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poverty blows

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Mistress S, Nov 30, 2002.

  1. Mistress S

    Mistress S Don't mess with the S
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    WARNING: This post is mostly just me bitching about my personal/family situation, so if you can't stand that kind of post please stop reading now and save yourself a lot of annoyance.

    Okay then:

    Hi, I'm in a tough situation and just wondering if there are any other SDNer's in the same boat. While I accept poverty as a condition of being a student, this past year has been especially difficult because my mother, who was barely making ends meet to begin with, got laid off from her job when the plant she was working at closed about a year ago (for all intents and purposes, I don't have a dad, so there's no one helping her or me out). She has been living off of unemployment and is finishing up a CNA course at the local community college, but today she got a letter saying she is no longer eligible for unemployment, so she has no idea how she is going to make the house payment this month since she won't be able to work as a CNA until she takes the licensing exam in Jan. My sister (who is in nursing school) and I have helped my mom out when we can, but since we are both students that hasn't been very much. Now that this has happened, I don't know what I should do.

    I feel very selfish putting my needs and desires (to be a doctor and a student) before my mom's immediate need for help. If I was able to work full-time, I could help her out, but with school I can barely work enough to pay my own rent. I feel guilty about every dollar I spend on myself, like I should give her the money I have saved, even though I was planning to use that money to pay for application fees and towards an MCAT course. I don't really have that much to give her now anyway, since I'm waiting for next term's financial aid money. There's a lot she could have done over the past year to avoid ending up in this situation, but she's my mom and I feel responsible for her. This is just so frustrating, I don't want to leave school this close to applying and if I do I'll lose my scholarship. I also don't want to risk screwing everything up by trying to work more when I'm preparing for the MCAT and writing my BA thesis. I don't know what I'm supposed to do.

    Sorry to bitch about all this, it's just tough to commit yourself to years of education when your family is struggling to make ends meet and you can't offer a dime of assistance. I know I should finish up my degree and apply this June, I'm too close and I've stuck it out through too many other rough times to throw it away now. It's still really hard to watch your mom fall apart and not be able to help her because you're too busy pursuing your own goals and life. I know (think) it's the right thing to do for me, it just sucks. Feel free to offer any suggestions or to commiserate- I'm just really down about all this right now, I know my situation isn't unique though and maybe other people who have made it through similar experiences can offer some advice.
     
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  3. galen

    galen Senior Member
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    Im sure uve thought of this but--is it possible for all 3 or just 2 of your family to move in together for awhile to save rent?
    Some other ideas--pawn something or have a huge garage sale.... Usually with mortgages she can skip one month and make it up later in Jan when she is working as a CNA. (Banks do NOT like to repossess & will work with her, particularly if she has been on time in the past)
    Whatever you do, dont give up on your studying and application process. Things will work out for your mom. BTW- There is a disadvantaged category that I think helps with AMSCAM fees. Good luck--you sound like a very strong, caring person.
     
  4. am sorry mistresss, first of all, take a deeeeeeeeeeep breath! :)

    i think u are doing all u can, u should take it one day at a time, its december already, ur mum gets licenced in like a month then she could get a job, right? then i guess if u have money now u could use it for rent and when she gets the job, u then get the money for the mcat stuff. i am probably not helping, but... i guess i dont know how to.

    it really does get better. good luck! :)
     
  5. Mistress S

    Mistress S Don't mess with the S
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    Hey Galen, thanks for the response. My mom filed for bankruptcy this past year and barely kept her house, so I don't know if the bank would be cool with her skipping the payment, but I will bring it up to her as an option. She has already sold a lot of stuff, and obviously will need to look at selling off anything else she can right now. My sister does live with her, and pays rent, but I live with my partner and couldn't really take off and leave him hanging (not that I want to anyway). Hopefully she'll figure out a way to make ends meet this month, and my sister and I will try to help her. Being poor just sucks all around, I guess. Thank you for your suggestions though.
     
  6. Chieka

    Chieka Senior Member
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    Schools in Canada have an emergency bursary fund. It's sort of free money (as in not a loan) for students who are struggling financially.

    There usually is no deadline for this. Hopefully American schools have it too. I'd check at the Financial aid office (it's not something that they advertise).

    If you have decent credit (or at least don't have bad credit), you can consider a line of credit at the bank, a credit card etc.

    I hope you can make use of this information.

    Take care,

    C.
     
  7. Cerberus

    Cerberus Heroic Necromancer
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    I would definitely check this out. I know my school has one so yours might too!
     
  8. Nanon

    Nanon An urban myth.
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    Here are some ways I avoided spending money when I was really, really poor:

    1. Catholic Charities often has rent/mortgage/utilities/phone relief, at least it does here in the bay area. They'll pay some or all of the debt for a month. It's a limited thing per year, but it saved our bacon on several occasions.

    2. Food banks: You'd be surprized how much this can help. I know it can be embarrasing, but suck it up. Most people spend upwards of 200 to 300 dollars a month. The food you get will mostly be canned and boxed stuff, as well as rice and noodles, but if you budget it wisely and make long-term menus, you can get your food bill down to 100 or less dollars in a month. Also, shop at farmer's markets for vegies (generally cheaper and better quality) and discount and outlet grocery stores for breads and meats. Here's a tip on poverty eating: Make stews. Bean stews, like lentils, last a long time, and can be eaten in a lot of different ways. Vegetable stews are good, too.

    3. Does your mom go to a church or synagogue? If so, many times they will have some money set aside for their congregations if things get tough.

    4. If your mom has cable, she should cancel it for the time being. Likewise, ANY kind of "luxury" bill should be eliminated until she's working full time. I know that seems like obvious advise, but you'd be surprized.

    5. Christmas is coming up - while this is a most sucky time to be facing financial difficulty, it can also be one of the better times of the year to be broke. See what food and bill assitance is out there through the salvation army. As far as presents go, get creative! I still hand embroider many of my gifts, and my mom makes beautiful wreaths and shops at yard sales and such.

    I hope this helps. I was on welfare through nearly my entire childhood - I know how much it bites. It will, most likely, get better. If worst comes to worst, and you feel like you HAVE to work, explain it to your school and scholarship people. Oftentimes, there is some concession made for extreame hardship.

    Good luck!

    Nanon
     
  9. HamOnWholeWheat

    HamOnWholeWheat Senior Member
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    No offense, but what would be the problem with devoting some time to helping your mom out and putting off the med school thing for a year? I realize advocating putting off med school is not a popular opinion on this board (inherent bias), but I'd devote 100% of my time to making sure my family was taken care of before I decided to spend several thousand dollars applying and interviewing at med schools.

    My hangup is this: switch places with your mother. What would you think of your daughter choosing to spend her money applying to medical school now, fulfilling some arbitrary personal schedule, while you risk losing your house, when all you needed was a little family help until you get your CNA certification? It sounds selfish, because it is.

    There are worse things in the world than not being able to apply to medical school when you want to. Step outside of yourself, trade places with your mom, and then decide what's important.

    Just my opinion.
     
  10. DoubleDoctor

    DoubleDoctor Ceder Dog's Daddy
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    I know that you and your sister have very limited funds but is there any other family because maybe you guys could get together enough for the mortgage by having people give what they were going to buy her for Xmas and give cash instead due to the circumstances. People always want to know wha you need for a gift and right now she needs her mortgage paid. Good luck and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers.

    PS I also suggest the local charities because we have those here in Ohio too because Mom has contacted them when her patients were in a bad way with housing costs or needed medicine etc.
     
  11. DALABROKA

    DALABROKA Raider Hater
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    Is there any chance that your mom could swing a job in retail while she waits for her testing. There are a ton of temp. jobs around the holidays that are easy to get into and most places will have you start immediately. Just a thought:)

    Good luck to you and your family. I hope you all have a good Christmas, despite the hardships that you are facing.

    Sincerely,
    DALA
     
  12. pillowhead

    pillowhead Senior Member
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    Good luck to you. I'm sorry to hear you are having such problems when you have done nothing to deserve them. My personal advice would be to stay in school. You want to help your mother out, and that is good. But we are all becoming adults now, and that means you also have to take responsbility for yourself. I'd just hate for you to end up losing everything you've worked so hard for at this point. And in the long run, you will help yourself more and your family by getting educated and getting your degree(s) as soon as possible. Have you looked into scholarships for taking an MCAT course? I know at my school, each of the three major prehealth organizations has MCAT course auctions and the courses usually go for so much cheaper than their retail cost. Remember, you can apply for MCAT registration fee waivers and AMCAS fee waivers for up to ten schools, so that should help you out if you can get it, and it sounds like you should be able to. My personal philosophy is that your primary responsiblity is always to yourself until you have children of your own. Of course try to help your mother, but not at the expense of sacrificing your own very realistic and positive goals, esp. when you are so close to reaching them.

    Don't be afraid to ask for help. Religious orgs, food banks, charities, etc. But also, don't let your emotional/mental health suffer too much. Most schools will let you see a counselor or mental health professional for no cost. Sometimes it's helpful to talk to someone neutral and non-judgemental about things who won't necessarily tell you what to do, but help you figure out what YOU want to do.

    Best of luck to you. You deserve it, and this too will pass. I'm glad to hear your mother is on her way to becoming a CNA and I hope she enjoys her new career.
     
  13. vm26

    vm26 Member
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    dont know what state u live in but here in NY there is a dept of labor program-799 that allows individuals to extend their unemployment benefits while they attend a training program, I used it while in PT school, check it out. good luck.
     
  14. qweewq11

    qweewq11 Smiley orgy organizer
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    - I'll second the suggestion that she look for temp work thru the end of the holiday season to make ends meet.

    - You don't need an MCAT course to do well on the MCAT. Either buy the books off ebay, or use your career services center's books (mine had all the kaplan books). I felt the course was overrated. So give your mom the money that you would have spent on the course.

    - Keep your chin up. And remember, this will make great personal statement/interivew fodder.
     
  15. paean

    paean Senior Member
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    It sounds like a really frustrating situation. I picked up that you said there might have been things your mother could have done to avert some of her problems, and I know that can make it a lot worse.

    My only advise would be to think about what you will feel about whatever decision you choose when you look back in ten years. No one on this board can really know your family dynamic or the options you have looked at. If you do have access to it, I would concur with the poster who suggested going to a counselor so you have someone to help you sort out your priorities.

    I was in a similar situation several years ago. My parents were facing overwhelming debt, and I was strongly temped to take time off, get a job, and help them out. It really killed me that my brothers had to give up little league because we couldn't afford even the reduced fees. I also had a scholarship that I would lose if I took more than a year off (I had already taken one semester off due to health problems). I decided to stay in school, because I realized that they had gotten themselves into the severity of the situation, and that if I tried to bail them out, I might get caught in a never ending cycle of putting off school until they were more stable financially (after 5 years, they finally broke even without my help). But more important to me was that they had several financial chrises of lesser magnitude previously, and that I didn't see their behavior changing significantly. So even if I had helped them get out sooner, they might still really need me to support them when they were too old to work, and hadn't managed to save enough for retirement.

    While this may seem heartless to some readers (I just re-read what I wrote) the key issue wasn't anything to do with not helping them because I perceived the situation as their fault, and everything to do with my long-term projections for everyone in my family. And although I wasn't able to pay the little league fees for my brothers, I did other, smaller things (as much as I could set aside from my scholarship) so their lives were a little more normal.

    I'm finally in medical school (a few years later than I originally planned). My parents, thankfully, didn't lose everything, although they experienced serious stress, and had to cut back on some "middle class" things, like having two cars or buying new clothes to replace what wore out. I anticipate that by the time they retire or soon after, I will be making enough to help them live comfortably. And that is a bigger weight off my shoulders than what I could have done immediately would have been.
     
  16. alisha75

    alisha75 Member
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    i can totally relate and i understand that it is really hard to watch your parent(s) go through tough times. what we did was i moved back in with them, took a year off from school after graduating and worked. my mom has cancer and is unable to work and the medical bills are $$$ and my dad had to take an enormous pay cut and my sister is in college $$$. also, if you are dead set on taking an mcat prep course, i know princeton review offers a scholarship if you write an essay and demonstrate need (but i did better when i studied on my own). taking the year off was a good idea because 1) i got a break from school 2) i got more time to work on secondaries 3) i was earning money 4) i got to reconnect with my family and we all supported each other more. don't put off med school forever...you have worked too hard and it is such a difficult time consuming institution, you never know what can happen. also, maybe deferment is an option if you apply and then decide to help you mom and wait. maybe you should apply and be selective about the schools you check off on the application. oh, the retail thing is a really good idea. the necessities are important, rent, food, etc. and not cable, gifts, etc and working at a deparment store nights etc...really can pay for that. good luck to you and your family.
     
  17. ivyleague22ny

    ivyleague22ny Member
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    Dear Mistress,
    I went through a similar dilemma during my senior year
    when my mom couldn't work from her disability and my
    dad suffered a heart attack and underwent triple bipass
    surgery.

    I made the hard decision of NOT applying to med school that year.
    Two years later I finally applied to med school this cycle. It's a lot easier now financially, since I was able to pay off my credit card bills I spent during college for books, some of my college loans, easily paid off my MCAT and AMCAS fees, saved lots of money, and MORE IMPORTANTLY help my parents financially.

    Maybe in my culture, we emphasize the family before the individual. I was extremely BLESSED by this decision. I applied my first time and was interviewed first to my top choice M.D. school and was finally accepted last week. So I even saved more money cause I don't have to buy anymore expensive plane tickets. Plus, I was able to save $10,000 living at home and plan to save even more till I start med school this August 2003.

    Not applying to med school immediately after college is NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. If it is in His plan that you will pursue medicine, it will happen.

    Hope this helps and good luck!
     

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