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Saturday, 9 March 2013

A comment on the phrase "there’s literally nothing stopping you [from doing this thing that costs money] "

This post came across my dashboard on my Tumblr and it struck a chord.

I would love to travel. I would love to quit my shitty, demoralizing job and spend my days knitting and writing and painting brains and uteruses. I would love to go to yoga classes a couple times a week and get more fit. I would love to eat an ethical and socially conscious diet. I have said these things to people and they look at me and say "just do it! there's nothing stopping you!"

Let me tell you a story.

Today I filled out a form to ask the YMCA for a subsidized membership so I could attempt to put myself in a position where I can more fit (because guess what? Lack of money is stopping me - I've had people tell me I'm being stupid because it doesn't cost anything to run; well, yeah, except I can't afford non-shitty running shoes, and my back problems make high-impact exercise problematic for my health).

But I digress.

I filled out the form that the YMCA asks for so that they can arrange subsidized memberships for those who can't afford it. This was what got me swimming lessons and dance lessons and baton twirling lessons when I was a kid - a subsidized membership at the YMCA. I am so grateful for it.

The form asked what my net income is and what my monthly expenses are. At first I was worried that I made enough that that would disqualify me from subsidization, but then I tallied up my expenses.

I make, on average, about $1200/month. If I've been sick or have taken a mental health day because my job wreaks havoc on my depression, it's less than that, obviously, because I work for an hourly wage.

My expenses worked out to be the following:
  • Rent: $575 (This is high for a tiny basement apartment, and this is my half. My roommate's pays the same amount PLUS $50 for parking every month, which makes me glad to not have a car. We're fortunate that this includes our utilities.)
  • Food: I try to spend less than $200/mo on food because I can't really afford not to, but I put down $200, because it usually ends up close to there if I want to not be hungry. This includes cat food/supplies
  • Internet: $25
  • Renter's Insurance: $9.
  • Transportation Costs/Bus Pass: $70
  • Telephone: $60 (I recognize I could have a cheaper cell phone plan, but I spend most of my time not in my apartment, and the things I have on the go require that I be able to check my e-mail, etc. on the go. My plan is about as basic as a data package can get, and I got the cheapest smart phone that Samsung offered through my provider).
  • Credit Card Repayment (because having a maxed out card and the bank calling you about SUCKS): $200.
I tallied that all up, and do you know what adds up to? $1139. Guess what $1200 - $1139 is? $61.

Tell me again now that if I want to travel, I just have to do it. Who's going to buy my plane/train/bus ticket? Who's going to feed my cats for free while I'm gone? Tell me again that if I hate my job, I should just quit and find something that makes me happy? Who's going to pay my rent, so that my roommate isn't as screwed over as I would be? Again, who will feed my cats? Tell me again that I can do anything I want to, with that whole $61 I have left over at the end of the month, which, funnily enough, is never there, either?