by a local resident
I am a privileged, white, female millennial. Both my partner and I work full time, and even have side gigs to boost our income. And yet, every week I have to ask myself the same question: Do I have enough money for gas, or should I be cutting trips short to better afford groceries for our family of four with two rapidly growing children?
Which meat is on sale this week? What can I make with that cut of meat? Do I have time to make a meal, or am I still at work during that time?
Will I be able to refinance my mortgage? Is the rising prime interest rate going to preclude me from being approved? I guess I shouldn’t complain, because I’m already in the market, but again, every two weeks I have to ensure that there’s enough money left in the account to make that mortgage payment.
These questions simply didn’t occur as frequently pre-pandemic. The truth is, I work for a business that is lucky to have survived the pandemic and has not been able to offer raises (Even for the basic cost of living) since 2019. Again, I’m trying to count myself lucky on one hand, but on the other hand, I start to wonder when it’s time to reach out to the food bank. I feel like I would be taking from people who may need it more.
The impact on our declining mental health is grim, but cannot be fully addressed without time and money. We are both short on those things. A positive attitude may be free, but, frankly, it is extremely difficult to maintain.
We trim the budget by making our own lunches (even though the kids want to have pizza or sub day at school, we keep making their lunches to save money). New clothes, or a trip to the salon? Nope, not for the adults. Just the kids as they grow out of clothes. We make do and mend what we have. Entertainment? Dates? Nope. We will use those funds to scrape together gifts to send to the kids’ birthday parties, because God forbid anyone think we can’t afford to give something, and, of course, your child’s friend deserves to feel special.
When it’s time to change tires on cars, or if something important breaks in the house, like an appliance, or we just need general maintenance on our home, it usually breaks the bank. We’re now relying on credit, and the debt load can no longer handle it.
If one of us was to lose our job tomorrow and not be able to replace the income within a week or two, it would be devastating. If we had to stop working due to illness, it would be life altering. The rising cost of everything is having a major impact on us, and we are not even the neediest among the population.
I do not write this for sympathy, rather I want everyone in this situation to know you’re not alone. I wish I had a solution that was fast and effective, but all I can say is, there’s an election around the corner, and if ever there was time to change the way things have been done forever in this riding, the time is now. Stop doing the same old things and expecting different results. Start thinking about your fellow hardworking community members, who have struggles that are seen and unseen.