Sunday, January 01, 2006

Whatever: Being Poor

John Scalzi provides us with a moving list of what it means to be poor.

Some he forgot, based on how I used to live while in college.


Being poor is not knowing what it is to pay your credit cards off every month.

Being poor is signing up for credit cards just to get the free tupperware.

Being poor is cashing your paycheques at the money mart, a week in advance.

Being poor is depositing an IOU in your bank the day before you get your paycheque.

Being poor is spending money to fix your transmission, twice, instead of buying a new car.

Being poor is spending $1000 on a big screen TV while only having $1100 saved in the bank.

Being poor is gambling every week, even when you win.

Being poor is spending money on your car stereo instead of planning for retirement.

Being poor is drinking mocha venti latte's at Starbucks, instead of drinking the free coffee in the office kitchen.

Being poor is eating at McDonalds, or any restaurant that employs teenagers to cook for you and has more than 5 locations.

Being poor is buying your art from Ikea.

Being poor is better than being rich, if you're happy and healthy, instead of miserable and sickly.



Another blog lists what it means to be rich.

1) Ability to pay others to perform menial tasks. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, driving, managing money, lawyering, etc. etc. Almost anything that you think of a necessary inconvenience can be done by someone else.

2) Enough money to live off the interest alone. For most people, the biggest inconvenience in life is having to work full time (or more) and having their livelihood riding on said job(s). The very rich have enough capital accumulated that they can, if they are prudent, simply live off the interest, dividend, and capital gains income that accrues. They can choose to work or not, and in many cases have the opportunity to select a job that they enjoy and could leave at will, rather than something that they have to do.

3) A social network of wealthy and powerful professionsals. In some legal trouble? You have to defend yourself, find a cut-rate (and thus less competent) lawyer, or go into debt to hire a good one. The very rich have access to the best lawyers, or to politically or professionally powerful people who can make problems go away...

4) Cultural capital. When dealing with various institutions that tend to be suspicious of your credentials (banks, government agencies, maitre des), you have to jump through a lot of hoops to prove that you are legitimate and trustworthy. This means lots of time spent assembling records, waiting in line, and so forth. In most case, the rich already have the benefit of the doubt - either because of #3 above, or because said institutions want their money and do not wish to offend. Being rich means that people are afraid of offending you and thus you are seldom kept waiting. And anything that does take time - see #1 above.

5) Education. Perhaps the most important thing, the rich have the benefit of extremely good education. This doesn’t necessarily make them more intelligent, but it does provide the credentials to open doors and make a lot of things in life easier.


Some they forgot, or to summarize:


Being rich is travelling.

Being rich is meeting new people and learning new things.

Being rich is living within your means.

Being rich is living below your means.

Being rich is reading everything and everything.

Being rich is turning off the TV.

Being rich is turning on the computer.

Being rich is buying growth stocks vs. catching a falling knife.

Being rich is living off the interest.

Being rich is picking a penny up off the street.

Being rich is driving a 2 year old car.

Being rich is thinking about the environment, and doing something about it.

Being rich is exercising 5 times a week.

Being rich is learning that money is not just the paper in your wallet.

Being rich is being lucky. Being lucky is taking a different route to where you go every day.

Being rich is thinking in a different way than everyone else.

Being rich is a mystery.


My grandmother, who uses a microwave given to her in the early 80's, has moved more than 21 times, has diabetes and health problems, still acts like the richest woman in the world, because she is happy and positive and always laughing.

There is no hard definition of being rich or poor. Like love or hate, it is a feeling.

Being rich or being poor is a state of mind.

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