Middle Class Accomplishments in Being Poor


There is a sense of victory in getting from one paycheque to another within dollars. It’s unusual for me, or at least looking at my bank account since I started earning paycheques. There have been times in the last two to four years when it was somewhat of a sport, but for the most part I’m frugal enough to have a cushion even in my day-to-day banking account balance.

It’s since getting a giddily large  tax refund this year that I’ve had that cushion. I put a lot of it to savings and had other big-ticket items on the list for the rest of it to go towards, and over the past few months most of those big-ticket items have been bought and paid for. The grand total of a trip out west for a family wedding and a little bit of recreational travel has come and gone, and so have the funds allocated for it. I get to save money over the next two months by being anchored at home and in libraries to study for an exam that I’ve paid several hundred to take. This is why – along with paying bills weeks before their due date for the sake of getting them out of the way – I have roughly $7 left. It’s not enough to take out of an ATM and most debit purchases (which I never make anyway – all about cash and credit) don’t hit that mark. I had $2.99 in change on me today until I spent $2.67 of it at Tim Horton’s so my “disposable” money at the moment falls short of eight dollars.

I’m getting paid tomorrow, which is part of the glory of coming to this total. It’s safely at the very end of the pay period, and I get back to a responsible amount of accessible funds shortly after midnight, or whenever the bank decides to wake up and officially process my pay. I can depend on this – I work for a payroll company. That’s one employer I can rely on for this kind of thing.

One of my biggest accomplishments in having money so small was the first payday after traveling for three months. I had survived the expensive pursuit with $3.48 to spare before payday. And then on payday, I also had $3.48. The payroll department neglected to process my pay. I entered my hours worked and my manager approved them, but somebody in the payroll department two provinces away fucked up. This is when I worked for the government, and take what you will from that either confirming your cynicism about the bureaucratic incompetence our tax dollars fund or being shocked that such a safe and comfortable employer (pfft hahaha) would not pay someone.

I had no immediate bills to pay or rent due so it was something I survived, and I got to see my union dues at work in getting me some kind of payment for time worked in a shorter period than the clerk actually wanted to bother with. This being a mid-month pay with everything taken care of for August but the last half’s daily cash, not getting paid tomorrow wouldn’t leave me in immediate ruin. But I know that won’t happen. That is why I can afford the comfort, the luxury, of celebrating $7 left in my account. And by some spenders’ standards, even that is impressively high.


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