The habits of poverty


For them what weren’t around back then, a few years back I and my family were in tough financial straits. Basically, my wonderful wife needed shoulder surgery, and the only health insurance we had was a Mastercard.

So, yeah. You know where this is going, I’ll bet. We came close to bankruptcy, and only avoided that by being insanely frugal. When we came out the other end (weirdly, it happened a month before I signed with my agent–everything turned around in those few weeks) my marriage was stronger than ever and I was determined to see health care reform in this country.

Anyway, those frugal habits have been very hard to break. Eating at restaurants. Buying books. Shopping for organic foods again.

And turning on the heat. We didn’t turn on our heat at all the last couple of winters–getting by on found scrap wood in the fireplace and cooking lots of roasts and bread.

But earlier this week, I’d had enough. I was honestly sick of it. I hated being cold all the time. I hated wearing a knit cap and neck gaitor inside, and sleeping under four blankets and two unzipped sleeping bags.

So, this afternoon, my son and I cleared the furniture away from our baseboard heaters. Then we took out all the paper airplanes, flower petals, number 2 pencils, yellow highlighters and paraffin candles that had fallen onto it over the past few years.

And I turned on the heat. I swear, I can not even express to you what a tremendous relief it is to be in a 62 degree apartment.

I wonder what other habits I still need to deprogram.