Guest Post: 5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Poor

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by John Cheese via The Burning Platform blog,

Being poor is like a game of poker where if you lose, the other players get to screw you. And if you win, the dealer screws you. A bunch of you reading this are among the 45 million “working poor” in America, and if you’re not, you know somebody who is. Like me.
Or 60 percent of all retired NBA players, according to this site.

I’m not blaming anybody but myself for getting into this situation (I was drunk for two straight decades) and I’m not asking for anybody’s sympathy. What I am saying is that people are quick to tell you to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and just stop being poor. What they don’t understand is the series of intricate financial traps that makes that incredibly difficult.

If you’re not poor, that’s awesome. I’m not mad at you, or jealous. Hopefully you’ll never find out that …


#5. You Get Charged for Using Your Own Money



This is the future, where many businesses no longer accept cash as payment. That means you are required to have a checking account to function in the economy. And if you’re poor, that means at some point you’re going to get bank-fucked.

Because having a checking account while poor doesn’t just mean you have to be responsible and good at math — you have to be perfect. Meticulous, flawless record keeping is the difference between surviving and having the bank seize your next paycheck.



Let’s say you’re running late for work and hurriedly stop to get gas, paying with a bank card. In your haste you forget to write the $55 down (gas being $4 a gallon, you know). So while you spent the last week until payday thinking you had $50 in your account to absorb minor purchases, you actually were $5 in the red.

So payday comes. You go to the bank to deposit your check, at which point the bank takes it, sticks it in their pocket and says, “Thank you very much! I’m buying myself a new pair of shoes with that shit!” They then inform you that your account was at -$200 at the moment you deposited your check.
Oh, it gets a lot worse, stock photo woman.


The bank can hit you with a $35 fine for every charge that comes in while you are in minus territory. The bank will not tell you they charged you this money. You will have no idea anything is wrong.

It’s a silent chain reaction in which every charge that comes through during those few days before payday draws the $35 fee. The $8 you spent at the gas station for cigarettes, the $24.99 that automatically comes out for your Internet access … for each, the bank silently zaps out the charge and $35 on top of it, until your next paycheck is gone. Five seconds of oversight gave the bank the right to take away a week’s worth of your labor.

Some of you are saying, “Fine, just tell the bank to go fuck itself. Walk out the door and just do everything by cash or money order.” Ah, but now when you get paid, you have to go somewhere to cash your paycheck — and businesses charge up to $8 to do it. If you’re working in the service industry, congratulations — an hour of your labor just vanished … just so you could use your own money. Some describe this as a “poverty tax.” Others refer to it as a “Because fuck you, that’s why” fee.


The one piece of advice I can offer here is that you’ll be surprised how many businesses will give you some leeway if you just call them and beg. Banks are run by human beings (as of the writing of this article) and if you get a person on the phone you can get them to waive overdraft fees, particularly if it’s a first offense. Even businesses waiting on a payment will give you an extra week or two if you call and explain it. In this economy, they’re so used to people just taking the money and disappearing that they’re happy to hear you’re operating in some kind of good faith.

Otherwise, you’re going to be in a bind. And this is when you’ll find out …

#4. There is an Industry That Profits by Keeping You Poor



Think you’re too smart to ever use one of those shady “payday loan” places? Well, you should know that nobody thinks they’re a good deal. People go there because they’re choosing between which fucking provides the most lube.
Yeah, when you’re done choosing, just stay in that position, buddy.


Say the gas bill is a month past due, and they’re threatening to turn it off (if so, it’s $150 to get it reconnected). Or you’re about to be late on a credit card payment (which would be a fee and a doubling of your interest rate). Or your favorite S&M whip broke, and Whipfest is coming up (entry fee is nonrefundable). That is when you find yourself swallowing your pride and heading to the payday loan place.



A standard 14-day “payday” loan charges $15.50 per $100 borrowed. So a $500 loan ends up being $577.50 (or 1.5 tanks of gas in interest). But if you don’t have it after 14 days, that’s fine — they offer to extend your loan to 180 days. It makes the payments miniscule. Oh, and you’ll be paying back $1,275 at 403.10 percent APR.

Yes, you got fucked, in the name of your financial asshole avoiding the credit card company’s bigger, barbed dick. And it’s a hell of a lot better than going over on your checking account again and starting up their infinite circular fuckatron.


Using this.


All right, let’s say you wised up. You save and cut back. You resist an offer to, say, buy a computer on Best Buy’s finance plan, because you’re too smart to take on more debt. And no monthly cell phone payments for you, oh no. You’re not going to put yourself in a hole again!

Congratulations. You just did. It turns out …

#3. No Credit Can be Just as Damaging as Bad Credit



On the spectrum of financial responsibility, from “that billionaire who drives an old Dodge Dakota” down to “MC Hammer,” you’d think that the next step up from being overdue on a bunch of bills would be to have no bills at all. Don’t buy it if you can’t afford it, right?

You’ll find out the problem the next time somebody does a credit check — having no credit will stop you from getting a loan or an apartment just as fast as having bad credit. And more importantly, if you have old bad credit due to a bunch of previous fuckups, simply vanishing off the credit map doesn’t do anything to fix it.
It sounds good in theory, though.


It took me six months to find a place to rent after applying for every property that appeared in the paper across five towns. I was denied each time. It was my lack of credit due to years of me and lenders deciding to just stay out of each other’s hair, like those old sitcoms where roommates would draw a line down the middle of the house. I even used a prepaid cell phone where I’d just be buying minutes off the shelf rather than get locked into a contract with all those termination fees and shit. When I needed something big, like a computer upgrade or furniture, I’d wait for a windfall, like a tax return, and pay cash. It’s called financial responsibility, motherfucker!
Now hand over the heroin, bitch!


Nope. It turns out that to a business, a customer with no credit is like a girl giving you the silent treatment — they assume something is wrong.

And everybody checks your credit — if I want to get Direct TV, I have to pay $310 worth of startup fees (the size of your up-front payments/deposits depends on your credit history). Utilities are even more — which means trying to move to a new place costs hundreds of dollars in deposits (remember the $150 to get my gas turned on). If I need a new car, well, let’s just say I need to show up at the dealership with a shoebox full of cash.
The last two kids I bought on the black market virtually wiped out my life savings.


So repairing credit means opening accounts (having a cell phone plan is a good one, having your utilities in your own name — as opposed to the landlord’s — is another) and, you know, making sure to pay your fucking bills on time. And don’t bother trying to shortcut the system by saving the shoebox full of cash, getting a loan, then paying it all off the next month. Length of credit is part of your credit score. They want to know your ability to make steady, long term payments without missing a month or being late

#2. Your Next Expensive Disaster is Always Around the Corner



Shit happens, always at the exact worst time. A tire blows on my car and, without a spare, it instantly becomes a paperweight. There’s $80 for a new tire, $50 for a tow. Now, it’s a good idea to have a separate bank account set up specifically for these situations because they are unavoidable. It’s also a good idea to have a sex slave or two just sitting around in case your balls need shaved. It’s not that fucking simple.
Just a little further, sir. We need to be able to stab your heart with our dicks.


You get the same domino effect with sudden financial disasters as you do with the bank fees. For instance, I worked a shitty service industry job, which meant I got paid by the hour, and didn’t get paid unless I showed up — no paid time off. But I couldn’t physically get to work because of the goddamned flat tire. It’s a rural area, no subway or buses. So it’s double penetration — not just lost work time, but lost time that is spent paying for a tow and a tire. And if I didn’t happen to have that money sitting around, it meant waiting until payday, and missing work until then.

Which meant my next paycheck would be short. By the time I get it fixed and add in the missed work time, that $80 tire just turned into a $250 enema. That’s life in a world with no financial margin for error. It’s like trying to climb out of a dick pit but the ladder is also made of dicks.



Years ago, we bought a house with the help of our in-laws. You know, because owning property is the responsible adult thing to do. The very first fucking night of moving in, we got a massive water leak. I couldn’t just call the landlord — I was the landlord. I couldn’t call a plumber because we didn’t have the $150 to pay the guy, not until payday. So the leak was allowed to run until we could put the money together to pay one. So two weeks later, we hand the guy $150. And then, a week later, the water bill arrives.


You find yourself thinking, “Man, we could get caught up if this bad shit wouldn’t keep happening!” Then it finally hits you that bad shit happens like clockwork. Not because God hates you, but because you’re poor and you’re using cheap shit that breaks. Maybe you don’t pay the $150 for a plumber, but have a handy friend fix it for you for $50. Awesome, you saved $100! Then six months later you have a leak again, because it turns out he fixed it with rubber bands and Fruit Roll-ups.



Everything in a poor person’s life is a cash vampire. My truck has 170,000 miles on it and the MPG is so bad that every time I start it, the ghost of an Indian appears in the passenger seat and cries. About twice a year, something under the hood grinds to a halt or melts — always another $500 on a tow and repairs. And that was the money I was saving to get a more reliable car.

Hell, even my own body does it to me. I lost my last job because of chronic back pain, losing my health insurance in the process. Which means I can’t treat my chronic back pain. Can’t afford to get dentist check-ups, so more expensive problems are allowed to grow and fester. And so on.

#1. You’re Always in Survival Mode



There’s a phrase in the working world that drives me crazy. One guy says, “The money’s not great, but I love my job.” And somebody responds, “Hey, happiness is all that really matters.”

To be clear, that’s probably true for people at a certain level of income. If you aren’t struggling to pay the bills, then happiness is indeed a pretty damn awesome extra. But you know those movies like American Beauty, about the guy with the unfulfilling career who abandons it to live life to its fullest? Yeah, don’t forget that after quitting their jobs they still come home to houses that look like this:



But down here, at this level, you take what you can fucking get. Fantasies about holding out for that dream job will ruin you.

For instance, long before reading to this part, some helpful commenter has surely skipped down and chimed in with, “Why don’t you just get a job, you lazy fuck!” Wait, did you think I was unemployed? Hell no, it’s been years since I was out of work for any long period of time. I’ve always had jobs. Shitty, shitty jobs.

A huge chunk of this economy runs on shitty jobs now. Recently, McDonald’s held a job fair with 50,000 openings. They got more than 1,000,000 applications. Tens of millions of you will wind up in one of these jobs, it’s sheer math.



These service jobs pay hourly, they give you little or nothing in terms of benefits and there is nothing in the way of security even from week to week — your hours could get cut at any time, for any reason. Sure, you can take a second part-time job. Though, that’s assuming you can find one that works around your primary job’s schedule — just mentioning that you have another job in an interview is often enough to stop that interview mid-sentence. Why hire you when there are 30 guys in line behind you with completely free schedules?

So in answer to the inevitable, “You need to dream bigger, and strive forth to get a new career for yourself!” Hey, I totally agree. But now we’re back in the Catch-22 poverty fuck gauntlet. Once you’re in this tier of jobs, getting out isn’t just hard, it’s expensive.

Sure, you can take classes at night at a community college or something. Maybe you’ll even get financial aid or loans to pay for your books or tuition. What they will not pay for is the time you missed at work while you were in classes or for a babysitter or for transportation. And you sure as fuck better be certain that you have some kind of aptitude for whatever you’re studying (which, by the way, you won’t know until you’ve spent a year or two studying it) because that’s the only chance you’re going to get.



You can do it the old-fashioned way, by working your way up the corporate ladder from within whatever shitty job you have. But that is also expensive because promotions often require you to move. I got offered a promotion at my shitty service job (washing semi trucks with high-pressure hoses, the job that eventually destroyed my back) that would have required me to move several hours away. And moving costs money — remember what I said about the cost of getting utilities turned on? And how landlords check your credit?

And then there are the intangible costs. I would be abandoning my children, for instance — I share custody with my ex-wife, who obviously was not going to be moving with me. How many visits would I get in before my car broke down? And moving away from friends and family also comes with a cost — think of the favors you do for each other (i.e. the friend/brother/uncle willing to fix the truck for free, because you helped paint his porch, etc).
Rounding each other’s fros.


It’s not impossible, but it’s taking a huge risk. And if the new job doesn’t work out after you bet all of your chips, you’re triple fucked. And at that point the world will wag its finger at you and tell you how irresponsible it was to move when you were so poor. “Ha, you poor people are always doing stupid shit like that!”

And on and on. People do get out of this situation — I got paid to write this, for instance. All I’m saying is that the journey is something like trying to go from the Earth to the Moon. By letting them launch a Saturn V rocket directly into your butthole.

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bluskyes's picture

That's interesting, I have never been charged by RBC, even though I have no accounts there. I would argue that there are no such terms on the cheque, and as far as I know, a cheque is a negotiable instrument. Definitely something to bring up with "Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions" or "Canadian Bankers Association"

Diogenes's picture

They will not cash a check if you don't have an account there. Go ahead and try. I have tried and they won't do it. It's the same at every Canadian bank.

If you have an account they will allow you to deposit it. And make you wait 5 days to draw out the money. 5 BUSINESS days not counting the day on which you made the deposit. Meaning 8 calendar days. Unless there is a holiday weekend in there, in which case it will be up to 10 days.

For a real good customer they will allow you to draw out your own money in less than 10 days, but they don't have to. They are doing you a favor.

bluskyes's picture

When I was a landlord, I used to take one tenant's cheques to RBC to be cashed every month. I would ask the teller if the cheque was good, if it wasn't I would keep it, and try the following Friday.

I believe you, I just have not experienced it. OTOH I have experienced TD being a bunch of complete ass-holes on a number of occasions.

About 7 years ago, I tested out a report I had heard about silver certificates not being backed by physical metal. Turns out the report was right, and TD was charging me storage fees for metal they did not posses.  They get pissy when you demand they fulfill their obligations, but they quiet when you point out the fraudulent storage charges.

I still deal with TD because of the hours, but I can't wait for an opportunity to get them over a barrel, and violate them.

waterhorse's picture

Did you know some of the big banksters will try to charge someone who does not have an account at their bank a 6.00 service fee - even if the check is DRAWN on that bank/branch?  Wells Fraudgo did this to my horseshoer with a check I had written him.  After making a big scene, I got his 6.00 back.  Then I closed my account of 25 years (not the only reason though).

Nostradalus's picture

TD bank charged me $5 to cash a check drawn on that bank, telling me that the lady who wrote it knew about the fee. i asked the lady if she knew, and of course she was flabbergasted (older woman who probably remembers what a bank is in business for...). next time she paid me cash... (i asked the bank teller rhetorically if i were cashing a $4 check, would i owe the bank $1 at the end of the transaction... all i heard was crickets.)

GreatUncle's picture


Under my method everbody is being deflated away so afraid of pulling the money out. Well stuff you I am sticking one to the man first after that we see what happens.


1000 bucks say deflated away with a QE function of value X  results in relative 998. Yep possible.

998 bucks say deflated away with a QE function of same value X after numerous itterations left results in little change as it tends to a limit based on the QE function and the overall dollar supply.

So I got a jar of dwindling dollars and now reduced to 700 in relative worth under the method I quoted it will get harder and harder to devalue as the total global supply of dollar so big is held by the 1%. Good that.

Only if you play the game do you lose and that is in fact leaving it in the bank. 

Seasmoke's picture

Wow it is MillionDollarBonus first article on ZH.

cherry picker's picture

I've been there more than once.  I stay out of the loop now, pay cash or if necesary debit card.

It is possible to survive, it may not be glamourous, but liveable and I am generally content.

I can see it happening down the road I won't be able to do this anymore, they make it more difficult, I'll either be dead by then or working for some cartel to make ends meet.  :)  They don't play the game either and seem to be having no problem paying with cash.  :)

reTARD's picture

#5: The Federal Reserve (technically it's not our "own money" because if it was we'd be able to print our own)

#4: The Government (create the problem so that you can provide the "solution" or the War On Poverty)

#3: The Federal Reserve (cartel of banks) and the Government (loaning money at interest that never existed by "expanding the balance sheet as well as inflation especially so that property taxes and all forms of government "revenue" always increase)

#2: Obamacare

#1: Same as 3 and 4 (of course you always need to be dependent on your Government and you are always "educated" to become a productive worker bee who will eventually accept an ever-lower paying job as a result of the hidden theft of inflation; because your Government is "risk-free")

dot_bust's picture

I remember working low-wage service jobs. Those things are like a torturous hamster wheel. You have to work more and more hours just to make end's meat, and an unexpected expense like a sudden car problem can wipe you out.

Also, if you have to visit a hospital emergency room without insurance, you're fucked. Say goodbye to anything you managed to save.


kchrisc's picture

He's exactly right.

I made some bad decisions in the early 90's, and after two bad roommate situations, I was poor. Now mind you I had a full-time job and GI Bill money coming in if I was fully enrolled in school. Though, for school, I had to pay cash for EVERYTHING going in each semester and then wait a month or two for my checks--it was strange to be sitting on $2,000 and still not have two-dimes to rub together and be eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for all three "meals."

Regardless, I just remember the stress of it all. Shit always seemed to happen to absorb any "extra" cash one might have. Then there was the constant and nagging worry--Always worrying if that rattle in the car was going to be the next nightmare, etc.

I actually deliberately downgraded my shitty lifestyle further, just to try to get ahead of the curve. I moved into a flop house apartment building with transients, "on the runs, " and "bottom trolling" alcoholics as neighbors.

Now I worked my way out of it after about a year or so, but the experience has stayed with me--burned into me really.

People that say "money can't bring you happiness" are only partially correct, because money sure brings a lot less stress and it is a lot easier to find and be happy with less stress.

Sidenote: During this period I would always buy "essentials" (TP, toothpaste, etc.) when I found them on sale. I didn't realize it was a problems until I was promoted a few years later and moved to another city and into a much smaller apartment. I found that I had accumulated over two years worth of TP, 3 or so years of toothpaste,  many years of peanut butter, ditto shampoo, etc.

earnulf's picture

Much of what the contributor wrote was funny, some was actually spot on (banks, payday loans, bad luck) but he left out a very important missing piece that I see everytime I have to fill a job opening.    Personal Responsibility.

Oh he metioned it, sorta, but kinda glossed over it as it wasn't germaine to the subject.     The vast majority of job seekers that hit my door, have no personal responsibility, it's always someone elses fault that this or that happened to them.     I have no problem finding someone to take on a steady 35 hours a week, stand on your feet on a concrete floor and fold laundry for slightly more than minimum wage. (8.25).    But finding a person who will work for that and SHOW UP for work every day for 90 days straight?    As the commercial says, Priceless.   It's always a family member that needed them or they got sick, or had a flat or someone died.    Always seems to happen on a friday or monday too.       I usually give them one for the rope and hang them on the second.    We'll go through 10-20 people before finding one that will stay for about 2-4 years before flaking.

And don't think it's dead end, after 90 days as a temp to perm, we may bring you onboard which usually means a slight bump in pay (8.75), paid sick leave accumulation (1 hour per week) and you start accruing paid vacation (after 1 year, 1 week, after two years, 2 weeks, then you have a while before you get 3 weeks.) and you can get on the company insurance with the company picking up 70% of the premium costs (prior to Obamacare, no one knows what will happen now)

The point being most applicants think that being there 9 of 10 days or even 4 of 5 is really great attendance!   Or that family gathering is too important to miss (I think they will understand given you just STARTED a JOB) or they already had this or that fishing/canoeing/rafting/skiing trip planned and they don't want to disappoint thier buds or sis's.)     Sorry, but I missed a total of 3 days sick in the last 3 years managing this company.   You want a steady job with a company that actually offers beni's, you have to at least show up every day and perform.

Darth Rayne's picture

If you paid me 8.25 then I would be doing you the favour turning up.

If you paid me 12 then we are even.

Pay me 15 and you are doing me the favour.

Offer me 8.25 and the shitty holiday structure and I won' be a happy bunny. I will be unhappy. Look at me funny and boom.

This is why the poor are poor. Fuck heads like this prick..


I must apologise, I am a degree educated engineer. Your attitude is appalling and I immediately sunk to your level. Well done on being self employed and running your own business. I have had no days sick in the last three years. I earn enough to live comfortably without fucking anyone over. I sleep well.

Harry Dong's picture

Up arrow not enough


(What's the definition of a sweatshop?)


malek's picture

Look, another one who believes someone else owns you something!

You're full of shit. earnulf described how some people can't even be bothered to show up regularly for easy work, and your pseudo-liberal knee-jerk reaction based on zero facts is he must be exploiting people too much.

Kreditanstalt's picture

Using credit cards?  Buying gas w/o using cash?  Smoking?  Borrowing MORE?  Cashing a paycheck in a store?  A CELL PHONE? With MONTHLY payments?

And you're complaining about being "poor".

I'm going to "blame the victim" on this one...

cherry picker's picture

Contrary to popular belief, I am starting to think crime pays.

They do it to us, why not us to them?  The golden rule in action.

LongPAU's picture

So, you can write this article, but you have no genuinely useful marketable skills?


Is that correct?


It seems to me that this is what Darwin was talking about. Be a hero: do the right thing.

ebworthen's picture


This is about humans taking advantage of other humans:

  1. The more fortunate taking advantage of the less fortunate.
  2. The more intelligent taking advantage of the less intelligent.
  3. The more educated taking advantage of the less educated.
  4. Those who can afford a lawyer taking advantage of those who can't. 
  5. Those who can bribe the judge taking advantage of those who can't.
  6. Those who are politically connected taking advantage of those who aren't.
  7. The rich taking advantage of the poor.

In the past someone down on their luck could find work doing something - those opportunities are shrinking.

If they wanted to avoid parasitic banks, credit, loan, and other institutions they could deal in cash; when this ability is taken away by TPTB they will be trapped.

The entire society is becoming more parasitic, and in a parasitic environment those at the bottom have it the worst.

"Welcome to the Jungle" - Gun's and Roses:

LongPAU's picture

It must be a new trend because there are no accounts in recorded history of any animal taking advantage of another animal's misfortune or infirmity.

Nostradalus's picture

hey stoney, lions look for and attack the wildebeest with a limp first. your thesis go bye-bye. you don't get much "recorded history" around the parts you inhabit. stop wasting your mom's basement and electricity turd-brain.

LongPAU's picture

Then the lions and the banks have something in common? No way!

It's called sarcasm. You need to read more: you write as if you've never seen it done before.

Nostradalus's picture

i cannot "hear" a sarcastic inflection in your tone of voice. i am reading, and unless otherwise indicated, i take what is written as literal. therefore i stand corrected sir. btw how many people here on ZH are not well-read? i think nearly zero. they may have differing interpretations of WHAT they've read, but this is the most thought-provoking site on the intertubes, and the conversation is always stimulating. thanx for taking the time to reply. i retract completely my earlier reply to you. mea culpa.

bjfish's picture

You are completely wrong (at least #1 & 6) and I infer a strong 'fixed pie' mentality in your thoughts. Those who have gotten rich (excluding finance, of course) have done so by making the pie bigger not by stealing part of your slice.

Imagine for one minute just how well-off the less fortunate would be, if the 'more fortunate' had never existed.

bjfish's picture

You are completely wrong (at least #1 & 6) and I infer a strong 'fixed pie' mentality in your thoughts. Those who have gotten rich (excluding finance, of course) have done so by making the pie bigger not by stealing part of your slice.

Imagine for one minute just how well-off the less fortunate would be, if the 'more fortunate' had never existed.

Shell Game's picture

Thank you for your posts on this thread, I couldn't have expressed them better.

kralizec's picture

Americans have little clue what poor really is.  Try checking out the slums of Asia and Africa, then cry a river of tears for the poor in America who are living like Gods on taxpayer goodies, enjoy the latest exploits of the Kardashians on TV and text their fellow poor folk about what a douchebag taxpayers are for not giving them more.  Yeah.  I'm all fricken choked up.


LongPAU's picture

Yes, the author should spend a week in Mogadishu.


I'll help pay for the trip there.


Who will pony up for the return trip?

Diogenes's picture

One more time, the article is not about being poor. The article is about how the system is rigged. We all know the system is rigged, that is what this web site is about. But when you are poor the velvet glove comes off and you feel the iron fist.

cpgone's picture

All the profanuty added nothing and proved the author a pissed off idiot.

No wonder his wife divorced him. BTW , why did you bring a kid into the world being such a loser?

Thanks to the military industrail complex, it basically runs it all.

Some is wrong. Credit unions were I live offer no fee, no minimum accounts. Learn to work on your own car. Better still, completely work the system until it all collapses. Makes more sense than this profan rant.

Enceladus's picture

I understand the rant in this post F the TPTB and TBTF etc BUT...

- This guy was a drunk for 20 yrs. Had enough money for booze I guess. When I want to drink i.e. all day everyday, I say to myself 'I can't afford it' or 'my kids need their dad' or 'one day I'll have a stroke and I can rest then'

- When you are on a knifes edge of financial existance your math better be perfect. I pay those same fees when I fuck up. But I also use the tools at my disposal not to get screwed. Like always have your credit card loaded for a minimal monthly payment so if your blitzed out in your crack den the bill still gets 'paid'and Citibank doesn't get your $35.

- Stop smoking if you can't afford it.

- If your in this country and credit is the name of the game, better learn the credit game. I didn't make the system, hate the system, but live with it and have credit.

I could go on but this post has to much low hanging wtf fruit. Let me tell you why I'm not poor. MY PARENTS!!!

Heres what I learned and sometimes the expensive hard way like our author.

-My dad missed two days of work from 1949 until he retired from the phone company in 1992.

- He and my mother raised 7 children

- we took 2 out of town vacations during my childhood

- Our laundry hung out in the back yard to dry

- We raised a garden every year

- We recycled when they still paid you for your cans and paper

- My parents after being married in 1953 waited 9 years to buy their first house and live in it to this day.

- Education was paramount in our house. My parents paid for Catholic school because it had better standards. My Dad threw a report card back in my face because I had 1 C out of all A's and B's. (yes it was in spelling) My parents had standards that they forced on me. (Thank God)

- Reading and criticle thinking were expected and encouraged.

I could continue but you get the idea. So when I read a victims tale I too weep for our collective loss of any standards. And I believe when people say pick yourself up by your boot straps it means STOP vicitimzing yourself first before you blame it on the system. When u find yourself in a hole stop digging. The diffecence between the days of yore and today is if i screwed up in school or 3 streets away by the time I got home my parents were waiting. They did not defend me (unless warrented) they joined in and held me accountable. I bet this guy goes to his kids parent teacher conference and tells the teachers its their fault his kid isn't passing math. Oh and in case you think I dumping on the poor no way. The exact same mentality Mr. Cheese has would make him a swell investment banker. Whining about market conditions and unfair regulations etc. all the way to the bank. 

So in short shut the fuck up get your shit straight


Loose Caboose's picture

Yay for you being raised by Ward and June.  But, your spelling is still a C. 

Seriously though, if you can attribute your success to the excellent role models who parented you, maybe you should also cut some slack for those who were not as fortunate in the folks department.  You are simply boasting about an advantage you had that some others did not. 

Say "hi" to Wally for me.

samsara's picture

What he and every other distractor of the article pointing out what they did, or parents did is that thru the 60's 70's and 80's  there was a general updraft plenum of the economy.  You could go out and build a skill and start at the bottom and work up.

AIN'T that way no more.  How many on this list have any children 20-30ish living at home or have moved back in?  Or Parents move back in with them.  

What entry level jobs do we have?  Where at the Nail & Pedicure shop or the phone store?  There are hardly any real "Businesses" any more.  And if you don't have a degree you have no chance other than "You want frys with that?"

In the last 30 years while most of us on this list were moving up, earning a living, or trying to,  America has lost ALL it's manufacturing plants.  Places where the average joe could get a job on the shop floor and work his/her way up while earning a decent wage while doing it.

Those jobs that Most of us pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps with AIN'T THERE NO MORE.

About the only advice I give to young folks is "Screw College,  Learn a Trade if at all possible"   A real sleeper of an occupation is a small local Natural food farm.  Vegs, Chickens, eggs,  sell to farmers markets etc.  AND you have something to eat at the same time. 

I was out of work and took a course on Keypunch operation back in 1980 got a job, taught myself programming and rode the Computer wave of the 80's and 90's.

That Route is CLOSED now.  Unless you have a work permit and come from india. 


bjfish's picture

Check-cashing and overdraft fees ... thats a stupid/lazy tax, not a poverty tax, tho it often applies to the same ppl.

#4 There's also a Party (Democrats) that 'profits' from you remaining poor and will work tirelessly to keep you there, all the while offering you crumbs to 'help take care of you'.

'$4 gas' ... I assumed you must be in CA, then I saw '$8 cigarettes', so I figure Nuyawk or NJ.  EIther way, thats part of your problem (socialist paradise).  Try Texas for affordability.

And finally, GET A MARKETABLE SKILL (plumber, underwater welder, salesmanship, engineer, nurse, etc.) or start your own damn business and don't be dependeant on some other asshole's service job.

I get your point and agree that it can be very tough out there.  But, nearly all of those ppl made CHOICES that put them there while other's have made better CHOICES and prospered (relatively speaking).


Profanity in this was just awful. 

LongPAU's picture



The author seems to find more humor inside his pants v outside.


I also noticed that he's divorced.

LongPAU's picture

When I was a wee tyke, one of my relatives - a Libertarian most likely - bought me a Golden Book about the Ant And The Grasshopper. It included a 45RPM record. Side A was "Oh, the World Owes Me A Livin'"


That song was going through my head the whole read...


Guess what? The world does NOT owe you a living. You might get a handout or three from someone more emotional or guiltier than me, but most of us humans are like wolves. Show weakness, and we will tear you apart and fight over what's in your pockets.


You're ALWAYS weak. You can't solve even a simple problem. That is why you fail. In a past era, you would have starved, pulled a boulder onto your head, or eaten poison mushrooms: the species would statistically benefit from that.


Ah, the good old days...


These things said, you'll get a better reception over on HuffPo.'s picture

Take the time to reread your Golden Book you'll discover that he grasshopper was not a member of the "working poor." The banker who demands exorbitant fees resembles the grasshopper far more than the poor slob who screws up his checking balance or sends in his credit card payment a day late.

Harry Dong's picture

Best troll've got my #

If only we got to see the all-wise banks get chewed up and spit out like wachovia, all of them, then life would be fair


Ironmonger69's picture

#5 ought to be considered criminal, and I've experienced that one up close and personal. $420.00 in overdraft fees in 3 days before I ever got the first notice, on a grand total of -$18.00 in purchases. And the bank did not give a single fuck if I had simply forgotten to drop my paycheck that week. I got no break, just a lost paycheck.

I can tell you now that a $37.00 McDonalds biscuit doesn't taste any better than a $2.00 one. In fact, the aftertaste has a decidedly fecal quality.

Yen Cross's picture

    Did your bank pay on the the original charge(s) and then ding you for overdraft fees, or did they decline the charges and also charge you the NSF/overdraft fees.

    My bank has an opt out on paying overdraft fees, so my card wont work if the account becomes overdrawn. You might want to check and see if they offer that opt out option. That is absolute larceny!

Hongcha's picture

Thanks for a useful article.

RealitySpike's picture

I've never been poor but #3 is dead on. I moved to the US from Canada in the late 90's. I had a perfect credit record in Canada -- I even owned my house so I had paid off a mortgage. I found out my credit record didn't transfer across the border so I now had no credit record in the US. That means despite having a >$100K a year job and a big down payment I had to get a jumbo mortgage (which after the subprime fiasco is hilarious) and pay an extra 0.5%. I couldn't get a credit card so I had to make do with a Discover card. When I bought a car I had to pay cash or get screwed on the payments (a lease wasn't even an option). Every now and again I'd apply for a credit card and suffer through the embarrassment of rejection. After 2 years of this I was frickin golden -- credit everywhere I turned, lenders were fighting over my jumbo mortgage, etc.

Legolas's picture

If you think you're poor now, just wait until Obammycare kicks in this coming January !


Looks like Glenn Beek is trying to raise ratings again.


Oh, if only this could be proved.  I don't think it will make much difference.  It'll just be the scandal of the week.




notquantumdum's picture

There is some truth to all of this, but there are simple solutions to all of these problems, and they all center around one thing:  discipline.

You obtain a checking account with a credit union, not a bank.  If you obtain debit cards, you never use them, nor even take them out of your hiding place for them in your home.  You obtain a credit card (by securing it with a deposit in an associated savings account at your credit union -- if you have bad or no credit).  You never write any checks.  You make all of your purchases with cash or credit card.  And, most importantly, you never fail to pay off your entire balance on your credit card, every single month, on time.

Finally, you make sure (absolutely sure) that you always save some of your earnings every single paycheck no matter how small it is.  You can use this savings to make sure that you always have a little more emergency money if you need it.
Everyone I know complains that they cannot do this, and that they have to live paycheck to paycheck.  I even know of a married couple who are both lawyers who complained that they had to live paycheck to paycheck even though their combined salary was apparently well north of a quarter million a year.  Utter BS.  Anyone can save every month.  This was once proven to me by someone who could do it earning minimum wages!  But, you have to spend less than you earn!

Unless you can master this one skill (spending less than earned), you’ll probably always feel poor, even if you’re not, and you'll probably always be doomed to financial ruin, like the US government and future children in the US appear to be doomed.  On the other hand, nothing eliminates financial worries like having $100k of savings in your checking / trading / savings accounts.  Anyone can do this over time.  ‘But, only with discipline.

('Sorry, forgot I was posting at ZH . . .'Or, stored in physical gold or whatever other method of storing value, which is preferred by the future money manager who has actually saved some.)

Harry Dong's picture

News flash , credit unions got really crappy really fast..unless u have 100k with them. Then you're da man.

And min wage? now that it's $24 its easy to save an emergency fund... What? Are you freak in kidding me? 

notquantumdum's picture

I don't have a 100k with my credit union, so I hope you are wrong, but I know I have figured out how to save 10 to 20 percent of what I have figured out how to earn, every month.  It sure makes stuff easier, that's all I am trying to say.  Trust me, that is some easy stuff to do, compared to the alternative, in my experience.

Harry Dong's picture

I hear you. I also pay everything in cash. And save my nickels for a rainy day.

But the days of getting screwed by the credit Union are OVER...even so I will not forget.

Perhaps it's when a credit union expands to branches is when they become total Indian agents (as in 'you can trust the govt, just ask any native american).

The little c u that the wife has seems quite good and it's run by 4 volunteers.

Now then, trying to save 10% when making min is another but to crack. 

BTW, did you hear that renting tires is the latest scam?



TheMeatTrapper's picture

When I was a young man I spent several years woking as a hunting guide. I lived in a trailer on the Plantation, drove a paid for jeep and had no credit whatsoever. 

When I left the woods and moved home, I had saved $14,000 cash. I walked into a bank and asked for a $10,000 loan. I explained I wanted to build credit and I offered them $10,000 in cold hard cash on the spot as collateral. 

They told me to fuck off. Nobody would loan me a dime because I had no credit. I offered them $10,000 cash collateral for a $5,000 loan. No dice.

I learned early that banks were fucked up. I have never forgotten that experience. 

Central Ohio's picture

My wife and I made some financial mistakes and had a couple of bad turns.  These 2 organizations and their programs within our local church helped us move forward. and  We still are not where we need to be, but we are moving forward.

Life is not easy on the low end.  One mistake and a spirol seems to flush you down and getting back up takes years.