Living on the minimum

By Kendall Tich

I read an article on Life Inc today about a family of four who is living comfortably and happily on a joint salary of $14,000 a year. The husband was deployed in the Middle East and the wife had to pay bills while taking care of two children.

When her husband returned, they knew they had to make do with the money they had earned and the money provided through the military. They ended up buying a home, in cash, while the market was down in Las Vegas and are currently living comfortably there even though they are $9,000 below the poverty line.

The last recession cost many people their jobs and their livelihood across the country.

There are many people who are struggling to get their jobs back and support their families.

This article, about this family happily living on so little, made me think about the idea of doing what you can with what you have.

Perhaps that’s what life is all about—not just about earning the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time, but making just enough that you are able to live a happy and comfortable life.
In my travels to countries like Nepal and the Philippines, I have seen poverty far beyond what most Americans would view as living uncomfortably.

The living conditions of many of the families and children sometimes included one bedroom and one-bathroom houses for families of five or six people.
In rural Nepal, there are families living in the Himalayas in homes with no electricity and no running water.

According to World Vision, the average household income of Nepal is less than $200 a year, which is a mere fraction of even the seemingly lowest household income of a family in the United States.
The fact that a family making $14,000 a year and living happily was a popular news story in the U.S. made me wonder how other countries would feel about this.

To many of the families whom I met and worked with in Nepal, $14,000 a year would be a miracle and a fortune. That being said, there are still many American families who are struggling to stay afloat financially after the most recent economic crisis.

Although there has been little help in improving the lives of those who are living in poverty in countries like Nepal, the U.S. is working towards developing policies and plans to help struggling Americans get back on their feet.

President Obama has started to work with poverty-stricken communities who need help from the government and schools to climb “ladders of opportunity” to reach at least the middle class and hopefully beyond that.

A family of four who is living happily on $14,000 a year may seem foreign to many college students, who have been given the opportunity to receive a college education that will hopefully benefit them when they make it into the workforce.

Poverty is something that seems distant to many Americans, but it is happening across the world and right here in the U.S.

In fact, according to the National Poverty Center, approximately 15.1 percent of individuals in the United States are currently living in poverty. This is a relatively high number, even compared to other countries around the world.

So may it be an issue of pride, desire, or greed, I am still unsure. But this family of four as well as the countless numbers of families across the world, are making do with what they have and are living comfortably even below the poverty line.

Although poverty is clearly a real issue that is occurring right here in the United States, there are still many people who have found a way to make it work.

Perhaps that is what the American dream really is—making the best of the seemingly worst situations and maintaining your happiness amidst it all.