Thursday, November 10, 2022

Always Poor .. How We Adjust to Money

 It's funny.  There has been a couple periods in my life where I went from making very little to a "professional income" and found myself feeling just as strapped as before I took the job.  They say that a shark will grow to the size of whatever tank it is placed.  However more water it is given, it is going to take up more and more of that space, till the space around it is the same or less.  That's like some people I've been with, and it's like taxes and fees, too. 

Another way of thinking about it is like when I was driving to my teacher job this fall, when I was doing it.  I recall noticing that if I left at my planned time to leave the house or if I was running behind or if I left early... I always seemed to arrive at the same time.  Why?  I would adjust the speed of my journey, based upon my expectation of when I would arrive.  This is similar to self employment income in a way, because we are often tempted to say... I've made enough for the day.. and pause... and stay in the same income level.

I recall back when I was working for IBM that I got my paycheck and was stunned to find I was netting about as much as selling retail, because my health insurance was taking a HUGE chunk of each check.  Yeah... you need health insurance at times, but as I reflect back the total amount of money I paid into health insurance over the years is less than was used, even when my daughter had to go into a hospital for a week once.  I'm also in the VA healthcare system and can get my treatment at the VA, so that's not really a need for me.

Recently, when I decided in Spring to be a teacher, I was impressed with the teacher salary that DeSantis and the district had offered, and I got visions in my head of how great it would be.  THEN, the following appeared..

... district workshops that kept me from working before I could get to my first paycheck and which would not be paid to me until months into the job.

... fees to the state for my certificate.

... fees to prior schools, because HCC required all prior transcripts, not just the final one with all the other courses listed on it, like other schools do.

... clothing and materials I would need for the teacher job.

... higher rent at my extended stay, since I was not able to work as much I had to go to weekly rent at higher cost.

... tuition at HCC for my courses.

... etc

When I began the teacher path, I was on monthly at my extended stay, had 700 dollars saved, and was feeling at peace.  Then... even when the teacher pay began.. I would feel constantly strapped and had very little time to earn more in other ways.  Now, I am back to self employment and feel at peace once again.

But... WHY was I so strapped?  In part, it was because they took out money from every check to cover things like Christmas break... involuntarily.  I wasn't given the option about that.  They also taxed higher, because I was making more.  Then, there was fees for health insurance over what was provided. Finally, things like the college tuition was a need to be able to do that path.  We rarely consider our net income INCLUDING the college we paid in comparison to other jobs.  We'd often find our hourly to be less than things like McDonald's, even though we feel much higher level than they.  We are being paid with the illusion much more than the money, itself.

Also, let me give myself as a perfect example of poverty aid vs professional income.  I have noted this in the past, but it needs reminding.  When my youngest was born, my wife at the time had a post partum psychosis.  So, I had to cover income, while taking care of the baby and her.  I schooled for education and then accounting and used my financial aid to cover living expenses, while I prepared for a job.  Because of that and other things, I have a lot of student loan debt.  I have been in a income sensitive payment plan for years that if I remain on it will cancel my debt after a few decades.  HOWEVER, if I begin to make a high income, I would start paying higher payments to it, making the income irrelevant.  I've also at times been on snap benefits for food (and may consider them in the future), and it's the same thing.  If you earn more, you get less aid and higher payments, making moving UP in income an actual negative or best case same situation.  Why would you do more stress for the same money?

We live in a society that lives on debt, whether that be to a credit card or to the government.  Our educational aid ensures we will continue to be poor, as we pay the rich for the opportunity to work in their world.  If we keep running the hamster wheel, we will find ourselves exhausted and often just as strapped as when we were "poor" in lower income jobs.  But.. at the end of the day and after all of the year, the only thing that will matter is.. were you happy.  If we are to seek happiness, maybe we should be thinking about how much we have, instead of dreams of what may never be.

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