Monday, March 31, 2014

I'm on Huffington Post!!

Holy macaroni!

I have a post on

I don't have a sign in or anything, so I don't know how to reply to comments/criticisms, but I find that most of the commentators are answering them for me anyways.

I wish it were a more cheerful one, but it is relevant to what I'm doing writing this blog anyways, and it's very rarely cheerful.

But! This is so great for so many reasons! Now I can say "I'm a freelance writer" without lying (even though it wasn't for pay). It also means I have something to put in my portfolio/resume' as I try to go out and get a few paying jobs.

I was tipped off to this by a reader here, and I just want to say, thanks a million. You gave me a spring board.

I know I don't have a lot of readers, but I appreciate all of you I do have, and I deeply appreciate the comments I've received as help. I can only hope this whole thing is helping someone besides me as well.

Heaven is....

I'm scrambling eggs at the stove. My mind is occupied with the ten thousand things I feel like I have to do today, from washing the mountain of dirty dishes, to re-potting a cactus.

My daughter is eating her cereal at the table (because eggs, ewwww).  The TV is on in the background and the house is full of sounds of our morning rush.

"Mommy, if you have a bless-full life, do you live longer on earth?"

After clarifying what she means, I explain that we all get a certain number of years here on earth, but that most people live to be somewhere between eighty and one hundred.

"Do they celebrate birthdays in heaven?"

I explain that no one has birthdays there, but I'm sure there are lots of parties; everyone is happy.

"So in heaven everyone is happy, and everything is free and nothing costs money."

I don't even remember how I responded. I stirred the eggs with a heavy heart.

To my daughter, heaven is a place where mom and dad don't say,

"No you can't have that, we don't have the money".

"No, we can't go, we don't have enough money for all of us."

"No, you can't go to your friend's birthday party, we can't afford the gas money."

It was a simple thing, but it hit me really hard for some reason. Heaven should mean more than that. Maybe that's my fault.

But I would really like to be able to say yes to her more.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Poverty Climb: Weekly Progress #11

Going to be short and sweet this week, I feel like I have 10 things going on at once!

But heeeyyy, for once that's a good thing!

*Besides doing weekly or bi-weekly posts to my blog, I have been perusing the freelance writing job boards every day. I still have yet to jump on a job, even the few I actually think I could do, because I'm working on a resume'. Oh, you want my resume' attached? Here's my old one from 3 years ago, and it's completely irrelevant.  Most of them still want one attached when you apply, so I've been trying to think of how to spin spotty job history and no real experience, so that they don't immediately send my application to the trash bin. There aren't many options for that of course, but I want to have all my ducks in a row so at the very least my lack of "professionalism" doesn't count against me.

*Went to the food pantry this week. Not only did I get some groceries on a skimpy week, but it actually gave me an idea for a post I'm going to present to The Huffington Post, who are doing a series on the working poor. Cross your fingers for me!!

*Got an offer for a freelance type job on the side. It's not writing, but it is something well within my capabilities, and it's money, so that's what counts. Since the person I was babysitting for moved away this week, I'm once again looking for short term things I can do from home for a few extra bucks. I only hope my performance lives up to expectations. You know who you are. Thank you!

*I have a specialist appointment Thursday. I've been needing this for awhile due to some on going health problems. I'm as excited about getting my antibiotics refilled, as I was about the potluck at church today. The co-pay might be a problem, but I have resolved that even if I have to ask my in-laws for money, I'm going. I really hope I don't, of course! But this is super duper important for my continued health, so I have to find a way. I have a recurring biliary infection, that get's worse the longer I let it reoccur. After having several mysterious fevers and odd pains in the last few months, I know it's high time to fix it.

*Fun! I had so much fun on my husband's days off this week. We all did. And that is sooo rare these days. But we had some slightly nicer weather (well, it was above freezing at least), so we sacrificed some of our gasoline and drove to a beach. I packed our lunches, and some snacks and drinks, so all it cost us really was gas money. It was beautiful, and amazing and fun. We played in the sand and looked at rocks, and my toddler just basically ran in circles and threw rocks for 45 minutes. It was really, really nice. Despite the never-ending winter, it is pretty awesome to live in a place that has some things close by to do on the cheap. Coming from a place with no water, and no trees, and not much to do, it is a wonderful change.

* We spent $4 on new (to us) clothes. There is a tiny thrift store 2 blocks from me that had a clothing sale, $2/bag. To be honest, they didn't have a whole lot of good quality clothes in our sizes, but I think we all got one or two items. The reason it took two bags instead of one, is I got a big, bulky green sweater. I love it. Of course I'll probably have to put it away for next year soon, but hey, it'll be good to have it then too.

I think that's everything that can be considered progress this week, but it really helps me to see where things are improving. Because of rent, we were pretty much back to broke the day we got paid, and that never feels good. Listing out all the positive changes each week at least assures me we are not stagnating like we used to be. Any progress is better than none!

Hoping you all have a happy and productive week, and thanks for reading. :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Poverty Climb: Weekly Progress #10

After last week's misery , this week things are looking a little better. Why? We still don't have enough money for all our bills coming up, still need dental work, still need dr. appointments, etc. It is simply better because I allowed myself a bit of a break. I took about an hour and a half each day while my little one was sleeping, and did whatever I wanted. It was glorious. But of course, now I have lots to catch up on! There was a tiny bit of progress, so I'll document that here.

*I found a sample business plan for my exact business idea and downloaded it to my computer. Now I have almost a word for word guide of what it needs to look like. The business plan is essential for getting any kind of funding at all, whether it be a loan or a grant or an investor.

*Speaking of grants. I've been digging around to see what I can find on  grants. gov . It is a terribly slow process though; first because they have tons of grants, and second because each grant has very specific guidelines you have to meet. My impression is that I will not be able to get any grants through this site, because almost all are for some type of research. I have yet to find any that say "just a be a poor, white, woman with a business idea". Bummer.

*However! There are a few people who give loans with those criteria, and while the idea of a multi-thousand dollar loan is huge and scary (What if I fail? How will I pay them back? I'll be poor forever!!), it is something I've decided to consider. No risk, no reward. It just means that I have to at least be relatively certain I can turn a profit to make payments.

*And that comes down to research! Where I used to live before, it would almost be guaranteed because of the climate. However, now that we live in the frozen white north with a very short warm season, I'm hoping that  "location, location, location" can make up for that lack. While I live in a small town (~1400), it is pretty centrally located in a string of other towns along a highway, and has the added benefit of having some tourism, and sportsman draw in the summertime (big fishing river 2 blocks away).  While it seems logical to me, I haven't spent a summer here yet, so I don't know for sure. After this summer, I'll have more of an idea. As much as I want to get started RIGHT NOW, realistically (and all hinging on a loan or grant), it's probably going to be at least 1 more year before I can give it a shot.

*Everyone keeps asking me if I'm "still looking for a job". I had quit looking for awhile simply because I was doing so much babysitting, but that has dried up for now, so I will be looking again. My husband is dreading me finding one, because that means that he will be "working" 7 days a week, instead of being pampered on his days off. (Isn't that what stay at home moms do??) I've told him to make absolutely certain him getting 2 days off is worth not having any extra money before I quit looking. In the meantime, yes I am still trying to get set up with some freelance writing (no one wants a newbie!).

*Spring cleaning! We've had almost a whole week of sunshine and temps above freezing. Most of the snow and ice is gone, and I can see the dirt and a hint of green in the grass. Even though it is cold today and tomorrow, and we are due some more snow (probably the small amount needed to break the season record), it IS spring. And that means with all the sun coming in the windows, I can see exactly how icky my house is. Working on it!

*New shoes! Thanks to a fantastic Kmart special (one pair was $2.99!), I have 3 pairs of new spring shoes. 2 are just for normal activities, and 1 is for walking. Which is great because we have a trail by our house, and we've already been twice, but my snow boots gave me blisters. It is an AMAZING feeling to be able to throw away my old holey tennis shoes, even if I just have foam shoes to replace them. They are whole, they are light, and dare I say, a little bit cute too.

I think that's all for now, so thanks for reading!

Monday, March 17, 2014

My Week In A Poem

Bear with me while I attempt a poem, I am no great wordsmith, that's for sure. Just felt like a bit of self expression.

Also, it' sounds worse than it is...right??

Last night I couldn't sleep
because my tooth hurt so bad.
Can't go to the dentist yet,
there's no co-pay to be had.

I've been sick every few days
going on about six weeks now.
I need to see a doctor or two,
but I just don't see how.

I've been feeling sick and low,
so the house is dirty, I confess.
My husband  is always cranky now,
he hates coming home to the mess.

I made soup from old leftovers,
well seasoned to disguise the taste.
I wish I didn't have to feed my family that,
but we can't afford to waste.

I trimmed the mold off the bread
I was using to make my lunch.
I would love to go to Subway,
but even five dollars a meal is too much.

My stomach hurts today,
and I wonder from which thing I ate.
I regret prolonging the food,
as I get to the bathroom, late.

The baby naps and I cry alone,
struggling under all the demand.
This is not how I though it would be;
but life is so rarely what we planned.

We have some food and some nice things.
We have a roof, clothes, and a car.
When life feels too punishing,
I try to remember where my blessings are.

I have my family, my life, and my marriage,
everything worth staying alive.
But daily I sit and think to my self,
I don't just want to live,
                                     -I want to thrive.

Poverty Climb: Weekly Progress #9

Well I'll be honest, this is one of those backsliding weeks, where you look around and wonder what the heck happened.

Somehow, my husband messed up paying for his phone. He transferred the money out of savings, but then didn't fill in our bank register properly, so when the phone payment came out later than expected, it over-drafted us at the bank. So when his paycheck came in, we were already -$100. The $200+ left over was pretty much enough for gasoline, groceries, laundry money, his prescriptions, and his lunch a few days when I didn't have anything for him. We had $4 left yesterday.

 I tried to buy me and my kiddos a drink at the store and some pineapple juice for a recipe ($6), and all my cards were denied, and I had no cash, except my very precious laundry quarters. We left without everything, because after being denied for such a small purchase, I just wanted to get out of there. It was so embarrassing. You know that feeling.

The good news is,

* I will get some babysitting money tomorrow ($20). I will miss my husband, because he is surprisingly off, but we need the money too bad.

*I love my bed. I had forgotten what it was like to not hurt while IN bed, much less when you get up.

*I've been looking into making a business plan, finding out licensing info, and possibly getting a grant to start my business. I have made very little progress, so I'm not sure it counts, but hopefully it will count big time later.

*I've been researching doing the whole freelance writing thing. I have run into some roadblocks (the biggest being my doubt that I can do it), but I'm trying to work through those. I'm making a separate website for freelance writing as recommended, and also working on a sample piece to submit as an application to a company who has you write interviews in a "first person dramatic narrative."....I'm not ashamed to admit I had to google what exactly it was they wanted. Wish me luck!

*Did I mention I love having a real mattress? Still not sleeping great due to some health issues, but at least I can be comfortable while I lie awake in the middle of the night.

*The ice and snow melted. Ok, we had nothing to do with that, but it finally feels a bit like spring. We welcome the mood lift from it, and will hopefully use it to be productive.

I have a feeling the next couple of weeks are going to be even more of a struggle, every bill we have is due this week except rent. Which is due the week after. Ugh. But hopefully we can keep making some kind of progress. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Debt Collectors Are Just The Worst!

I always try to be nice, and judge people fairly, but my interaction with a debt collector today made me think that she took that job because she likes being nosy and judgmental. It left me feeling mad, sad, and just bad. (Hey, I'm a poet...) I just knew there had to be more in my past that would come back to bite us as we are trying to get on our feet.

After talking to several people about it, and reading similar stories on the internet, it seems like debt collectors are a perfect example of what is wrong with people's attitudes towards the poor, and makes it hard to not assume that a certain type of person is attracted to those positions. In less than 10  minutes time, she made me feel ungrateful, lazy, guilty, scummy, unworthy of respect, and just in general, not good enough. Here is a tiny excerpt from our long, horrible conversation:

Debt Collector: We need to make arrangements to pay these debts off.
Me: Yes I understand that, I'm perfectly willing, but I can't afford very muc- (rudely interrupted)
Debt Collector: Well how much CAN you afford?
Me: I can probably manage $10 a week.
Debt Collector: That is unacceptable! I have people on retirement, on a fixed income, who can pay $35 a week.
Me: That may be true, but I have a household of four and my husband is the only one working -
Debt Collector: Well are you even looking for a job to help pay the bills?
Me: Yes, I'm looking, I'm also doing other things in the meantime (she called while I was babysitting), but we've only had one car until recently and I have to find a way to get childcare-
Debt Collector: These are your debts to be paid! You owe this money for services rendered to you, and it is your responsibility to pay them.
Me: I understand that, I just told you that I would like to try and do that-
Debt Collector: (talking over me) That is unacceptable. By law I have to inform you that this is an attempt to collect a debt and any info (blah blah blah)
Me:  Seriously??

She hung up on me! I called back immediately and got an answering machine. The message I left was basically that I had attempted to make a payment arrangement on my debts and that she refused it an hung up on me. I said I wanted that on record, although I understand that probably counts for absolutely nothing.

It doesn't matter to her that I have been trying to pay off all my debts.
It doesn't matter to her that that is all I can afford.
It doesn't matter to her that there have been expenses and challenges and circumstances that have kept me from being able to afford more.
It doesn't matter to her that these are medical bills from an injury/illness that was not under my control, and that it kept me ill and from working for a looooong time.
It doesn't matter to her that sometimes you can't just go out and "take any job you can find" and make things work.
It doesn't matter to her that I'm babysitting for cash, because I should have "a real job".
It doesn't matter to her that there are some things more important than money when you have a family, and you have to balance the two.

But these things don't matter to her, and they don't matter to anyone who judges low-income families. But, gosh darn it, it should freaking matter. I sincerely hope her, and anyone like her, never has to suffer any of these things, but I also wish everyone would do the human thing and care.

Dear Debt Collector;

I care. I care about my debt, I know that it is mine, and I know I have a responsibility to pay it back. I care about paying it back.
I also care about you, and no matter how upset you made me, I did not make you feel subhuman even though your words hinted at an attitude that is exactly that.
I hope you are really not that judgmental, because if you are, then you are exactly what is wrong with this world.

Despite that fact, I will STILL try to pay back my debt, but I'm going over your head.


Maybe she actually hates it. Maybe it really sucks to go home after a long day of work, where everyone hates you and is angry at you, but you have to pay your own bills. Maybe she's just angry because her situation was at one time desperate enough to even take a job like this. I think I prefer having sympathy for her, rather than just strongly disliking her.

Also, for anyone who is in the same situation, this is an enlightening read. This is copied and pasted from a Yahoo! question.

Can debt collection agencies refuse to set up a payment plan with you if you are trying to settle a debt?


I've been a bill collector for the past two years, most of that time spent in an agency that collects for hospitals. 

To answer your question: 

YES, a collection agency can refuse a payment plan. They can also take legal action (if the original creditor allows it) against you EVEN IF YOU ARE MAKING REGULAR PAYMENTS. When an account reaches the collection stage, the balance is due in full. :( 

In most circumstances, the hospital (like any other creditor) has offered their "idea" of a payment arrangement prior to her account reaching collections; Several letters and phone calls should have been made to the patient asking for some sort of repayment. If it has gone to collections, there is NO obligation the collector OR the agency to accept a minimal payment plan. 

Collectors often push debtors to take out large loans because they want an immediate commission. Don't read too much into that, it's the first thing they are motivated by: Immediate payment. 

First, talk to the insurance company. A great deal of claims are paid incorrectly and the insured is actually due more coverage than originally given. Go over every inch of her policy, and ask for the medical records to substantiate her care. Sometimes, insurance companies deny based on incorrect coding, so make sure that the line items match up to the care she received. 

If you cannot find anything to dispute in the bill or with the insurance company, your next step is actually back to the hospital. A client/creditor can pull the account from collections at any time, and they stand to make more money in the long run by collecting the bill themselves than by letting the collection agency handle it. Try to convince them that she will make arrangements directly with them, offer to sign an agreement. Getting the account out of collections as soon as possible is your goal! 

If your sister finds a way to get a loan, try it with the hospital FIRST, as the collection agency will only discount the bare minimum. Another route when dealing with the hospital would be to have your sister write a letter, explaining that she is grateful for the care she was given and include why she cannot pay. Address this letter to the Board of Directors and ask if her account can be written off to charity care. Most non-for-profit hospitals MUST give away a certain amount of free health care services each fiscal year in order to maintain their non-for-profit status. Include her recent bank statements, check stubs, utilities and rent, all of her life expenses so that the hospital can see that she has no means to pay. 

Lastly, make sure that the collection agency is not breaking the law!!! Look up the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). These laws were made to protect consumers from being exploited, abused, and otherwise treated unfairly when having their bill resolved through a 3rd party. Document the name of each collector, time and date of call. Make sure that she is not being called more than once in a day, that they are not calling her place of business if she has already expressed to them that she is not allowed personal calls during work. There are also stipulations against a collection agency TELLING THE CONSUMER THAT THEY WILL TAKE ACTIONS THAT THEY HAVE NO AUTHORIZATION TO TAKE! Often, collectors will scare debtors into thinking that they will go through legal action, when in fact, the original creditor has given no such permission. Make sure that they are not giving you empty threats. 

Report any violations to the Federal Trade Commission or your State's Attorney General. That will SURELY get rid of a bill collector :) 

Sometimes, getting a bill resolved just falls under speaking with a collector who is an honest and decent person, which is very hard to find in that market. I do my job well; I service the company that I work for, but I never forget that I am there to help someone in need.  (Why couldn't I get a debt collector like this??)

Another thing I found out, is that there is a statute of limitations on debt, meaning that they can't sue you on a debt over a certain age (varies by state).  Pretty much any threat they make is empty. BUT! If they get you to make a payment on it, the statute of limitations starts over, and it is legally collectible/sue-able.  Now my debt is relatively small (no longer in the tens of thousands range), and I intend to pay it, but for someone stuck in a situation where they absolutely can't afford to, to make any kind of payment on it after the statute of limitations has passed would make things much worse for them. 

Yes, totally punishing honesty and keeping people trapped in the cycle of poverty. Way to go, bill collectors.

Ok, rant over for today. I know that was long, so thanks if you stuck with me all the way until the end. I at least hope the information helped someone, since the ranting was pretty much for my own benefit. :)



Monday, March 10, 2014

Poverty Climb: Weekly Progress #8

You';ll have to excuse me please, I know these haven't exactly been "weekly" for about a month and a half now, but I'm trying to get back on the wagon, so I'm going to leave the title the same!

As for progress this week, we are really just still riding the wave of all the progress made with our tax return. Bills are still caught up, the pantry is still full. With spring whispering to us with temperatures above freezing, we've decided we really need to focus on our health, and so have been buying a little bit healthier things to eat and making healthier meals. While there is no progress yet in terms of weight loss, just being able to focus on something other than eating purely for survival is better than a few months ago.

Sadly we did have to take some money out of savings this week, because we needed some shelves desperately, and my husband had to have a new phone for work. A smart phone. Ugh, those are ridiculously expensive! But it saves him from having to carry around big stacks of paper etc. while also trying to carry big boxes of wood. And hey, we didn't deplete it, and it was there when we needed it. I can say with 100% certainty, that we should have focused on saving money loooooooong ago. I honestly believe it makes such a big difference that may even be the key to getting out of poverty. I will elaborate on that in a future post.

Also, after posting about wanting to start a small business to help us get out of poverty, I got a lot of wonderful comments and suggestions. I am looking into/researching all of it at the moment. I'm also going to edit the post with everything I find out, because the tone of it was rather hopeless, but I want others in my position to have some when they come reading! The minute possibility that I could get a grant to start it makes my heart pound with excitement and hope. I've got to see if I can get one!! My goodness, the changes that would make. I can barely, breathlessly imagine it. To be able to share that kind of good news with others with terribly low income, but a good business idea, would be awesome.

In the meantime, I've taken on some baby sitting for extra cash, because I don't need a babysitter myself to do it! It gets a little hectic, and a lot tiring (understatement), but it's extra money.

Oh, oh! Also! Ohmygosh. A family member had a spare queen size mattress and box springs that had been waiting for us for at least a month, but we didn't have a vehicle to get it home, until our tax return came and we bought a small SUV. We brought it home last night, and I just have so say, having an honest to goodness, real bed can make everything look better. Add in the fact that it's insanely comfortable as well, and we are both in a pretty good mood today. It's not perfect, or new, but it's a real mattress and not an air mattress, so it helps both our aches and pains, and it's a pillow top, which, wow, if you've never laid on one, is amazing. I've never in my life laid on or slept on a pillow top, and y'all, it feels like you're laying on a cloud. I feel so lucky and blessed, and happy. My toddler has been sleeping through the night for about a month, and now I can too! Haha. Yay!

I want to again thank all of you who continue to read & comment, and share in my successes and challenges. Poverty is such an isolating thing most of the time, I'm super grateful to have a computer & internet to use to negate that. You've all been wonderful!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Is starting a small business a viable way of getting out of poverty? Completely viable, but not likely.

(This is not a post asking for money, rather trying to make a point, please read the whole thing!!)

Is starting a small business a viable way of getting out of poverty?

Ok, so the short answer, I believe, is yes.

Everyone has at some point heard a story of a struggling family or individual who decides to take a chance and start a business, and while they may not become "rich", they do manage to bring themselves up into a more comfortable bracket. How do they do that?

Well, I've been researching it. This is a really very simplified, superficial list, but basically -

1) You have to have a skill/talent/idea that you think would make a viable, profitable business.
2) You have to have an idea of a location that would help boost your business, instead of hinder it by limited access or exposure.
3) You have to have AT LEAST a basic understanding of financial concepts, such as cost, profit, budgets, overhead, etc. and the intelligence to learn more as your business grows.
4)You have to have at least a basic list of supplies you would need to start and sustain your business, as well as a list of suppliers of those items.
5)You need to be aware of and apply for any permits or licenses required in your county/state to operate a small business. These all cost money of course, anywhere from $40 to several hundred depending.
6) You have to have money to make money. You have to have some kind of capital, either from friends and family, savings, or a loan, in order to start your business and sustain it until it at least breaks even.

It is my belief that all of these things can be done by any reasonably intelligent person regardless of financial situation, EXCEPT of course, the last one.

The real question is, how does someone who can barely pay the rent and feed their families at the same time, come up with the money to start a business, to make the money to improve their situation?

Many business owners get their capital from friends and family investors, or business loans, again from friends or family, but mostly likely a bank.

THIS is where the poverty cycle traps people. People who are trying so hard to improve their lives the same way others have.

The friends and family members of people stuck in poverty have usually been borrowed from before, and therefore unwilling to invest, or stuck in similar financial situations and unable to. For example, the most likely person I could ask for monetary help for a small business would be my mom - but she's a retiree living on $600/mo with no savings, and credit similar to mine.

Banks are really no help to people in poverty. They see you as a giant risk, unlikely to pay off. You have bad credit, and not enough of your own income to pay them back if you go under. You can't get even a small loan without a co-signer (family & friends can't help you, where are you supposed to find one?). If you do somehow manage to find someone, you will likely be slapped with insane interest rates, which are more likely to make your business fail early when you can't afford the payments.

So, what now? Here you are, desperate, but not yet broken. You work as hard as you can for so little, despite always hearing "if you just worked harder..." Honestly, you physically cannot work any harder, but you've got this idea to work smarter. If you could just get started, there is a pretty good likelihood that if you devoted all your hard work to this idea instead of padding your employer's pockets, that you could literally and measurably improve your life and the life of your family, and yes, even the life of others. All you need is just enough money to start.

Again the question, how does someone who can barely pay the rent and feed their families at the same time, come up with the money to start a business, to make the money to improve their situation? The answer is, they don't. Not without a lot of luck, or winning the lottery.

I've heard so many people sneer at the poor for spending money on lottery tickets. And I'm not even talking about the super big life-of-luxury jackpot, we all know that the chances are so small as to be nil, I'm talking about scratch-offs and daily prizes. We play for a chance at a much smaller prize. My "grand dream" is just to be able to support my family well with all our hard work.

$5000 would give me the chance I need to make my business happen and make it so that I can support my family. Me, and so many others. Just that much. A bigger sum would help it happen faster, but a smaller sum would probably just go to bills and groceries.

When your fairly secure in your finances, it is so easy to look them and say, "You need to be spending that money someplace else." Factually true I suppose, but when your poor you see it this way - $10 will buy my whole family one extra meal this week, or $10 buys us the chance to never be hungry again - which would you chose?

You could send your kids to college and help them break the poverty cycle of your family for good. You could go to the food bank as a donor instead of as a case. You wouldn't ever again find yourself eating around rotten spots on food just to make sure none goes to waste and you get a little bit more to eat.  All you need is a (relatively) small lump sum to get your supplies, and location, and permits.And that, sadly, is completely out of reach for the poor.

Did you hear that sound? It was the sound of so many dreams being crushed.

So, for now, I will occasionally spend $5 hoping to win a small prize. And I will wait until next tax season in the hopes that we can use our return to really improve our lives instead of on things we need short term. Or the tax return after that. Or the next. And IF I ever get that lump sum to start my business, and my business does as well as I think it will, and I can grow my business and my profits, and finally be at the point of "thriving"....I'm going to offer small business loans to poor people, no credit score required! Five to ten thousand dollars is not too much to risk to help people help themselves.

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