This dear lady is having a tough day. You probably know all about tough days. We certainly do at Chez Crabby. When Fenwick’s investment broker job disappeared, along with his firm and all their cash, we thought we had enough savings to last until he got another job. And we did. There just hasn’t been another job. I’ve helped as much as I can. But my ship hasn’t come in yet in terms of the advice business. Which is a head scratcher, because I am just so full of it! So, we soldier on, creating money-saving ideas galore!
Anyway, this letter writer here is living in comparative poverty. Compared to her boss, she is a pauper, who is circling a drain of less and less every day. I can understand this. Every time I look at Jennifer Aniston or Charlize Theron, I perceive that my rear end is growing and growing so large that eventually it will no longer fit upon our sofa. Some of that is in my imagination. Some of that is most certainly in my regular habit of donuts. And I can fix that, you see? Both of those I can fix. Well, maybe not the donuts part. Some things are asking too much.
Anyway, here’s the letter,
Dear Mrs. Crabby,
I live in California. I work as an executive assistant to the head of a company. She’s nice enough and all, but she talks to me as if I am her economic equal, and I can tell you, this is far from the truth. She makes $532,000 a year in salary, with full medical benefits, a company paid car and cell phone. Plus she gets 5 weeks paid vacation a year.
I make about $45k a year, which is $21.60 an hour as an exempt employee. this means I am not paid for overtime. I have worked for 5 years and have received raises of less than 5 percent every year. My boss believes she is generous when she gives me $100 as a Christmas bonus and a ham, paid from her own pocket. I have to pay for half my medical coverage. And I get 2 weeks vacation a year. I don’t complain because there are hundreds of out of work people who would do my job for even less salary.
This past weekend I took my children to the movies. We go to the movies because we cannot afford vacation trips. When I buy the tickets in bulk, we can afford this as a hobby. This past weekend, Mrs. Crabby, I nearly Al Roker’d my pants, the cost of concessions has nearly doubled!! We can no longer afford this. Only the movie. We’ll have to buy snacks in bulk at Walmart and sneak them in in the lining of our clothes. I’ll be making little hidey pockets in our clothes to bring these in. Unbelievable.
The cost of utilities will be increasing 40% in the next 5 years. Our medical insurance premiums increased 20% this year and will be increasing that much every year from here on, until they are more than my take home pay.
Mrs. Crabby, soon I will not be able to afford to work. No kidding. I can’t be the only one in this sinking boat? What the h-e-double hockey sticks are we supposed to do?
You poor hon! First the bad news: None of these things is going to change. None of us so far has been willing to do what’s necessary to change things. Now, the coping news: Since we aren’t going to change our dwindling circumstances, you need some new glasses to view your situation in a way that you will feel good about yourself.
As I said above, you’re living comparatively. Right now, you’re looking at the wrong end of the comparison. You’re viewing yourself on the downside.
However bad things are for you, they are worse for someone else. Truly. You can quit your job today, right this second, and cash out everything you have and move to any of these countries and live like a bigger Queen of Cash than your current boss! You’ll need a protective army, but this will probably cost you only about a week’s worth of lunch. Especially if you choose Sierra Leone or Uganda.
Sit down, after you’ve looked at all these different country relocation choices, and make some choices of your own.
Do you want to be happy? Do you want to be happy here? How can you look at your current situation in a different way to make this happen? Would a bottle of scotch help?
Meanwhile, here’s some ways to cut corners:
~go to a restaurant or gas station restroom and get as many paper towels as possible. Take them home and hot glue them into underwear shapes. This way, you will cut down on a portion of your laundry and save on utilities and soap! Use staples if you don’t have hot glue supplies.
~Collect coupons for what you buy at the market regularly. Wake up really early on Sunday (the best coupon day) and slide those coupon magazines out of your neighbors’ papers. Using massive numbers of coupons will save you enough for a year’s worth of hair styling at Super Cuts!
~Take a second job as a night watch person or hotline operator, where you will be able to sleep on the job when you’re all by yourself. Just make sure to lock the doors. Cobble together a sleep mask that has photo fabric of your open-eyed face glued onto it.
~Tell all your friends and relatives and anyone who buys you birthday or holiday gifts that all you ever want are grocery store gift cards. Or gift cards in whatever you purchase regularly. Fenwick is a fan of Trojans. I ask for wrinkle cream discount cards.
And all the while, look at the poor folks around you who are worse off, and then look at yourself and appreciate having those slivers of soap in the shower and the wilted remnants of lettuce for sandwich filling and the duct tape to repair your shoes when holes appear. You’re rich beyond measure compared to a Sudanese or most North Koreans. Well, today anyway. Next year, after the government and greedy corporations have gutted us and gotten away with it yet again, this might be a different story. But then we will be providing a valuable service to those better off than us!
Best of luck to us all, hon!