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A valid question to those who work their asses off for what seems like nothing in return!
My experience is through a Canadian standpoint being at the low income side of a working class family. For anyone who is reading this from a non-Canadian standpoint, let me first explain quickly about our Child tax benefit. This is a tax credit the government issues monthly to people who qualify. Low income families receive approximately $300 a month per child.
For a family of four children and being low income, we received an additional $1,200 a month from the government on top of my husband’s typical bi-weekly work checks. After the government took their fair share, and then some, he brought home an okay pay check. About $925 every two weeks. $1,850 a month, give or take. This is a fair chuck of change, I give you that, but we were still considered low class, but on the higher end of things.
We had trouble making ends meet on a daily basis, and given the current economy, we weren’t the only ones. Food prices were soaring, one child in diapers and on formula, we just couldn’t seem to catch a break. So, I called up our social assistance (welfare) office and asked them what they could do to help a struggling family of six.
They offered zero support. We made too much! Their monthly allowance for a family of 6 was about $1600 a month! Time to crunch some numbers and take a more in-depth look at what it really costs to live!
Working: $3,050 a month vs. Unemployment: $2,850 a month
Rent: A typical three bedroom townhouse $1,350 a month
Utilities: Gas, Hydro, Telephone, all needed! $200 per month
Food: average food budget: $900 a month – this is with a lot of pasta and ground beef!
Monthly transportation: (winter months only): $100 (this is for a transit pass we don’t drive)
Clothing: Well…this really only needs to be bought 2 times a year but averaged in 1 month: $100 a month
Left over after essentials
Working: $400 vs. Unemployment: $200
Yes at the end of everything that is essential to provide to a family theoretically speaking you could survive on either salary! Realistically not so much. Life always throws people curve balls in the way of unexpected expenses. Children get sick, yes our healthcare is free, but we still need to get there! Then there is the little things such as stocking the first aid kid, or buying Tylenol for fevers. To a middle income family these little things are but a small expense, but budgeting them into a couple hundred dollars a month, something has to give.
This lifestyle doesn’t include the non-essentials either: Cable, internet, cell phones. Most people in this day and age couldn’t do with at least of those. Then there is the dreaded beast of debt! Very few people are without it. After all the hidden costs of living that aren’t technically essential to living are added in, really, neither is an acceptable amount to live off of. It can be done, and it was done by my family or quite a few months, but the government’s conception of what is an acceptable living allowance lacks for sure!