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Saturday, August 28, 2010


I've been doing some research this morning on income guidelines for various services in Indiana. Our oldest son (8th grade) was approved for the 21st Century Scholarship when he entered 6th grade. Thankfully that was a rough year for us, and our income was low enough to get approved for this. Sadly, we have recovered financially and now it looks like we are no going to meet the income guidelines for our daughter to receive the same scholarship. While I am super bummed about that, I am grateful for the income increase!

As I reviewed the state's income guidelines for a family of 6 I was sort of taken back. In order to receive services we would have to make less than $54,000 a year. For a family of 6. This is the high end, mind you.

We would have to do a whole lot more than modify our living arrangements. We'd have to completely start over to work with that budget. We'd be forced to live in a very small house, or rent in the inner city where crime is high and childhood's a rough.

Don't get me wrong...I'd do all of that and then some if we had to. Hell...I'd live in a tent if we had to. I just think it's very sad...that a middle class family such as ours works hard to keep out heads above water, and lower income families get more benefits on top of their pay than we make in a year.

A friend of mine receives $800 a month in food assistance. She doesn't work, and neither does her boyfriend. He works the occasional odd job for a month or so at a time. Meanwhile my husband works 5 days a week, and I work part-time outside of the home, and we should have just $400 budgeted for food from our income, based on budget calculators.

How does this make sense?

I'm not saying that lower income families do not need/deserve this help. I'm just confused why a family of four gets so much in food assistance when the recommended allowance of 12% of income for food comes to $400 for an income of $54,000.

Mind you, we make more than $54,000 and we spend more than $400 a month on food...but based on this budget, how does someone whom makes $12,000 a year receive so much more than the state says I require to feed my family of 6?

This is all so confusing that I don't even think I am getting my point accross here, but I just feel like these numbers don't add up.

Don't even get me started on the medical expenses!


  1. I couldn't agree more! My SIL gets food stamp benefits and she cannot use them all, offers to buy food for other people (which is kinda sweet, not sure how I feel about her giving away "our" money), makes trades for other things she needs. Its pretty messed up.

  2. Messed up indeed. We've always tried to do the right thing and make it on our own. I work, and basically take time away from 4 children for an extra $700/month income after childcare expenses. Some people think I am a bad mother for working, but if I didn't work we'd not have savings.

    I just don't feel right about sending my children out into the real world and sayig "Sorry I cannot help you with college expenses kid. I choose to stay at home and give you a great childhood instead. Have a great life"

    I try to balance it. I only work when they are in school, and am home to see them off to school, and am back when they get time for all practice schedules, etc. I still feel horrbily guilty about Aiden being in PreK...but I keep reminding myself that I am doing this for the greater good...and then I suddenly smell my neighbors steaks on the grill that they purchased w/assistance and I just cannot help but feel...robbed.

    I work, I scrimp, and I save...and they don't. They don't stress about the grocery bill, medical expenses, text book fees, school lunch money, college expenses, etc. It's just messed up!

    *sigh* I know we are doing the right thing here, even though it doesn't feel that way.

  3. Lety, I get exactly what you are saying. $800 is a LOT in food stamps - you are right that doesn't make sense. You already know some of my other thoughts on this topic from my FB. Unfortunately, it is indeed the middle class that gets squeezed the most. I certainly don't have any answers. But I will admit it's something I struggle with - as a flaming liberal who never, ever complains about paying taxes, it's hard to reconcile sometimes my very strong belief in income redistribution and social safety nets, with the resentment that sometimes sneaks in when you see people taking advantage of the system. Sometimes I just look at it as this: I very strongly believe that we need to have programs to help those who really need help (and I know you do too). We will never be able to design a perfect system that allocates things perfectly only to those who really need them and not to people who are taking advantage of the system. So I just remind myself that unfortunately those advantage-takers are the price we pay to have the systems in place for those that really do need them. Not that it makes it OK, but...

    On another note, Lety don't you dare ever feel bad for the time you spend working. Seriously, don't, especially with the arrangement you have. Just yesterday I was commenting to my dad that despite the guilt that sometimes comes with daycare, there are some really awesome things about it too. Now, of course I am finding having Mary in daycare 3 days instead of 5 much more palatable, but I don't feel even a tiny bit bad for the 3 days (about 26-27 hours total) per week she spends there. She LOVES school! She seriously does - she has SOOO much fun, and I love it when she surprises me with something she has learned there! She is being exposed to so much both cognitively and socially. So don't feel guilty for having Aiden in Pre-K - at ALL! I'm sure it is a great balance for him, I am sure he is loving it, and I am sure he will thrive!