peace and forgivness. Let’s move on from this ugly experience, let’s move toward the light. It ends here…hey we can be like Las Vegas…what happens at BAD! Kitty Blog Stays at BAD! kitty. 🙂 Heather

  9. Flo0Ky`ala* FriBBLe
    December 9, 2006

    BadKitty, I can so relate to this post. It was almost as if I could of written it myself.May I add a few?Being poor is buying food on credit just to use the grocery money to pay the credit cards.Being poor is not being able to marry the person you love because you cannot afford private health insurance or the co-pays that come with it.Being poor is saving your last pair of contact lenses for a “special occasion”.Being poor is never buying school photos but just holding on the sample they give out to entice you to buy.Being poor is wearing lots of layers of clothing (mostly from the eighties) because you cannot afford a coat.Being poor is buying your kids clothing two or three sizes to big so it lasts longer.Being poor is planning to visit your extended family only on days you have a doctors appointment (in the same town) to save on gas.being poor is holding library books hostage for over a year because you do not have the money for the overdue fines.Ok, that is what I came up with in the few minutes I thought about it.

  10. HMBT
    December 9, 2006

    Thank you Flooky! Yes levity is a good thing when living the lifestyle of the post “Being Poor”! I loved it…thank you for your contribution! It makes it easier to be poor when you are living the life of the poor and famous!All My Love to you!!!!!Thank you for being my friend, I really can’t put into words the feelings I have for knowing I am not alone in the struggle to be a sucess-full poor person! 🙂 It’s all in the swager baby…all in the “tude”.I Love Flooky!Heather

  11. Anonymous
    December 27, 2006

    to hell with you.


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