General Question

ubersiren's avatar

If you were homeless and decided to start your life down the path of recovery, what would be the first thing you'd save money to buy to help you achieve your goals?

Asked by ubersiren (15044 points ) May 23rd, 2009

Clothing for a job interview? Something to carry clothing in? P.O. box? Soap? A good meal? What would be the best first step to take in this situation? I read an interesting article that I will link once some folks have answered (I don’t want to spoil the fun).

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39 Answers

skfinkel's avatar

Soap, and a place to live. A phone number.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Clothes & a place to live. Then I’d start thinking about a car. I know that’s three things, but you can’t get much accomplished without your own transportation.

Jeruba's avatar

I think I would be able to find clothing at one of the many places that handle and distribute donations. Some of those clothes are in really good condition and are career-style outfits. There are also places that will let you come in during the day to check the newspaper, use the computer, and use the phone. There are places you can go to take a shower and get a meal. You can arrange to use a temporary address. You can ride public transportation. If you are in an area that has no public transportation, this will all be much harder, but if you are homeless, you can go to where it’s available. I would not consider a car a necessity. Many people get on without them.

If I were homeless and empty-handed, I think the first thing I would need (availing myself of the resources listed above) is something to keep belongings in so I could begin to accumulate personal necessities like a change of clothes, a blanket, and a toothbrush. Would the second thing be a rented room? If I got the job, I could get a place to live. Until I got a job, I wouldn’t be doing much saving.

dannyc's avatar

A ticket to travel home to family and loved ones who I trust.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@eponymoushipster I get it. If you stay smoked, you don’t know or care how down & out you are, right?? ;-)

lillycoyote's avatar

It would depend on why I was homeless in the first place.

phoenyx's avatar

Hmm, if I were homeless…

I think I would hang out at various 24-hour laundromats. They are warm and I’d bet I could score some lost clothes and neglected change; that could take care of clothing and shelter perhaps. I would need food, but I wonder if I could pose as a college student and score free food like I did in college. If I’m interviewing for jobs, I need a way for people to contact me and a way to call them so I’d get a pre-paid cell phone. I could get a free email address and I might be able to send a pdf of my resumé. I would probably need transportation, so I’d also get a bus pass.

So… I guess my answer is a cell phone and a bus pass.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@jbfletcherfan pretty much. plus, at least i’m being the best bum i can be.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@eponymoushipster This is true. I like wine….if I see you on a street corner, we’ll share a bottle. I mean, I’m all for helping the homeless. ’-)

eponymoushipster's avatar

@jbfletcherfan we’ll see. my bag of cans and my other bag of cans can be quite comfy.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@eponymoushipster Okay…you keep your bags of cans & I’ll keep my bottle of wine.

jrpowell's avatar

Well, in 2001 I was homeless. I was getting food stamps and crashing on friends couches. I didn’t have any (nice) clothes. At least not nice clothes. My sister hooked me up with a haircut, buspass, and new clothes. I felt like a new man. (I was severely depressed). A week later I had a job in a photo lab.

Jack79's avatar

a guitar
I could busk and make some cash
Then use that to buy one decent set of clothes (just a pair of jeans and a T-shirt) and maybe find a place to wash. That would make a huge difference to me.

I think the biggest problem homeless people face is not financial, even though lack of money can have practical effects. But if you’ve got your wits about you, you can find ways of getting things done for free or very cheap. I could live on $1 a day if I had to (and have done so in the past). The problem is when you’re also an alcoholic, or a drug addict, or simply depressed and lonely and with no will to live. That’s when not having the money for a loaf of bread becomes an existential problem.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@jbfletcherfan fine. be that way. but i won’t tell you what the voices tell me.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I’m going for the P.O. Box. Rather an address of any sort.
An address is so necessary for many aspects of life.
And a P.O. Box is a step in that direction.
In fact it is horribly difficult to get a job or any kind of public assistance without an address.

I would like to see the article :) Please….

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@eponymoushipster Voices? Oh, now wait…don’t believe everything THEY say! Okay, fine. One swig of wine.

Darwin's avatar

Either a cell phone or an address of some sort. You can’t get a job without a contact phone or an address. However, sometimes shelters will let you use their address, so I would say a cell phone. You can get a prepaid phone for as little as $19.95 for the phone and then you can throw in say $10 or $20 for the minutes and you have a number so that a potential employer can reach you to schedule an interview.

In our town you can get clothes at a charity that specifically sets folks up with a set or two of nice work clothes (gently used items) and at Goodwill they often have brand new merchandise for a couple of dollars.You can get food at the local soup kitchen, counseling and training through MetroMinistries, and transportation through several different ministries, so I would go with the phone.

charliecompany34's avatar

all you need to get on your feet is peanut butter and jelly and some whole grain bread. once you have the great bowel movement and a good night’s sleep, your mind is free and clear to go to the next step.

1. repeat above daily
2. use your coffee-tin money to get a razor and shaving cream instead of a 40 ounce.
3. go to a thrift store and get a clean shirt for like $1 and some pants and a tie for about the same price.
4. walk around downtown with a briefcase that has a newspaper and a PBJ sandwich in it. looks official. who really knows what’s inside.
5. walk into a video store because they are hiring.
6. fill out an application. you were actually good back in the day at grammar and the englisg language.
7. references? always say your mama—she knows.
9. go to sleep early and wake up early.
10. stay regular with the bowel movements.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

Clothes. But of course I wouldn’t wear them until the day of the interview after I’d stolen shower in a public locker room.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

In the days when you could get a gym membership for $30.00 a month and provided you had a car then you could pull up each morning for a workout, shower even some coffee or juice before heading off to work. Feeling clean and healthy go a long long way. Clothes are easy enough to come by, food too.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence you can get one for $10 or $20 at planet fitness, but they only have coffee & bagels once a month, and (oddly enough) pizza once a month. but they do have showers.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@eponymoushipster: my fitness place use to have baskets of apples and granola bars daily as well as the beverages and then my boss at work insisted on buying me lunch everyday so I never went without much

ubersiren's avatar

Good answers! Here’s the link to the article that inspire my question. http://www.squidoo.com/what_to_buy_if_you_are_homeless

RedPowerLady's avatar

where are these gyms? here even the ymca cost nearly 1,000 a year.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence all we have on a daily basis is tootsie rolls.

@RedPowerLady Planet Fitness is nationwide in the US, i believe.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@eponymoushipster just checked, unfortunately not in oregon (one of the entire five states I think without one, i guess we are the control group, lol)

Jeruba's avatar

@ubersiren, thanks for an interesting article and an interesting question. Looks like my instinct for homelessness is pretty good, on the whole—that’s interesting to know too.

I might add that I have observed a number of hotels that serve complimentary breakfast or continental breakfast to guests without checking that they are actually guests. Anyone could walk in the back door and come down the hall as if they were staying there and just walk right on in. Since those electronic card keys don’t show room numbers, I doubt they’d even check unless you triggered suspicion (such as by walking in with a beat-up backpack or a suitcase, by wolfing food and stuffing your pockets, or just by looking nervous). I’ll bet that if you were decently dressed and acted like you belonged there, you could eat breakfast daily at a different Holiday Inn or Ramada or Radisson every week for some time before you ran out of choices.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Jeruba Could you possible elaborate on what your instincts about homelessness are and how the thread or the article have confirmed them? I’m interested to know what you think.

Jeruba's avatar

@lillycoyote, all I meant was that my initial response (above) seems to have been borne out by the article, which said that first you need something to carry your things in (a backpack, it said, although I did not specify). A blanket and toothbrush were high on the list. I didn’t mention a hairbrush, but the toothbrush was an example that stood for personal toiletries.

Focusing on the question as asked, my answer listed the things I thought I could get without money and concluded that the first thing I’d need to buy was a container for my belongings, and what those first belongings would be.

Reading the article, I felt oddly comforted by the notion that if I were unexpectedly homeless I would probably be able to do it fairly well. Realistically, I probably wouldn’t last very long without certain prescriptions, but it is still worth thinking about what the real basics are and what it would take to obtain them.

I also found myself thinking that I’d like to print out copies of the article and hand them out to homeless folks in town along with a hundred-dollar bill. I wish I could afford to do that.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Jeruba Thanks for answering my request to elaborate. I appreciate it.

Tealuvertia's avatar

Definetly clothes and a place to live. creating a foundation is important. then a pnone number, and mabye a car.

Zen's avatar

Laptop.

verycole's avatar

Place to live, soap, haircut, clothing and nice shoes for a job interview to help me look less like a homeless person.

selfe's avatar

@RedPowerLady What type of YMCA membership is that? I have heard of much less for a basic membership for one person, but I don’t work there so you’d have to check with them. I think they also had financial assistance options.

selfe's avatar

@Jeruba I heard that some pharmaceutical manufacturers have programs for people who cannot afford their medications…

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Seriously, a laptop.

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