How do I continue with this month?
I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few days about how I will continue with this month. Social situations and living conditions determine poverty as much as income does. As I talked about yesterday, making a strict poverty line can sometimes be problematic. And different circumstances make for different ways of living. I live close to my work, so walk and therefore have very little travel expenses. I share an apartment in a fairly cheap part of the city. My bills are very limited – I really only have my phone and internet and the occasional car insurance payment. I don’t have cable. I don’t have debt payments. I don’t have children or a pet. I don’t eat a lot. It’s just me and very little else, so my living at the low income line looks like a lot per day to spend because I don’t have a lot I spend money on in terms of living expenses. In a different circumstances with more expenses, that line would be hard to live by. In my circumstance it isn’t.
So I need to rethink how I’m going to go about the rest of this month. What if I used the basic needs poverty line and had a $4 a day cutoff? What if I just tried to spend as little as possible a day? What if I lived without certain things in order to understand poverty better, ie I don’t eat for a day? Is this insulting and melodramatic? What if I just spoke to people who have lived in poverty (or are living in poverty) and ask them to tell their story? What if I continued to write about big picture topics, with less of the personal posts?
I don’t think there’s one way to go about this without offending someone. I don’t know what it’s like to be really poor. But I can understand what it’s like to make choices with money, and feel socially separated from a lot of Toronto whose priorities are to spend money on nights out and extravagant material possessions. So I’m going to continue to write about my personal journey in this, but try to live off of $4 a day for the next week (for everyone’s interest – I averaged $13 a day from the first half of the month). I will also be interviewing people about poverty and getting their story. And continuing with some of the ‘big picture’ posts. Hopefully this makes a more rounded rest of the month. Please share your thoughts if you think I’m totally off and have a better idea of how I should proceed.