Question: My parents and I live on section 8, low income housing and getting food stamps, I'm really sick and tired of this shit.
A lot of the below answers are very good, the problem is they are Middle Class solutions. Poverty is made up of at least 11 dimensions, only 1 being financial. the others are social, education, racial, sexuality, health, mental, emotional, language, hidden societal rules of class advancement, generational attitudes-influence.
Which is why poverty isn't solved with get a job or a better job that's a MC solution. Poverty is a whole culture, mindset and morals/values that only make sense in poverty. Poverty thinks it is all of reality but is only 15% of the US population, so poor people can only see reality with a lens open 15%.
What I have done with students is over time, 3-5 years taught/mentored them out of poverty. Honestly it doesn't always work , what you're feeling is the gravity pull of poverty. First, accept that your family/parents tactics are right for survival but not prosperity. You have to accept them without judgment.
Because you're going to have to leave them in first thought and then form.
It will feel like a form of social and psychic suicide but to get yourself and then maybe them out, you must refuse their way of thinking.
Much of what they believe is limited, wrong or warped by poverty.
How they believe people and the world are is limited, wrong or warped by poverty. Therefore, what you believe is limited, wrong and warped.
You need a mentor.
Several in fact. Make a chart for ones for school, work, life skills. Teachers, older people who are, and this is important, NOT like you.
Your friends must be the managers at work, not your coworkers. Your friends at school must be the teachers and administrators not other students. For work skills go to your local unemployment office/work force. Take the resume writing class. The job search class. The basic/advanced computer classes. Find what you can for free.
Here's your first contradictory thought:
Find an internship.
You need deep exposure to non-poverty environments. The concept of working but not receiving direct money is anathema to the poor but everyone in MC has a period of time that they did so. We normally don;t recognize it directly. And we gain exponentially more than money.
Undergrad, I TAed for 2 professors. There were no undergrad TAs in the SUNY system. I wandered to the work study office and asked could the professors sign off on hours for me under the department rather than my working in the library or shredding papers in the office. They said sure and i became not only a titled TA but a paid one. I would've done it for free and had been for months until I made the connection. $1500 a semester wasn't much but after a couple of years my work study was increased as if I were a grad student until I was getting $3500 like a grad student. More importantly I got 2 and then 2 more professors who trained me to write and teach in multiple discipline areas, plus recommendations ---they actually told me to write them myself, with the prestige of the title I was invited onto high university committees, the school VP whom I'd met twice remembered my name and a year later, though he'd left Buffalo, just based on a plea phone call from me , gave a stellar recommendation to my first post graduate job making $46k a year. Plus I had teaching as a learned skill which a few years later I could turn into solid work experience for teaching jobs, a career switch after five years of corporate experience. All of that stemmed from my willingness to be an unpaid TA.
No children. Until you're at least over 30-35.
Every poor person, who stays poor makes this huge error. Many of my brightest students are now hampered by children and of maybe twenty, only 1 with a child will make it because he possesses an incredible work ethic.
You can love. You can play around. No children.
Survey poor people. Lots of children or lots of siblings.
Children are wonderful but legally each one is 17% of your income in child support until they are 21, or 20$k plus a year and maybe college. two coworkers, one in his forties, just finished child support of 21 year old, another was a grandfather before he finished paying off from two marriages, a third makes 150k but owes 25k in back child support even though he sends in regular money but by owing arrears it keeps increasing, he doesn't file taxes so they wont take it but conversely he ends up paying 73 %, in fed, state , local, sales taxes because he doesn't have MC or higher financial management skills (he owes the irs 10k)he may make a lot but he's still in financial poverty, because he grew up affected by the other forms of poverty, for work hes a construction laborer, basically the site garbage/maintenance man, he is however intelligent and could be a foreman or higher but has social poverty---bad manners/habits. in total taxes so his 150k he cant offset the taxes....and hes got a second child, not married to the mother on the way. Ironically, White earning a high salary he and his girlfriend live in poverty so he deals drugs on the side.
Statistically speaking if you're below 25, you have a lifespan of 80-100 years with health maintenance. You can wait. It is the biggest kryptonite. If you're gay, an STD like HIV is the equivalent of a child. You now have a lifelong project to manage that impacts your life. The cost of 27 years of HIV management is $600k, which is why so many positive people without healthcare move to Chicago, san Francisco, NYC and Atlanta for HIV welfare called HASA. Stay healthy, no children.
I regularly take male students to CVS and Duane Reade where I directly buy them condoms. Always buy your condoms. Free government condoms break, particularly for men of color because of girth differences in penises.
My parents chose to only have one child when she got pregnant in college with my father because her sister had three children, her brother had three and her other sister seven children. My parents realized that they would repeat their parents poverty, lower class instability if they had more. My mother chose my father because he was in school and even though they broke up after I was born they married ten years later and if they hadn't of divorced my mother was considering having more children but with the caveat that it be by the same responsible father as all of my cousins have various parents so cohesive parenting was impossible. No children. Your people will fight this because in poverty one, children are possessions that affirm adult self worth. Highest rank for a woman is mother and a boy becomes a"man" because he has children.
This is warped thinking from the Agrarian age when we were on farms and children were free labor and the farm could help sustain us as a brood.
Relationships? Date, yes. But this will be harsh, do not date other poor people. They will reinforce what you're trying to unlearn. It's vicious, its harsh.
My mother gave me this advice: Fuck up, never fuck down.
Other students who are from MC homes or are MC themselves. If supremely possible, someone five to ten years older. Older spouses will help you grow faster.
Stay a free agent or get married with the above criteria in a year of dating. Set a standard for a relationship. Marriage is one of the biggest criteria for avoiding poverty. Doubles income, lowers stress. Your intended must have a comparable plan and education to yours. Its the 21st century and you both must work, no kids, educate for awhile. I have a coworker, 35, married two kids. He's a poverty wrap in spite of a supervisor trying to mentor him. No advanced schooling, wife doesn't work, children before 30 so their income is supplemented by Welfare, food stamps, etc.. They are literally from generational poverty so their parents can't teach them MC or higher skills and standards.
Use Welfare or Unemployment benefits how they are intended.
If you hit tight spots, food stamps for food, especially when you are a student. I was working five jobs as an undergraduate, because my mother took away my trust fund for not going to the university of her choosing---MC and Affluence come with other challenges, like control . I got sick and the only way I was allowed to return was if I didn't work. (I still worked two jobs, TA and Mobil gas station overnight.) But I found out from a fellow student, that students could get full benefits from Welfare. Rent and food and minuscule cash, Buffalo rates, about $600 a month but I stayed in school and working. If you have to work under the table---bus boy, waiter, coffee shop, bartender but never ever stop working in some fashion.
Unemployment, I waited three five months after I got laid off before I took money by living off of savings, day trading and registering in grad school, then I took benefits and it was like pay to go to school. I continued working by volunteering to teach classes at Columbia and four months later they hired me fill time, the previous job I volunteered to teach classes to get my students into their program while a youth coordinator but when a program coordinator position came up, I was several people picks, including the Exec Director of GMHC, she got to know me at volunteer events and kept extending offers. I got the youth coordinator position while working as at a charter school down the block and volunteer teaching. The youth coordinator suddenly quit, a week after I was laid off, I was about to take a paralegal job at hedge fund but the other Exec Dir had noticed my volunteer work and said if I left A give him a shot at me, which is how I got to B and then I was scooped up by C, technically three layoffs but I was out of work, on vacation about three days over those seven years because I was paid sometimes for a new job while ending the old. I accepted C, the day before B laid me off.
Volunteering and interning creates your network.
Get a pack of Avery business card blank sheets, print your name, phone number, professional email and computer skills, sales skills, work skills on the backside. Your email should bluntly be your name and Gmail. Nothing cute. Separate your professional life. Two Facebook's. One is just to link with coworkers, jobs, supervisors. Nothing else. Two linkedIn accounts. I've had the same professional email and cell number for 16 years.
You must control your social media and have cards to hand out to people. As of 14 my mother had me working on and updating and always carrying both a paper and digital resume, also one in a draft email in your professional account.
At 14 my resume said my name, address, email, number, Charles Fried Chicken where I worked delivery and Pathmark supermarket where I was a cashier, and then Wendy's by the time I was 16. I have shown up to every interview in a shirt, tie and suit. If you have to buy a suit, black or dark grey at Goodwill. I generally take male students to KG or Men's Warehouse and het them two suits. No tapered cuffs, basic white or blue shirts, red or black ties, no sagging, no garish jewelry. Poverty is projecting identity in fashion, Middle Class is fitting in. Yes it can seem boring and bland but it is easier to start tight and be told you can go casual, as has happened to me. But the other way around I was 17, applying for a bike messenger job with my resume, suit and tie for an after school job. I got it. It looked like it would be grueling.
I wandered to the 34th street mall here in Manhattan. A&S , like Macy's was there. I wandered in. A schoolmate worked there, she told me to hurry to H&R downstairs they were hiring for cashiers for the holidays. I went, filled out application turned in with resume. Thirty minutes later Jim Johnson this huge red headed White man brings me into his office. He's the VP. I'm 17. He says I'd be perfect for a Sales Associate position in the Boys Department. I think its too much, I plead for basic cashier job at a whopping $7 an hour. He says no SAs get $7 plus 8% commission once you're out of the red on your overall sales quota part time of $2000 a week. I barely understood what he said. I beg for the cashier job. For an hour Mr. Johnson works on convincing me. Finally he explains that the candidate before me, ten years older came in wearing a Bart Simpson tshirt and jeans and here I was in a suit and tie for a bike messenger job with a fully typed resume. He would put me thru two weeks of paid intensive training and I'd be great because I showed up for a low job as a little professional. I figured two weeks fulltime was four weeks part time and at least four weeks on the sales floor before they found me out and fired me. Eight weeks pay. I took the job. I was pulling in $1000 a week part time a month later because I religiously used their sales techniques.
Take every class and training offered, pointedly sales.
Work for Macy's, I've worked at Lord &Taylor, Bells, WalMart , MCI during school---high sales training is invaluable to get you out of your shell, comfortable with higher classes, confident.
Lastly, get therapy.
Your family is dysfunctional. Accept it. Growing up in poverty means warped ideas about gender, equality, sexuality, race. I have had two therapists for a year each. The first taught me how to dismantle dysfunctional coding. My parents weren't poor as adults but grew up on the edge of MC and adopted alcohol and drug addiction issues as much, 80% of my family has. They though were able to get to solid MC and a point of Affluence, the next level after MC.
The second year, in my thirties was to manage career. I then graduated from her to a life coach. The coach was $1800 for 6 months and helped me refine and build a small business plus prepare to leave Job B above for Job C.
I have annually done both iterations of Tony Robbins Personal Power series---it works! Join a business networking group, Toastmasters to speak, learn write essays, letters, emails well. Please, excuse, thank you. No violence. Table manners. Set a standard. I belong to a networking and business development group, I am always seeking smarter people than me....and avoiding others.
One of mine is restaurants must have linen tablecloths and tip 15%. The standards seem odd, high but the person you must become and the work you must do are the overall intention. The Brookings Institute , Ruby Payne Annette Lareau and Freakonomics are excellent materials I use to teach students how to navigate out of poverty.
Kyle Phoenix (This answer originally appeared on my Quora page) Follow Me on Facebook, Quora or Twitter www.kylephoenix.com