Couple of weeks ago my son, who is just twelve years old, came back from school and announced that he will ‘…beat ten bags of sh*t out of this stupid b*stards who are dissing him for being poor’. Now, usually our son is not allowed to get away with using this kind of language; I am not a purist but the rule is that sons are allowed to swear when they are old enough to judge whether this is appropriate.
In this case, the message disturbed me more that the language; my son was threatening to beat up some kids (well, not just any kids; he grew up with these boys) because they offended and upset him; and they offended and upset him by calling him ‘poor’. When we talked about it for a bit, it turned out that they were saying things like ‘You are too poor to get a house’ (which is rubbish because our house is about twice the size of the houses they live in) and ‘You are too poor to afford clothes!’ (which is not true; we just don’t let designer clothes affect our identities).
That the boys were simply trying to upset our son, however, became clear when he told me how they taunted him that he can’t ride a bike. For the record, he’s been riding a bike since he was four years old (without stabilisers) and spends most of his holidays on his BMX doing tricks. He is also good on skateboards, roller-blades and at any sport that involves hitting a ball. But this is beyond the point; what I want to ask is:
Since when being c*rap at sports and being poor are similar kind of offences?
When I was a kid, we were raised to see poverty as a predicament – one that we can help alleviate with individual action (charity, help and support) or broader social reform (the welfare state, for instance).
It seems to me that transferring responsibility for financial welfare entirely to the individual, that is to a great degree the domain of personal finance but the message is everywhere, may be leading the next generation to see the state of being poor as a personal failing; just like not being able to ride a bike. Hence, from a predicament (or a problem) poverty is becoming a diss!
Do I need to tell you that my son got away with the language he used? And that he probably learned quite a few punchy words in the three languages I speak? Well, he did and it counts as language tuition! Apart from that, I had to go into quite a bit of history and social theory to explain exactly why being poor is not offensive!
Now, let me move to the articles around the blogosphere that caught my attention during the last fortnight (to my readers in the US: ‘two weeks).
I’ll open with an article by Edward from Edward Antrobus; he thinks of himself as a ‘personal finance contrarian’ and this time he really lives up to it. At a time when most American bloggers are dishing out advice on how to do your tax return so that it balances, Edward says: ‘Hey, guys, I really don’t care about that. In fact, I see receiving a big income tax return not as the dumb thing you are trying to presented it to be, but as a great way of saving.’ Talking about swimming against the flow! But Edward has a good point here.
OK, call it mid-life crisis if you wish but lately I have been really sensitised to all issues of retirement. I call it obsessive worrying: for three years I worried about paying off the debt and now this is gone I need a new focus. This is why, the seven questions Marie suggested we should ask before retirement made me think. But then I started receiving advertisements for people over 55; which is annoying.
Fitness is an issue; driving to the corner shop is a shame with serious consequences. Mr Money Mustache’s April challenge caught my eye: if you are going place that is less than 5 miles away from your house leave the car in the drive. Use other means of transportation like ride your bike or walk. And he means business: have a look at the chart he is using!
I have been trying to stay off debt – I don’t have it, try not to write about it and, as you will notice unsuccessfully, don’t read about it. One thing I have learned in my life though is flexibility is the highest virtue; hence this rule has exceptions. How can I resist when my friend Jai (yes, the same Jai who designed TMP logo) is on the move in personal finance again; go read what he learned about debt!
Today, I’ll leave you with two blogs that I found only last week and enjoyed reading. Go check them out:
Paid to Exist is Jonathan Mead’s baby and on it you can find productivity hacks that run against the usual ‘be super organised’ advice. Being a chaotic creative I really appreciate this. Don’t believe me? Read this article.
Last but not least, how did TMP do?
During the last two weeks TMP was included in the following personal finance carnivals:
Finally, I would like to ask a favour. A very close friend of mine is in hospital with bad back (a long story) – please send wishes, prayers or anything you do for speedy recovery. Elaine from Mortgage Free in Three needs us and her two young boys need her!
This is all for tonight; speak soon.