Sometimes I really believe I should stay off the internet.
Yesterday, a Facebook friend posted an article about the top financial concerns among Americans. Of those surveyed, 41% reported meeting basic needs as their primary concern. I found this interesting, and tweeted the article in hopes of engaging in some good discussion. Instead, between the two social media sites, I was disgusted by the attitudes of some of those who commented.
“If people are worrying about meeting basic needs, they need to learn how to manage money.”
“Oh please. They probably went to a homeless shelter to do the survey.”
“I don’t have to worry about meeting my needs. It’s called a J-O-B!”
“Who comes up with this crap that no one cares about?”
You guys know how I feel about people who talk smack about those in poverty. Combine that with the fact that you don’t have to be poor to worry about meeting basic needs, and I was ready to have a stroke. I had to take to my bed like an old lady who just found out her grandkids listen to secular music. But I’m feeling better today, and I’m pretty sure I can write about this without collapsing or stabbing anyone.
Let’s Talk About Basic Needs
Basic needs include food, clothing, and shelter. I’m very lucky to have all of those things, and I hope that all of you do as well. But does that mean we can ignore the fact that many people aren’t able to meet the most basic of needs?
When I think about people who can’t provide food, clothing, and shelter for themselves and their families, my mind automatically goes to people who are homeless, out of work, disabled, and/or dealing with mental illness and addiction. However, my conscious brain realizes that those aren’t the only people who might have that problem.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been unable to meet one or more of your basic needs as an adult. *raises hand*
There have been plenty of times that I needed food or clothing (luckily I’ve been good on shelter) and didn’t have the money to pay for it at that exact moment. And really, if you count rent/mortgage and utilities toward shelter, there have been times I was iffy on that front as well. I’ve had the shameful experience of borrowing money from my parents, using credit cards, and even taking out payday loans to pay for the essentials.
What Does it Say About You if You Can’t Meet Your Needs?
Contrary to what people on Facebook and Twitter may think, there are many reasons why a person may have difficulty meeting his/her needs. They do NOT automatically equate to laziness, stupidity, or (my pet peeve) “making bad choices.” Even people who work 40 or more hours a week struggle sometimes. It doesn’t always mean they spend too much on lattes (or whatever the trend is this week).
I’m able to meet mine and my son’s needs right now, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about being able to do so in the near future. See that income progress bar in my upper right sidebar? It’s not progressing too fast this month, and that’s not likely to improve unless one of you is secretly plotting to send me millions of dollars. (By all means, plot away!)
As much as I hate it, I’m looking for jobs. And I’m not even being too picky. I have applied for over 200 jobs, from blogging and social media to answering phones for minimum wage, and guess how many HR reps have contacted me? Zero. And since my emergency fund is not bottomless, this is cause for concern. More specifically, alarm.
And I know someone is going, “Well, maybe you shouldn’t have quit your job.” You know why that’s funny? Because my former employer just cut the workforce nearly in half based on seniority, meaning I would have been laid off last month. And based on the money I was making there (or lack thereof), my unemployment would be a whopping $172 a week (I used an unemployment calculator). And while that’s $688 per month that I don’t have coming in at this moment, is that enough to meet our basic needs? Nope. So I’d still be freaking out.
I’m not lazy. I’m not mentally ill (not seriously, anyway) or addicted to cocaine or suffering from my poor choices. Debt or lack of budgeting are NOT the reasons I’m concerned about meeting basic needs right now. Also, you don’t have to be unable to meet your needs to be concerned about it. I have a feeling that far more than 41% of us have the same worries in our lives right now. And maybe it’s wrong, but I resent people whose lives have always been so perfect that they can’t comprehend that.
Confession time: Have you ever worried about your ability to provide food, clothing, or shelter for yourself and/or your family? What were the circumstances? Do you judge people who have trouble making ends meet?