Monday, August 27, 2007

Management of Money

I don't know anyone who doesn't have money problems at one time or another. And I don't know anyone who has not had debt issues. But what I see weekly doing volunteer work is an issue that must be addressed by our "giving networks."

I volunteer at a church based program that I admit does more screening that any that I have ever been involved with before. I am very proud to be associated with such people and with a thoughtful set of guidelines. Each person that benefits is given a timeline of when they can come again and is required to re-submit their spending habits each time they come. They may only benefit every 60 days and it is amazing how things can change in that amount of time.

I meet with many people that I know will not be able to make it through the month without help of some kind. People that are struggling regularly and there seems to be no end in sight. And for the majority I do not see an end in sight. So what am I seeing as just a little spark of light at the end of the tunnel - budget training.

We all have to do it, no matter what we call it. We all know it we want something we must either save for it or if we get "this" what are we willing to do without? Or is it all of us? This problem is again falling under the topic of entitlement that we have talked about before. Many of us still believe that if we want something we should have it. And if that means we have debt, so be it. Or if that means we borrow money, so be it. Many of the people I see are caught up in the cash advance places and never get caught up. Or spend vast amount of time running from charity to charity, using more gas and resources than the working class does.

I do not care much what anyone has or does not have consumer-wise, until they ask me to pay for it. Directly or indirectly we all pay for each others consumer choices through charity organizations. Someone makes an unwise decision and the rest of us pay out either through taxes, national debt or charitable giving.

There are times when I have definitely been without money and it is not fun. But I was aware that people who are on minimal income may not have certain things and remain to be considered responsible. So I feel the suggestions that I make are valid through experience.

When I had minimal money or my money came from the government there were certain things I could not allow myself in good conscience. I could not permit myself to have cable or Internet. When I could afford Internet I had to control myself to only have the minimum, in case an emergency could change my finances again. I am not against cable or Internet and I know that with children it can be important. But the minimum that can last is better than the max, that will be gone in a few months. Personally I cannot OK cable in my home, so I have an antennae and minimum Internet. This took me 30 years of living on my own to afford. Before that I satisfied myself with Internet at the library. And TV has always had to be the first thing to go in money crisis. Until HDTV comes, an antennae offers a free alternative, after the initial cost, and offers a variety of local and PBS stations. This also has taught me to use the Off Button and learn to do other activities.

Next I could not allow myself to spend grocery money on cigarettes, coffee, goodies, pop, or eating out. These are privileges of eating healthy first. Very often I would go through the month buying food that was nutritionally needed, and then at the end of the month if there was any money left that could be spent on coffee or other treats it would be purchased for the following month. So I had to pay for such commodities in what was left over, not from the beginning of the month.

Eating out I found was the hobby of the working. But I also soon found that eating out, ate much of my paycheck. An easy alternative was to take a non-perishable lunch or to skip lunch for efficiency. Not only did this save food money, but also gasoline in the forging, time in the decision making and keep me out of the relentless office hobby of "what do we want to eat today?" Such practical practices also can work great on weight control and the time can be spent reading, etc if I worked in an office where lunch time was mandatory.

Did I ever have any fun or spend any money? Yes, I did, eventually. And then I was able to appreciate my decisions. Would eating out mean that I could not save to got to that play next month? Than not eating out was worth it. Did not picking up that burrito, as a quick fix, mean I could have coffee with a friend this month? Than no burrito. If I went without goodies, could I buy something pertaining to a hobby? And most important - if I saved some back, could I maintain my standard of living in a health crisis?

These were all hard lessons to learn, yet today I value them greatly. Why can't we teach these to clients of charitable organizations? Why can't we say - if you give up 1/2 the cable, you could eat - do that and we will help you this month and you won't need us next month? Give up cigarettes and pop and you can attend a concert or play or invest in a hobby. Yes, you may benefit from our services this month, but to continue you must join our budgeting class. And what if after the budget classes, if improvement is not shown, sanction can be visited on the client. And no charitable organization may function without screening, including soup kitchens. If you are sanctioned in one place, all the other organizations uphold it.

We don't do this partly because of fear. Sometimes people are demanding. Will we seem mean, or impolite? Will we not be considered "giving"? Look at these questions, they are ego driven. If we are to change lives through charitable organizations than we must take chances in reputation. Chances that say, no, we do not want you to continue living this way - for your sake.

The other reason this is hard to do is the cross referencing of organizations through computer database or regular communication. And there needs to be found a way to do this, without having to hire a consultant etc. Ask the secretaries, they know the ins and outs of the clients, and the best tips of improvement.

Lots of angry people? Sure. A chance that someday there will be less charitable organizations needed. I think so. Now I just have to "sell" this idea to "good Christians and giving people."

Monday, August 20, 2007


Once a week usually I volunteer at a charitable organization that offers a food pantry, clothing bank and emergency funding. Upstairs in this building there is an After-School program and a Summer Day Camp that also encourages participation in Family Nights and Outings. There are also special projects such as school supplies in backpacks for the summer, shoes for school, food baskets at Thanksgiving, and special help for some families at Christmas. And I’m sure I am missing some of the services, the least of which is not, their referral system. This organization is important to me because it specializes in the working poor, what I believe to be the most needy and overlooked group of people.

And yet, although I know and believe in this need I am increasingly discouraged by the attitude I see prevailing by more and more clients. This attitude is one of entitlement. I thought this was a plague of just the up and coming generation, but it is seeping through everywhere.

In July we had application for the school supplies. All clients were notified, other agencies were called and written, etc. etc. etc. All supplies were distributed to qualified applicants last week. And yet here we are 2 days before school and a woman asks me when she can get school supplies for her children. I reply that the program is over and am surprised to have the woman stand up and say, “F—K YOU!!!!! Now this woman benefited from the clothing bank and food pantry. Yet this was her reaction to me, because she had not thought of school supplies until 2 days before school.

Today I encountered 3 other people who gave me similar salutations today and one person slamming the phone down in my ear. It is one thing to ask for help – it is another to expect it. These people brought no ID or personal financial information, let alone to realize that there might be a schedule of events, and they are late. Often the answer is that we are supposed to help people. Don’t the “needy” have any responsibilities? Or that they thought we were “Christian”. Are we less “Christian” than those calling us names and using obscenities toward us?

Of ten my immediate response is first – ‘Excuse me, I would not talk that way to you, please do not talk that way to me.” Then mentally, “I don’t think you will be getting anything, ever again.” But even still as my anger seethes I realize that once again, such behavior only affects the children. If we sanction her, we sanction her children. If we tick her off, the children do without.

I wish this article had an answer. Just the easiest comes to mind immediately. Screen, screen, screen. And try to remember that anger only hurts the most victimed among us – children. How does one do it day by day? We write blogs and show up next week.

Peace and Blessings

Friday, August 17, 2007


The last week has been devastating. We have spent 6 days trying to keep our beloved furry boy, Socks alive. He lost the battle and so did we. This was the bravest kitty I have ever seen. He fought to live and just got too weak to fight anymore.

When we decided he was suffering we took him to the vet to let him help rest. I could not have imagined our despair. Then we went home to 5 adult "aunts" who are still roaming the house looking for our little boy. One who was a mama to him, and let him nurse when he was 3 months old at least, as isolated under the bed in grief.

Now I know why there are so many books where the furry dies in the end. When this happens you want to tell the whole world their life, so it will not be lost.

I am amazed at having such a sick little one took all of our time, energy and attention. It took it away for ourselves, at times from each other and from the other furrys in the house. There was not not enough energy to go around. Thank goodness for my cousin, who fosters with me. She just picked up and did out of love for Socks and us.

A new appreciation I have for families with sick little ones. I normally am involved in several charity endeavors. There was no energy for anything but Socks, and I was beginning to worry if we had enough for him.

He was only with us about 6 weeks and everyone that met him fell in love with him, no matter what the species.

Good night our sweet prince, our sweet baby boy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Reflections at a Day's End

It's almost midnight so I suppose it is normal to be reflective at the end of a frustratingly sweltering day. I sit here next to my engaged also "blogging" as I eat the ice cream he has graciously served me as kindness and as a "precaution against mental illness".

Most of today was spent rushing. We got up late, I rushed through the kitten breakfast, and rushed even faster to my 4 hours of volunteer work, another check of kittens, to the doctor, another check on kittens and on the computer to "fix" my problem of online schooling. Then we were off to 2 evening meetings with supper inbetween, check on kittens and back home to my homework.

And what has been the most important part of the day? Yes, much of the time has been spent on the "children"and that is a large part of the love shared in my life. Yet, as I sit here writing with my beloved next to me, this is the hour of purpose. This is what life is to be made of.

We just watched a DVD on art appreciation, we commented as we read the state of affairs around the world. A world full of art and music and love. It's the stuff that fairy tales are written of. And it is the stuff that my life is made of. Even when it seems to be cluttered by a dozen other details - my life it it's true picture is a life of privilage. A privilage though that is founded by the simple beautiful subjects that can be a part of every woman and man's life that can choose to life in beauty and love. I am glad I am one who chooses.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Gotta Start Somewhere

To try to set off the stress of the first entry into the blog I just decided to jump in feet first. I figure maybe even though it could spark interest, it will not be the last or maybe even the first thing people remember.

I hope everyone has read the list of Senators and Congressman that voted on the Wire Tapping Bill and let them know how you felt about their vote. Looks to me like we're striving for just a one party government. Pretty scary.

Today was a day of kittens as my fiance and I took care our cats, the fosters and got the house ready for what we thought would be 4 more strays. It was only one and what a calico beauty with opposible thumbs.

Tomorrow I volunteer at the local food/clothing pantry doing intake and then travel for a nearby writer's group meeting. Our writer's group, Y City Writers Forum, ( is traveling to a nearby city to join their writer's group for an evening of readings. This could be a good start of the two group acting together and hopefully setting the stage to working together with another writer's group on a workshop for the Appalachian Women's Conference in October. Google it and come and join us.

I also encourage everyone to see Afghans for Afghans and let it inspire you to some kind of needlecraft service work. We at Circle of Love Charity group meet once a month for crafting and desert to bring in our month's worth of finished handiwork. Let me know what you're involved in out there, we are always looking for new projects.