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What the ‘less fortunate’ want you to know

You know those conversations in your head you wish you could say to people’s faces? You’re about to hear one.

In writing Divas On A Dime, I learn from people who struggle financially. I’ve learned “broke” is a relative term where some have very little while others fight to keep what they have. This time of year we all want to lend a helping hand so I’m going to speak on behalf of your less fortunate family and friends. Here is what they’d tell you if they could:

I won’t tell you I’m broke because it’s really embarrassing. If you invite me to a restaurant, I’ll tell you I already have plans. I won’t tell you that you’ll probably spend more on that one meal than I spend on groceries for a week. If you want to share a meal with me, invite me to your home and make it potluck so I can contribute something. Etiquette requires that I reciprocate and if it’s potluck it won’t be such a hardship on me later. Let’s spend time together because that’s most important.

I have enough peanut butter. Most people who are in need qualify for food stamps. This means that although I may not be able to pay my bills, I have food on the table. But there are necessities that can’t be purchased with food stamps. Things like toilet paper, laundry detergent and dish soap, feminine hygiene products, shampoo, deodorant and pet food. If you plan to donate to a food bank or other charity this time of year, please consider donating these items.

It’s hard for me to ask for help. In fact, I probably won’t and even if you offer I’ll probably say no. Accepting help is humbling. But if you do offer and I accept, please come through. I know a guy whose family promised to pay for gas if he drove to another state for Christmas. He made the drive and never got paid and was too embarrassed to ask. My friend and his family spent the next several months barely scraping by because of that unexpected expense.

For Christmas please ask me what my family needs. I know you want to spoil us with luxuries we can’t afford but I have to be practical. Please, be mindful of gifts that require batteries I can’t afford to replace. I won’t enjoy that gift certificate for a pedicure when my kids need shoes. If you really want to help consider a gift card I can spend anywhere and give it before Christmas so I can use it to buy gifts and a tree. You could also pay part of my electric bill. Just call Valley Electric and give them my address so I can use that money for other things this month.

But mostly I need you to be supportive, not just now but all year long. I need your encouragement to stay positive and motivated because it’s tough out there. Even when I do get another job it’ll be a while before I dig out of this hole. But I can get through this if you’ll stand with me and hold my hand.

Food for thought contributed by Patti Diamond, author of Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! Facebook – DivasOnADimeDotCom www.divasonadime.com.

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