I just watched this documentary last night called American Winter, and man did it freak me out… And made me want to cry at the same time. In fact, I’m not ashamed to admit I did tear up a little in places… I can’t stand to watch children in poverty :(
The movie focuses on some families in the Portland, OR area who were doing generally “just fine” in life, and then hit a major financial rough spot and are now struggling to just survive. As in:
- They don’t have enough to eat
- Their electricity is being cut off
- They’re being kicked out of their homes
- Their future looks bleak
- And their children are suffering with them
Sad sad shit… And most of them all said the same thing the first time they asked for help:
“I never thought this could happen to me.”
They were all “middle class” and then BAM – they can’t eat all of a sudden. And when you watch them go to the food bank for the first time, or pack up and head over to a shelter, it really sinks in.
THIS CAN HAPPEN TO ANY OF US!!
How long could you survive if you lost your job today? And you can’t find employment for 6 months? A year? And your gov’t assistance runs out?? Where would you go?
All stuff we push to the back of our heads with the idea that “it could never happen to us.” And then if it did, we’d deal with it at that point.
Scary. But true…
And honestly I’m one of these people too. Yeah I try and plan and make sure my savings and investments are growing so I can live a financially-free life forever, but really that’s the main reason I’m doing it. I don’t think about losing my job(s) or not being able to afford food/heat/shelter – I think about becoming a millionaire. Which is all fine and dandy until the crap hits the fan.
- What would I do if my online empire crashed over night? Freak the F out! And then go and get a job as fast as I can possibly can.
- If I can’t get a job? Start pulling from all my savings and then move to a smaller place.
- If you still can’t get a job? Move to pulling from investments, then freak the hell out even more.
- If all that runs out? Move in with my parents and feel like a failure.
And maybe, just maybe, knowing my parents are around and willing to help at the drop of a hat is the reason I don’t ever think it could happen to us. I know in the worst possible case I can always fall back on my parents’ support, so perhaps I’m one of the lucky ones?
But how blessed are we to be able to have that? Those families in this documentary have no one. They’re literally close to living on the streets, or in their cars, and the moms sometimes go without food so their children can eat instead.
Makes you really appreciate everything we have.
One of them even has a $40,000 insurance bill because her coverage lapsed – for 1 month – and it happened to be the same time her daughter got seriously sick. $40,000 for ONE bill! Can you imagine?? And you still hear people talking about how “they brought it on themselves, ” and “they’re on their own, sorry…” It’s so easy to not care, isn’t it?
Yes, I guarantee these families could have avoided a chunk of these financial ills over their lifetime had they saved, yada yada yada, but who are we to judge? Are we perfect financial angels? Umm NO. And again, when you’re not thinking about going homeless at all of course you’re not going to plan accordingly. Which is why I wanted to blog about this so badly today. We need reminders!!! But we certainly don’t need to turn our backs on the less fortunate – if at the very least because we could be one catastrophe away ourselves.
- Have compassion for others
- Be thankful for what you have
- Reach for the stars, but plan for the worst
- Realize that losing your job, and money, CAN happen to you
- Continue saving and building up those emergency funds
- Try building something for yourself no one can take away
- Continue educating yourself and growing/attaining new skills
- Do whatever you can to protect your children – they shouldn’t have to worry about a thing
- People aren’t bad just because they can’t manage their money well – it’s a skill, not a moral thing
- And lastly, love the shit out of each other. Without your family and friends, you’re lost.
Can you tell that movie took a lot out of me? :) But we need it every now and then. We have to slap ourselves from our dreams once in a while so we don’t get caught thinking we’re above it all. These families, and all others, deserve basic human necessities like the rest of us. And unfortunately sometimes we’re left to fend for ourselves. So go after your dreams, but prepare for the worst!