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How To Live Below the Poverty Line
We live in a world of excess, but you don’t have to participate
I’ve been on disability for a long time, so I know a thing or two about living below the poverty line. It helps that I have lived in the Philippines for some time because most things are cheaper here. Even though prices are creeping up for everything just like everywhere else, it’s still much cheaper to survive.
I don’t understand how people can live in excess; I’ve never experienced it. My idea of luxury for the past 10 years is a $1000 MacBook Air, a $400 iPhone XS, and getting a pedicure once every six months. I’ve never had money that I didn’t need for a bill or a necessity, so I don’t really know what it’s like to “splurge.”
Does money buy happiness? I don’t know. I hope one day to find out, but for now, I am perfectly fulfilled living the simple life that I do.
Would it be nice to go out and buy any car I want? Would it be nice to drop a few thousand on a new gaming computer? Do I dream of staying at a 5-star hotel where no expense is spared?
The short answer is yes, but there is more to it than that. Even if I had the money for that kind of stuff, I probably still wouldn’t buy it or spend it because I can think of about 100 better things to do with that kind of money.
The first thing I would do is open a savings account and put as much money into an emergency fund as I could. Having a heart attack and having to pay a huge hospital bill made me realize that my most important task right now is putting money away for a rainy day, or the next emergency.
Once I had that, I would put money away in a high-yield savings account or CD, to pay for my kids to go to college, should they decide to go to a university in the United States.
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You might think if I had all that, I might spring for the new car, but no, I have other plans. I’ve always wanted to help my family and give back a little of what they have given me. My parents, my kids, my in-laws — they all could use a little help. Times are tough out there, and if I had extra money, they would be at the top of my list.
How about that gaming computer now? Nope, then, I would start to set my family and myself up for success. I would save, and start a business or two so we have income coming in. I would plan for our future and for theirs should something happen to me. I am not going to be around forever, and my wife is much younger than I am, so I would want to make sure she and the kids are taken care of should the worst come to pass.
The thing is, I’ve lived for so long without excess, it’s not like I feel like I am missing anything. And why start overspending on crap I don’t need now when I’ve done such a good job keeping my life simple? Why would I go out and spend money to buy more stuff that I don’t need? I'll just keep using the stuff I have.
I don’t know, maybe if I was suddenly a billionaire, I would buy some stuff just for fun. Maybe I would take expensive trips around the world. Maybe I would have a big house with a 110-inch flatscreen in every room. Maybe I would buy some clothes that didn’t come from the clearance rack. Maybe I would have a less simple life than I have now, because, what else would I do with all that money?
Nah, I know myself and my wife. We would most likely give it to the poor, open dog shelters, start recycling campaigns, and invest in businesses for the disadvantaged. It’s not that I think I am better than someone who would spend all that money on their selves, it’s just that I know myself and I would be horrified spending to excess.
I’d much rather have a simple minimalist house, an electric car, and an emergency fund. I think the rest would best be used for things that would enrich others, because, after all, we are all in this together, and if we don’t help each other, who will?
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