Have you ever thought about how expensive it is to be poor? When you live paycheck to paycheck, it’s nearly impossible to become truly financially stable.

If you have no credit or bad credit, it’s really hard to find an affordable monthly rent, and you may need to pay a double security deposit before moving in. Renting by the week costs even more, but what if it’s your only choice for safe housing? If you own your own home, chances are it is older and less efficient so you burn more fuel. And because fuel is bought with cash up front, you may be forced to order smaller deliveries that include an added fee.

With credit challenges, car loan interest rates skyrocket. But how can you get to work without one? When you do own a vehicle, it’s probably not a newer model so you have to spend more on repairs to keep it on the road.

The cost of doing laundry at the laundromat is about $7 a load. If you don’t own a washer and dryer, you might resort to rent-here-buy-here stores, ultimately paying four times more than if you could buy them outright. Grocery expenses can be overwhelming and you may need to pay for transportation, or pay higher food prices if you have to walk to the closest store.

Minimum-wage workers often have inconsistent work schedules. When you need child care, these erratic hours are more costly. Getting just a small raise could mean losing your health insurance, child care voucher, and SNAP benefits, setting you even further back.

Forty-one percent of Mainers face these or similar economic realities daily, despite their efforts to get ahead. One small financial emergency can be tragic for the whole family.

Andrea Pasco

(on behalf of the Greater Waterville Poverty Action Coalition)

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