It Can Be Expensive To Be Poor In America: 7 Ways The Less Fortunate Pay More


Over my years as an independent adult, in and out of school and always working, working, working, I’ve discovered that during times I was more well-off I was screwed much less financially in so many ways.

While I would LOVE to avoid being in times of financial hardship, it seems that once you’re down, it’s really hard to come back up, leaving me to realize that this bootstraps business is crap! Ever since struggling with multiple health issues back in the dark days of no health care and pre-existing conditions clauses, now that I’m back to relatively good health, it’s been really hard bouncing back and I feel like the cliche hamster on a wheel, forever trying to chase what I once had.

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And that’s something the haves in this country just don’t understand: You have to be rich to be poor.

7 Ways the Poor Pay More:

7. Late fees and penalties: Say you were sick for two or three days one week and had to take time off of work. When your paycheck comes, it’s shorter than normal and so you have to let a bill go to the wayside until the next pay cycle. If you’re unable to bargain with the company you’re unable to pay, you’re going to be penalized for paying your bill late. So now, instead of the regular bill you can barely afford, you’re down another $10, $20, $30 because you’re too poor to pay in the first place. It creates a domino effect because now you have to deduct extra funds from the next pay cycle you hadn’t anticipated and it takes from grocery money or whatever those funds were allocated for and a few missed or late bills can really put a dent in your finances.

6. Inability to buy in bulk: Any poor person knows the feeling of being in a grocery store and seeing the bargain prices if you buy 2 3-packs of paper towels, you save a buck or three on six paper towel rolls by spending slightly more. You know you’ll end up needing paper towels again in the future and it would make sense to buy in bulk and save yourself some money, but you’re not working with enough cash and if you bought in bulk you would come home with less essential items. So you buy the cheapest roll for a dollar, but in the long run you end up spending more money that way. So while the haves in this country can stockpile items and then use their paychecks to buy other items next trip to the grocery store, you’re like Sisyphus, constantly pushing the same rock up the hill to buy the same items over and over at a higher net price.

5. Loans: If you’ve ever been in a bind and NEED to pay rent or visit the doctor, you may have taken out a quick loan from the seedy lending place next to the smoke shop in some run down plaza where you use that car you can’t drive because it has a flat tire as collateral. But then the few hundred dollars you borrowed can’t be paid off entirely by next paycheck because other bills are due, or another financial tragedy strikes and you’re just paying the loan off by the minimum. Now the interest kicks in and you could be left a year paying off that interest alone even though you paid the principal balance off months ago. See, the haves have savings for emergencies and you don’t. It’s estimated 26 percent of Americans have no savings at all. That’s 82 million Americans who have no financial back up plan when things inevitably fall apart.

4. Banking: This may not be true for everyone but I need a bank account to pay my bills, and my bank account is strictly for bills. However, if I don’t use my debit card 10 times a month I’m penalized for it. Which means I pay $10 extra dollars a month (that I don’t have, mind you) just to have a bank account. Other banks penalize their customers if they go below $100, which means if you’re poor, you’re penalized for being poor. Or if you overdraw, you’re charged $25-$35 per transaction and that’s a steep fine if you’ve just drained every penny our of your bank account in the first place.

3. Healthcare expenses: After the Affordable Care Act was passed families were required to buy insurance and if you’re lucky enough to live in a state with medicaid expansion perhaps you were subsidized, but many Americans live in red states where their governors refused the medicaid expansion and their residents are only left with the option to buy insurance, and believe me, if you’re barely making ends meet, insurance is a luxury item. Not to mention, if you did buy insurance it only kicks in after the deductible is met, so you’re shelling out hundreds of your precious dollars only to be stuck with a huge bill anyway. If you have no insurance, when you HAVE to go to the doctor, it’s an automatic few hundred dollars up front. Prescription medication without insurance? You pay even more. If you require a hospital trip, you’ve just gone into debt several hundred to several thousand dollars.

2. Transportation: If you’re lucky enough to have a car, you’re shelling out money for gas, insurance and maintenance, which can be very expensive. If you have a POS car, it can be more expensive than just buying that slightly used car at a higher price because it’s constantly breaking down and needs work. If you have no car at all, you’re still paying with your time at the bus stop — if you’re lucky enough to have cheap public transit near you. People who don’t have cheap public transit near them are left cabbing it when they inevitably have to travel further than where their feet will take them and that adds up.

1. The damn roof over your head: Buying a home is 38 percent cheaper than renting. Yet, money down is required to buy a home and money in savings, should the unforeseeable happen so that the house doesn’t go into foreclosure. And so the renting population will pay more in their lifetimes than they would if they had bought a reasonably priced home.

Don’t get me started on children, they are expensive! Daycare, health care, entertainment, school supplies and their required three meals a day really stack up, so on top of the normal struggles the have-nots go through to navigate their way in this expensive country having a child makes everything that much harder.

So when I hear President Obama is trying to give a tax credit to families with a child in daycare, it makes me happy to hear so many people with children will at least get some sort of a break, but with a congress more interested in protecting the comfortably wealthy class, it still leaves much to be desired.

What do you pay more for? Let us know in the comments.

H/T:  Washington Post | Photo: U of I admissions

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