I have a neighbour who is on disability welfare. His disability is caused by physical illness, and welfare pays only a little, so it's not his fault he's poor. Unfortunately, he isn't helping matters by going on spending sprees every month. He does get the stuff cheap, but someone struggling to survive shouldn't be buying so many potted plants and laptop computers that he's not proficient with. Or big screen TVs (he has two). Or... let's just say his apartment is packed with stuff, which he's finally now selling.
We live in an apartment building in a poor neighbourhood, but it's not geared to income, so after rent he only has $200 to $300 per month. He survives by subletting his apartment, selling free health food he gets from the welfare authorities, and by doing balance transfers on his credit cards, until he couldn't afford the minimum payment on the current 0% interest card. His last "tenants" left in disgust due to him being a slob. This is a common occurrence with him, so I don't bother to learn his tenants' names and faces. (Because of the neighbourhood poverty, most of its residents seem to be elderly people on government pensions and welfare recipients.)
His ex-girlfriend (who lives in another town) is next door right now yelling at him for spending over $500 on a single purchase this month. The comments suggested it was beer, but I don't know how you spend that much in a month. We're just over a third of the way through the month. She's always chewing him out for his overspending, so I thought she was responsible.
He used to be self-employed and worked under the table. As a result, he didn't pay into CPP (our version of Social Security). He'll still get a minimum pension when he retires, but that's a case of short-term thinking from before he got sick. More importantly, he can't "retire" early and get his CPP at age 60. A person in his position pretty much has no choice but to do that... if they haven't closed off that avenue.
Last month he failed to pay his rent for the first time in the several years that he's been here. He wrote a cheque but it bounced. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but he told me he into overdraft for over $1,000 (roughly $750 USD). Since he paid his rent the month before, that suggests he spent more than that amount of money in only one month (on top of his rent for the previous month). However I'm not sure, there are other possible explanations. The unbanked phenomenon is not as common in Canada as in the US. I just can't figure out how he could have written a cheque that bounced if he didn't use his bank account. (A money order wouldn't bounce, because you have to pay for it up front.)
When he told me this, I found out that he hadn't filed his taxes last year, and so didn't get some small tax benefits that together would have almost paid for a month of rent. He had to call the tax agency to get them to take off his direct deposit (to keep the bank from thanking him for this unexpected deposit) and won't actually see any money until April. (I did his taxes since I know how to do it, for free. I had to see his rent records to get him that benefit, so I know he wasn't lying about only missing the one payment.)
I said that if he had told me this before I would have done his taxes then and he could have gotten that money before missing a rent payment. He told me that if I had done this before December he would have spent all the money (presumably on Christmas stuff)...
At the end of February his welfare payment came in. His ex-girlfriend's came in as well. Given the distance she has to travel to see him from her city, I don't know how she affords it. Turns out she can't. She had also missed her last rent payment, and her landlord was angry with her too. Instead of immediately writing her landlord a cheque, she decided to hang out with her ex-boyfriend on her rent due date, buy a lot of beer and get drunk. He had to pay her cab fare to get back. The two of them telling me the story is how I found out she's on welfare.