the last of the $500 challenge…and it’s only day 12…

I have just finished the end of the money long before the end of the month…for those catching up: on 1 March I set a challenge to live on $500 for March. I thought I could manage given: I already had lots of stockpiles of food and other necessities due to my shopping in batches; my fridge, freezer and pantry were all full; my home and office are very close so I figured if I got stuck I could walk. BUT…

Yesterday I opened my electricity bill – it was a flabbergasting $450! Now, if I genuinely lived on just $500, I would contact the company and arrange to pay it off over weeks (at 13% interest!!!). During this time I would also be accumulating a new bill. The huge bill was due to a 30% rise in prices over the last couple of months, and (I hope) a misread of the meter. Nonetheless, as the company is difficult to talk to, I decided the best course of action was to pay the bill and wait for the new reading in a couple of months.

So, the $500 was blown in a day…even if I decided to remove that bill for the month, I was already working in an artificial environment when I started. I am not the poor. Therefore, creating yet more artificial lines does not make sense. What I have learned is that life in this modern first world country which has a high standard of living is tough for the poor. It feels like everything is designed to keep the poor without money, somehow in this country that prides itself on social nets that don’t allow people to starve, we have a system that traps people at the bottom.

To have so little money that it drives your decision-making, to be so concerned about survival that you cannot think about thriving, to be bound to meaningless finance because you have no opportunity to look up and appreciate life… this is what traps the poor.

What can we do to change this? Big companies like the electricity company involved should not charge ridiculous interest rates for the poor trying to negotiate their bill paying. Insurance companies should not offer discounts to those who can pay $1000 in cash and charge the poor more because they can only pay monthly. These are places to start…

For me, I hope that I will have more compassion, more commitment to the poor and do more to balance the scales of justice. I hope you do the same.

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One Comment on “the last of the $500 challenge…and it’s only day 12…”

  1. sdd7073 Says:

    Sadly, the ‘haves’ are so busy looking after what they have that they can’t or don’t or (even) wont see the ‘poor’.
    I feel it could all be all do with ‘being poor’ for a time to ‘walk in their shoes’ and get an understanding of what they experience.


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