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Old 01-29-2016, 11:26 PM   #21
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My grandmother lived on less, and my great aunt not much more. She should be eligible for subsidized senior housing in many parts of the country.

IIRC my grandmother paid ~$400/month because her income was so low. Gram had no car (the senior housing provided a bus weekly to the grocery store) and lived reasonably well on $1,200/month SS.

While I'm still sad for the protagonist, I was floored by the $50k of credit card debt. She should consider bankruptcy.

She could have had a nice senior dinner at a Bob Evans for about $15 including tip.
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Old 01-29-2016, 11:32 PM   #22
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It's hard for me to feel sympathy for anyone like this. There are shelters and lots of public assistance available. There is also plenty of public housing.

Homeless vets have it worse.

It can take many years on a wait list for public housing and homeless shelters can be very rough places. The options in the story weren't pretty, but probably better than shelters or waiting for a pipe dream. None of those in the story had kids. That puts you on the loooong wait list for public housing.


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Old 01-30-2016, 12:17 AM   #23
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The second couple has military pension and disability supplying them with $32.4k a year. I have seen budgets on this board that are less than that
+1. He's likely got Tricare, too. I can understand how getting by on $1390/mo might be difficult but it wasn't so long ago that we were making ends meet on $27K a year (family of 4) living in SoCal. And around half of that amount was rent. No money for frivolities but at least we weren't eating cat food either.

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It can take many years on a wait list for public housing and homeless shelters can be very rough places. The options in the story weren't pretty, but probably better than shelters or waiting for a pipe dream. None of those in the story had kids. That puts you on the loooong wait list for public housing.
This is true. When we immigrated, our income was too low so we qualified for Section 8 housing but the waitlist was years. Thankfully, we eventually got better paying jobs.
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Old 01-30-2016, 08:21 AM   #24
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"Should she go to the dentist, or take a guided tour of buildings designed by her favorite architect, Frank Lloyd Wright? Each cost $100.

She picked Frank Lloyd Wright. Her teeth could wait.
And later in the article they mention her getting hit with $8K in bills for emergency dental work and repairs to her RV. I can understand that life should include little splurges no matter how poor you are, but $100 for a guided tour of a Frank Lloyd Wright house when it means you can't afford dental care is not "little".

It's definitely sad to read about how these people live but they've chosen a life of jobs that pay minimally and travel/living in a vehicle that's extremely expensive to move and maintain. The numbers don't work and, as the first lady is learning, your body eventually becomes too creaky for most of those jobs. They've also walked away from underwater houses/trailers, leaving the bank with the loss.

As others have mentioned, we have safety nets in place for the elderly poor, such as Section 8 housing, but they need to stay in one place to get it.
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Old 01-30-2016, 08:34 AM   #25
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As others have mentioned, we have safety nets in place for the elderly poor, such as Section 8 housing, but they need to stay in one place to get it.
They've opted for a lifestyle of travel that they can't afford, so they're working odd jobs to pay for it. It's not a lifestyle that appeals to me, but I'm not sure that I would like mouldering away in low income senior housing, looking at the same four walls every day, either.
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Old 01-30-2016, 08:48 AM   #26
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They've opted for a lifestyle of travel that they can't afford, so they're working odd jobs to pay for it. It's not a lifestyle that appeals to me, but I'm not sure that I would like mouldering away in low income senior housing, looking at the same four walls every day, either.
My grandmother was in low income senior housing in San Francisco and her studio was nicer than our apartment. Heck, it'd probably cost $2-3K to rent per month on the open market. They've got weekly activities and my grandma enjoyed socializing with the other tenants.
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Old 01-30-2016, 08:55 AM   #27
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Too poor to retire; too young to die

First, when I read stories like this my knee jerk reaction is "but for the Grace of God" and I am not a particularly religious person!

Second, while I have never had to access public assistance I would imagine that unless you've got experience with the "system" it can be a daunting experience where you don't even know where to begin. Add old age, and the process, unless someone else takes pity on you and guides you through, would be very challenging I would think.

Third, I had a friend, Yale undergrad and law degree from Univ of Chicago, who fell on hard times mainly a function of mental health issues, and he remarked to me once, "that being poor is a tremendous amount of work" as nothing comes easy (i.e. you don't just hop in your car for an appointment you have to go take three different buses, etc.).


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Old 01-30-2016, 09:21 AM   #28
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I can have some sympathy for this woman's plight, but I feel no responsibility towards her. A lifetime of living that philosophy has its consequences, and they are hers, not mine. I've had family members try to lay a guilt trip on me because I have some money squirreled away. I've told them, "hey, I didn't get up at 5AM to work instead of ski because I preferred to work. I would have preferred to go skiing. I did it because I didn't want to be poor.. And no, I won't lend you $5,000"...
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Old 01-30-2016, 09:40 AM   #29
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Yes, one of those articles to try and make it seem that all old people need help....


But I just see poor decision after poor decision.... first, her $21 meal... even if it is good for 3 meals that is $7 per meal... you can do cheaper than that...

She also seems to be driving from place to place for almost minimum wage jobs.... the cost of moving is probably more than the money she will make... or at least the differential if she just stayed put and worked...

And I will say that it IS possible to live on what she makes... she is getting assistance from the gvmt for food and possibly more.... my mom lives on that amount of money without assistance... sure, she has savings if she needs it, but she does not use it...

BTW, my mom is on a medicare supplemental plan that cost her zero monthly payments and they pay for all her treatments.... that would get rid of the big medical bills that this woman has...

Yes, better decisions on her part would go a long way in fixing the problem...
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Old 01-30-2016, 09:47 AM   #30
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BTW, my mom is on a medicare supplemental plan that cost her zero monthly payments and they pay for all her treatments.... that would get rid of the big medical bills that this woman has...
One of her big bills was $8,000 for RV repairs and a dental emergency- not sure how that broke out between the two, but AFAIK, no government plan covers dental care for seniors. That can be a huge gap. Maybe if we could get people to live healthier and realize savings from that we could afford to expand some programs for the low-income to include dental care. I'm not holding my breath.
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Old 01-30-2016, 09:49 AM   #31
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First, when I read stories like this my knee jerk reaction is "but for the Grace of God" and I am not a particularly religious person!

Second, while I have never had to access public assistance I would imagine that unless you've got experience with the "system" it can be a daunting experience where you don't even know where to begin. Add old age, and the process, unless someone else takes pity on you and guides you through, would be very challenging I would think.

Third, I had a friend, Yale undergrad and law degree from Univ of Chicago, who fell on hard times mainly a function of mental health issues, and he remarked to me once, "that being poor is a tremendous amount of work" as nothing comes easy (i.e. you don't just hop in your car for an appointment you have to go take three different buses, etc.).


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This is more or less how I feel, and the experiences I've had helping folks. As your friend said, the sheer number of decisions made each day by the poor begin to degrade the quality of those decisions.

I highly recommend the recent book by Linda Tirado if this sort of thing interests you. It is called Hand to Mouth, and went a long way in helping me understand more about the mindset of those living in poverty.
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Old 01-30-2016, 10:58 AM   #32
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"prime rib special and an iced tea — expensive at $21.36,"

I guess most people think this is normal and eveyy one is entitled to this.
$21.36 is about 10% of what I spend in a month on food...and I don't skimp. She spent it on one meal.
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Old 01-30-2016, 11:03 AM   #33
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The lady from the 3rd couple has 3 grown children:

"Before she met Mark, she had raised three kids on a single income. "

This is not the US culture, I know. Many children in other cultures, including mine would provide for their aging parents. My own mother lived to 87. She had a small pension, but for 25 years the 3 of us kids provided extra for her travels and everything else extra.

I wonder where her children are.
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Old 01-30-2016, 11:04 AM   #34
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Third, I had a friend, Yale undergrad and law degree from Univ of Chicago, who fell on hard times mainly a function of mental health issues, and he remarked to me once, "that being poor is a tremendous amount of work" as nothing comes easy (i.e. you don't just hop in your car for an appointment you have to go take three different buses, etc.).
It's actually easier to be poor than being just right above the poverty level. When income is at or below poverty level, you get quite a bit of assistance from government. If you live in senior housing, you get a lot of resources to know what programs you may qualify for. Grandma wanted to stay independent and didn't want to live with any of her kids. Her pension was something like $8K a year so she received quite a bit of government assistance. She had subsidized home health aide, utilities, housing, taxi scrip, etc.

This is one of the reasons I don't resent paying taxes. At least in the US, I can actually see the programs that my taxes are supporting. In the Philippines, it'll just go to the pockets of corrupt politicians. Sure I grumble and try to reduce the tax burden by contributing to retirement plans but when I see the $15K tax bill on my 1040 and CA-540, I just think of grandma.
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Old 01-30-2016, 11:11 AM   #35
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The lady from the 3rd couple has 3 grown children:

"Before she met Mark, she had raised three kids on a single income. "

This is not the US culture, I know. Many children in other cultures, including mine would provide for their aging parents. My own mother lived to 87. She had a small pension, but for 25 years the 3 of us kids provided extra for her travels and everything else extra.

I wonder where her children are.
I think helping out their parents is also true for many people in the US.

I felt bad for the people in the story but don't think they are necessarily representative of a trend--the author zeroed in on older people working unskilled jobs who lived in RVs and were willing to talk with him about their lifestyles and how they got there. He could have zeroed in on older people living in tiny apartments in a big city who have the same income and manage to even save some of it.
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Old 01-30-2016, 11:25 AM   #36
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They've opted for a lifestyle of travel that they can't afford, so they're working odd jobs to pay for it. It's not a lifestyle that appeals to me, but I'm not sure that I would like mouldering away in low income senior housing, looking at the same four walls every day, either.
As far as I know, they do not break your legs when you move in.

Ha
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Old 01-30-2016, 12:05 PM   #37
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$21.36 is about 10% of what I spend in a month on food...and I don't skimp. She spent it on one meal.
That's a lot to spend on one meal.

I have not eaten a restaurant meal that has exceeded $21.36 ever during the past 4+ years for which I have records.
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Old 01-30-2016, 12:17 PM   #38
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That's a lot to spend on one meal.

I have not eaten a restaurant meal that has exceeded $21.36 ever during the past 4+ years for which I have records.

Guess you are not going to any of a number of New Orleans' finest. Would've thought one of the things worth splurging on in NO is the eating establishments. 🤔


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Old 01-30-2016, 12:18 PM   #39
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That's a lot to spend on one meal.

I have not eaten a restaurant meal that has exceeded $21.36 ever during the past 4+ years for which I have records.
I agree. I can't think of a single time in my life that I spent $21.36 or more on one meal. Even if there are leftovers, that's a ridiculous amount to spend on a meal for anyone who has $50K in CC debt.
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Old 01-30-2016, 12:25 PM   #40
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That's a lot to spend on one meal.

I have not eaten a restaurant meal that has exceeded $21.36 ever during the past 4+ years for which I have records.
I have spent more than that on a meal on occasion...but, I don't have debt and can easily afford to do so without it affecting the bottom line.
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