Thursday, May 21, 2009

On Being Poor

The Washington Post wrote an article entitled "The High Cost of Poverty" that outlines how poorer people have a much rougher time trying to do the very same things that slightly richer people take for granted. As an example, while the middle-class gets to shop at grocery stores where they pay $1 for a loaf of bread, because poorer people may not have cars or reliable transportation to get them to these grocery stores, they end up paying $3 for that same loaf of bread at a corner market. While $2 isn't a lot extra to pay in the short term, if they buy two loaves of bread a week for fifty weeks, that's $200 extra dollars they'll pay over that time. When many of these people's incomes are below $15,000, that is a significant amount of take-home pay wasted on these higher prices.

I really feel for these people, in part because I have gone through some tough financial straights myself. While I was never as bad off as the folks in the article, at some points in my life, it made more sense to go to a check-cashing place as opposed to cashing a paycheck in my bank account, and the rates they charged for the priviledge of cashing my check there made my head spin.

Around that time, laws were passed in California that said that these check-cashing places had to charge a much lower percentage on checks cashed and/or cash advances to military families. I believe the intention of the law was to make these establishments charge overall lower rates, but what ended up happening was the day the law went into effect, there were signs posted at the store I went to that said that they could not serve military families. This law that was supposed to help these families probably just made life more difficult for them.

There is a man in the article who says that he doesn't hold anything against these businesses because charging high fees is just "how they make their money." I can only imagine how difficult this man's life has been to make him docile to these ridiculous rates.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A New Direction

I did finally get accepted into grad school, and I am really looking forward to going. With that in mind, I am going to start, in addition to what I have already been posting about (finding deals and so forth), posting more about how I am going to make grad school a viable economic reality for me and the wife (and the puppy).

It looks like we will be making a pretty significant move in order to go to school, and so one of the first items on the agenda is the need to start paring it all down. I set up about twenty Ebay auctions last night, and I will be interested to see how much money I actually end up with. Ebay is pretty tricky for sellers, in my opinion, as you get charged to list your item, then you get charged some more when your item sells, and then Paypal charges you a percentage of whatever money you receive. As I figure most of these items will sell for a dollar or two, these ten and twenty-five cent fees add up pretty quickly as a percentage of money earned. Nevertheless, I am getting towards my goal of having (and therefore, having to move) less stuff.

This will be an exciting couple of months.