10/14/12

New Reality Television Show: Paycheck to Paycheck (P2P)




Seriously.  If you see this on Bravo or Discovery Channel in the next few months, you let me know.  Because this is totally my idea.

Here's the premise:  focus on a couple different families every week.  And you know what?  Make one of them a financially comfy family, the other one a family that knows how to do the paycheck-to-paycheck two-step.  Give them a paycheck to live on.  I guess I haven't really thought out the details because I have no idea how much to pay them.  But give them the paycheck, give them bills to pay for and kids to spend money on and groceries and gas to buy.

Basic rules are:  You don't have credit to fall back on when you run out of money.  You must pay for all essential items:  housing, utilities, food, etc.  Extra points or credit (haven't thought of a scoring system yet, either) for creativity...stretching the budget, finding a way to raise extra cash, etc.

I would dominate on this show.

I'm finally getting to the point, financially, where I have a few good weeks here and there, when I'm left with a little sumpin' sumpin' in the checking account at the end of the day. But I don't let it go to my head.  I don't have a savings account, I don't have a retirement account or a 401k or anything fancy like that.  Those are things I lost in my divorce, and those are things I hope to have again, someday.  Until then, I am the Queen of the P2P (what all the cool people call living paycheck-to-paycheck).

I have been in pure survival mode since October 2008, and although I've become used to it, I pray the day never comes when I am comfortable with it.  Being in this mode, this "we just have to get through the next month, the next week...the next day" mode, it is a scary way to live.

Scary, yes...but damn if I haven't honed my survival skills to a razor-sharp point.

I have a few friends who have danced to the P2P music, of course I will never share their names but suffice it to say, that old adage of misery loving company is true.  I knew I loved one of these friends when she laid the truth on me one afternoon:  "Paper towels are a luxury item".  We cackled as only people who understand that sentence can.

Not to say that living the P2P lifestyle is one of misery:  it's not all that bad.  One good thing about living like this is you become almost hyper-aware of the absolute GOOD in life.  There's nothing like circling the drain to make one appreciate the little things.  And I mean the little things, trust me.

Living like this has taught me how to be flexible, how to make sure the essentials are covered.  It's almost like managing to use that last tiny chunk of butter in the dish to cover your toast.  Is that toast going to taste as awesome as it would with a big ol' slab of buttery goodness?  Nope.  But by God, it's buttered.

I have learned which bills can be paid a few days (or weeks)  late with little to no consequence:  AT&T will just send you gentle reminders for 17 days.  After day 17 though?  You pick up your phone to gab one day and find yourself sans service.  I always pay the biggies right on time, though:  the rent, the electric bill, the gas bill, the internet bill.  Most of those I have taken directly out of my checking account so there's no possibility of forgetting or taking my chances.  My garbage hauler will let me coast for a month.  The water bill from the city, they'll let me have an extra month or two as well.  The same friend who spoke the gospel about paper towels also turned me on to the fact that if you use your Target RedCard (I have the debit version, which takes the money right out of my checking account), it takes a few days to go through.  Which comes in handy when it's the 13th and the cupboards are bare.

I can hear some whispering:  "But Jenny, you are damaging your credit by paying anything late, don't you know that??".  Dude, I declared bankruptcy.  It doesn't get much worse than that.  I'm probably not doing myself any favors by paying a few things late here and there, but that's how it goes.

Today is the 14th.  I get paid tomorrow, and it's coming just in the nick of time.  I got an email telling me that two of my kids need money in their lunch accounts.  Henry has a retreat at church this upcoming weekend that isn't free.  AT&T just sent me another friendly text, reminding me "your bill is ready".  I want to text back, "My checkbook isn't."

But back to the reality show.  Doesn't that sound like a doozy of a show?  It would be kind of like that show where people live like Laura Ingalls Wilder for a while.  Only P2P is a condition that exists today, and it is something that millions of your fellow citizens experience every day.

I mean really, in a country where we tune in to watch an entire family of vapid brunettes who are famous for being famous, a gaggle of pretentious botoxed and siliconed middle aged ladies bitch about everything and everyone, and where we have made knocked up teenagers celebrities, wouldn't a show like this almost feel like a breath of fresh air?

I also thought about a show called "46 and Definitely Not Pregnant" but I don't think that would fly.  And although "Keeping up with The Hausfrau" has a nice ring to it, I doubt the sight of me going through my Netflix queue and refreshing Facebook on any given weekend would be very riveting.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go pay my phone bill.  Because I'm sure the people from Bravo are going to be calling soon.




26 comments:

  1. Girl, I could SO be on that show. After two years of living off of $275 a week unemployment and the mortage being more than that (I refused to lose my home), I have learned to be VERY creative with money. I was always a saver, so I had a nice nest egg for the first year of unemployment but then it was on to robbing Peter and Paul to pay the light bill. That show would be awesome!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ok..it's a deal. When Bravo calls, I'm giving them your name too! I bet we would rock. Nobody knows how to stretch a dollar like a single mama!

      Delete
  2. Heres my hint...get an overdraft line on your checking account. Ours is $500...do you know how many times I have bills due on 10th, but no pay till 15th...that line saves my ass almost every month.
    I hear you on paying for WW...i am barely going (but losing) its like I feel if I stop paying, ill stop losing! LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh...I've heard of overdraft protection but never took time to learn about it. I should!! You aren't with Wells Fargo, are you??

      AUGH I knew a fellow WWer would understand my dilemma. I live in fear of quitting, because it's worked so well for me. It's just hard to justify spending money solely on "me".

      Delete
  3. Stay with the WW. Trust me on this one.
    The Target debit card float is the best-kept secret for us P2P'ers.
    And when I do buy paper towels? It's Viva, bitches. Life's little luxuries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Literally, LMAO. I was hoping you'd read this. That Target card has kept my kids from starving (ok maybe not starving but saved them from a week of noodles) many a time.

      Delete
  4. I'd give you some serious competition on the P2P dance, sister. And a hint? You can pay any bill up to 29 days late without it going on your credit. Day 30 is the death knell. Target paper towels rock, btw. ;) That's one of those things I just can't live without.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 29 days?? I may actually be golden, then. Thank you for that information! Gee, maybe the show should be a "Survivor" type thing...me and my P2P ladies would make a formidable team.

      Right now I have paper towels from Aldi. Not great.

      Delete
  5. Well, I can certainly identify. We lived paycheck to paycheck from 1991 (when I quit my job to stay home with Evan) til about 2007 or so. Really. I was PRIMO at rotating who would get paid which month (cause we certainly couldn't afford to pay ALL our bills EVERY month). And paper towels are DEFINITELY a luxury--I loved when my mom came to visit, she'd always buy some, & dryer sheets too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beth, the comment about mom buying paper towels and dryer sheets made me smile. I can't remember the last time i bought dryer sheets!

      I love how all my Ebay hens have chimed in. I guess that's why we were all on Ebay, huh??

      Delete
  6. I want in. I can do it! Currently the church is $14000 behind on Jason's salary... and it wasn't that much to begin with, so imagine... The church is struggling and they pay us when they can, whatever amount they can.

    Paper towels are definitely a luxury.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Wesley...I'm sorry. You are totally in, babe! That has to be hard. you can't be mad at a church!

      Love you, lady. One of these days i am going to buy all of you a freaking case of paper towels!

      Delete
    2. Yay! Paper towels all around! I like the select a size ones, because I hate using a whole paper towel when a half one will do!!!

      Delete
    3. LOL! I have been known to actually CUT the non-perforated ones.

      Delete
  7. Paper Towels are a definite luxury. I never bought any when I was single and trying to support myself. I got my first ones in 2002 when I hooked up with Reuben.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess I never thought about how luxurious they are. For me, there were a staple. Until I had to decide between paper towels or food. Food won.

      I love that Reuben opened up the door to paper goods for you, my friend. He's good people.

      Delete
  8. You are probably the most optimistic person I've ever known! I love your reality show ideas. I would totally watch them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Jamie, you're very sweet. Some might say "crazy" instead of "optimistic" but I'll take the latter! Thank you for reading, and don't think I've forgotten about another box of Trader Joe's goodies for you.

      Delete
  9. Wish they had this show all around the world for women who live on P2P.. I want to be in too very much ..i have to learn how to do micro management.Micro means really micro.. up to where does my MYR1(abt0.32 US cents)goes.Rental, bills and all the rest of the things in the world that needs money. Well, one good thing is maybe I can lose some weight by having 1 meal a day and make sure that my girl has the best I could afford even if i have to make the pass. All bad times will come to an end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Vbabe, so good to hear from you! How are you doing??

      Being a P2P person puts a whole new spin on the term "micro-management", huh? When you need to account for every cent it makes life interesting. I often wonder about what I'll be like if I ever do make a comfortable living..I think being poor has permanently altered me. But I guess that's not a totally bad thing.

      And hell yes, the Broke Diet is second only to the Divorce Diet.

      You're a good mom, lady. And you are right. The bad times will come to an end. Never stop believing that!

      Jenny

      Delete
  10. You get a show about anything & I'll for sure be your biggest fan, haha.

    I totally know what you mean about knowing how long you can actually wait to pay a bill before they REALLY shut you off. I'm the same way. We got our notice to pay our cell phone bill like 14 days ago but I know I can stretch it to 20 days & then call to work something out. We just paid $1050 to get the hubs a root canal & crown so I'll definitely be making that call tomorrow :/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lin you may regret saying that when I have a camera crew following me around and catching me weeping in my car. Or worse, inhaling a bag of low fat microwave popcorn while watching Army Wives. Sad.

      Ouch on Rusty's mouth! Why is dental stuff so expensive?? I hope he's feeling better.

      I just paid my AT&T bill. My phone died on me last night and I had a moment of panic, thinking they cut me off, lol. Loser!

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  11. Replies
    1. Well thank you, smore! And thank you for reading!

      Delete
  12. How is this? Your kids spent Thanksgiving with their dad (beach house in San Diego) and you have your first weekend free in two years, but you don't even go to any friend's houses for Thanksgiving because you can't afford the bottle of wine or appetizer or any fucking thing you would have to bring to be a decent human. So you stay home, don't shower, watch every single show on Netflix and cry. And eat what is in the pantry, you know, processed food, soup you bought on sale for $1 a can or whatever,and be grateful you don't have to feed the teens this weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh girl. Sending you a giant hug, a day late. You know what? If they are real, true friends they will welcome you with open arms, regardless of what you have (or don't have). I'm not judging, though. God knows I spent several holidays just like yours: alone, Netflix, tears.

      Here's what I always took away from those weekends: the kids were safe, they were fed, they were with people who loved them (or at the very least, they were there TOGETHER, with each other). It hurt so much to be apart. It killed me to hand them over, to watch them climb into their dad's shiny pretty new car, to know they were the pauper babies being sent into a world they were vaguely familiar with but so completely removed from. But I did it. And so many others have, too. We are here for you. We get it.

      Freaking teens and their bottomless stomachs. Thank God their hearts seem to be built the same way :)

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...