As with most things I write about, the idea of “financially disabled” came about during a discussion I was having with my one of my daughters. See if you can keep up, in most of my conversations with Abby, doing so is no easy feat. Abs came into my room all excited and wondering what everyone was talking about Mars for. Not having read the news about Curiosity, I was just as clueless. So she started speculating on NASA having found proof of life, and how perhaps we could move there. How great it would be that we could start over somewhere fresh. Being the supportive mom that I am, my comment to my impressionable 14 year old was “Why? So we can destroy that planet, too? Nothing would change. We would just bring all the murderers, thieves and crummy world politics over with us!” I know, can I get any more fatalistic?? Anyway, this led somehow to a discussion of our cash flow-and how there is just never enough for all of us-and how we are poor. Which led to the example that I am trying to have us all eat healthier, and in changing my shopping habits, have added $25 to every trip. And how the food has lasted us less time, thus doubling the amount of times I have to go. Abby, of course, wanted to know why good food was more expensive and who we could speak to about that. “The Governor?” she questioned. I had to laugh and told her I would look into it. Just as a side note here, I have looked into it for her. I’ve found nothing in the way of a contact name, email or phone number. However, my opinion as to the cost difference in healthy food vs. junk food-and on the report that has recently come out from the FDA about the difference being minimal-will have to wait for another day.
The conversation ended after that because I had to go pick up her 16 year old sister from work. As usual, while driving, I was replaying it in my head, wishing I could make her understand that some things are just out of our control. And wishing I could make her also understand that when she talks about money with me, and complains about being poor, it hurts my feelings. I get offended. I do my best. In the course of thinking about this, I came up with a great “Damn, I wish I’d said that!” moment. “Abby, we are NOT poor. We are financially disabled. There is a difference.” Then she would go “Oooohhhh, okay!” and look at me with a brand new respect. Maybe even a little awe. We ARE financially disabled, as I define the term. And I deserve, out of respect, to be referred to as such. I did some research on the web and discovered that except for an obscure tax law from the IRS in California-which defines the financially disabled as someone who has suffered a mental or physical impairment, either lasting over 12 months or deemed terminal, and who were unqualified to tend to their financial matters during said impairment-the use of the term is woefully absent in mainstream society. Seeing an opportunity to enlighten people around the world, I have now defined the term “financially disabled” and it has been published for all to use and understand. You can find it at urbandictionary.com. Yes, it’s okay. You can laugh. We sure did.
The definition reads: Financially disabled-the politically correct way to refer to someone low-income, impoverished, or just plain poor.
HOWEVER! Seeing as I have a blog and can write as much as I want to, I would like to take the opportunity to expound upon that definition. I want it made clear that I view financially disabled as being different than poor, rather than just the politically correct way to say it. Poor, to me, refers to someone who is struggling due to behavior, while financial disability occurs when someone is struggling due to circumstance. As I told Abby, in my imaginary response to her, there is a difference. Now, let me take a moment to point out some of those differences. Behavior: drug and alcohol dependency, buying fancy cell phones and cars, huge credit card debt, the unemployed due to the unwillingness to work, choosing crime instead of gainful employment. Circumstance: loss of employment; whether a temporary lay-off or permanent downsizing, loss of spouse either due to death or divorce, illness of self or family member, and rough economy and natural disasters that lead to exponential increases in food, housing, gas, clothing—everything. These are just examples, I’m sure much more could be added to either category.
And to those who would argue that behavior begets circumstance: You are correct. In some cases. Drug addiction can lead to loss of job, divorce, even death. Very true. But not in ALL cases. I can’t speak for everyone who is financially disabled, but I sure as hell did not have anything to do with the devastating drought that has plagued our country this summer, forecasted to drive up our food prices even more. As far as I know, I didn’t even have a hand in rising unemployment rates. I am a simple, aspiring writer and nursing assistant, who spends most of her time being a single mom and teaching her children to make the good choices, hopefully preventing them from being financially disabled when they grow up.
So no, we are not poor. We are financially disabled. From now on, please refer to us as such. 🙂