Scraping By: Living Paycheck To Paycheck

Living below the poverty line is a reality that many turn a blind eye to.


Myles Sanford, Staff Writer

Putting food in the fridge is often impossible when living paycheck to paycheck–some families simply can’t afford to.

Yet, living paycheck to paycheck is an accepted fact by millions of families in Indiana–two parents working 40-hour weeks only to be able to scrape by and not be able to raise children in the ideal situation. “My childhood growing up was basically me living in two households, moving constantly, based on my parents getting divorced,” shares Elkhart High School sophomore Liliana Godfrey. “I can’t stand the thought of people living in poverty,” she continues, “and it makes me upset, because nobody deserves to live like that!”

Scraping by financially can lead to stress for both parent and child, but it can also lead to other health problems–obesity, ironically, being one of them. After a long day of work, these parents often opt to grab fast food on the way home because they are too drained to cook after work. But, there are also other less obvious ways that lack of money can affect one’s health: paying for insurance. Not having health, vision, or dental insurance can be physically detrimental to families. Too often, families are forced to live with health conditions that only get worse over time. A minor infection could lead to a major surgery. A small cavity leads to massive tooth decay. These are everyday problems faced by low-income families. 

When analyzed, the average income of an Indiana citizen is $56,303 per year, yet the poverty rate in the state of Indiana is 12.75%. This means that 867,996 Indiana citizens are living below the poverty line. To put it into perspective, that means adults with a family of two kids are only making an average of $17,240 annually. That is a $39,063 difference.

According to World Population Review, the lowest national income for families to live on is $47,000. Factors taken into that number are rates of mortgages, groceries, insurance rates, schooling, and on-going bills (such as electric, gas, internet, trash pickup, and water). In Indiana, the poverty line for 2021 is set at $26,500 annually for a family of four.

Godfrey reacts to such facts brought to her attention by saying, “I believe that if adults are working that many hours a week and only making that much a year, they are severely underpaid.”

While no one “deserves” to live in poverty, as Godfrey stated, the solution is not an easy one. But, Godfrey insists that issue needs to remain in the public eye.