10 Ways to Stay Poor Forever

no money no honey sign
(Article by Elise Adams)

This past weekend my husband and I completely ran out of money.  While I was crying myself to sleep over all the drama, I made a list of what we’ve been doing to stay poor for so long.  I must really love scraping the bottom of the barrel to have spent so much time down here!

Besides, how can I STOP doing the same things over and over expecting different results (Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity) unless I know what my stupid, ‘same-things’ are, right?

How I’ve learned to stay poor forever:

  1. We don’t pay our bills on time very often.  That’ll teach ‘em. Yep.  Teach them to charge us lots of fees and interest!
  2. Instead we count on windfalls like birthday money from our Moms and our tax return (we get a BIG one because we have so many kids –like, 3 at home and 3 not at home, AND we’re poor!)to catch up on bills.  Then when our tax return is late, I wail and gnash my teeth at the injustice then beg our landlord to give us an extension on the rent.
  3. By all means necessary we avoid manual labor, babysitting or extra jobs.
  4. We’ve spent countless hours investigating the application requirements for government assistance.  By now I can identify a public servants mistake on my food stamp application from a hundred yards away!
  5. We compliment ourselves on having no mortgage or credit cards, forgetting that it’s because we have such crappy credit we won’t be approved for such debt devices for at least another 10 years
  6. My husband (with my help!) wasted at least a year of time wondering what career to go into next after getting laid off from his last job.  We were careful to stay on unemployment for as loooong as humanely possible, with NO plan for when it ran out.
  7. I’ve started a half dozen ‘work at home opportunity’s’–sinking hours and hours of time into pointless multi-level marketing schemes but then I never follow through after the shiny newness wears off.
  8. I’ve become a vicious second hand store and yard sale shopper.  I tell myself that our kids are dressed as well as anyone else’s—I can read labels and pick out quality stuff!  But then again. I always  spend much more than our clothing/msc. budget states—oh, just forget the budget.  What’s a budget? I go shopping at least once a week for fun! “Look Honey, this dress is only 3.99!!”
  9. I have a big dream but just add it up to silly fantasies so I won’t have to make any realistic plans.
  10. Last but not least—I throw big, loud tantrums when we literally run out of money only to go out and celebrate a ‘big’ paycheck by going out to eat instead of paying bills.

I think I could go on for a lot longer, but you might be catching my drift. (Oh yeah— buy at least one Latte per day should go up there somewhere too.)

Our problem at the Adams Household (yes, our name—for real) is that we don’t really believe we’ll ever be anywhere but right here. Poor and happy, but sometimes terrified.  Talk about depressing!  I’m not exaggerating, much, when I say that we really do try to stay poor! Instead of climbing out of the hell-hole we just keep making a playground out of this stinky-bottom-of-the-barrel.  We’re hanging out in sh**t! (And we’ve been here for years!)

And this is why I’m writing this guest post for at least a zillion of you to read. I am determined to smell how stinky this is RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW so we can crawl on out one step at a time.  The steps we need to take are sorta obvious, right?

My sexy as all get-out dreams:

  • I wanna shop at real stores for my clothes instead of checking for cool labels at the 2nd hand store
  • I want to buy a whole set of China that matches from somewhere besides Target
  • I want to drive a cool car—like a uuhm Toyota Sienna with 4-wheel drive :) –that doesn’t fall apart every time I open the driver’s side door.

MOST of all, though, I am SICK of being poor. Bottom line?  I’ve come through so much crap in other areas of my life—addiction, family trauma, crazy stress up the wazzoo—that I can’t buy my own self-justifications any longer.  I know I’m not meant to be wallowing around in way-too-comfy poverty forever.  So, watch me!  I’m getting OUT!

Editor’s Note: Don’t hate on my yard sales & thrift stores!! :)

(Photo byJMRosenfeld)

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  1. cashflowmantra June 7, 2011 at 7:35 AM

    This has got to be the most poignant blog post I have ever read. I am simply left speechless. I am pleased that you have recognized your dilemma and am wondering your plans to climb out. Best wishes.

  2. Rachel June 7, 2011 at 7:53 AM

    This is something I’ve been struggling with my whole life and has led to more than one financial shortage for myself. Were so busy that we eat out a lot. We also have a hard time pay our bills at the same time each month. Luckily we don’t git hit with many fees, but it is confusing to not know exactly what bill comes out of this week without looking it up. I feel like if we plug up the money leeks then our tub should flow over. I think I’m going to review our budget today, thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Viviana June 7, 2011 at 8:18 AM

    What a post Elise! It is very brave to put your mistakes out there and the first point to fixing them. Why don’t you go through your 2nd hand finds that you no longer need and chuck the good stuff on eBay to get yourself a little cushion. This could lead to a small venture if you have a good eye. There is such a big market for kitch junk that you could make some real money.

    Best of luck in sorting stuff out and get yourself a travel mug for your coffee, you will be thrilled with the money you save.

  4. Heather @ Work At Home Market June 7, 2011 at 8:19 AM

    Love the sexy all get out dreams…I need to write a list of my own to give myself a kick in the pants. Awesome post!

  5. Brian June 7, 2011 at 8:24 AM

    I wish you nothing but good luck in changing the way you think and live. I hope this is your “rock bottom” and from here you do nothing but climb your way out of debt and dispair. This post was simply sobering for someone like me, who has been lucky in finances at this point. It makes me really glad I have been able to save for a rainy day. Again I hope this is the end of your rainy days it is it nothing but blue skys ahead for you.

  6. Elise Adams June 7, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    Thanks everyone–such great wishes and support from you all!

    *Yep, travel mug has got to be where it’s at Viviana! And such a great suggestion to Ebay some stuff. I’m all about organizing and simplicity on my blog–this fits so great with my purpose.

    *@cashflowmantra Hubby and I are working on plans right now. Maybe I’ll have to post again on the opposite of ‘staying poor forever’ :-)

    *I’d love to hear your ‘sexy as all get out’ dreams Heather…or anyone else, for that matter. We ALL need big ;-) dreams!

    *This IS the end of my rainy days Brian–thanks for your best wishes.

    *NOT hating on your yard sales, Mr. Money…well…sorta, I guess. What do you think folks…should I give up 2nd hand stores and yard sales too??

  7. Katie June 7, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    Woot! Preach it! You have lived in – you KNOW it – and now you are READY to do something about it!

    Good luck to you! Just remember, you CAN do anything you set your mind to! ANYTHING!

  8. Iva @ This Side of Perfect June 7, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    You are very brave for putting this out there. When I read money blogs, nobody really shares the ugly, dirty details. They’ve been down on their luck, sacraficed, and magically made their way back to the living. But I don’t think I’ve ever read anyone putting themselves out there, admitting their own mistakes. I suspect many readers are in the same boat.

    I’m slowly getting out. Sometimes, I make mistakes that help me fall head first in the pile of you-know-what…but I’m learning.

    Thank you again for being honest and putting this out there. Know that it is very appreciated.

  9. LB June 7, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    I am sorry you have to go through, what you are going to realize you hit rock bottom. Must be hard to write about it for the world to see.

    One question I have is what are your plans to help your situation and stay out of it? I understand, from the post, what you want to buy after you help yourself. I don’t believe that goal is enough for anyone to better their situation. Are you starting side hussles? Are you going back to school? I hope you are making real plans to go along with your dreams and I wish you luck.

  10. RJ, the HOPE Coach June 7, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    Love love love this article!!

    As someone who was stuck in that comfy warm sh**t for a long time, I can so relate! About a year ago I determined to get out of debt and start living a great life. In 12 months, I ate out exactly twice (for less than$10), bought my cappuccino exactly twice (that one was painful!), and completely gave up my shopping addiction to second hand stores (sorry Mr. Money!). On the one-year anniversary of my new life, I celebrated by spending a whole afternoon at Starbucks, and felt like I had just gone on a luxury vacation!

    Halfway to debt free with one year to go, I keep following my budget and keep to my dream map no matter what (pay all the bills on time every time, work two jobs, stay in my grad program etc). It is positively liberating!

    Sending you courage, enough disgust to motivate the new ways even on days you’re sick of it, and tons of HOPE!

    RJ, the HOPE Coach

  11. Elise Adams June 7, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    LB–yes to all your questions. We’re working on side-hussles and even getting some ‘kick-butt’ help from a ‘been-there-done-that’ accountability partner. As I mentioned above–it is an entire post in itself! Thanks for your straight talk–we need it! Cuz, you are right–my sexy goals aren’t big enough to change our whole life for. (And there is yet another topic right? ;-)

  12. F June 7, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    Considering were you are your dreams are a little extravagant. Name brand labels? Expensive cars? A set of China? .. Seriously?

    How about get a car that runs, dishes that match, and the ability to shop for new clothes.

    1# Create a Budget and work within your means

    How about we start a little smaller. Dream of paying your bills on time. Dream of filing your taxes on time. Dream of being more put together and organized. You complain of being poor, but many of your habits keep you poor.

    Change your mindset and stop dreaming and start working towards those dreams. A little manual labor never killed anyone.

  13. Elise Adams June 7, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    No duh, F.

    Considering I was open and honest about all my crap the least you could do is own up to your comment.

    Dreaming of paying bills on time and being more put together doesn’t sound very sexy or powerful. I prefer to DO those things to GET ME to much bigger goals. Gotta have a reason to do the tough stuff. (And I believe I did mention ‘the ability to shop for new clothes’ :-)

  14. Clare - Never Niche June 7, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    Aaaaand I officially love Elise.

  15. CityFlips June 7, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    I say forget F and have your sexy dreams! Obviously you know what needs to change and you’re ready to work towards that. Go you! A little gumption and discipline and you’ll be well on your way towards those big bad sexy dreams. I hope you find encouragement from all of us who have been in similar situations and whittled our way out. Good luck!

  16. Andre Adams June 7, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    As one half of the barrel bottom scraping duo, I’d live to give thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read my lovely wife’s post ( and yes its all true) and I truly appreciate all the comments positive and otherwise (nothing like live feedback to keep things real)…funny thing is I’ve never thought of myself as poor or particularly undisciplined, until I started rubbing elbows with people who actually did pay their bills on time, had saving accounts and cars that ran on time. I’ve been chopping wood for extra work between classes (nursing) to help get us out of this place…but what really keeps me going is watching my better half build her dreams with her own blood, sweat and tears..Love you sweetheart, Don’t stop till you can see THE view from Mount E (thats Everest for ya’ll naysayers).

  17. Elise Adams June 7, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    Thanks for the love and support Babe! Going for Mt.E together!

    Love you too!

  18. Jen June 7, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    Good 4 u Elise! Sometimes it can take forever to stop ignoring/denying crappy situations, but when we finally do—that’s when change can happen. You sound quite committed to fixing things, and I hope you and your husband can achieve your financial goals. I as well, love organizing things, and that’s how I was finally able to make a budget after so many years. I just organized my bills and such into a pattern where I would never be late and was also able to get caught up, and finally ahead on them. Just thought that might be something that would help since you’re into organizing. :-) Good luck!

  19. Lindy Mint June 7, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    Great post, Elise! Stinky sandboxes suck. Sparkling poolside parties with full sets of non-Target china are much better. I look forward to watching you make those dreams happen!

  20. Agni June 7, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    Hi Elise,
    Thank you for you bold and honest story. I doubt many out here can say they do not identify with at least a part of your story. You are on the right track and I believe you will realize your dreams. Go for it! And God Bless!

  21. Sam June 7, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    love the post and the message and the recognition of issues!

    Question though. Perhaps you actually enjoy being “poor” ie the pleasure of not paying the bills and doing manual labor outweighs the pain of working over time, spending less etc otherwise you would be rich?

    Everything is rational right? People don’t drop dumbbells on their toes unless they love he pain and sound of cracking bones!

    Best, Sam

  22. Elise Adams June 7, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    “Sparkling poolside parties with full sets of non-Target china are much better.” YES!

    And yes–I think I’m starting to get tired of ‘pain and the sound of cracking bones’ Part of what you are talking about is realizing I don’t have to be in pain…both hubby and I thought it was normal. Yikes!

    The idea of organizing our bills, Jen, is brilliant. It’s sort of like a ‘Doctor Heal Thyself’ situation–must apply my strengths to my weakest area!


  23. Financial Success for Young Adutls June 7, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    You can do it! Broke is temporary and by changing you mentality you are no longer poor. Just temporarily broke. Don’t be afraid to budget, you’re in control. I’m rooting for your success!

  24. Jenna June 7, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    Best of luck to you, Elise! Please keep us posted on your progress! Putting yourself in a better financial place isn’t always easy. It’s sometimes hard to keep yourself focused on the long-term (or even the longer short-term) rather than “now,” but just keep reminding yourself to keep your eyes forward to the future and not down in the present! I’m currently trying to pay off my student loan debt, and it can certainly feel very un-sexy when I can’t go out to eat or buy a new pair of shoes, so I have to keep reminding myself that I’ll get my reward at the end of the month when I see that I have extra money to make an extra payment. Seeing my balance go down after that extra payment? That’s the sexy part!

  25. Elise Adams June 7, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    Thanks Jenna…especially for the reminder that it’s sexy to pay down those debts! I’ve got to experience the good stuff of being responsible so I can find new motivations as we go.

    I’d love to come back and let you know how it’s going :-)

  26. Paula @ AffordAnything.org June 7, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    This is a very brave post to write! I’m glad you’re aware of your shortcomings. When you need extra money, side jobs like babysitting are a great way to go! (And they’ll pay off much, much better than any of those waste-of-time multi-level marketing schemes!)

  27. Cassie June 7, 2011 at 5:05 PM

    You go girl!
    Do not let your current situation define you. If you can stand up and be this transparent about your mistakes, you can easily take the steps necessary to repair your financial future.

  28. engin33r June 7, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    This may sound awful, and I don’t mean it to, but did you ever consider waiting on having children until you were a little more financially stable?

    I would guess that 6 children would be a handful on any budget.

  29. Cat June 7, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    Great Post! Very honest!

  30. Elise Adams June 7, 2011 at 8:45 PM

    Well now…that does sound kind of awful engin33r–especially since you don’t know how or when we had all these kids! {Even Dave Ramsey doesn’t suggest NOT having kids or getting married till all the money ducks are in a row.}

    For your info: it’s 6 kids total–from 2 different marriages, blended into one family with only 3 toddlers at home…the other 3 live with their other parents. Of course, one HUGE reason we’re determined not to wallow around here on the bottom is because we must have more resources to fully support all of them. And we’re not going to be having more that’s for sure!

  31. C.M.C. June 7, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    Wow. Well, I admire your honesty, that’s for sure. I think these are all things I’ve said/done at some point and have only recently started owning up to.
    First of all, your “dreams” section is sort of discouraging. I mean, I understand that you want to get out of a hole, but do you think wanting more “things” is a good way to get there? I wrote a blog post a few days ago about the difference between “right now wants” and “far away wants.” Those lattes and dresses (even thrift store ones), while you might “want” them right now… how badly do you really want them when you compare them to the achievement of having money in your account all the time? It’s my belief that when we buy those things that we don’t really need, we’re trying to compensate for something else that we don’t have, but want and is harder to achieve. It’s like, “Let me just buy this thing to make me feel good… it’s only a few dollars.” But that is the attitude that will keep you in the hole.
    If I may, I would like to suggest that you try to take a week and spend as little as possible. Only spend money on the things you MUST spend money on. Skip the lattes (make them at home) and bring lunch from home. Blog about all the times you WANTED to buy something, but didn’t… and you’ll feel so proud! At the end of the week, when you see all the money that is STILL in your account, you’ll probably be blown away.

    Good luck!

    C.M.C.@ twentytwomonths.blogspot.com

  32. Fontane June 7, 2011 at 9:47 PM

    I do not share the same enthusiasm for your post as the other commenters. While I certainly encourage you to do better and improve your family’s lifestyle, I am troubled by the fact that the characteristics you describe are everything that is wrong with this country and should come as no surprise that people who work hard and pay a lot in taxes resent you and your family. Every dollar you take is another dollar the gov’t will never give back to me and my family. So, I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride. Soon, the gov’t will not be able to support you anymore and you’ll have to break all those bad habits and actually earn your living and stop making your way on the backs of the taxpayers. I don’t mean to offend you, but your lifestyle is repugnant.

  33. Elise Adams June 7, 2011 at 10:03 PM

    Of course my lifestyle is repugnant.

    I am attempting to highlight that anyone can get used to stinky s**t if they sit in it long enough. My repugnant lifestyle is all I’ve ever know–lots of history there. NO EXCUSE.

    go for it! Change the law, fire our government–I don’t see that these ‘social services’ help anyone. All they’ve done is make me a gov. assistance junkie!

    BTW. Have you done the numbers on a family of 5, with each parent working full time for $10/hour? Can’t afford childcare and rent and food and transportation let alone clothes or utilities. IMPOSSIBLE to live without food stamps etc. So therefore–something is seriously wrong on a LOT of fronts. (Despair quickly ensues which breeds despicable, stupid choices in the morally weak–me included.)

    *C.M.C. yep–our plan exactly. No more stupid extravagant purchases–only bills and growing up and out of this hole. For instance, I’m thinking we can go a full 12 months without any ‘new’ (or used) clothes.

  34. Julian Foster June 7, 2011 at 10:37 PM

    When one door shuts another one closes and when you see the light at the end of the tunnel, it usually means that there’s a train coming!
    A friend of mine, who hit upon very hard times, told me how he handled a particularly persistant creditor..”I told him that each month, when I receive my welfare cheque, I take out what I need to feed and clothe the family and then I put the rest on the table. I then take all the bills that I woe and put them in a hat and mix them up. I pull out one bill at a time, until I reach the amount of money on the table. Now, let me just warn you, if you keep harassing me like this, then next month your bill won’t go in the hat!”
    Hope this helps,
    Your friend on Facebook
    Julian Foster

  35. RJ, the HOPE Coach June 7, 2011 at 10:44 PM

    Well lets see. Out of 30-something comments, only one guy that simply doesn’t get it. Thats pretty good! And a fairly good indication of how many out there really can relate at least on some level.

    I find myself wishing “Fontane” (he? she?) has his insurance cancelled, his house burn down, his job outsourced, his investments mismanaged and gone, and his bank closed. Wondering what he’d do?

    Bottom line is that the overall dream is really the American Dream: if I work hard and follow my dreams/gifts I’ll be successful. Its getting tougher to do. My hat is off to you for owning your part in being poor, and send you tons of courage as you climb up and out!

    RJ, the HOPE Coach

  36. Elise Adams June 7, 2011 at 11:09 PM

    Thanks Julian–great story. At the bottom those are the hard choices we make. Making every effort to get OFF the bottom is the only way to avoid that oncoming train!

    Happy to see a new FB friend too!

  37. Sam June 7, 2011 at 11:21 PM

    Elise, just wondering, if kids are so expensive, why have so many at your income? Was it for the child tax credit? Or perhaps really horny?



  38. Elise Adams June 7, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    Ha, ha Sam. Can’t say either reason works. Although possibly I was just so mentally challenged I couldn’t figure out birth control for awhile there. ;-)

  39. D June 8, 2011 at 1:44 AM

    I have to say that I too was a bit dissapointed at the end of the story that your goals for getting out of debt are to create more debt. I think you will find as you start to budget and save that it will be harder and harder to spend that money and the real thrill will be watching your IRA grow (I suggest one of the goals be to open one). Maybe we can get an updated post in a year and see if some of the goals have changed. I think you will find being without a car payment to be pretty sexy. I know I do!

  40. Kay June 8, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    Go Elise!!

    The first step to solving any issue is realizing and admitting it. You did that GREAT!
    The next step is figuring out WHY the issue came up in the first place. You did that EVEN BETTER.

    Your plan to get out of this hellhole (found that sprinkled in your comments) sounds good. Do keep us posted of your progress and yes, I’m rooting for you and your Mr.. Yes, You can do it!!

  41. Elise Adams June 8, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    Thanks RJ, D and Kay.

    And for clarification–I won’t be going into debt for that ‘new’ car. In fact, after about a zillion hours of listening to Dave Ramsey I’m sure it won’t really be ‘new’! There are bigger, better goals out there but these get me off my butt today.

    Thanks for the good wishes. It’ll take a lot of follow-through to make this happen, but like you said Kay, we’ve certainly analyzed the heck outa this hell hole. Now it’s time to get moving!

  42. bleu June 8, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    Elise, I’m glad you guys are making the decision to change your spending habits! Good for you, I look forward to your progress.

  43. Katie June 8, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    I am supportive of your desire to change your current situation – however – I just don’t buy into the “kids are expensive blah blah blah” excuses.

    I was a single mother of two (yes, only two – but still) children under the age of 7 when I left my job to go back to school full time. I worked 6 nights a week, went to school all day, and got maybe, MAYBE 4 hours of sleep a day – and not all at the same time.

    I kept all the bills paid on time. I did receive daycare assistance, since otherwise it would have costed me $2,000 a month in daycare to go to school AND work – but I still paid around $900 a month in daycare expenses. I did not get food stamps.

    Every situation is unique, so I am NOT judging you. I am telling this story to inspire – that it CAN be done. Defeatest attitudes is what has kept you where you are, and I applaud the fact that you are “coming out of the closet” so to speak to NOT have those attitudes anymore.

    Just remember – everyone can have an excuse as to why things are the way they are. But if you look around you, you see people in similar situations who can still seem to make it work. Don’t make excuses about anything anymore. Just stick to your plan!

    (Remember, NOT judging! Encouraging!)

  44. jesinalbuquerque June 8, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    You go. You can do it. Eight years ago I moved across the country with three cats, big credit card debt, no job, and about $2,000 between me and the street. Today I have a good job (though thanks to the govt maybe not much longer) a comfortable savings account and a small retirement account. AND, more important, the knowledge that I CAN DO IT. So can you.

  45. Kimi June 8, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    I can read your post with tongue in cheek intention. Sad thing is, most of us have been there at some point. This family of 5 has one income and can’t qualify for food stamps, though the free lunches we get at school are a life saver. Yard sales-good to save money, yard sale-bad to waste money. Hard habit to break but I support you in refraining from seeking them out on weekends:)
    We no longer have CC’s due to being on a debt management program (not settlement), but now I know each month our balances are going down and not up.
    The best thing about being “poor” though is the creativity you find in enjoying the simple things of life…..sitting in the garden while the birds and squirrels are chastising you for being in their territory, roasting hot dogs in the fire pit (that you got from canfood outlet for a buck), reading the new best seller (via the library) and having a burrito bar where everyone only brings one item yet goes home with full bellies.
    I don’t want to remain poor, but I want to remain simplistic whether the income goes up or down. Being able to sit back and watch “all those kids you have” can be the most rewarding part of the day and a well deserved reward at that. I wish my parents would have been aware enough to stop the cycle of “waste” as you guys have. Your children are lucky and will grow up to be well adjusted productive citizens from the mistakes and lessons you are going through and passing on. You’ve come a long way baby! :)
    -your favorite roller derby queen

  46. Iva @ This Side of Perfect June 8, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    @Kimi, excellent insight. Hopefully, everyone who has been “poor” and worked their way out of the “hole” maintain that mentality for their family. After all, sometimes it is the little things.

  47. Kasia June 8, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    Sorry, I’m with F. One of the reasons you claim you are staying poor forever is #8 – consuming for the sake of consuming. So you want to change and not be poor so you can…. consume more bigger nicer stuff? I am glad you hit rock bottom, and I am glad you are motivated, but I think you’ll find that a beater car, 98% of the time, is just as good as a brand new Toyota, and etc etc. Stuff does not fulfill a person. What fulfills you? Use that as your goal. Save money so you don’t have a stressful life anymore. Save money so you can take a job that pays a little less but you love to go to work every day. etc. I encourage you to dig a little deeper.

  48. Iva @ This Side of Perfect June 8, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    Am I the only one here who thinks that E and her husband WILL “dig deeper”. Those goals she mentioned (I took) as a bit of a tongue in cheek. Of course they won’t find all of life’s happiness in possessions; they realize that. But if they decide they want to buy a $60,000 car, cash, is it anybody’s business? No.

  49. Kris June 8, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    I was just going to buy lunch today, when I thought about this post. I asked “Do you want to be poor forever?” and made myself a sandwich to take with me to work. I hope that mantra sticks in my head every day!

  50. Elise Adams June 8, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    I love the ongoing discussion–even all the diss’s I’m getting. It’s all good–cuz it’s making all of us think harder, more carefully.

    On of the things I’m fighting against, Kimi, is too much contentment. Strangely enough we’re living in the nicest location I’ve lived in since I was a kid (huge yard with space for a garden–more than we deserve, maybe–blessing? for sure!), incredibly happy family (NO drama or trauma in this Mama’s life anymore) so I’m struggling against the temptation to just ‘stop here’.

    And yes Iva–we are digging deeper even if I didn’t spell this out specifically. A better car? It’s really about security–not worrying about a breakdown every time I drive the kids around. Stuff like that.

    But I’ll say it again–I’ve gotta use what I’ve gotta use to get off my butt! In the end I think the pendulum will swing toward the balance my family and I long for.

  51. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager June 8, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    I hope you come back to BudgetsAreSexy.com and give us an update on your success!

  52. myloverswife June 8, 2011 at 9:15 PM

    When I read this post I saw myself. While I talk a lot about how I want my husband and me to be financially free, we have habits that are going to keep us away from that freedom. Thanks for the reminder to stay focused.

  53. Fontane June 8, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    RJ, the HOPE Coach, you said you hope I have my insurance cancelled and my house burn down etc so I know how it feels to be down and out. Not a cool thing for you to wish on anyone — but, if it makes you feel better, I was born and raised poorer than the majority of Americans will ever know. But my family didn’t sit around and “think” about working while collecting gov’t assistance. They got out there and worked and made it happen. They showed me how to work and make something happen.

    I’m not saying Elise Adams is a bad person…not at all. I just find her behavior repulsive and I believe she knows it’s repulsive because she has admitted that it is not acceptable to be like that anymore. I applaud her for trying to do something..anything. And you can bet that having come from the humblest of roots as well, I fully back her and hope she makes it. Not just for her family’s sake, but so that she may know the wonderful feeling of rising up from the lowest of canyons.

    But, none of that changes the fact that I believe her and her husband’s behavior has been dishonest, disingenuous, and repulsive for those of us who work and pay taxes into the system that she has pulled from for so long. One last point to clarify, it’s not that I disagree with her ever receiving assistance. I disagree with her views on avoiding manual labor at all costs and milking gov’t assistance as long as humanly possible. I think it’s great she’s received so much encouragement, but I find it odd that everyone easily overlooks that she basically admits having done everything in her power to NOT be productive for this country and NOT contribute to the “system.” How is that ever acceptable?

  54. Darwin's Money June 8, 2011 at 10:32 PM

    Wow! Well, it’s been cited that public pronouncements and accountability have returned better results in things like weight loss, budgeting, cessation of smoking and more – rather than continuing to kick the can down the road – so you’ve started off in the right direction. I hope you’ll come back and give an update in a few months on your progress and learnings.

  55. Elise Adams June 8, 2011 at 11:55 PM

    I think it’s great that your hanging in with us myloverswife–took me a LONG time of hearing the truth before I really ‘got it’. You can do it too!

    Fontane: You make some really good points–as usual I agree with you more than I disagree. One question though: how would you go about convincing lazy, dishonest people that they should change? I happen to believe that ‘the system’ encourages, if not creates, laziness and dependence. But how to convince those hooked in that it’s better to risk getting off?

    I was raised by parents who hated handouts and assistance–college educated (between them my parents have 4 masters degrees) people who have never NOT worked a day in their lives. But having slid off the edge of ‘expected’ behavior early, I never saw my way back. How would you motivate someone to live differently when they’ve given up hope?

    Now a kick in the pants works for me. ‘Back then’–even 3 years ago–I wouldn’t have given you the time of day!

  56. Sally Collings June 9, 2011 at 12:45 AM

    Rocking post, Elise! Clearly you’ve touched a nerve with many, and I for one appreciate your sheer upfront honesty. I can see some of my life in what you’re saying …
    Thanks for saying it. You’ve inspired me to get real, and to move my dreams out of fantasy zone and into ‘go for it’ territory.

  57. Dana Neve June 9, 2011 at 1:05 AM

    Wow. Very honest. And to anyone who has posted anything on here besides encouragement…SHAME ON YOU!! Your dreams are YOUR dreams and how dare anyone judge you for that. As long as you are working hard and paying your bills and getting yourself out of the hole you have dug (and many good people are in that same hole) then you buy all the matching china you want, from whatever store you want. And all the name brand clothing you want. And you buy the car you’ve been dreaming of….with your own money…that you worked for and can spend however you would like. DREAM BIG! Whatever YOUR big is…not someone else’s. Don’t settle. Unbelievable that anyone would judge your dreams! You have clearly recognized your mistakes and are on the path to redemption. Every single one of us can be judged for things we do. Your post is inspirational. Thank you for your honesty and please keep us updated on your journey. I am EXCITED to hear your success story!

  58. Lime June 9, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    I think it’s very brave of you, Elise, to actually own up to what is making you and your family poor. A lot of people live in denial about these things.

    If it gives you hope, I was in a similar situation years ago. Though I am just a single lady, I was up to my eyeballs in debt, living month-to-month with no savings. Luckily, I was able to get out of the hole thanks to a loan from my mom (nothing big, just $700 to pay off a credit card that was literally an albatross around my neck) and what I called my “austerity plan.” I moved to a smaller and cheaper apartment that was closer to work so I could walk or ride the bus (we get a free bus pass through my work). That first month was tough, all of the deposits and paying my regular bills had me end up with about $100 for food/gas/”luxuries” (like toilet paper, haha). But I made it through! For over a year after that, I gave up so many things in order to get my finances into shape – no cable, no going out to eat (or if I did, it had to be super cheap, like Taco Bell), no manicures, no new clothes, nothing. I did sign up for Netflix (a small luxury that I really appreciated being that there was no cable or theater movies). I was able to pay my mom back within 8 months, get my car paid off and my credit restored. Once I had been off the plan for about 6 months, I was shopping at Old Navy and they asked if I wanted to apply for the credit card. I said okay, figuring that I would never be approved in a million years. When they said yes, I bought my things, and then went out to my car and cried. It was an amazing feeling!

    So hang in there Elise! It can happen!

  59. Financial Independence June 9, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    Honestly. Life is a collection of experiences.

    The best way to save – have two-three jobs, do not go out or on vacation. Do not have anything on your mind but job and savings.

    Sure you can retire at 40+. Even better – you won’t need much, as during your life you did not do much.

    I am not advocating it, as a life style. But when I analysed our family expenditure over three years. I just got some information and we decided to freeze them. Not cut, just try to control ourselves.

    Otherwise what is the point? A penny for your thought.

  60. Andre Adams June 9, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    Thanks so much Dana, Sally and Lime! I know we’re not the only folks facing these realities. Just have to do something different to get to a DIFFERENT place. The same old, same old isn’t going to cut it anymore.

    As for your recommendations Financial Independence–I hear your point. It’s going to take us working 3 or 4 jobs between us to get out of this hole for sure…especially when you count full-time college for my hubby as taking up full-time hours. (He’s planning on working nights.) We’ll trade off the kids and I’ll work every hour I can squeeze out between his classes and night work!

    However, I do believe that destroying ALL quality of life is just another form of slavery. We are going to be intense, crazy intense–and focused–and accountable–so we don’t slide off the road. But we’ll do the FREE family times, church times etc so we don’t end up with destroyed kids or a ruined marriage by the time we’re better off financially!

    Just my take… :-)

  61. Elise Adams June 9, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    Whooops…answered under my hubby’s name–oh well. It’s all good :-)

  62. Maria June 11, 2011 at 12:16 AM

    The only thing about this post that bothers me is that you want to take away the benefits that have gotten you where you are today. You claim that government assistance creates a culture of laziness, but maybe that was just you. For a lot of people it is a necessity for a time, so that they can become the productive citizens that they want to be. I fully believe that government assistance should be available to people who need help, because things happen that we do not plan. Painting a picture of all people on government assistance as lazy, bilking thieves does nothing to support anyone. Good for you if you want to better your life, but maybe say “Thank you” to assistance instead of taking it away from all those after you.

  63. Elise Adams June 11, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    Well, thank you for sucking the self-starting energy out of me by rewarding laziness instead of rewarding progress isn’t something that helps people ‘for a time’. Once a person gets onto assistance it is VERY difficult to get back off.

    By the way, I didn’t paint ‘everyone’ as lazy etc. I just WOKE UP and realized that I have become lazy. I’ve got to start being honest about my own behavior to begin working on changing it!

    Thanks for your comments Maria

  64. Fontane June 11, 2011 at 9:15 PM

    Elise, you said: “Once a person gets onto assistance it is VERY difficult to get back off.”

    I’m not buying it. My family was on gov’t assistance when I was younger and they found a way to get off of it. They hit the pavement and looked for work, they got jobs, and they worked hard. When I went to college, I qualified for some money in grants to help me pay for it. I used that gov’t money (around $3k worth). In return, I have been making well over $100k for years now and so I have paid the gov’t back 100 times over by being a productive, and high income earning, citizen. But, to say that once you get on assistance, it’s VERY difficult to get off, I am not buying it. Like I said earlier, I support your quest to improve, but it’s not the governments fault for making you lazy. You admit in your post that you would find any reason to extend your benefits and your husband took his sweet time deciding what he wanted to do. Sure, you can blame the gov’t for keeping the paycheck coming, but if you had dignity at the time, and were not lazy, you most certainly would have hit the pavement and found a job…and made it work for the family.
    It’s not the governments fault, or anyone else. The blame for taking advantage of the “system” and your fellow taxpayers is on you.

  65. J. Money June 12, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    Wow — lots of great discussions going on here! I love it!! Thanks again for guest posting Elise and sharing your raw thoughts like that, def. interesting to read :) And obviously everyone else connected with it too! Some lovers and some haters – looks like you’re a seasoned blogger, haha…

  66. Elise Adams June 12, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    Thanks Mr. Money. I agree–amazing responses. I love getting people talking! :-D

    As to the inimitable Fontane’s comments. I AM NOT making excuses. What I am saying is that the system needs to be changed. It’s too easy to get sucked into laziness and irresponsibility because of the way it’s run at the moment! You never answered my question–how do we encourage and motivate people to be self sufficient and responsible. I am NOT working so hard to get OFF assistance because it’s the easier or more obvious choice. It is way easier to sit on my butt and take the hand out.

    As long as laziness is fed and clothed by the government, there will be folks with weak character who will STAY ON government assistance MUCH LONGER than necessary. People only change when the pain of staying the same is more then the pain of change.

  67. Fontane June 12, 2011 at 9:47 PM

    Elise, inimitable, nice one, I had to look that one up. Thanks for teaching me a new word. :-)

    I’ll give you my solution on hot to encourage and motivate people to get off gov’t assistance, although you won’t like it: You cut them off. It is not the government’s responsibility to be spending taxpayer money to encourage people to work so they don’t use/abuse the ‘system.’ Just my opinion and I’m likely in the minority on this website. Speaking of this site, I’m all for J.Money and his attitude towards being frugal, and most of all, his willingness to help others. I’m all for it! I’m all for helping you and your family and encouraging you and even giving money or time where really needed. I’m just not for gov’t paying for it (only at a minimum for those who need it to get on their feet).

    So cheers to you and I wish you and your family luck. Thanks for the good debate.

  68. J. Money June 12, 2011 at 10:44 PM

    Hey, thanks for keeping it professional too bro – mad respect for ya :) Nothing like some healthy debate to keep our minds active!

  69. Elise Adams June 13, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    Thanks right back at ya Fontane…and super BIG thanks to Mr. Money for the forum for all this debating. I have to say that this discussion has me thinking through my own assumptions too. Great debates do that!

    And…can’t say that I disagree with your solution F. Could be a quick cure for a lot of lazy folks out there ;-)

  70. WR June 14, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    not wanting to be poor /= [not equal to] wanting to be wealthy.

    The focus is entirely opposite. It may sound psychobabble but if you are worried and concerned about not being [foo] that is where you are headed!

    foo could be poor, dumb, ugly, lazy etc.

    Focus 1000% on what you want and where you want to go. Period.

  71. Gila June 18, 2011 at 12:42 AM

    My financial situation is much better than yours…and yet I still have crap habits (#1-will not draft or stick to a budget!) A few weeks ago I signed up for a seminar on financial planning that starts tomorrow. Your post has really inspired me. Best of luck, and thank you.

  72. Elise Adams June 18, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    Woohoo! So happy for you Gila! We’re making BIG changes around my house too–in fact, I just refocused my entire business/blog around this topic. All the comments inspired me!

    So great when our crap becomes the fertilizer for our change!!!

    Thanks again for providing the arena where we could all start some serious growing, Mr. Money. :-D I’m quite sure that my life won’t be the same after this ;-0

  73. Emily June 18, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    Thanks for the honest post! We’re in much better order financially, but it prompted me to write up the ten biggest ways I throw money down the drain (yep, I titled it that) – hopefully that’ll help me change.

    I suggest you get the Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyzyn out from the library. I never used many of the ideas but I loved having a support group of sorts that thought pinching pennies was worthwhile. It made me so happy when I wanted to spend money but couldn’t (or wanted to buy sposies but was using cloth and hanging them to dry).

    I ditto the ideas of having interim goals – have a set of goals: to achieve within 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, or something like that. Then you can have steps that’ll lead to the final goals!

    Best wishes! Good job, and keep it up.

  74. J. Money June 19, 2011 at 1:43 AM

    Awesome!!! SO glad to see people getting inspired and excited to improve their finances!! WOOOOO!!! :)

  75. Pauline June 23, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    You wrote: “So great when our crap becomes the fertilizer for our change!!!”

    I love this quote, and I’m going to share it with a few people today and point them to your website, Elise.


  76. J. Money June 23, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    Haha, right? I tweeted it the other day myself – LOVE IT.

  77. Adam April 22, 2012 at 4:26 AM

    Hi Elise, almost a year on. Any updates on wether you’ve changed your bad habits?

  78. J. Money April 23, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    Ooooh great question! I hope she still reads this blog so we can find out ;)

  79. Tanner April 27, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    I really feel your pain, Mrs. Adams. Very striking blog post. I think that this will strike a chord with a lot of people. I also would be interested to hear about any update in the habits you have mentioned.

  80. Elise Adams @ElisePhotini.com April 27, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    Hi guys! Thanks for checking up on me…what great accountability ‘putting it all out there’ has been. WE’ve changed a bunch of little stuff–no more lattes or ‘retail therapy’ for sure! In fact, I guess you could say that our family-focus has quite dramatically transformed. My new blog is all about living our dream as frugally as possible http://ElisePhotini.com : homesteading on a shoestring budget and we meet as hubby-n-wife regularly to go over our progress. My husband has finished his nursing pre-reqs, has a full-time job AND has arranged his schedule so I can push the blogging/speaking side-gigs I’ve built in the past year. We’ve also gotten much better at partnering with our community—trading childcare, bike repair or yard care tasks around to avoid paying the ever-elusive $$$’s for these things. NOPE, we’re not perfect! But we’re 100% caught up on our bills, have a BIG PLAN (instead of just a big dream) for a better future and are well on our way to building it.

    oh…and I discovered that giving up yard sales was a BAD idea ;-) Yay for you Mr. Money….you had it right all along!

    ~Elise, not-so-poor-anymore in the NW

  81. J. Money April 29, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    HAH! Way to go, my friend – we’re so proud of you!! :) You’re freakin’ DOING IT – that’s so great!! And def. agree on those yard sales ;) Even if you do happen to splurge every now and then there, it’s not like you can spend a ton of money, haha… thanks for the update!! We support you!

  82. Zach June 20, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    This is an amazing post. After reading the updates, I almost don’t know what to feel. Upon first read of the post, I saw what is all to common in america today: “comfortably poor” and living off of the tax payers. I know this is a problem and want others to realize they can’t get anywhere being so chaind by this financial attitude. I like the update, its very positive. I just wonder how we can motivate others in similar circumstances to take a stand against their own attitudes. Any ideas?

  83. J. Money June 21, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    We gotta keep on spreading the word and making “money talk” less and less taboo! Once we’re comfortable at least asking for help and talking about this stuff, I feel like the rest will soon follow. And having the internet as a tool to share everything around is a HUGE help now too! Keep on blogging and connecting, my man! :)

  84. Elise Adams @ElisePhotini.com June 21, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    I agree Mr. Money. Making money an open topic as well as openly discussing the barriers to jumping from poverty to solvency is incredibly important. There are real and HUGE barriers that ‘working hard’ can’t cure in and of itself. Folks look down on us when we take food stamps yet don’t discuss the longterm effects of a huge pile of student loans…it’s a really rough, stick-to-it-no-matter-what road from barely-surviving to ‘making-it’ financially! We’re determined yet many lose heart along the way. Encouragement & tools go a LOT FURTHER than condemnation and judgement!

  85. J. Money June 21, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    You know it, baby! Keep it up!!

  86. Fifi June 21, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Yes! I remember Robert Kiyoaski once said that the poor think talking about money is taboo and off limits (right up there with religion and politics), and rich people talk a lot about money. If you talk about Game of Thrones, you’ll get into it. If you talk about money, you’ll get into that too!

  87. J. Money June 21, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    As long as they don’t kill off your savings like they do main characters in Game of Thrones!!! They shock me every time! :)

  88. Melissa July 29, 2012 at 11:34 PM

    I don’t have much of a budget but it really helps to have a monthly organizer/calender. I know how much money each week has to be set aside for the bills and I typically know what weeks I will have more money then the others.

  89. J. Money July 30, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    Great! Not many people pay attention to that stuff so you’re ahead of the game :)

  90. jason January 27, 2014 at 10:00 PM

    poor mindset believing money is the root of all evil. poverty beliefs of all kinds.

    loser friends, fear of failure, fear of success. negative slang thinking and vocabulary.

    impulsive, uneducated, superstitious, addictive personality. messed up inner and outer


  91. Elise Adams @LeesyAdams.com April 15, 2014 at 7:38 PM

    Hey guys! It’s taken FOREVER, but the disgust finally got stinky enough. The Adams’ family is finally OFF all government assistance, starting May 2014. Just this past week I became gainfully employed, in addition to my husbands full time position…but it took some drastic steps (moving across country, clarifying our goals, etc.) to get us here! I cannot begin to tell you how THRILLED I am that we will NEVER AGAIN be back in that truly sticky (I hate gov. assistance even MORE now) place of depending on food stamps and free health care. Stop by my new website for the latest….now we need to work on getting fully out of debt and building a BIG future! Last word to all the doubters, it took us three years to figure out how not to be stupid–don’t give up on all those “lost” freeloaders you know….either they’ll get it one day or they won’t–hatin’ on them won’t help!

    1. J. Money April 16, 2014 at 8:54 PM

      Congrats!! Way to have a come back! Updated your link up above in the post to direct people to the right spot now :) Keep going with your bad self!

  92. Jacob June 6, 2015 at 5:32 PM

    I do not even know how I came to this blog but I kinda feel sorry for you. You live or lived not organized all the time and yet you whine :O Make budget, count money, organize yourself. The only way to go, nothing else.

  93. Yaman February 7, 2017 at 12:09 PM

    So close to my feeling and life. Inshala it will be better someday. First I was only getting 500 but now after me workingin my free hours I make 2000. Thankfully for the first time i feel that I am human for traveling with my friends to Tbilisi. It was good moments and deserves every penny and every hard work. I will be working in the future to travel with again and to feel no more POOR !!!

    1. J. Money February 8, 2017 at 6:14 AM