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Avoiding Poverty
Photo: Tory Byrne
Suppose you knew four secrets that would help avoid poverty. Would you want your children to know them? Four simple rules, which if followed, would keep the wolf from the door in most cases.

The rules exist. You have to start in your teen years for best effect. Following all four may not make you rich. Barring bad luck, following them will insure that you are never impoverished. You may not be able to buy a Rolls-Royce, but you will probably not have to live in the street.

Four Secrets

1. Stay off drugs and alcohol. Doing drugs and booze destroys your focus and ability to plan. Under their influence you lose judgment, and make stupid decisions or take risky chances. On top of everything else, addiction is expensive. You spend money feeding an addiction, instead of on necessities or savings.

2. Finish your education. A high school diploma says you can stick to the rules. Most employers will not hire someone without a high school diploma because they view that individual as lacking the determination and self-discipline a 40-hour-a-week job takes. Besides, knowing something is better than knowing nothing. You cannot function effectively in today’s society if you cannot read, write, and do arithmetic.

3. Take a job. Any job. Working at any job, even at a minimum wage—“you want fries with that” job—is better than not working. Holding and keeping a job develops skills you need to avoid poverty. You build up self-discipline. You learn how to defer gratification, and plan long-term. Moreover, work provides opportunity. Do a good job even in a dead-end job and you have a chance to move to a better job. Store and restaurant managers are not born into those jobs. Many started as stockers or wait-staff.

4. Don’t have children out of wedlock. Children are expensive. They also come with all sorts of unexpected extra costs. A two-parent family can handle those shocks and expenses better than a single-parent family. Going it alone makes it hard to work. Going on the government dole often traps a mother into poverty. Fathering a child out of wedlock can result in child-support payments that prevent an unwed father from making ends meet, discouraging him from working.

You might break one of these rules and avoid poverty. Yet breaking one of them makes it easier to break the others. It is hard to stay in school or find a job if you are on drugs or have a baby out of wedlock. If you are “too good” to take a low-level job, you may become bored, and start experimenting with drugs—and so forth.

The more of these rules your break the greater your chances of sinking into and remaining in poverty. Break them all, and you can probably kiss a good future goodbye.

These rules are not rocket science. In fact, you can find them all in your Bible, every one, many times. Deciding to let God lead your life is a good way to make those decisions that will give you a promising future.

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By Mark N. Lardas, copyright 2007, Mark N. Lardas, all rights reserved.  Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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