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Another preparation for my new life as a student at UVic is making cutbacks to my luxuries: I have more or less cancelled my Netflix account (I’m still debating whether to keep it for the streaming-only for $8 per month, or cancelling it entirely, Jaime and I were looking forward to those Instant-view episodes of Star Trek) I’m learning to love thrift stores (I hate the smell of them, though I love the prices) and I’m trying to think of other ways to cut back on spending so I can save up money and live frugally, making our one luxury in life be a date out once a week. Please, spare me the snarky comments about the expense of eating out, we have three years of dating to catch up on, damnit!

The trouble is, whenever I turn to the ever-trustworthy internet to figure out ways to save money and live more with less (I do like that book of the same name) I get some really stupid suggestions that seem geared towards middle class double-income nondisabled nuclear families who live in the suburbs. Make coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks every day? Wow, I don’t drink coffee period, and there’s no way I would ever, regardless of wealth status, throw down $4 daily for a cup of it. Buy in bulk? I would gladly, if I were capable of driving and had a car that could transport me to and from a bulk buy store, which are typically paid membership only anyway and beyond my means. Pay your bills on time? Sure. I only pay mine late once in a while because I like seeing the debt pile up for a laugh, not because medical emergencies, life, or other situations get in the way. Switch to basic cable? I use my laptop as my TV for DVDs and streaming, and I’m still poor. Sell one of the cars? See above snark. Cook from scratch? Thanks, I’m trying, but for many who have issues with attention span, chronic fatigue, or a physical disability, cooking’s beyond the scope of ability. There are those who receive public assistance in the form of a caretaker who can prepare meals, but honestly, that doesn’t make much of a difference. The caretaker’s allotted hours are finite, and are often budgeted to five hours a week for food, meaning it’s mainly the microwave options, or making the choice between eating well that week and bathing.

Disabled people are often trapped in a cycle of poverty, which only gets worse if you are disabled and determined to break free of being humiliated by this vicious cycle, only to fail or risk so much for trying. In America, if you receive SSI, you are not allowed to have more than $2,000 in assets, leaving many of us permanently on the cusp of poverty, barely making enough to get by. That upper limit hasn’t changed since the 1970’s, but the price of a gallon of milk or a box of risotto sure has.

Those of us who do work risk losing our health benefits if we work too much or make too much money, and have to face berating and harassment from unsympathetic bosses and coworkers for being “lazy” if we work too little. I’m not on public assistance, but as an unemployed disabled woman, I find these tips to be hilariously bad and out-of-touch. What’s next, telling me I can be scrupulous by hiding away my money in a Swiss Bank account to evade Revenue Canada? I need something that is meant for people who aren’t doing this to save up for a trip to Disney World with the kids, but ones for people who are trying their damned best to not get stuck in a permanent cycle of poverty.

With that said, if anyone has any good money-saving tips, I’m all eyes for what you have to write. When I finally get all of my possessions in their five suitcases schlepped to a new home, I intend to sell most of them in a yard sale as a way to make some money, but are there any other tips that you have, either as a poor person or a disabled person or being a frugal type in ways that don’t involve superfluous tips about cars and lattes? I’d be glad to know. I’m looking especially for tips on how to save money in terms of food, cleaning products, and personal hygiene products, because my sensory issues often compel me to use the most expensive of the bunch, since they contain the fewest allergens/sensory triggers/OCD triggers in terms of cheap scents, perfumes, dyes, and additives, and a cheap/reasonably priced/abundant/free substitute would be appreciated. Anything else you feel may help is welcome though.

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