Tag Archives: worries about not having enough money

Relative poverty line

My husband suggested that we live under the Australian poverty line. The word ‘poverty’ doesn’t ring right to me since we have a house, cars, dogs, lots of electronic stuff (albeit outdated), and postgraduate education. People like us don’t live in poverty; we just struggle financially.

Bills and expenses are looming like a cumulonimbus cloud, and we now have a dangerous budget hole.

I’ve been paid for the training, driving and home work I did the last couple of weeks and got slightly more than expected because I’m under the Australian tax threshold (wow… I don’t think we have such a threshold in my home country… anyway, that is a pretty bad sign).

Most went straight into the mortgage account, and more will follow the bills, but right now I’ve got a bit of breathing room. I could fill my car with petrol without worries. It might even get an oil change. I could fill the fridge and stock up on dog food. I could keep my appointment with a specialist. I can buy woollen underwear and a blanket to combat the cold weather. I’ve gotten so used to the $0 situation that I wasn’t aware how stressful it was all the time. I didn’t realise that scarcity is like a relentless battle, and money is peace.

 

Scene from Disney movie Up:  cumulonimbus cloud

Our budget gap is like a cumulonimbus cloud

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What is poverty (in a rich country)

I reflect a lot about poverty for the time being. First, because lack of money is an ongoing worry and limitation. Second, because there is a ‘white trash’ feel to much of the local area and especially the nearby towns. We are surrounded by it. Third, because my new job as research interviewer brings me into the homes of people who have a much deeper degree of poverty than I have ever known.

What is poverty? It is measured as assets and purchasing power, but it looks like a style of fashion (around here: the hoodie), a gait, a driving style, a tendency to scarring and tattoos, a type of entertainment preferences, a certain diet, a way family members walk together, look at each other and call to each other. A way to furniture a home. Poverty isn’t just lack of money; it is culture.
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Employment obstacles in Sydney’s Southwest (for me)

There are not a lot of jobs down here where we now live. That became obvious when I searched for jobs on the usual major online job portals like SEEK and Australian Job Search and added in our new postcode, or filtered the job results for ‘Sydney Southwest/M5 corridor’.

I am looking for menial pay-the-bills jobs like cleaner, data entry, basically anything I can do*, and the result list was ridiculously short.

 

 

 
I could of course look for work in Sydney and commute. Commuting comes with a cost in terms of time, petrol, road toll**, and wear on the car (= workshop bills), though, so the income needs to be worth it. For a part time job, the insane travel time and cost of commuting to Sydney is unlikely to pay off.

The average peak hour travel speed on the M5 motorway, which is the geographical life-line between the Southwest and Sydney, is about 35 km/hour (the Daily Telegraph quoting RTA, Feb 2011) although the speed limit is 100 to 110 km/hour most of the way. And it isn’t only bad in peak hours, see:

 

 

There is also a nasty long tunnel to trap people underground in bumper to bumper slow motion for a looong time. I don’t complain: this the price people like us pay to afford a house. We are “Westies’ now, and happy … well knowing how lucky we are to have a house.

  
So in the near future I’ll have a closer look on the work-from-home options, such as:

 
1. Try harder with freelancing

I start to think that work-from-home isn’t just an option, but my only option after all.
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