The Lifestyle Digs

When the Daily Grind is all About Coping and Survival

When the Daily Grind is all About Coping and SurvivalI read a blog post written by a sincere, well meaning person. It’s a personal finance blog about helping people save money for retirement, cars, travel, set up an emergency fund, and paying down debt. Married with the double down advantage of two incomes saving and paying off debt.

Their monthly income? $10,000.

They bought a $50,000 car with cash.

How many of us can relate?

Not me.

I mean, sure, their advice is good. Find ways to live frugally, work overtime, work two or three jobs, save your money, buy a house, pay off the house fast, and invest extra money.

Pipe dreams when you’re an older single woman with low to no income. We’ve spent a lifetime living frugally, working overtime, and juggling multiple jobs. We still don’t own a house, there’s probably credit card debt or a car loan (or both!), and meager savings.

Coping and surviving has been our daily grind since long before the coronavirus pandemic.

Another thing that annoys me when reading personal finance blogs is the writer bragging they met this month’s goal of putting $5,000 into their retirement account. All I can say is I wish I even had a job that pays that kind of money in a month. Extra, disposable income of thousands of dollars each month to put into a retirement account or emergency fund or another savings goal is just not relatable. If I can put $50 a month into a specific savings account, that’s a major accomplishment.

Amazon

Just an aside here to take a look at an article in the Los Angeles Times that resonated with me. https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2020-05-27/la-fi-tn-amazon-worker-dead-hiring-wave

FYI – the Los Angeles Times website let’s you look at a few articles a month without becoming a paying subscriber. I’m unsure what the monthly quota is for free reading. Three articles? Five? I don’t know because I’m not a dedicated reader of this newspaper! Ha ha! I read the occasional article after following a link. Getting locked out after reading the maximum monthly articles is not a problem for me!

This story is about a 63-year-old man who has been trying to find a full time job for a long time. Ageism is a huge problem in the states as it is in Canada. He’s trying to earn as much money as he can before retirement.

Yeah – I can for sure relate to that!

His last job was as a seasonal worker at Amazon but he was laid off. Then he got a call at the end of March with an opportunity to come back to work because Amazon has been slamming busy. The article mentions Amazon takes precautions with the staff wearing masks, social distancing, etc.

Anyway, the man in the story died from Covid-19 two weeks later.

It’s unknown how he became infected, whether at work or somewhere else. Unfortunately, he went into work while feeling sick. Now that news has got to be scary for former co-workers.

Although the article is about Amazon workers annoyed that their extra $2/hour danger pay is ending and how they don’t think the company is doing enough to keep workers safe, the whole thing about older employees who need to work got to me.

Again, relatable. People like him and me are not working the kinds of jobs where we can sock away thousands of dollars a month.

My attitude is – no job is worth your health or your life.

I sure wouldn’t be taking work at Amazon for a number of reasons. The main reason is the closest Amazon warehouse is at least a 45-minute drive from where I live. I’m not into that kind of commute. Amazon is physically demanding. I can’t keep up a physical pace. Although I’m in good health, I was in a car crash in 2008 when a rotten little bastard who’d had his driver’s license for two weeks decided to run a red light. He totaled my car and he totaled his mommy’s car, too. I’m still in pain years later. Most days aren’t too bad, but sometimes my back is killing me. I can’t stand for long periods of time without being in pain.

Then there’s the osteoarthritis in my hands. I’m right-handed and the pain and movement is bad in my right thumb and pinky. The other fingers are painful, but not as bad as the thumb and pinkie. I can’t even hold a pen and write much more than signing my name. Even using the space bar (my right thumb’s job) on my keyboard is painful and getting worse.

In addition to worrying about finding a job that I can do without causing a lot of pain, I also worry about being around new people who might not be taking precautions and the possibility of getting Covid-19. Or working for a company that doesn’t have a good cleaning service and proper cleaning supplies on hand for staff to wipe down surfaces as needed.

It’s tough when you need money, you need a job, but you don’t want to risk your health or your life.

Unskilled labor

OK let’s get back on track here.

Many of us fall in the category of unskilled workers. We’re good at what we do, answering phones, filing, taking orders, serving food, or handling a cash register. The type of jobs we do are lower income and high staff turnover positions. If we find a similar job that pays an extra 50 cents an hour, we quit and move along. And keep on moving. For the rest of our lives.

When the job becomes too physically demanding, especially as we get older, we look for work that won’t take as much out of us.

We know what it’s like living paycheck to paycheck and worrying about covering our basic monthly needs. Having an extra $5000 every month to put away for our retirement? In our dreams!

We have goals to pay off debt, whether it’s credit cards, car loan, or a mortgage. Maybe we just opened an investment account to save for retirement. Just when we’re starting to make some headway – BAM! We’re knocked back down again. The car broke down and it’s something major or we need dental work or ______ fill in the blank.

The latest thing that’s hitting us is the coronavirus pandemic.

Who else was just starting to make some headway on financial goals only to get shoved down?

Is DIY Investing a Better Choice for Women?That’s the story of my life.

We find a way to move forward, even if it’s just making small changes so we can see some progress and stay motivated.

Job alerts

Anyone who’s tried looking for another job since March is getting lost in the crowd. Thousands of applications are hitting hiring manager’s desks. If you have an account on Indeed and available jobs emailed to you based on your search parameters, they’re aren’t many.

I’ve been getting daily job alerts from Indeed for over a year. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, some days there are no email alerts. If an email arrives, there might be two jobs.

If you have a resume uploaded, you can easily apply for every single job on Indeed. Each job opening has an “apply” button. Whether or not you qualify, you can keep hitting apply and hope for a response.

It’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall! See what sticks.

Anyway, advice from those personal finance bloggers with good jobs, no debt, and million-dollar portfolios who advise us to get a second job or work overtime isn’t cutting it these days. They’re out of touch with the reality facing lower income employees and people who are suddenly unemployed due to the pandemic and are competing against thousands of applicants for one job opening. How can we work more hours when we can’t even find a job?

Eating

When money is tight, one of the things we can change is what we’re eating. We can buy less expensive foods. Not forever, but at least until we get back to work. Check out these posts:

21 Budget Meals when Money is Tight

Eat Cheap and Healthy on a Budget

7 Money Saving Grocery Secrets you need to Try

The Chocolate Factor

Do we really want to read blog posts about personal finance bloggers who are making $10,000 a month, putting $5,000 a month aside for retirement and able to pay for a 50k car in cash?

Or do we want to know how we can buy groceries when we only have $20 in our wallet?

This is from my post Never Buy Food on Credit though I get it if you have to use your credit card right now if you’re unemployed due to the pandemic. Our daily grind is all about coping and survival.

If you have $20 in your wallet and need to buy groceries to last a week, first of all, look around your pantry and see what canned goods, dry goods, and frozen food you have that can be used for meal preparation. Maybe you can even put off grocery shopping for a few days and eat what you have on hand! Here are some suggestions for low cost groceries to tide you over:

  1. Eggs – this is a great, low cost meal option. Depending on where you live a dozen eggs might cost $2, and probably no more than $4 if you live in a high cost area. I recommend hard boiling them as it’ll seem like you’re eating more.
  2. Beans – canned beans can usually be found for $1 or less, or get more for your money and buy dry beans in the bulk aisle, soak overnight, and cook at home. The bulk bins usually have a scale, so weigh before you take them to the cash register, to make sure you’re under budget. Beans are filling and a good source of protein, and you can make beans and rice.
  3. Rice – you can buy rice in the bulk aisle and get as much as you need, using the scale to match your budget. However, don’t discount the international section of the grocery store or small produce/grocery stores that stock a lot of Asian groceries. Sometimes you can buy several pounds of rice for less than $5.
  4. Oats – seeing as how you’re in the bulk aisle, buy oats and cook them for breakfast with brown sugar, cinnamon, or fruit if you have any.
  5. Skim milk powder – if you don’t have milk at home, and can’t afford to buy a jug, purchase skim milk powder while you’re in the bulk section.
  6. Potatoes – another filling food item. You can either buy potatoes singularly, or look for any specials in a bag. Sometimes you can buy a 10 pound bag of potatoes for $2 or $3. I find small produce or ethnic stores often have better prices than big grocery chains.
  7. Bananas – they fill you up and are usually not too expensive. You can weigh them in the produce section before you buy and keep it under $2.
  8. Frozen fruit and vegetables – as a single I tend to buy a lot of frozen produce because it beats buying fresh produce that goes bad before I can eat it. Cruise past your frozen section and look for items on sale.

As for bulk bins since the pandemic, many grocery stores have sealed them. Other stores have staff who will get bulk products for customers. You might have to spend more than $20 and buy a bag of what you need off the grocery store shelves.

Don’t forget the dollar store sells many dry goods and you can add spices to help jazz up the meal. I’m so jealous of dollar stores in the states that sell produce and frozen goods! Get with the program, Canada!

How are you holding up these days? Drop me an email, even if all you need a sympathetic ear.

More reading:

Are you Worried when you Cough and Sneeze?This Will Pass, but how do we Cope in this Age of Coronavirus?

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