Have you ever been so broke that you can only eat one menu for several days? For example, you gotta eat pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Well, I’m almost in that situation. And the worst part is that…. my daughter doesn’t even like pancakes!!
These last years I have trained myself to be a good administrator of my only income: child support. Living with less than $700 a month is a challenge. People would consider my financial status as living in misery. But let me tell you, even if the same menu has to be repeated in a single day; we’ve never gone to bed hungry.
I have five pointers on how to survive with such a low income in a high cost of life island like Puerto Rico. An example of what I mean is: a gallon of milk here costs $6.00 and if it’s lactose-free, the half-gallon will cost that same amount. I don’t pay less than $40 a month for electricity and water is no less than $24 monthly.
My situation got really bad in 2010 when I lost my government job when the Governor and his supporters decided to lay off 20,000 employees. I was one of them. Since then, after losing my car, my credit, and my 3 room apartment…I had to make many decisions. I will share a very small part of what I have learned during these years. These are my five pointers:
1) Trust God. Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want”.
He still has everything under control. He will supply for every single one of our needs. He will never fail. Men will lie, cheat, rob and pursue you; but God will fight for you…always!
2) Obey God and tithe. The first money that we should separate is the money that belongs to God. Numbers 18:21 “I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them…”
A lot of people discuss and disagree about this point. But the truth is that when you give to God with a happy and thankful heart; He is Faithful and you will always have enough to live. This has been my experience and it has NEVER failed.
3) Be a good administrator and pay your bills first. You must have a budget. Don’t live beyond it. The first bills I always pay are rent, electricity, water, internet, cell phone. After you’re done with those, then you can plan to have miscellaneous. I also pay Netflix, Piano lessons for my daughter, gasoline and other stuff.
Sometimes, extraordinary expenses will come. Like in this month, for example, I had to spend on some screens for the windows. I’ve been living in this two room apartment for 3 years and the screens didn’t fit well and were all torn and broken. I had an invasion of insects, including too many deadly mosquitoes like the Aedes Aegypti, the one that causes the mortal dengue illness. I had to make a decision before the warmer weather comes. So I made a budget and bought the screens, but I knew that this month was long and I would have to risk having less food at the end of it.
4) Don’t be selfish and give. It’s better to give than to receive.
Even though you may not have much; you have to be willing to share of what you have. My car may not be the latest model; but if somebody needs a lift, I have to be willing to help in any way I can. I am poor; but if I make a budget, I may be able to sponsor a child in a different country. There are always people who are going through worst financial crisis than ourselves.
5) Be thankful to God for everything! In scarce or in abundance; always be thankful to God.
Don’t be pessimist; that is too contagious. If you want to reflect the joy of God in your life; thank Him that you got to live through another day. There are so many simple things in life that don’t involve money. The treasures in life are: the time you spend with family and friends, a sunny day, music, the sound of thunder or rain when it falls, your pets….so many beautiful things.
Count your blessings; you will see there are so many of them, that you will find that they are all priceless!