Times are tough right now.
If you’ve been to a grocery store lately, or a gas station, or anywhere really, I’m sure your wallet is feeling it.
I know mine is.
My family falls somewhere between low and middle income—like so many families around the world.
We’re just on that line where we don’t qualify for assistance, yet we also don’t quite make enough to comfortably pay bills and have much leftover for anything else.
And, boy, are we feeling it lately with prices the way they are.
We stretch our food and our budget as far as possible, but mostly we run out of both before we even hit our next paycheck.
So many families rely on things like medical assistance, food stamps, food shelves, and whatever help they can get.
Not out of laziness, but out of necessity.
Maybe it’s a single parent doing their best but needing the extra help to get by.
Or perhaps it’s a family with at least one working parent and despite all their attempts at making ends meet, they still are just barely scraping by.
RELATED: This is Middle-Class Motherhood
And some families need the help, but because of the policies and practices and income guidelines for these programs, they just don’t make the cut and have to go without.
Here’s another thing too, in cases of a family with only one working parent, so many people will say, “Well, why doesn’t the other parent just get a job then?”
Okay. Let’s explore that option for a moment.
Both parents working means more stress in the home and both parents feeling more easily burnt out.
If you have young children, then it would also likely mean paying for daycare, which would be pretty pointless because daycare is so expensive it almost isn’t even worth it to have the other income.
If the parents work around each other’s schedules to avoid daycare then that would mean never seeing each other and the kids never having both parents home at the same time.
If you’re a family already receiving things like MA or food stamps and both parents go to work they would lose that assistance, and a second income isn’t always enough to make up for the difference, which could hurt more than just staying home and doing your best on the one income.
There are so many reasons why that isn’t always a good option.
I know because my family has tried that option, and I know the problems it caused when my husband and I both tried to work.
I’ve been there.
My point here is that there is so much stigma around assistance programs and stay-at-home parents, and I want to provide some clarity on the subject.
I know what it is to struggle and rely on these programs to get us through.
I know what it is to have that assistance taken away when you hit a penny over their guidelines and then have to scrounge and pinch pennies to get by.
And I want people to understand that people who are struggling financially aren’t always struggling because of poor choices.
Most of us just simply don’t make enough money to get by and no matter what choices we make or how careful we are with money, it doesn’t make a difference and we’re still living paycheck to paycheck.
RELATED: I Was the Angel on the Tree—This is What Our Family Really Needed
Especially right now with the cost of everything rising, pay rates remaining stagnant, and income guidelines and policies for assistance programs remaining the same when they should be changing with the rising costs of living.
So please be kind. Have some compassion.
And remember that not everyone is lucky enough to have nice new things, extra money for goofing off, or even enough to put food on the table.
Some of us live off thrift stores and clearance racks.
And food stamps and food shelves.
We’re all just doing the best we can to get by.