You can choose to give without specifying for what I should use the money or may choose to earmark the funds. I promise to use them as requested as long as the request is legal and reasonable. I also will rarely turn down the offer of a meal and/or drink offered in good faith at a conference. Additionally, on months when I find myself with unexpected windfalls, I tend to pay it forward and help out people in immediate need.
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The Whys and Hows
Starting February 2013, I was gratefully and gainfully employed full-time. However, the years preceding this time in my life were marred by financial disowning, unsympathetic financial aid counselors and an unhelpful student financial aid system, unsavory small business owner bosses, and a graduation year smack dab in the middle of the recession. In addition to scrambling to play catch-up after 4 years of deferred student loans and severe un- and under-employment (including a sudden layoff lasting from May to August 2015, which was right after I had signed a new lease), I support my spouse, Danny, whose chronic disabling pain has yet to be determined by the government as worth his receiving SSDI; due to a combination of institutionalized classism and ableism, I am the only reason he is no longer hungry and homeless.
What does this mean? After the mandatory monthly bills, rent, and debt payback, I’m left with little left over in my pocket to cover things like food, medications, doctor’s office co-pays, dental work (extensive in Danny’s case), personal care products, clothing, shoes, car registration, and so on for two people living not quite by choice in Southern California. Doing things like traveling for conferences generally mean I have to tighten my budget even further.