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What do you! class as being poor??

(59 Posts)
bikergran Fri 22-Jul-11 09:58:21

My friend (osh friend) were once chatting about people having different ideas of being poor....( I dont mean the third worl countires etc, I mean just our own day to day family living) friend remarked that when they first got married many moons ago..she remembered not being able to afford "strawberries and cream "" for pudding!! lol...

I then told her that I remember having to choose to buy some potatoes or loaf of bread (couldnt afford both)!! I choose the bread and chopped the roots off the potatoes I had and we had chip butties for tea....and my daughetr used to be in what they called the Tuesday club (bit liek a youth club ) I sent her to the shop to take some milk/pop bottles back to get enough for the 10p that she needed to go to the Tuesday club....(im going back abou 28 yrs now) lol......

maxgran Wed 27-Jul-11 12:24:42

One of the differences today is that when a young couple set up home together - they have it fully furnished immediately. When we got our flat back in the 70s we just had a second hand cottage suite and a bed and a cooker and fridge. My mother in law bought us a really cheap table and 4 chairs.
I had to wait ages for a washing machine - I used to wash my daughters nappies by hand and I had a carpet sweeper and no vacuum for a couple of years.
My son & his wife moved into their house a few years ago with more than I acheived in about 10 years !

susiecb Wed 27-Jul-11 12:32:21

mumonthe run you ask for frugal food tips - we went vegetarian for about three years to make the housekeeping go further and did enjoy it but went back on meat eventually although nothing like as much as before. I hope you are doing well with your budget and family life. I'm sure everone here has some great tips of managing a tight budget. There is a TV programme I have seen at times with budget ideas cant remember the name of the programme but one lady cleaned her loo with the lowest price coke she could find (she said large bottle 20p )cheaper than loo cleaner anyone else seen it?

Notsogrand Wed 27-Jul-11 12:34:13

Oh maxgran, the joys of washing terry nappies by hand! I had a bucket boiling on the stove almost non-stop for years. grin My 3 girls were all out of nappies by the time I had my first washing machine. Everyone was in the same boat though, so it didn't feel 'poor'.

GillieB Wed 27-Jul-11 12:45:36

I think the thing for most of us was, if we didn't have the money, we didn't buy the thing. Credit was almost unheard of. And saving up for something certainly makes you appreciate it.

My dad bought us a dining room table and four chairs when we got married - I got rid of it last week (almost 39 years old). It wasn't that I couldn't afford to replace it, but it had sentimental value for me. However, I bit the bullet and ordered new dining room furniture and it is coming next week. And I was so pleased because I looked at the local Freecycle and there was a plea from a mum who had just moved into a new house and couldn't afford to buy a table - I really didn't mind passing it on to her.

maxgran Wed 27-Jul-11 12:46:33

Notsogrand,... I had hands red raw !! I don't know why I didn't wear rubber gloves,.. Probably couldn't afford them ! I did have a single spin dryer though,..which I thought was luxury !

ElseG Wed 27-Jul-11 13:42:03

Reading some of the stories on here I feel quite ashamed of wingeing so much. We were actually very lucky though it didn't seem like it at the time. We started in almost the same way and with the same furniture as you Maxgran. I can vividly remember washing terry nappies after they had been soaking in Napisan! Eventually we saved up for a spin drier because it took so long for things to dry. I can also remember getting our first (second hand) twin tub. We bought it from neighbours around the corner for £5 and had to push it to our house - how we laughed.

maxgran Wed 27-Jul-11 14:10:39

ElseG -I used Napisan too. We eventuallu got an automatic washer - but couldn't get it plumbed in at the Flat so I had to drag it out and attach it to the taps with adaptors every time I used it.

ElseG Wed 27-Jul-11 14:15:14

The furniture you described was almost exactly the same as our start off set, even down to the table and chairs bought for us by m-i-l. I thought for a minute I was reading my own post!

glammanana Wed 27-Jul-11 14:52:27

All mine had terry narries and I used napisan,nothing better than a row of white's
blowing in the wind,I boiled mine on top of the stove and rinsed out in a big bucket in the sink,the same sink that was used to bathe the DCs until they where
old enough to go in the bath with me,we also had a twin tub washing machine
later on and I used to fill it with hot water first and do all the whites then the
coloured's and lastly all the really dirty stuff ie.DHs work clothe's he worked in a lab at Lever's and came home covered in all sorts of gunge,that washing machine
was the best that I have ever owned,I used to put a table cloth on it in the kitchen and use it during the day as a table.We never really came into having any spare fund's DS2 left school and then we slowly got everything replaced as
and when needed,just because we are now ok with regard to funds we still
only buy something we really need and alway's cash purchase's

maxgran Wed 27-Jul-11 15:01:38

We wait until we have the money to buy things even though we do have some savings. I always think if I haven't got the money I have to do without until I do have the money ! My children though, buy whatever they want on credit cards and won't wait for anything. They replace furniture because they are fed up with it rather than because the stuff is worn out.
I stopped my son putting a never been used Duvet in his car to take to the tip with some other 'rubbish' - I rescued a few things that day and gave them to a charity shop.
Outside influences must be strong because he did not learn that from me !

expatmaggie Wed 27-Jul-11 15:53:47

I think being poor these days means not having the spare cash for a coffee, because the streets here in Germany are packed with people sitting in cafés, eating pizza or icecreams. It must be awful to walk past them everyday and not to be able to afford an icecream for a child.

We were poor before we went to Germany, the removal took all my savings and we had a flat but no furniture, 2 bikes but no car. I remember selling the furniture of my mother's council house. I put a card in the local Post office and people came in those days ready to take everything for a few pounds.

On the last day when there was only one bed left and a camp bed for our daughter and an alarm clock to wake me to get to the station on time for my 24hour train jouney to Munich. I rolled up a carpet which would be collected later and found a £5 note which my mother had been saving for something, probably Xmas. I was never happier than when I found it.

But I had hope and the expectation that things would become better. This is missing today. The poor today can watch TV and see how the other half lives. We were spared that. We didn't have to walk past cafés and car parks filled with big cars and supermarket trolleys piled high.

We are no longer poor, far from it. Everyone who was willing to work could make a good living. Germany was booming, and we boomed with it. Sometimes I feel I am in the wrong film! Being so poor if only for a few years is somethng I shall never forget.

Joan Thu 28-Jul-11 00:06:13

Maggie, you said:

But I had hope and the expectation that things would become better. This is missing today. The poor today can watch TV and see how the other half lives. We were spared that. We didn't have to walk past cafés and car parks filled with big cars and supermarket trolleys piled high.

You are absolutely right, especially about hope that things can become better. The thing is, they did get better back then if, as you say, you were willing to work.

Here in Australia we worked hard and got our own home etc, but lost it all when my husband lost his job, was blacked (unknown to us), and couldn't get another one. There is no unemployment benefit here when the spouse works, and a clerk's wage is not enough to pay a mortgage, put two teenagers through high school, and feed four people. So we had to sell the house.

The excuse to make him redundant was 'necessary cost cutting' where he worked, though everyone wondered why it was him, the hardest working and most capable. The reason was that management knew he was a Labour supporter, and in 1993 Labour unexpectedly won the election. The boss was a top Tory, and Terry had openly talked politics.

The reason the firm was short of money was that most of the directors were directors of another firm going broke. They bought it out to save their investments, and let redundancies pay for it. Sheer badness made the boss have him blacked. We thought it was just ageism that he couldn't get another job, but later the boss sacked his personnel manager and she rang my husband and told him. She had no proof - they blocked her access to the records when they sacked her. It was too late by then anyway; he had given up and gone to university. (In the end he got a BA degree in Political Science from the University of Queensland, and worked for a State Government Minister for a while)

I've told this story to illustrate how business dishonesty, right wing politics, and their politicians hurt people nowadays far more than in the past.

We are quite happy in our council house in a quiet friendly area; our sons never suffered when we were having the bad times, and now both have degrees and good jobs. In a way, that Tory boss did us a favour because my husband had always regretted not having a good education, and he got into a good university after doing well in a few units of Open University. But I will never forgive that Tory for the hell that my husband went through during that time, and I honestly can't see that sort of thing happening like that in the 60s and 70s.

The Tory is dead now, and my youngest son swears he's going to find his grave and p*ss on it.

expatmaggie Thu 28-Jul-11 11:09:50

Joan that is a really terrible story. Somehow we in Eurpope never think that Australia could be like that. This black balling of people is thought to be an American thing. I suspect that Australia leans more to the US than to the UK.

I'm glad you are happy now even though poorer, and your sons have done so well. Many parents would be glad to say that of their own offspring.

greenmossgiel Thu 28-Jul-11 11:47:26

Joan - that's awful. There are no words to describe the person who did this to your family. Whether you believe in 'Karma' or not, hopefully somehow this man received his comeuppance. sad

Joan Thu 28-Jul-11 12:07:06

Well that old Tory did die before his time, so I guess that is a consolation. He knew he had been seen to be dishonourable, as his employees all found out about that dodgy buy-out to protect his investments. He sacked others too, people who had worked there decades, so he knew he was hated by them, and was seen to have betrayed them.

The best is that my husband was able to get a good degree. I remember when that started. He was in hospital having a growth removed from his back (non cancerous - it was a forgotten piece of shrapnel that had suddenly gone wrong), and I decided that enough was enough. No more suffering for him, no more job knock-backs. I asked what he would really have liked to do with his life, and he said he regretted never going to university. I made some enquiries and found out that Open University was not only free, you didn't need any qualifications to get in.

He enrolled for anthropology and ancient history and got good results. He got borrowing priviledges from the University of Queensland, and the librarian persuaded him to apply to continue his degree there. He was convinced they wouldn't have him, but he was welcomed. He loved it there, and got a good job out of it. Of course, it was too late to buy another house - too old for a mortgage.

Baggy Thu 28-Jul-11 14:32:54

joan, good for your husband! And good for you for supporting him! smile

carboncareful Thu 28-Jul-11 17:30:48

I've just been skipping through this thread and notice that nearly all the posts are about gransnet people's own personal experiences of not having plenty of money (let's [ut it that way). What about the real poor who won't be writing on gransnet because they don't have a computer and in any case have far more pressing problems to deal with than grumpy old women on the internet (myself included)?
What do I class as being poor? When my daughter is in tears on the phone because she has just realised just how poor some of the families are who have children in my grandson's school/class. You can read as much as you want about poverty but it does not really sink home until you are actually confronted by the real thing, and see how real people, in real life, in this country, are affected by it. I think you also must take into consideration the time factor: some of these people have lived like this all their lives and have no hopes for the future or their children's future.
I suppose being poor and poverty are different things?

How about a different slant. What makes someone rich?
When I was a child it was carpet in the bathroom and a leather cover for the Radio Times!!!!

Baggy Thu 28-Jul-11 18:32:13

When my dad was a child riches, to him, meant having jam right to the edge of your bread, and bay windows. One of his ambitions was to have a bay window when he grew up.

Sharing the world's wealth more fairly has always been difficult, and probably always will be. I'm honestly not as cynical as that sounds, but I am a realist.

Joan Thu 28-Jul-11 22:51:56

Well, we all know the difference between relative poverty in our world, and absolute poverty in the third world, but my son had this brought home to him when he served wit the army in East Timor. Of course, he knew about this beforehand, but seeing it really brought it home to him how well off we are in western democracies. But are we really?

I'm horrified that there are pockets of poverty verging on the third world level in England. I've read about this in America, but you expect it there, as they have a poor welfare system, no or low levels of minimum wage, and no national health etc.

You have to ask what went wrong with such families. Is it drinking and gambling? Is it inherited disadvantage? Is it pure bad luck? How can it happen in this day and age?

Joan Thu 28-Jul-11 23:23:02

PS About what we thought were signs of being rich - I too thought a bay window was the ultimate in poshness - then we moved into a house with a bay window, but unlike our previous house, this one had an outside lav!! Maybe it was a very good lesson about appearance v reality!!

I though everyone in story books and on the radio were rich: after all, the dads worked in offices and had a car, and the mums stayed home and looked after everyone. Our reality was dad rode a push bike to the mill, mum worked part time as a cleaner, and the phone was in a red box at the end of the street.

The books and radio made me feel our lives were unimportant.

carboncareful Fri 29-Jul-11 14:57:00

Joan a large proportion of the poverty in this country is experienced by families trying to live on the minimum wage. A lot of people (legally) claiming social security are on the minimum wage. What does that say about minimum wage? Can it be morally right that the minimum wage be so low that living on the minimum wage means poverty? Should employers be allowed to pay a worker less than s/he needs to live on? A lot of questions!

crimson Fri 29-Jul-11 16:15:21

My mum always wanted one of those ash trays that were on a stand.

Jacey Fri 29-Jul-11 17:19:34

It's interesting how many of these posts are to do with lack of money.
Yes my family was financial poor ...but we were rich in so many other ways.

I know of many of today's children ...with both parents working ...that have a television, computer in their own room, that have all the latest 'must' have gizmos, top notch clothes etc ...but ...are latch key children, who never sit to eat as a family, often taking their 'ready' meals to their rooms play the latest electronic games etc.

I know which 'poor' I would rather have! smile

Joan Fri 29-Jul-11 23:24:53

As a baby boomer, born 1945, I as brought up in hard times, and trained by Mum how to manage on very little, how to buy carefully, how to avoid debt, avoid drugs, even prescribed ones, how to make my own clothes, and how to be strong in adversity and blame no-one but myself if it all went wrong. It didn't all take of course, but the general training was there, entrenched in my psyche.

How would you manage if you had none of this - no example to follow, nothing but what is on the telly - mindless adverts to spend spend spend, and consume without thought? If your examples were more Paris Hilton than my Mum? If you thought life on the telly was normal and real? If life was so empty and chaotic that the only escape, the only peace, was though drugs and alcohol?

We had it hard in some ways, but easy in others, in that everyone, well most of us anyway were in the same boat, struggling but just managing.

I think modern life creates poverty in many ways.

The very low wages are one thing: we don't have that problem in Australia as the minimum wage is enough to live on, but from what I read it is a very real problem in Britain and the USA. And of course it exists here if there is a drinker and/or gambler in the family.The tales of the rich and shameless which inundate the media are another thing, giving vulnerable or naive people entirely the wrong examples.

I wish I knew the answer, but how do you change the Zeitgeist?

Baggy Sat 30-Jul-11 06:50:51

So right, joan! My parents taught us the real value of education — being able to think for yourself and resist profit-imposed 'trends' — and that's what makes the difference in the end. I remember my father's talks about drugs to this day, and he was equally convincing when trying to get us to be 'immune' to advertisements — TV ones in particular, but also others. If all one wants to do is have more possessions, life must be very shallow and contentment hard to find.