Author Topic: Slate article: saving money costs money  (Read 9224 times)

centwise

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Slate article: saving money costs money
« on: December 05, 2014, 10:39:16 AM »
The author of this article seems to be trying to explain why the financial crises faced by low-income people are "not their fault". I AM sympathetic to the difficulties people face when they don't have a financial cushion. But the article ends up being the BEST argument in favour making an emergency fund your top priority, especially if you are low-income.

Why Poor People Stay Poor by Linda Tirado
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2014/12/linda_tirado_on_the_realities_of_living_in_bootstrap_america_daily_annoyances.html

dandarc

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2014, 10:53:05 AM »
Step 1: Realize you have more control over your finances than this person is presenting.  Obviously it is harder to make the kind of progress we strive for here on a low income, but once you really decide to take control, progress can be made pretty quickly.  Almost like an addiction thing - stop denying that you have a problem and that you can do something about it and you're 50% there.

pzxc

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2014, 10:55:15 AM »
I want to have sympathy, but compared to most of the billions of human beings on this planet, even the poorest in the U.S. have it pretty damn good.

The small amount of sympathy I do have for poor Americans is not that their situation is inescapable, but that they don't see / understand how to accomplish it.

dandarc

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2014, 10:56:37 AM »
Also, I think this is that author that was exposed as basically writing fiction and presenting it as fact.

dandarc

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kib

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2014, 11:24:18 AM »
I wonder ... just throwing it out there, but it's too bad there isn't a different set of societally accepted ideas and values that people would apply to their lives at a certain point.  Outside of MMM, I mean.  I see, "no one has time for handwashing".  It's not that big a deal, if you accept it as normal and stick to polyester clothing for a while.  I see, "only had money for the crappy toaster".  How about flame or pan-toasting bread rather than buying a junky appliance bound to break?  "Kids interested in quality of life right now."  What does that entail, and who is in charge of family stability trumping I Want? 

I have no illusions that living on minimum wage is a workable gateway to a comfortably wealthy life. Being poor sucks and comes with hurdles that can be insurmountable.  But getting radical until you have a little platform to stand on, that should be an accepted stage in attempting to move out of poverty, not a siiiiigh, sacrifice too big to even contemplate, and it makes me angry that there is no media support for the idea. 
« Last Edit: December 05, 2014, 11:31:42 AM by frufrau »

Luck12

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2014, 11:25:50 AM »
When the hell did this section become "Let's talk shit about the poor"?  What that author is saying is unassailable:  It's expensive to be poor and you can't afford (literally and metaphorically) to make any mistakes when you're poor.  I know I've made plenty of financial mistakes in my life, but they don't matter practically because I've always made a good salary.   

gimp

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2014, 11:26:28 AM »
Slate is a rag of the same sort as gawker or huffpost. Articles are bullshit, incredibly biased, "liberal" (read: pretty much strawman in ridiculousness), and aimed at young self-important over-educated under-employed under-appreciated (or perfectly appreciated, given actual usefulness) kids.

mm1970

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2014, 11:48:20 AM »
When the hell did this section become "Let's talk shit about the poor"?  What that author is saying is unassailable:  It's expensive to be poor and you can't afford (literally and metaphorically) to make any mistakes when you're poor.  I know I've made plenty of financial mistakes in my life, but they don't matter practically because I've always made a good salary.   

I pretty much agree with this.  We can all sit back and see where the poor make mistakes (and the middle class, for that matter).  I've known poor people who've been successful (including me, and other relatives).

But the truth of the matter is that the poor really do not have as much room for error as the middle class.  So they have to be perfect, or near perfect.  Of course, most people aren't perfect.

Simple matters such as having family and friends to rely on (for a ride if your car breaks down, or a couch if you don't have an apartment), can make or break you.

There was an element of complainypants in there - I agree about the toaster, just don't buy a freaking toaster!

MandalayVA

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2014, 11:50:21 AM »
http://blogs.houstonpress.com/artattack/2013/11/that_viral_poverty_thoughts_es.php

Same name anyway.

Refuted by The Nation shortly thereafter:

http://www.thenation.com/blog/177564/linda-tirado-not-hoax

However, the mindset that got her into her bad situation is still very much evident a year later.  From the end of this article:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/21/linda-tirado-poverty-hand-to-mouth-interview 

Now youíre in the public eye, have you had your (controversial) teeth fixed?

Actually, Iím turning that into a project. SoÖ no, not yet. But I will say my shampoo is much nicer now. Iíve also had three new tattoos. The TV people donít like those at all. They make me wear a jacket.

Tattoos > teeth.  Sigh.

Gen Y Finance Journey

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2014, 12:00:40 PM »
"no one has time for handwashing"

For a second there I was very grossed out. People can't be bothered to spend 20 seconds washing their hands? :)

Brad_H

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2014, 12:06:04 PM »
When the hell did this section become "Let's talk shit about the poor"?  What that author is saying is unassailable:  It's expensive to be poor and you can't afford (literally and metaphorically) to make any mistakes when you're poor.  I know I've made plenty of financial mistakes in my life, but they don't matter practically because I've always made a good salary.   

Did you even read that article; every problem she listed was a result of a lifetime of bad decisions.

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/11/11/are-you-giving-the-shaft-to-your-future-self/

"I once lost a whole truck over a few hundred bucks." + "If Iím saving my spare five bucks a week, in the best-case scenario I will have saved $260 a year."

Well, there's your few hundred bucks.

Listen, barring an actual mental condition poverty is a lifestyle, I have a friend that lives off less than $6,000 a year because he only want's to work part time in the summer mowing lawns.  We don't make fun of him unless he starts complaining about being poor.

Edit
And while we are at it for solving simple problems in simple lives:

"we showed up to work, late, either soaked to the skin" = Raincoat: $5

"Bulk buying in general is cheaper, but you have to have a lot of money to spend on stuff you donít actually need yet." A couple month's ago we bought our winter stores 1 months worth of staples for two people for less than $100 at walmart, thats 5 months at her $5 rate.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2014, 12:20:39 PM by Brad_H »

golden1

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2014, 12:17:08 PM »
It is much easier to blame the poor for being poor than to think about systemic problems that are difficult to fix. 

Of course the poor make bad decisions, of course making better decisions would help move these people out of poverty.  That isn't what the article is saying.  It is saying the the mistakes that wealthy and middle class people make everyday can be absorbed with, at most, a minor inconvenience to their lives, while the same mistake can cause someone who is poor a lot more stress.  In turn, that stress leads to more poor decisions.  And so the cycle goes on.  The margin for error is much narrower.  It isn't even mistakes...like the article said, an illness beyond your control can cost you your job.

So is the answer that poor people are never allowed to make mistakes, or get sick?  Or their mistakes should condemn them to a lifetime of poverty or worse? 

Saying that there are systemic problems that need to be addressed isn't the same as whining.

Brad_H

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2014, 12:32:31 PM »
10 to 15 shitty things happen every year to everyone.

Physical illness isn't even an excuse anymore; if you break both legs and will never walk again I am sorry about your basketball career, now it's time to build your mental skills.

Saying it's a systemic problem conveniently moves it out of your ability to do anything about; it's not.

dandarc

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2014, 12:37:45 PM »
10 to 15 shitty things happen every year to everyone.

Physical illness isn't even an excuse anymore; if you break both legs and will never walk again I am sorry about your basketball career, now it's time to build your mental skills.

Saying it's a systemic problem conveniently moves it out of your ability to do anything about; it's not.
This right here.  One thing the author in the original article has figured out is that there is apparently a market for 'woe-is-me' complaining and blaming everything but yourself for your lot in life.

eyePod

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2014, 12:42:15 PM »
I want to have sympathy, but compared to most of the billions of human beings on this planet, even the poorest in the U.S. have it pretty damn good.

The small amount of sympathy I do have for poor Americans is not that their situation is inescapable, but that they don't see / understand how to accomplish it.

You don't know what you don't know. It's always obvious for someone who's already figured it out.

sabertooth3

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2014, 12:43:16 PM »
It is much easier to blame the poor for being poor than to think about systemic problems that are difficult to fix. 

Of course the poor make bad decisions, of course making better decisions would help move these people out of poverty.  That isn't what the article is saying.  It is saying the the mistakes that wealthy and middle class people make everyday can be absorbed with, at most, a minor inconvenience to their lives, while the same mistake can cause someone who is poor a lot more stress.  In turn, that stress leads to more poor decisions.  And so the cycle goes on.  The margin for error is much narrower.  It isn't even mistakes...like the article said, an illness beyond your control can cost you your job.

So is the answer that poor people are never allowed to make mistakes, or get sick?  Or their mistakes should condemn them to a lifetime of poverty or worse? 

Saying that there are systemic problems that need to be addressed isn't the same as whining.

I absolutely agree that there are systemic problems that need to be addressed, particularly the minimum wage. However, in this example the woman is still making a lot of mistakes that we can tell, most notably not building up any kind of emergency fund. I understand if she's in school trying to get a degree to move into a certain field, but if she's working half-time and her husband full-time, the DC minimum wage is $9.50 (increasing to $11.50 by 2016). This year, that's $27,360 gross, or about $25,000 after taxes. Even with a rent of $1,200/month, that still leaves $14,400 to play with. If they can live on $10k/year in expenses outside of rent, they should save $4k/year, which could go toward paying off student loans/CC debt or whatever other debt emergencies they may have.

I'm not blaming them for their decisions (except smoking), but they're not completely helpless.

Zikoris

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2014, 12:48:37 PM »
I liked these two lines in particular:

"Once my fridge broke and I couldnít get the landlord to fix it, so I just left"

That's unfortunate, but ice and a cooler is probably cheaper than moving and eating a security deposit while you harass your landlord and/or save up enough to fix it yourself and subtract it from your rent.

"Same goes for the time that the gas bill wasnít paid in a utilities-included apartment for a week, resulting in frigid showers and no stove."

Shorten your showers and/or do sponge baths for a week. It's only a week. Eat leftovers, sandwiches, and cold food for a week. If you're broke you don't have the luxury of ditching an apartment for anything other than drug dealers operating on your front porch or serious health/safety issues.

dandarc

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2014, 12:55:18 PM »
I liked these two lines in particular:

"Once my fridge broke and I couldnít get the landlord to fix it, so I just left"

That's unfortunate, but ice and a cooler is probably cheaper than moving and eating a security deposit while you harass your landlord and/or save up enough to fix it yourself and subtract it from your rent.

"Same goes for the time that the gas bill wasnít paid in a utilities-included apartment for a week, resulting in frigid showers and no stove."

Shorten your showers and/or do sponge baths for a week. It's only a week. Eat leftovers, sandwiches, and cold food for a week. If you're broke you don't have the luxury of ditching an apartment for anything other than drug dealers operating on your front porch or serious health/safety issues.
She probably can't ever rent again - good thing her grand parents bought them a house.  Seriously - 4 evictions and 2 "just lefts" just from this article alone, who is gonna let this lady sign a lease?

jka468

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2014, 12:58:49 PM »
Slate is a rag of the same sort as gawker or huffpost. Articles are bullshit, incredibly biased, "liberal" (read: pretty much strawman in ridiculousness), and aimed at young self-important over-educated under-employed under-appreciated (or perfectly appreciated, given actual usefulness) kids.

Truth. I'd buy you a beer anytime.

Brad_H

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2014, 01:03:08 PM »
I would also like to be clear; we are not just shitting on some random poor person's life choices, this lady published a book, if you do that or give a speech or get interviewed it's called "inviting comment" and it is open season for anyone who want's to rip it apart.

Quote
It is saying the the mistakes that wealthy and middle class people make everyday can be absorbed with, at most, a minor inconvenience to their lives, while the same mistake can cause someone who is poor a lot more stress.

MMM's entire site appears to be based off the premise that the middle class is NOT being fiscally responsible.

gimp

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2014, 01:23:33 PM »
Truth. I'd buy you a beer anytime.

Only if you're rich. Only the rich can afford a beer anymore. I wouldn't want to take advantage of the poor by going to a bar.

:)

In all seriousness, there are a lot of excellent discussions on systematic abuses of poor people by the "system" but I would caution that this article is not the right place to start one, nor the right jumping-off point for having one. There are lots of truly terrible stories where folks are taken advantage of by slumlords, car salesmen, their employers, and so on - in ways that are obviously, patently, and outrageously illegal - but are done knowing that the victims have no ability to fight and win, and will give up and allow themselves to be nickel-and-dimed because fighting back requires education, resources, and time.

But this is the wrong goddamn source, and it colors any conversation following it, irrevocably and in a way that is not conducive to a good debate or conversation. It will quickly devolve into generalizations, victim-blaming, and ad hominem.

My personal belief, by the way, is that the proper way to deal with systematic injustices is one at a time. The idea of systematic injustices has grown so incredibly politicized - or perhaps, it always was, and I merely lack context and experience to know for sure - that any attempt to address an issue brings all sorts of crazies out of the woodwork, who proceed to have verbal diarrhea into their hands, then throw the resultant shit at anyone nearby. Instead, if we notice and address injustices as they appear - sue the slumlord out of business, shut down the car dealership that performs bait-and-switches after a car is sold, make illegal paying people on debit cards with transaction fees - we can make a real difference without the criminally insane and professional victims getting in the way.

Brad_H

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2014, 02:15:47 PM »
I agree gimp!

So let's get back to the funny in the Comedy forum.

This is how I imagine the author lady lives her life: Hyperbole and a Half: This is why I'll never be an adult

Jags4186

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2014, 10:02:27 AM »
The author of the book was a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher.  I agree it's easy to read these articles and call the people involved complainypants. 

I think the big difference is that while people here may choose to live at a lifestyle equivalent to these people's incomes, it is a choice.  I choose to live below my means and I sacrifice to do that.  There's a purpose.  They live at their means and it is already near the bottom of the lifestyle spectrum. 

Also, many (not all) people who are poor are so because they are under educated, ignorant, not very intelligent to start with, or some combination.  I feel for the person who grew up poor, received no guidance from their parents (if they even had 2 parents), went to a poor school district, barely graduated from high school, and don't even have a understanding of the opportunities available to them.  The person who overextended on a mortgage and a minor stumble caused them to end up on bread line?  They put themselves in that situation and I have little sympathy for them.

sheepstache

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #24 on: December 06, 2014, 12:01:02 PM »
In all seriousness, there are a lot of excellent discussions on systematic abuses of poor people by the "system" but I would caution that this article is not the right place to start one, nor the right jumping-off point for having one. There are lots of truly terrible stories where folks are taken advantage of by slumlords, car salesmen, their employers, and so on - in ways that are obviously, patently, and outrageously illegal - but are done knowing that the victims have no ability to fight and win, and will give up and allow themselves to be nickel-and-dimed because fighting back requires education, resources, and time.

But this is the wrong goddamn source, and it colors any conversation following it, irrevocably and in a way that is not conducive to a good debate or conversation. It will quickly devolve into generalizations, victim-blaming, and ad hominem.

My personal belief, by the way, is that the proper way to deal with systematic injustices is one at a time. The idea of systematic injustices has grown so incredibly politicized - or perhaps, it always was, and I merely lack context and experience to know for sure - that any attempt to address an issue brings all sorts of crazies out of the woodwork, who proceed to have verbal diarrhea into their hands, then throw the resultant shit at anyone nearby. Instead, if we notice and address injustices as they appear - sue the slumlord out of business, shut down the car dealership that performs bait-and-switches after a car is sold, make illegal paying people on debit cards with transaction fees - we can make a real difference without the criminally insane and professional victims getting in the way.

Sure, I think talking about problems as being systemic is a helpful mental guide rather than an actionable item. That's why it might be easy for someone to agree that poor people have it hard while at the same time being able to pick apart and criticize almost any poor individual's actions.

The only thing about taking the injustices one at a time is you need the legal framework to do so and then you have to talk about the systemic issue. There have to be usury laws to bring the loan sharks to justice, etc. We all have to agree that there's a moral problem with slumlords. Boring specifics. In my city the temperature of an apartment has to be above a certain limit during winter or you can take your landlord to court. We don't just say, 'Well, if the landlords do a bad enough job people simply won't rent from them so the market will solve it.' We have to recognize that some people are in a weak enough position that they can't fight back without support from legislation. And to get that in the law we have to convince people who will never be in that position.

EricL

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #25 on: December 07, 2014, 06:47:21 AM »
Unfortunately the science and art of being successfully poor aren't really mastered until you make and save enough to be middle class.  Until then there's a vicious learning curve to master and the definite feeling all the remedies for stuff going wrong are designed for people three tax brackets above you. One sickness, one traffic ticket and it's off to pushing a shopping cart and begging for change.  It's true that's in many ways mental hurdle but it's a damnably steep one.  And it's weird right now because there's a view of the past 30 years or so life and social mobility were so much easier. 

dorothyc

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #26 on: December 07, 2014, 06:58:11 AM »
"no one has time for handwashing"

For a second there I was very grossed out. People can't be bothered to spend 20 seconds washing their hands? :)

I think she was refering to hand washing clothes

Davids

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Re: Slate article: saving money costs money
« Reply #27 on: December 07, 2014, 08:25:31 AM »
The only way saving money will cost you money is if you take that money and hide it under your bed and then your house goes on fire and all that money burnt.