I grew up in a one-income family with a stay-at-home mother. I was the oldest of 8, and we lived in the country so property taxes were lower. My dad worked nights, and spent his days sleeping and putting up firewood for the winter. Even as the oldest, I wore hand-me-downs from friends’ kids, and we shopped at thrift stores if we needed to buy clothing.
I started my time in the job market working the usual entry-level minimum wage jobs: hotel housekeeper, call centre associate, fast food worker. Fast food worker was great because we got half price food which meant I ate. I remember a few times my manager paid for my lunch when my debit card was declined.
Today, I am an administrative assistant in a union job working for the school board. I rent an entire house, pay for internet and TV and cellphone, and cover the car payment on a 2018 Hyundai Tucson. I even have an RRSP.
But I still struggle to make ends meet sometimes. My bank balance still reads zero or negative often in the days before the next paycheque. Things aren’t easier, they’re just bigger.
I still buy most of my clothes at thrift stores, though I sometimes find sales at Wal Mart or Giant Tiger. When we eat out or order in, it’s usually burgers, pizza, or Chinese. The rare times we go to a “nice” restaurant feel like splurges.
Money sucks. I wish I didn’t need so much of it just to live. And I know I’m very well off in comparison to so many others.