Image Credit: KMR Photography
A recent study came out saying that half of Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque. We’re just going to file this under, “Duh. Water is wet, and also rain falls from the sky.”
In all honesty, I’m surprised the percentage isn’t higher. Housing prices in Canada are obnoxiously high, renting is no longer the “cheaper option”, the price of food is consistently rising, and let’s not even discuss gas. I have no idea how any of us live properly. We are most certainly paying for the supposed utopia we live in. But yes, FREE HEALTHCARE, AMIRIGHT?
Here are my helpful and handy tips for those of you new to this business of living paycheque to paycheque:
1. Pretend That Everything is OKAY
Money isn’t everything, right? It doesn’t bring you happiness. You are perfectly happy and content.
Bullshit. Only people who don’t have just $20 to spend at the grocery store for two weeks of groceries have the freedom to say this garbage. None of us want money to be happy, we just want it to live, scratch that, survive.
Go between dry heaving, ignoring the situation, ugly crying, and feeling dead on the inside while plastering a smile on your face.
2. Cheap Meals That You Totally, Absolutely LOVE
They are the best meals, aren’t they? Someone needs to pay attention to the thoughtful way you stretch that pound of ground beef over three meals. Chopped? You’d win that show for damn sure (and then have $10,000 to spend at the grocery store). Now that I think of it, there should be a poor person version of that show; Nothing like poverty to bring out creative genius.
You will spend endless hours budgeting, trying to figure out where to put money, how to find money, how to stretch that penny just a tad further (even though it doesn’t even exist anymore). In between, you’ll daydream or Google ways to make your kids stop growing, how to coupon like those people on television do, and realize, “I still have no money.”
Our personal budget is the following: a) Hope the paycheque is higher than expected b) The money will go to this bill, this one, this one and this one and/or c) Have a panic attack because you have $3.46 left over.
4. Learn To Bill Shuffle Like A Motherfucking Boss
This is a fun game (Can you see how I’m dying on the inside when I say this? Look closer). It goes a little something like this:
Jane has X amount of dollars, and Y amount of bills. She doesn’t have enough for all her bills. Which bill should she pay this month? Which one will let her pay just a little now and more later? Which one is about to be shut off?
Solve for Z.
Hint: It’s a trick question. Jane isn’t going to win.
5. Stay Positive!
It won’t always be like this. It can’t be. I think this is a stage of grief. Denial? It’s denial.
6. Keep Trying to Stay Positive!!!!
7. Spin That Negativity
It could be worse! Yes! Okay, sure, it could be. It’s been worse. It’s always worse after Christmas. And before. Ah, shit.
8. Repeat Steps 5-7
9. Count The Days Until Next Payday
Your daily prayer isn’t to Jesus, it’s to whatever religious entity that will hear your pleas and speed up time:
“We can do this. It’s not that long.”
Fuck this whole, “paycheque to paycheque” shit. It’s like paycheque to ten days to paycheque. If I can survive until the day before we get paid, with money still in our bank? GODDAMN, that’s a bloody miracle.
10. Check Your Bank Account
Do this at least a dozen times a day, if only to further your anxiety and depression about having no money but just in case you were mysteriously gifted those millions from that Prince that keeps spamming you.
11. Take So Much Advice
You know what poor people love? Advice. We love it so damn much, almost as much as we love the 1% who bitch about higher taxes and social programs. WE JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH.
Here’s a true story: The bank called my husband to help him with our finances. Then they said they could not because shit was real, and we look good on paper until you look at the fine print. They could, however, help us give them money under the guise of “saving it”. But they could not tell us where to find the goddamn money.
“You have more money than you think,” they said. No, you douchecanoes, we do not. You cannot save money when you have no money to save.
12. Marry Wisely*
Everyone always says, “Marry for love, not money.” Maybe not everyone, but my Mother totally said it. She also told me that I should marry a nice Mormon boy and we all know how that worked out. But you know who also says that? Rich people. They think they are being wise with all their precious anecdotes but you just know they are making sweet, sweet love on a bed of colorful cash while you are over here with the goddamn love of your life contemplating the various ways you can make ramen noodles seem different, a possible career in stripping, while trying not to have an existential crisis, because what is this life even? I mean, I’m not saying that you should marry for money, but asking for a paystub or a five year plan on the first date, ain’t a terrible idea.
*I love my husband. Very much. I’d maybe love him more if he was that aforementioned Prince? Maybe.
So here’s to all of us, living paycheque to paycheque, being general badasses, making it work (even though it isn’t really), pretending it is, and holding onto that thread of hope that one day, it’ll get better.
It gets better, right?
(You can lie to me, I can’t handle the truth and I sure as hell cannot afford it).