Being born in 1959, places me in the so called “Baby Boomer generation”. Over the past few decades those of use born to this group have faced many of society’s diverse failures. After I graduated, like most, I figured I would land a good job that would last the majority of my working life. And I did, I began working for one of the largest steel producers in America; Armco and in 1983 the company shut their doors as companies like this moved overseas. I went from making $60,000 a year with benefits to averaging about $18,000 a year with no benefits as a temporary laborer. So I guess you could say I have been living on a budget since 1983, surviving marriage, a divorce and an injury that has placed me on disability for the past eight years.
In 2000 I fell an crushed my three lower vertebrae leaving me partially paralyzed, which led to my wife filing for divorce, seeing I wouldn’t be able to support our family and she knew that she certainly couldn’t with her work experience. At the time I was receiving workman’s compensation, so I ended up moving in with family while I began rehabilitation which took about two years for me to regain mobility based upon the severity of my injuries. After which I began driving a cab while I waited qualifying for Social Security Disability and in 2004 I began to find it difficult driving, seeing it required being seated the majority of the day, which placed extreme pain on my lower back. Luckily I had saved enough to cover expenses for about six months.
In 2005, I finally qualified for disability and moved in with family, which made things easier. Surviving on disability is near impossible, so budgeting was made easy seeing all I had to do was help around the house and cover the utilities; so whatever funds I had left over I could do as I saw fit. So I got my first computer and began supplementing my income on eBay and doing the online surveys. In 2007 my sister decided that everyone needed to move out and I came down with a staph infection and lost two toes to diabetes.
After being released from the hospital I found a room for rent for around $350 a month with laundry and kitchen privileges, which lasted till March of 2011 when the lady I had rented from passed from metastatic cancer. So now I found myself in a predicament.
However, I was fortunate enough to have a neighbor who was in the same position that I was. Single parent of three children, she had just been laid off and since we meet she had somewhat adopted me as part of the family seeing I basically no longer had a family. She invited me to move in and with our combined resources we are barely able to make it in this economy.
Our income comes to about $2300. She makes about $300 a week before taxes and I get a little over $1100 on disability. In my situation I qualify for additional assistance with housing and food but the government doesn’t have the funds so that assistance is virtually unavailable. However she does get food stamps and medical assistance for her children through the state. So between the two of us we do make it. Our current budget looks something like this:
Propane/Natural Gas 45.00
Groceries 600.00 (400.00 covered by her food stamps)
Clothing 150.00 (for the children)
Medical Co-pays 60.00
Car note 300.00
Auto Insurance 75.00
Credit Cards 100.00
Bank Loan 150.00
TV/Rent to Own 82.00
Total Expenses 2207.00
Now this leaves us with about $87.00 to spare and I make a few dollars here and there on the internet from materials I pick up that I sell on eBay or other sites or by picking up scrap metal here and there when I can. We also supplement our sources by fishing and growing vegetables that we eat most often. Several of these expenses will be paid off in the next few months so until then things are tight, but we survive. I know without my roommate I wouldn’t make it so the headache is worth it rather than being alone.