You have to be rich to be poor.
That's what some people who have never lived below the poverty line don't understand.
Put it another way: The poorer you are, the more things cost. More in money, time, hassle, exhaustion, menace. This is a fact of life that reality television and magazines don't often explain.
So we'll explain it here. Consider this a primer on the economics of poverty.
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"When you are poor, you substitute time for money," says Randy Albelda, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. "You have to work a lot of hours and still not make a lot of money. You get squeezed, and your money is squeezed."
The poor pay more in hassle: the calls from the bill collectors, the landlord, the utility company. So they spend money to avoid the hassle. The poor pay for caller identification because it gives them peace of mind to weed out calls from bill collectors.(– – –)
The poor pay in other ways, ways you might never imagine. Jeanette Reed, who is retired and lives on a fixed income, sold her blood when she needed money. "I had no other source to get money," she says. "I went to the blood bank. And they gave me $30.
"I needed the money. I didn't have the money and no source of getting money. No gas. No food. I have to go to a center that gives out boxes of food once a month. They give you cereal or vouchers for $10. They give you canned tuna and macaroni and cheese. Crackers and soup. They give you commodities like day-old bread."