When you find yourself in the unenviable position of having to find a job, one of the most important things to do is to re-evaluate your living expenses. What this means is listing what your expenses are and what income is coming in (if any). Once the list has been compiled, you strike off whatever earns a negative to the question “Do I really need to have this?”
Some things were easy to give up. I really didn’t need to go to McDonald’s for breakfast nearly every day. A bowl of cereal and orange juice did just as good a job. Not only did I save a lot of money, the change in breakfast choice helped me drop around 40 pounds over an 18 month time period. Both my wallet and my waistline thanked me for that. With regards to certain entertainment expenses like movies, I waited until the movie I wanted to see came out on DVD for my birthday or had a friend treat me.
Others were not so easy to let go. I really miss my cable, for example. I’m not a reality TV show fan, but I enjoyed watching the History Channel, Discovery Canada, CBC Newsworld, Space, and was looking forward to the launch of the Sun News Network. But it was also $50 a month Canadian, so away it went. Those things that used to be on cable I now read about online or hear about on the radio. It’s not the same, and like I said, I miss those personal enjoyments, but it keeps those expenses I mentioned to a trickle.
In short, I adapt to survive. That’s what everyone who is behind the unemployment 8-ball should be doing. It is because of this personal belief that I am on board — with some reservations –of Ontario Progressive Conservative Party Leader Tim Hudak’s proposal to have the welfare system implement a debit card limited to food purchases.
Open disclosure time: I don’t smoke, drink very little, and don’t have a car, so maybe I’m not the best person to state Hudak’s proposal is the right approach. We all have our little vices and some of those vices keep a job seeker’s state of mind and moral spirits buoyed. What I can do instead is expand on my reservations regarding this proposal.
A welfare recipient, contrary to popular belief by many, is not a lazy shiftless people not willing to work, but a job seeker. As I mentioned at the start of this post, a job seeker has expenses. Food is one of them, but it is not the only one. Here are examples of such expenses that, under Hudak’s proposal, could not be purchased with the welfare debit card:
Travel expenses: gas, insurance, and maintenance if you have a car, or a TTC pass if you are a transit rider like Yours Truly.
Telecommunications expenses: Internet, phone (both home and mobile).
Computer software and hardware upkeep expenses: A word processor for resume writing, a browser that supports secure access to blogs and job search engines, paper and toner for the printer, repair and replacement costs for the computer.
Other expenses: dry cleaning costs for the suit, a clothing budget for buying good ties and new shirts, polish for the shoes.
I’m not against trying to keep welfare costs down. I want the Ontario government (once it’s sitting again) to tackle welfare fraud and administration inefficiency. Having said that, let’s not implement changes to the system that makes getting back to work for welfare recipients that much harder by assuming all job seekers need for social assistance is a full stomach.
Thanks for reading!