And now it's there, I find myself just wanting to hoard it.
In 2000, I earned $14000. Five years before that, my annual income was under $9000. Granted, the cost of living wasn't as high then, and I was living somewhere where average rent for a 3 bedroom house was $100 a week. But yeah, when I postulate about what it's like to be poor it isn't based in study or reading the news, it's based in experience.
One of the worst things about being that poor is the hand-to-mouthness of your life. By the time rent's paid and food's bought, there's not a lot left to do other things with, and often payday is a toss up between paying the power bill or the phone bill, and the day after payday there's nothing left, so you subsist unitl the next payday. I was always quite good at picking up odd jobs for $20 here and there, but I can remember the feeling of every payday being a bit like Christmas, then wondering why I'd got so excited when I looked at my balance at the end of the day and it said $5 till next week.
But one of the more positive things about being that poor is that you're so accustomed to not-having that putting aside $10 a week doesn't actually make you feel any poorer, and I always made a habit of it - I saved $800 that way once (which I used to buy a car when I left my husband). To me, squirrelling away bits of money as often as possible and pretending it wasn't there, gave me a sense of security in a life that had none.
Fast forward 10 years, and my income has increased exponentially. It's been interesting and things have got more expensive, but suddenly I find myself getting paid enough to live comfortably, support my son and have some left over. There are lots of things I want:
Tickets to Australia for OzBurn
Fix the oil leak on my car
Pay the rest of my tuition so I don't have to think about saving for it anymore
Various shiny toys and fabricOMGFABRIC!
But the thing is, if I get those things, I won't have this large (by my standards, realistically it's under ~$1000) spare chunk of cash just sitting in my bank account. Bear in mind that this is the first time in several years that I've actually had more money than I owe, due to having paid off the loan. And part of me wants to revel in the warm sense of security that brings for a while and just not touch it. So, apart from buying dinner for my family tonight cos it's Mum's birthday (Happy Birthday Mum!) and I have reason to celebrate as well, I think I'll do that. I realised that my income has increased by ~$140 a week, and have figured out a budget that means I'm actually only $40 a week better off in the hand, but all the back-end stuff of my life will be growing, and maybe I'll get to a place where instead of going "Hey, my car's leaking oil, better save for that" I can go "You know, my car's leaking oil, it's 15 years old and it's going to cost me more than it's worth to fix it. I know, I'll just buy another one."
Forgive me my foibles, yes my sense of security is tied in with not ever having to phone up and arrange to pay regular bills by instalments again. Or go into WINZ and ask for food grants. Or spend nights awake working out budgets to allow for the gigantic bill for the unforseen thing while still being able to pay the rent.
Meanwhile, I'm just over here, going "Oh wow, my bank balance, check it out!"
And yeah, some of this is related to how I feel about Ben Easton. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of what he's doing, the legality of it, the perception of 'dole-bludgers', the lack of KPIs or elected representation, the broken system, all the things that were discussed yesterday, there's this:
The guy is living on an income only slightly larger than the payrise I just got. He has chosen to do this in order to pursue something he's really passionate about, that he believes will make the world a better place for other people and in his mind, is a fight against corruption.
Whether you agree with what he's doing or not, I believe there is a certain *gropes for word* something in that, that I find myself respecting. It's the sort of thing I might do myself, if I didn't have such a fear of going back to the limitations poverty put on me.
In other news, it seems that on Aotea Quay, where the speed limit is 70 for half of it and 50 for the other half, most folks are taking an average and going 60 along the whole length. I find it hard to drive at 60 - 50 is good in 3rd gear and 70 is good in 4th, but 60 is that in-between speed where the motor revs high or labours depending what gear you're in. I conclude that most other people are driving automatics.