How to Live on a Low Income: A Little Wisdom and Some Good Advice for Surviving Tough Times

Overview

This book offers hope to those whose limited income bars them from some of the simple pleasures in life. Informative and easy to read, it will help them through everyday struggles and beyond. The author's encouraging tone combined with a healthy dose of honesty makes the book real to the people who read it. This book could change the way you live your life in a considerable, meaningful, and lasting way.

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How to Live on a Low Income: A little wisdom and some good advice for surviving tough times

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Overview

This book offers hope to those whose limited income bars them from some of the simple pleasures in life. Informative and easy to read, it will help them through everyday struggles and beyond. The author's encouraging tone combined with a healthy dose of honesty makes the book real to the people who read it. This book could change the way you live your life in a considerable, meaningful, and lasting way.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781491808030
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 8/21/2013
  • Pages: 130
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Read an Excerpt

HOW TO LIVE ON A LOW INCOME


By ANNE BLONDEAU

AuthorHouse

Copyright © 2013 Anne Blondeau
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4918-0804-7



CHAPTER 1

Adding to Income


Following separation from my husband in 1986, I found my first few years of single parenthood challenging. I had never before been on my own. When I had married, I went from living with my mother to living with my husband. After my separation, being able to balance my income and household expenses was not as easy as I thought it would be. I was either catching up on payments or just breaking even. It was a frustrating experience.

At the time, I had a full time position as an office clerk. Although my earnings were reasonably good, they took care of little more than our basic needs, monthly transportation costs, and a credit card payment. In June 1988, when time came for vehicle registration and insurance renewal, for the first time, I didn't have the money. It seemed that every time I tried to save a nest egg for bigger expenses, something else would gobble it up. In addition, I wanted to register both my children (teenaged boys) for organized sports that September.

I realized that I just didn't have sufficient income to take care of everything. That summer, in desperation, I looked through the want ads and came upon a job for a part-time telemarketer (no experience necessary!). What a break, I thought. It was. But I hated the work.

Two months later, I quit. I then applied for a position of part-time data entry operator and was hired. The job was boring and difficult in terms of time management, but worth the effort. For about fourteen months, I worked three to five evenings a week. It wasn't always smooth as I had to race from one job to another. After four hours of data entry, I would hurry home. Once home, I could relax, attempt to do a few chores around the house, and catch up with events in the community based on my sons' narratives.

The idea of slaving away at a two jobs can be frightening. Try not to let this stop you from looking for additional work if the extra money will improve your situation. Take a deep breath and understand that if you get a second job, you don't have to commit to it forever.

If you think that having additional employment will exhaust you, commit to it for short terms only. You might want to work only one or two weekends a month. The income will add up over time. Don't feel that you have to stay in a low-income situation without having some reprieve. If having another job is not going to work for you, there are other ways that you could add to your limited income.

The provincial and federal governments each have a number of programs and services for fixed or low-income families and individuals. Some of the benefits you receive could come in the form of a supplement (money paid to you) or a subsidy (a cost that has been reduced). There are other benefits. Other community-based providers might lend support of some kind too. Whether you take this route will depend on your circumstances, your source of income, and/or how much you earn.

Those who already receive financial assistance or have had applications denied in the past might want to do a review. You could have overlooked something when you first applied. If you are not familiar with this kind of aid, take a look at the brief outline on social benefits that follows. You may find some relief for your situation. You could keep a note-pad nearby while you read so you can jot down ideas or information as you go along.


Subsidies, Supplements, and Other Benefits

Provincial governments offer rental housing supplements, income supplements, reduced prescription costs, and subsidized child care. Benefits are generally available to people on a low income, which could include anyone on social services, receiving pension income, employment insurance, or a disability allowance. Social Services (known as Welfare or Social Assistance) will also provide an income for people with special needs or disabilities. Although they are fairly consistent, the rules and regulations, including what is offered, are different in each province. You will need to enquire.

The federal government offers income supplements for low-income seniors and for people with disabilities and employment insurance. Other federal programs and services include training and skills development, labor market information, and relocation allowances, just to name a few. You could also enquire about tax benefits.

The reference section at the end of this book contains a list of resources for just about any situation. There you will find contact information for programs and services at any level of government (I have included Canadian and United States references). I encourage you to read through it. If you think you need help to make enquiries or locate additional information, you could ask a friend or family member to help you or advocate for you (see reference section).

When applying for assistance, always find out if you are allowed to supplement your assistance with additional earnings, and how much you are allowed to earn without losing your benefits. Some social programs (federal or provincial) allow you to work while you receive benefits. For instance, you would be able to have limited earnings from employment while you receive Social Services. If, at some point, you decide to work towards full-time employment, each province offers a transitional employment allowance to help you with the transition. Coverage for things such as child care, health care, transportation, and income supplement may be available.

Don't assume that you won't qualify for assistance. Verify the information you think you know and don't be afraid to ask questions. Let the government representative know if you are single or if you have a family. Do you or your dependants (or spouse) have an ailment or a disability? Is it temporary, long-term, or even permanent? Are there special needs involved, such as home care or medical supplies/ prescriptions? Are you able to find employment and if not, why? Do you need retraining in order to find employment? Is your housing situation suitable? Do you require daycare and is it affordable?

If you don't qualify for government programs, finding employment would certainly be a more direct way to add to your income. In trying times, I found that as little as $75 already made a difference. Two or three hundred dollars in a month was significant.

I encourage you to consider every angle when it comes to adding to your income. It is important to be as flexible as possible, because employment opportunities can be limited for people on a low income, especially those on government assistance. Many people on a low income are in that situation because they may lack certain skills or appropriate education, they may suffer from physical or mental health problems (unable to work at full capacity), they may have allowed their business certificate to expire, or their age has made it harder for them to find employment (a retiree).

It could also be that low-income jobs are the only ones available in your area or at this time. In that case, when there is a shortage of higher paying jobs, your education will not make finding work easier. If you are unemployed or in need of a second income and cannot find work for which you are qualified, you might have to learn some on-the-job skills completely unrelated to your area of expertise or experience.


Employment/Self-Employment

We will now look at some of the prospects for employment and self-employment. I want you to see that a little investigation and imagination can be useful to help you find work. Look around. What are the industries in your area? What kind of businesses and corporations are close to your home? If you are unsure, find a job search website. You will see that there are jobs listed in fields such as health, domestic, professional, oil and gas, business, social sciences, fisheries, construction and more. But, not all available jobs are advertised on these websites.

Some jobs are made known only by word-of-mouth and others are limited to a local want ad or a piece of paper pinned to a community bulletin board. Some may be listed on a classified community website. Finding some others may require a little foot work. Don't be afraid to knock on the doors of prospective employers with your resume in hand. Look through the yellow pages for more ideas on where to apply for work. You can use the different types of businesses and industries as points of reference when doing this.

You may also want to consider contacting employment agencies in your community. Try to avoid the agencies that ask for a fee. You don't want to pay out money that you don't have.

As you read this chapter, I would like you to keep in mind that wherever there is employment, there is almost always the potential for self-employment. If you don't want to work for a yard care company, you could have your own. There are possibilities for employment and self-employment that go well beyond these pages.

Both employment and self-employment allow for full time, part time, temporary, casual, or seasonal work. This includes work co-ops (pooling skills and jobs so that everyone can make a little money) and job sharing. With all of these options to consider, there is more potential for income than you might think. There is opportunity for students, seniors, single people, parents, or couples in any one of these capacities.

But, there are things you will need to consider. Are you able to work? What are your limitations? What skills do you have in spite of these limitations? What hours are you available to work? If you receive insurance benefits (employment, disability, illness) will you be allowed to have earnings? Are you a care provider and therefore limited in how long and when you can be away from your home? Do you have a vehicle?

Don't be afraid or hesitate to lower what you consider to be your standard. If you are looking for a second job, you might have to take work that is completely different from your first job, your training, or your career goals. For instance, if you work in an office during the day, you could find yourself cleaning offices in the evenings (I did that for about a year). Don't be surprised if you end up lugging boxes in a warehouse, working as a sales associate in a retail outlet, or doing data entry or telemarketing on weekends. Potting seeds in a local greenhouse in March might be all you need to offset your limited income for a while. I did this for one week, about thirteen years ago. I had just moved from Regina to Red Deer, Alberta and was in the process of finding full-time employment. The money helped to pay for groceries.

If you have a family, they might be able to lend a hand now and then. For example, while insurance claimants receiving benefits might not be allowed to work, a family member could. If work is scarce or skills are limited, your spouse or other family member could work in yard care or child care. Every little bit can make a difference.

If a financial situation is more serious, encouraging a teenager to baby sit or mow lawns on weekends could mean being able to pay the phone bill each month. The money that I earned babysitting as a teen made a difference in how well my mother could manage her limited income. I have no regrets for having done this.

If you want to advertise your child-care service, make sure that you can provide excellent character references. Some community colleges provide training and certification which is something I recommend you have. If, on the other hand, you need child-care services, don't take chances by hiring someone that you know nothing about. Check the references.

There are people in our communities who need respite from fulltime care of elderly or disabled people. They will also hire sitters. You could choose to work through an agency or you could work independently. Remember, you too will need excellent character references. Knowledge of first aid is valuable and I recommend getting certified. Specialty training in health care is just as important. A community college can provide information about courses. Some employers will cover their employees' costs for first aid training and workshops for basic training in home care.

If you are a student, consider filling in for night shifts. The night shift will allow valuable time to read and work on school assignments. Even a stay-at-home mom could fit in a shift in the evenings while dad (or a teen) is with the kids. Alternately, home care for the elderly or infirm could be done as weekend work. However, if you are not suited to providing such care, don't do it. Caring for the elderly or sick can be very challenging, as it requires patience and compassion. You will also need a criminal record check for any position of trust you apply for.

If you are single and you can find work in another region or province, you might consider a move, particularly if the work will be long-term. If you have a family, however, you will have more to consider. Your children's age would be one factor to consider, as a move can be hard on them if they've already formed lasting relationships or are accustomed to a school. Another consideration is the cost of relocating an entire family. Instead, would you be comfortable relocating alone and seeing your family in visits?

If you have completed applications for construction companies and have had no reply, you could walk around some of the construction areas (i.e., housing developments). You never know when someone's laborer didn't show up or a tradesperson is in need of a helper. You could be asked to help directly or to simply cart discarded materials to a bin. Jobs such as these will seldom, if ever, be advertised. If you prove to be a good worker, you could be offered regular work or hired as an apprentice (to tape, roof or board).

Do you have access to a truck? If so, hauling loads to the local dump is another way to add to your income. If you have a good work ethic and the physical capacity, you (and a reliable work partner) might be able to move household furniture in your area. Your municipality may require that you have a business license.

There are also handy jobs that could be done. If you can, provide character and/or work references. I am not suggesting that you do major repairs if you don't have the skills, but you might be able to correct a leaky faucet, repair a broken hand railing, or reposition sidewalk blocks. Could you provide yard care and cut grass, trim hedges, or weed gardens? Public libraries have plenty of self-help and how-to books that can prepare you for many odd jobs. There are individuals who do not always have the time to do these things for themselves and will hire. Do a good job and you will be called upon again.

If you live near the downtown area of your city, you could rent your parking spot or driveway on a monthly basis to someone who has to drive in to work. Parking spots are always in demand. You could park on the street or share the space. This may not fit into the concept of employment, but it is one more way to get a little additional income.

Many farming operations have seasonal employment, as will market gardens and greenhouses. You will need transportation, though. If you are without your own vehicle, could you ride and cost-share with another worker?

Housekeeping services such as cooking and cleaning will always be in demand. Many people hire through agencies, so applying with agencies in your area is a good way to get started. Alternatively, you could offer these services on your own, and charge less. Advertise on web sites, in flyers, on bulletin boards in grocery stores, and recreational facilities. If you have a child in tow, you could offer to lower your rate to make up for the accommodation.

There are other types of domestic work. Could you operate a small laundering service from your home? Sewing, mending, or doing alterations are other areas of service. Two or three regular clients might be all you need. If you are able to sew, could you charge a reasonable fee and teach others?

For those who like to bake, why not sell your product at peak times of the year? During Christmas or other holidays, you can rent space in malls, or you could seek out rummage sales or other special events and put up a stand. If you work in a group, you can share the costs of ingredients, rental space and other expenses. You may also be able to work from your own kitchen. Cake decorating is something else you could do. If you don't know how, you could learn. Would you consider a catering business?

You will need to contact your Public Health office for regulations on food preparation and storage. There are courses on safe food handling in most cities. They are not expensive and your clientele would appreciate knowing that you have had this training. Any Public Health office should have this information too. The courses would not have to be business-related and should be open to anyone interested in taking them.

Can you create decorative pillows or crafts to be sold at Christmas? Search the library's reference material on crafts for ideas if you would like to get started. If you crochet or knit, there could be a market for you anytime. Well-constructed table cloths or baby items are classics. The same considerations could be given to wood carving and other types of art. Look for upcoming events in your area and see if you could rent a table or a booth. But plan ahead, because most events require registration many months in advance.
(Continues...)


Excerpted from HOW TO LIVE ON A LOW INCOME by ANNE BLONDEAU. Copyright © 2013 Anne Blondeau. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Who Should Read This?....................     xi     

Introduction....................     xiii     

Section One....................          

Chapter 1 Adding to Income....................     3     

Chapter 2 Budget Challenges....................     17     

Chapter 3 Managing Income....................     21     

Section Two....................          

Chapter 4 Understanding Nutrition....................     37     

Chapter 5 Buying Groceries....................     43     

Chapter 6 Other Purchases....................     57     

Chapter 7 Self-Sufficiency: Savings and Nutrition....................     61     

Chapter 8 Where to Shop....................     63     

Chapter 9 About Food Banks....................     67     

Section Three....................          

Chapter 10 Something (Out of Little)....................     71     

Chapter 11 Some Final Words....................     83     

Reference Section....................     91     


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