It's hard to think about the past, to remember the struggles we lived through, to feel that all the hardships, and efforts, and plans, haven't led to the goals I hoped for. Now that I am a senior citizen (in retirement), I wonder how much time I have left. Will I be able to at least start the dreams that matter to me.
Budgeting is just one part of goal making.
Money has always been the main issue in my struggles. Finding the right solution to overcome my money struggles has also been an ongoing problem. I have tried a lot of different ways to overcome my financial issues, but they didn't succeed. I think lots of other poor people have tried desperately to solve their financial problems and didn't succeed. No one sees these efforts, they only see the result, and think that poor people don't try to help themselves.
When you are poor, budgeting is the only way you can survive (without committing crimes). I shared with my class that when I was receiving Welfare payments as my only income, I would have to work on my budget for two weeks just to [try to] figure out a way we could survive. I shared that poverty is one L-O-N-G deprivation, and you eventually have to find a way to care for yourself as you struggle.
You can't budget anything if you don't have an income. When that happens, you have to do your best to live through the consequences...which always leads to eviction and homelessness. No income source leads to a bunch of problems, and they become a new hurdle for your future.
The housing class I am taking is about overcoming the problems evictions and criminal histories and disabilities and other situations cause in the search for rental housing. Budgeting to make sure you cover your bills is one of the class segments.
On my way home, I stopped to check on the offices of another local housing program. It was one of the local programs that help people purchase their first home. It wasn't a regular office so I thought it might just be an administrative location. You had to ring a bell to have someone answer the door. In the conversation I had with the person at the reception desk, I learned that their minimum income requirement was $24.000/year. I assume that is gross wages (before taxes). I would like to see ownership options for homeless populations and people who make less than a bank would approve.
I suppose we need to break that $24,000 down to something more understandable, like $2000/month or about 40 hours/week for 4 weeks at $12.50 an hour. I wish my body could handle that kind of workload every week... I have trouble getting through each day, especially if I am active.
I have no idea what their program provides in housing choices...I only learned the amount I would have to be able to verify to qualify for their program. My rental housing class (and the government) use a housing percentage of 30%. If this percentage holds true for the ownership program, and the NET INCOME for $2000/month is estimated at 75% after taxes ($1500), the housing budget for those program participants would have to be about $450/month. I haven't read about many house prices that would equal that price... most payments for a regular house loan are in the thousands. If you need to pay a $1500/month mortgage, and you use the 30% budget estimate, your income would need to be $5000/month. --- I will need to check on the ownership program/s more deeply.
I also told the reception person that I have already taken a similar home ownership class in another county, but it was many years ago. I wondered if it would still qualify for their program. I was told they are good for two years...and don't transfer within the state.
I mentioned to the person at the reception desk (and the two people sitting there listening) that I was interested in home ownership options for homeless and lower income people... people who don't make that much, like myself. I asked if anyone is already operating a program like that in the area. None was mentioned.
Housing problems are not just about affording a payment. They involve education and training that create wages, they require a job that doesn't disappear over the life of the loan, and they need flexibility for the people living in the housing and their life situation. Ownership allows more stability and growth for any family, but even ownership needs a financial partner that will help them through the life of their loan.
I have never believed the housing crisis had to happen. Whoever owned those housing loans just needed to care about the people who lived in those houses and work with them through the downturn. Many people had made their payments without problems until the interest rate became an issue. No one needed to lose their home, the owners and the lenders just needed to help each other through the short-term problems we were facing as a nation.
I suppose budgeting wouldn't have helped those homeowners, but I hope it will help those who want to make sure their small incomes will meet all the demands of their lives...and build for the future.