This checklist was developed by Ruby K. Payne, an author and researcher in the field of socioeconomics whose work I’ve followed for years — but it’s a perfect gauge for how well you’d do if worse literally came to worse. It’s not at all a joke; I bet actual poverty is not what you think it is.
Scoring at the end. Good luck!
Answer yes or no to the following statements:
- I know which churches and sections of town have the best rummage sales.
- I know which rummage sales have “bag sales” and when.
- I know which grocery stores’ garbage bins can be accessed for thrown-away food.
- I know how to get someone out of jail.
- I know how to physically fight and defend myself physically.
- I know how to get a gun even if I have a police record.
- I know how to keep my clothes from being stolen at the Laundromat.
- I know what problems to look for in a used car.
- I know how to live without a checking account.
- I know how to live without electricity and without a phone.
- I know how to use a knife as scissors.
- I can entertain a group of friends with just my personality and my stories.
- I know what to do when I don’t have money to pay the bills.
- I know how to move in half a day.
- I know how to get and use food stamps or a government debit card for benefits.
- I know where the free medical clinics are.
- I am very good at trading and bartering.
- I can get by without a car.
Scoring guidelines developed by Esther J. Cepeda
If out of the 18 items, you answered ‘yes’ to the following:
- 18-14: Congrats — you are street savvy and will survive (maybe even thrive) in poverty.
- 13-9: Pat on the back — you’ll be able to keep your head above water.
- 8-4: Look for help — poverty is hard in ways you hadn’t even imagined.
- 3-0: Call a lifeline — you are completely unable to survive in poverty. Thank your lucky stars you’ll probably never need to.
Follow Esther J. Cepeda on Twitter: www.twitter.com/estherjcepeda
For a more developed version of this test that asks could you survive in other situations such as middle class, wealth, etc. found in Ruby Payne A Framework for Understanding Poverty