As a musician that isn’t out making any money playing music. I’ve had to become willing to continually adapt to my ever-changing financial situation. Like many of you I’ve had a difficult time keeping a consistent income. I also have a short memory so when I’m up I never seem to remember to plan for the inevitable swing down towards homelessness and constant hunger.
To be clear I’ve never officially been without a place to live, eat, shower, etc…but I have had a long string of very close calls of which I’ve learned to stay positive even in the worse of times and to adapt continuously so that you have place to hang your hat every night.
There are 5 things that for me are the most challenging to manage which little or no money in your pockets:
- Rent: for me this is usually the biggest bill of the month and clearly the most important. I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that I’ve made this payment. If I can’t I don’t hesitate to speak with the owner/landlord to discuss options. I’ve been close many times but as of today never evicted.
- Food: this one is tough for me mainly because I become really depressed if I’m on an empty stomach. Nothing reminds me more of my crappy situation then that of a rumbling stomach and an empty kitchen.
- Car/gas: getting to work to make money suddenly becomes a challenge because you do t have the cash to keep the tank full. And if your car dies…well the tough keep going right? It suck.
- Work: even if you have a job that pays you just enough to scrap by if that car stops working then you can’t get to work which leads to unemployment fairly quickly. If you don’t have a job finding work and getting an income again can take some time.
- Bills: yep they still need you to pay them regardless if you have the money. So it’s sometimes inevitable that you have to choose to have services shut off to keep other things going.
The good news is that if I can survive you can survive and come out better than before!
Here’s my list of the 21 things I’ve done to survive poverty:
- Stay focused and positive – OK so you find yourself in a bad spot you’ve gone out for a couple of days and tried to drink the good times back but now the grieving time is over and it’s time to remember that you’ll get through it as long as you stay positive and focused of fixing your situation.
- Ask for help – Believe me I get it. It’s hard to admit to others that you’re having a tough time and need help. I’ve been there many times where sometimes it’s just easier not to have to run through the often painful details of your situation. But it really is like dropping a bag of bricks off your shoulders when people who care about you try to help. Let’s face it you’re living one charmed life if you haven’t been down and out at least a couple of times. Everyone’s been there.
- Public transportation – learn it, live it, and deal with it. If you have the option of taking the bus or subway do it! We should be doing that when we have money for gas any way. Sure you’re going to miss your car but after you figure out the system you’ll get used to it and might even start to like it. I really missed my daily subway rides when I moved from New York to Denver. It was a good way to unwind after a long day at work.
- Use The System!!! – My pride gets in the way of common sense sometimes. It took me a while before I would even consider food stamps or welfare BUT we pay the taxes for a reason so USE THESE BENEFITS!! There are food banks and actual $$$ available to those that need it. Once I checked my ego and actually looked into government aid I realized that there’s a lot of great people working or volunteering for some really great organizations dedicated to helping people who need basic essentials. Just take a few minutes and do a little research and you’ll be surprised what’s available when you really need it and ask.
- Change The Things You Eat – Or at least how you eat them. I have a bad habit of eating out or ordering in way to frequently when I have the money to spend. I really don’t like to think about how much money I’ve spent on pizza and hot wings. But I would also ten to lean towards eating much nicer foods and spoiling my friends and family whenever we would go out to eat. Well, those types of things just aren’t possible when you have little to no cash. So I’ve learned to eat smaller portions, less often. As well as making meals at home that are inexpensive. I will live on a steady diet of a Mom inspired “cheesy noodles”, peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, breakfast cereal (any time of day) and the always popular grilled cheese. If I’m feeling saucy I’ll even add in some tuna. It’s not McDonalds, it’s not super healthy but I survive with a full stomach.
- Call The Bill People – First off go through your bills and decide which are expendable and which aren’t. Play Station and app subscriptions, unless you need them to make money, are expendable. Rent, electricity, eat, internet, gas, insurance…etc…these you shouldn’t have to be without. If you ant afford these items see #4! But after you’ve done that the reality is you’ll probably be late on one or all of them at some point. The worst thing you can do is to put off calling the folks that expect payment. From my experience they are usually happy to help with things for a little while. Eventually things will be turned off if you don’t pay but I’ve gone months without paying and as long as I was in contact with them they played along.
- Don’t Isolate and Keep Busy– Even though you might not be able to go out and have a crazy night with your friends try not to cut yourself off from the world. Getting outside and in the sun even for a little while help to lift the spirit. Hanging out with your friends also might open up opportunities for money-making opportunities. Stay clean both metal and physically…trust me it helps. Just try to be around people who are positive and who also understand your situation.
There you have it. Everyone goes through tough times and if you stay focused on working through the problem while staying healthy and positive you can get yourself out of anything. The world might be at times unforgiving and super cold but life is worth those happy days tat happen every now and then. Be safe and be good people.
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