High Cost of Poverty

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High Cost of Poverty in the United States
Poverty can be defined in many different ways. In certain attempts, it can be used in numbers, while other definitions can be more vague, and used to define a life style. The defined term of poverty is “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions”. (Mirriam Webster, 2011) According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 37 million people live below the poverty line. “The ranks of America's poor swelled to almost 1 in 6 people last year, reaching a new high as long-term unemployment left millions of Americans struggling and out of work. The number of uninsured edged up to 49.9 million, the biggest in more than two decades.” (Yen, 2011) Poverty is obviously very common in our country, and all over the world. Even with the United States being the wealthiest country in the world, we still have many Americans who struggle everyday to survive. The topic I chose to focus on is the high cost of poverty, and how it actually costs more to be poor. Although it seems like an oxymoron, it is a very realistic topic. I chose this topic because I have personally been involved in both sides of economic statuses. Although I do not live in extreme poverty, I technically have an income that falls within the line of poverty, but I do not have a family to support and have student loans to live off of. I wanted to know further detail of how those who only experience poverty, have limited choices, and how their disadvantages actually cost them more money. My personal life experience is one from an upper middle class family, and was raised in a wealthy suburb in a predominately white community. My family never had financial struggles, so I had no experience with battling bills. I worked in high school and had my own money, but I had nothing to pay for. I thought I made a decent amount of money making $7 an hour, and only working 15-20 hours a week. For a person with no bills or rents to pay for, $150-200 a week was a lot to me. Recently, I moved out of my parent’s suburban home and into the city to be closer to school and gain some independence as an adult. I make about $250-400 a week, depending on the activity of the restaurant I waitress at. I soon realized that I am very dependent on my two roommates to split bills and rent, because I could never afford to live on my own. Although we live in a low income neighborhood, the cost of food, rent, electric, heat and cable bills stack up, and I struggle to pay them. I also only pay one third of the full cost. I have a car I need to put gas in, a gym membership I pay monthly and credit card bills every month. I now see how people that make just as much, or less than I do, struggle even more to make ends meet when their income is at the head of the household. I wanted to show to people that it is more expensive to be poor, because of the lack of resources, income and credit, and also what their options become for survival due to these circumstances. I also did a quantitative study on renting versus owning an item, to show that it actually costs more to rent something than to purchase it upfront. I chose to sample the same three items from two different stores, and recording the prices to see the differences of renting and owning it. I am aware that most individuals in poverty, usually do not have enough money to purchase items or homes upfront so they often rent them, thinking they can afford weekly or monthly payments to stretch out their income to afford other life necessities.

My first concept I chose to focus was access to food. I thought about how much I spend on the food I enjoy for just for me personally, and I think it is expensive. I enjoy fruits and fresh vegetables, brand name cereals and expensive breads. Since I grew up eating the certain brands, I continue to try and afford the things I like. Being an individual with a low income, I cannot imagine supporting not only myself, but a...
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