In the minority world, the link between paper and sufficiency is almost absolute. If I write things on one piece, I get $400. When I write things on another, I get $31,000 (and counting). When I jot some more items on a third, I receive $872.
One of the greatest barriers experienced by people in relative poverty is the block to completing paperwork.
In one person, the challenge may be low literacy. In another, it’s the executive functioning involved in organizing receipts. For a third, it’s a response of anxiety. Neurological barriers may also include dyslexia, ADHD, schizophrenia, and so on. Logistical barriers may include frequent moves or homelessness (i.e., no place to store documents).
One acquaintance spends several hours every week dealing with financial crises because he “doesn’t have time” to keep his receipts in one place. I sympathize with the sense of overwhelm, but would wager the issue in his case is not one of time, but of organization and, behind that, a neurological difference.
Over dinner this weekend, a friend told me that in her effort to finally get her tax filing up to date, she took one dose of a minor tranquilizer. She was thrilled to be able to get it done, and wondered at how simple it now was. She’s about to see significant dividends.
Money grows on trees. For most of us, the amount we have is directly related to how much paperwork we’re able and willing to complete. Would you be willing to do more if it meant another $13,000 per year? $1200?
Now, we don’t have to be willing to chase every dollar. When it meant the difference between eating or not eating, I was willing to spend three hours on a document to get $30. Now I focus my time on papers that bring far more per page.
Do you crave the cash but struggle with documents? Ask an advocacy agency or effective neighbour to help you. Are you pretty good at paperwork and want to help a person achieve not just four extra tins of food this week, but enough ongoing income to buy as much as she needs? Consider volunteering with an advocacy agency.
What is the amount that makes paperwork “worth it” to you?
Action: Write down five of your special or unique circumstances (e.g., sole parent, bipolar disability, brain injury, recent abuse, adult student). Feel free to post them below, and I’ll help brainstorm cash resources specific to those.