Imagine having to scour the paper for store coupons that allow you to save fifty cents or eight cents, or to get two items for the price of one. Imagine piling them up, then planning a trip to town to shop at three different stores to take advantage of those coupons. Imagine taking two very young, very active children with you, parking and then trekking around town on foot to three grocery stores to shop.
It is what we did and have done for the past 30 years.
Making 'ends meet' is not just a phrase. It is a way of life for many women. We are two of them. It has become a challenge to meet on a daily basis. We're not whining, just stating facts.
Make no mistake, we have worked throughout our lives, except a brief period when one of us was faced with cancer.
Over the years, we have managed to put nutritious food on the table, a roof over our heads and provide clothes for ourselves and our offspring, always putting them first, as is the case for most 'single' women raising children alone. And we have chosen a minimalist lifestyle to go along with that.
We have concluded that there are many tips we can share that show how to live well on a household income below the poverty line.
By 'poverty line', we refer to that measured by Statistics Canada's Low Income Cut Offs (LICOs). Statistics Canada breaks down household income into five categories; the LICOs delimit the lowest quintile.
For the purposes of this blog, we stress that our total household incomes are even lower than the line marking off the lowest fifth. Each of our households is in the lowest tenth income bracket. That puts us one step away from living on the street, in an automobile or couch surfing.
In some communities outside major urban centres, life lived at or near the LICO is equal, or comes close to a middle-class lifestyle. Where you live matters.