It’s easy to get caught up in your own financial situation and forget about the world around you. You can spend a lot useless energy feeling sorry for yourself and telling yourself that everyone has it better than you.
But the reality is that there are millions of Americans facing a struggle everyday just to provide the very basics of food, clothing and shelter for their families.
I like to think that “I’m the cheapskate, I could survive on a low income,” but in reality, it is really, really, really hard to live on a low income with only $1,000 to your name – particularly when you live in an area where the cost of living is high.
The scenario begins like this: Your savings are gone. You’ve lost your house and you’re down to your last $1,000. You start by finding a low paying job and as the days of the month play out, you have to make decisions that affect your career, your health, your relationships, and your finances.
There are no easy answers. Choices you make have unexpected consequences. Even seemingly simple decisions are made more difficult by the threat of having more month than money.
I’ve played Spent about a dozen times now, but have only made it to the end of the month twice with any money left. They are hollow victories. They are heartbreaking reminders of the millions who live in poverty every day.
Some financial experts recommend starting with a $1,000 emergency fund and then building it to 6 to 8 months of your income. After spending some time with Spent, the $1,000 seems ridiculous, and even 8 months of your income in savings seems like it wouldn’t be enough.
I don’t have any answers when it comes to eliminating poverty or helping those who are unemployed. But I do know that those of us who don’t face this daily struggle with poverty can do more. We can support our local homeless shelters, volunteer at community soup kitchens, donate to our local food shelves. We can help an out-of-work friend with childcare or give them a ride to a job interview.
We can all do something. See what I mean after you play Spent.