About the Author

Honey's main interests are online dating, long distance dating, and long term relationships. She met her boyfriend on MySpace and they have been exclusive since their first date over three years ago. Currently they live in Tempe, Arizona. Honey graduated with her PhD in Composition and Rhetoric in May 2009. You can contact Honey via email here or online here.

Defining Poverty

When Lance told me that he was going to write a post to participate in Blog Action Day 08 to talk about poverty, I was right there with him.  This is not only because it’s an extraordinarily important issue (which it is), but because with the way that the economy is going right now, poverty is becoming more than an idea to many Americans–it’s being redefined as it becomes many people’s reality.

What Do I Know About Poverty?

On the surface, not much.  I live in a nice house, I have a pool, some pets, I’m a vegetarian (and if saying that you won’t eat certain foods isn’t a sign of wealth, I don’t know what is).  However, I’ve been living beyond my means: I have about $14K in credit card debt and about $90K in student loan debt.  If the BF didn’t have a great job that let him pay for most of our rent I’d be screwed, and as it is, I’m going to have to put all my student loan repayments on forbearance just to make my credit card minimums.

And speaking of the BF, he’s lucky, too–he has about $50K in credit card debt and $100K in student loan debt.  He wanted more than anything to buy a house when he moved to Phoenix a year and a half ago, and thank god he couldn’t afford it, because he would have lost at least $60K within that year and probably ended up in forclosure.  I had to sit him down the other day and say that we could no longer afford to buy whatever we wanted at the grocery store–we’re not going to go hungry, but we certainly need to make a list and stick to it.

Poverty And the Average American

And I’m fully aware that the BF and I are the lucky ones, because even though we are pinching pennies and putting off paying back various loans, we are paying the credit cards off and not making new charges; we don’t own a home and we’re just starting to save for retirement, which in this economy means we’re buying at a discount things that will be worth much more later.

What about those people who’ve lost their homes, abandoned their pets, not been able to afford health care, or told their kids, “sorry, we can’t afford to pay for you to go to college?”  I’m aware, and Lance touches on this in his blog, that in many parts of the world (and even here in the U.S.) poverty means not having enough to eat, or suffering from chronic diseases because of lack of access to health care.  But I contend that we’re facing a new idea of what poverty is and means in this country, at least for the forseeable future.

The New Definition of Poverty

My own (and, increasingly, the BF’s, as I bombard him with my views until they become his :-) ) definition of poverty has become living beyond your means for a lengthy period of time.  It’s not until your means change that you realize not only how fragile your standard of living was–and suddenly, not only can you not maintain that standard, you’ve got to decrease it substantially.

Since this is a dating and relationship blog (okay, Lance, sex, too!) I have to point out how incredibly important it is to have conversations about money early on with a potential significant other.  Incredibly, at least to me, there are many, many folks out there who haven’t made these realizations, and if you’re making every effort to live within your means, you just can’t risk a potential partner who may compromise your financial security that way.

Thoughts?

If this post made you want to cash in your 401(k), you might also enjoy:

  • http://20-forty.com/ lisaq

    It’s a difficult conversation to have but definitely one you have to have. I’ve lived both in poverty and beyond my means and I think the first definitely impacted the second. Now that I finally have my ducks in a row, it’s easy to see that.

    The other thing to think about, in regard to dating and poverty, is that people in poverty view relationships differently. People in poverty, and even in wealth, view relationships very differently than those of us living somewhere in the middle. It’s a whole different mindset. Good to know if you are interacting with people from all different walks of life.

    lisaq´s last blog post…But Will I Even Like You When I’m Sober?

  • http://www.yankeeinnewworld.com NewWrldYankee

    I am so glad you both are participating! The more the better, IMO. You’re right, student loans are a hell to pay off, and the interest rates are crazy. I can’t even always apply for a govt student loan like Sallie Mae, because of studying internationally – my school is just too lazy to worry about things like that.

    NewWrldYankee´s last blog post…Dealing with Authority – American v. European, part I School

  • Me Thinks

    The money issue is a tremendous stressor in marriages. My ex racked up a lot of debt for us, it took on a life of its own. I am proud to say 2 1/2 years after divorce I am totally debt-free with exception of the approx 70% financed mortgage on my house, I’ve built up a retirement fund and have a credit rating of 815. Its like being a lifetime away from where we were.

    I learned a lot on how to manage my finances by being “broke” and it took a lot of hard work and discipline. But anyone can research the advice they give you with debt management and find ways to improve their situation.

    Definitely it is a subject to broach in any serious relationship. I’m surprised how clueless people are, my ex-BF actually made over $200k a year but still had debt that he effectively never paid off, he was a total moron with money. Huge red flag.

  • http://beautyoftheyear.wordpress.com beautyoftheyear

    Geesh. I totally understand the student loan idea. I’ve racked up about the amount of a luxury vehicle. Damn, I’m scared to open up a Sallie Mae envelope. Student loan interest shouldn’t be so high.

    beautyoftheyear´s last blog post…Fashion, Fucking and Feelings

  • http://charlesthor.wordpress.com/ Thor

    Great post!!! I think having conversations about money is really important. I also think having both people involved in financial decisions, even if one is more financially informed, is key to making large and small decisions. It has certainly helped ease some of my money arguments.

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