Okay, I think people came away with some wrong impressions.
1. My in-laws did not get $600 a month in food stamps.
There was a surplus on their EBT card from up in Washington. Food costs more there, the cost of living is higher there (especially in what was their situation) and so you get more money in assistance up there. (Also, Washington is more liberal. I’m just sayin’…)
So, with the influx of November’s benefits, there was somewhere over $600 on the car. “Was” being the operative word.
2. Sorry, but I don’t consider some candy and, admittedly, too much soda to be an “abuse” of the food stamp system.
Did they spend imprudently? You betcha. Is some sugar-free candy for herself (the only kind of dessert she can have) a mark of someone gaming the system? Not so much.
Remember, they were stocking a pretty bare cupboard. They brought non-perishables, but it can be surprisingly expensive to get yourself back to square one in the food department.
No, they didn’t spend it anywhere close to perfectly or ideally or even responsibly. But I refuse to agree that, if you have enough in benefits, you aren’t allowed to occasionally get some crackers or some candy.
It’s just that, here, the occasional indulgence got a lot less occasional. They weren’t gaming the system. They spent a month spending imprudently, with bad results for all of us. And, yes, taxpayers can be pissy that so much money was spent imprudently; but please don’t claim they’re scamming the food assistance.
Unfortunately, as in so many other respects, their deprivation caused a too-long period of imprudence once things got easier. It’s their M.O. and I really wish I had been more proactive about it while there were funds to save.
The reasons behind it (I think)
As I’ve calmed down — that is, as I’ve accepted that the deed is done and there’s no fixing the past — I’ve begun to see a few reasons of how things got this far.
1. She felt like she was contributing.
Nadine said that helping out with groceries made her feel like she was contributing. So she may have worried about saying no to requests. That explains a little, but not most of it.
2. They escaped the oppressive debt.
From their point of view, anyway. They’re not in Washington, paying $600 of space rent out of the $1150 a month (minus her Medicare premiums of $160ish). They’re going to declare bankruptcy and be rid of the worst of the bills.
As I said above, they tend to go through extreme deprivation — even if they often have a hand in creating the dire straits — and then rejoice to be out of it. Too much. It’s how they went through Marc’s “retirement” money. From what Tim tells me, it’s a bit of a leit motif.
3. This month is “a wash.”
If you’re like me, you have no idea what this means. I actually had to ask Tim. Because Marc and Nadine were offering to pay for half of some expensive Magic cards. I voiced concern about them saving the money for their own needs. Nadine said, “Well but this month is kind of a wash anyway.”
First of all… (sound of my head imploding)
I can’t believe that, after everything they’ve been through over the last 5 years, they think they can AFFORD to call a month “a wash.” Of course, it’s because of those years, I’m sure, that they want to indulge.
All in all…
Clearly, I need a game plan. I need to sit them down and do a budget. I need to get them in the frame of mind that months can’t be “a wash” and that the thing to do with extra funds is not to spend it. Unless it’s to pay us back or start a car fund. Or both.
Any ideas/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I’m calmer, but still not calm about this mess. So if I try to talk to them about it, I fear that I’ll either start yelling or my head WILL actually implode while talking to them.
I’m off to do some deep breathing.