When 43% of Americans Can’t Pay for Food and Rent, We Can Safely Say the Economic Collapse Is HERE

By Daisy Luther

You know all those reports about how lots of Americans can’t afford a $1000 surprise expense like a medical bill or a car repair? Well, forget additional expenses. It turns out that nearly half of the families in America are struggling to pay for food and rent. And that means that the economic collapse isn’t just “coming.” It’s HERE.

United Way has done a study on a group of Americans they call ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. The study found that this group does not make the money needed “to survive in the modern economy.”

ALICE is your child care worker, your parent on Social Security, the cashier at your supermarket, the gas attendant, the salesperson at your big box store, your waitress, a home health aide, an office clerk. ALICE cannot always pay the bills, has little or nothing in savings, and is forced to make tough choices such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent. One unexpected car repair or medical bill can push these financially strapped families over the edge.

ALICE is a hardworking member of the community who is employed yet does not earn enough to afford the basic necessities of life.

ALICE earns above the federal poverty level but does not earn enough to afford a bare-bones household budget of housing, child care, food, transportation, and healthcare. (source)

Between families living below the poverty line due to unemployment or disability and ALICEs, the study discovered that 43% of Americans were struggling to cover basic necessities like rent and food.

Where are families struggling the most?

Some states have more families living in ALICE levels than others. The 3 states with the most families barely surviving paycheck to paycheck are California, New Mexico, and Hawaii. Each of these states saw 49% of families struggling. North Dakota had the lowest ALICE percentage with 32%. You can check how your state fares right here. Despite the lowest unemployment rate since 2000, families all over the country are barely getting by.

The media page of the ALICE website is jammed with headlines that are all too familiar for many Americans:

  • Report: Michigan makes little progress in lifting working poor to financial stability
  • After a decade of tax cuts — Ohioans in financial hardship
  • Louisiana families work hard, but still can’t cover necessities
  • 44 percent of Florida households, mostly working poor, struggling to meet basic needs
  • Third of New Jersey households can’t afford basic necessities
  • 42 percent of Wisconsin households struggle to pay bills

And on and on and on…

The economic collapse of America is here.

While many families are still doing okay, the specter of poverty looms over many of us. Many of us know that we’re one personal financial catastrophe away from disaster. I wrote recently about my own family’s struggle with a large medical bill.

Obviously, I’m not telling you about our financial saga to make myself look bad. I’m telling you because I want you to know that no matter how much you try to do everything right, financial problems can happen to anyone, at any time. Whether you have $100 in the bank or $100,000 in the bank, something can happen that wipes out your emergency fund just like it did mine.

This doesn’t mean that you failed financially – it means that circumstances can affect you, just like they do everyone else, no matter how careful you are.

Before my daughter’s illness, I was doing everything “right.”

  • I had enough money in my emergency fund to carry me through 3 lean months
  • I had numerous credit cards with zero balances
  • My only debt was my car
  • My kids are going to school without student loans
  • I opted out of health insurance because it was more financially practical to pay cash (and I still agree with that decision)

Everything was great.

Until it wasn’t. (source)

This is a story that probably rings true to more and more familiar to a growing number of families every week.

While my income hasn’t dropped – it’s grown – I am still struggling to pay off those bills and recover. I’ve taken on a significant amount of extra work to get things back under control, and still, I worry it won’t be enough.

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Sound familiar?

If it does, it’s because – and of this, I am quite certain – the long-heralded economic collapse of America is upon us. When hard-working families who should be “middle class” can barely afford to eat and keep a roof over their heads, things are only going to devolve further.

Look at other examples of economic collapse

This is just the beginning of a looming collapse in America.

Remember back when Greece began to collapse? It was the same thing – no one could afford the basics and things went downhill pretty quickly from there. It really hit the papers when a strict austerity program was instituted and culminated when a “bank holiday” shut down the financial system for an entire week.

There are similar stories in the UK (where the taxpayers can still fund a 45 million dollar wedding but poor families can’t afford to eat every day), Argentina, and Cyprus.

Jose wrote for us about the warning signs that the collapse of Venezuela was approaching and they’re eerily familiar. Food rationing began, the cost of medical care became prohibitive, the health insurance system began to fail, and people began to make difficult choices about rent versus food.

I don’t know how it could be any more clear than the fact that nearly half of the American population is also making that decision each month.

What’s the answer?

While the United Way hopes to boost the minimum wage, I don’t feel that is the answer because it will drive businesses to let employees go when they can’t afford to pay them. We have seen this happen in fast food establishments in which humans are on their way to being replaced by self-service kiosks and burger-flipping robots.

I believe the only answer is to begin to produce more than we consume. Currently, Americans are like a horde of locusts, working at jobs that produce nothing, but consuming rabidly the imports that feed us, clothe us, and entertain us. We’re looking at economic tariffs on imports that may increase their price up to 40% and our own exports will be subject to tariffs in return.

If you find yourself in a tough spot, these tips from The Cheapskate’s Guide to the Galaxy may help.

  1. Audit your situation. See where all your money is going, see how much debt you’re in, and see what the most immediate ramifications will be.
  2. Take care of the most important things first. In most situations, keeping your home paid for (rent or mortgage), paying utilities, and making your auto and insurance payments should come first. Take care of the things that will have the most immediate ramifications first.
  3. You may have to make some late payments on less vital things. If so, communicate with those to whom you owe money and try to make arrangements. This may affect your credit, but by communicating with them, you can keep damage to a minimum.
  4. Cut your expenses. When you audit your situation, you may find some places that you can slash your regular expenses. Don’t hesitate to reduce services that are unnecessary or to whittle down your monthly obligations. (More ideas here)
  5. Put a little money back into your emergency fund as soon as possible. This may sound counterintuitive but having a bit of money for minor emergencies means that you won’t need to rely on credit cards for these things, putting you even further in the hole.
  6. Pay off your debts. Use the snowball method to attack your debts. Start paying these off AFTER you pay for the things I recommended in step 2.
  7. Use the things you have on hand. Delay a trip to the store for as long as possible by planning a menu using the food in your pantry and freezer. (Think about the stockpile challenge we did and use those strategies. Get some ideas for meals from your stockpile in this article) Use the shampoo, soap, and personal hygiene products that you have already instead of buying new products.
  8. Raise extra money. This may come from selling things you don’t need, taking on some extra work, or by creating a product or service to sell. However you do this, use the extra revenue wisely to get out of debt and to rebuild your emergency fund. There are more ideas for making money quickly in this issue.

And to harden yourself against the collapse that will only get worse, make these changes to help your family survive.

What can you store?” is not the right question to ask.

“What can you make?” – that’s the right question.

Your focus has to be on long-term sustainability, frugality, and self-reliance.  Don’t get me wrong – a stockpile is sensible and an essential course of action. It should definitely be part of your preparedness plan.

However, you need to also be ready for the time when the supplies in your well-stocked pantry are no longer available.  You need to be able to meet as many of your own needs as possible or you’ll end up being one of those people wearing dirty clothes because you can’t find laundry soap or going hungry because you can’t find any food at the stores – or can’t afford it if you can find it. You need to be ready for the end of a consumer-driven lifestyle, because quite frankly, there may soon come a day when there are no consumer goods to be had. Here are some ways to work on your

Here are some ways to work on your self-reliance:

It’s only by reducing your need for the things sold in stores that you can exempt yourself from the chaos and desperation that will erupt when everyone realizes that an economic collapse has occurred.

Please feel free to share any information from this site in part or in full, leaving all links intact, giving credit to the author and including a link to this website and the following bio. Daisy is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting, homeschooling blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper, where this article first appeared. Daisy is the publisher of The Cheapskate’s Guide to the Galaxy, a monthly frugality newsletter, and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. She is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menagerie. You can find Daisy on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Image credit: The Daily Sheeple


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19 Comments on "When 43% of Americans Can’t Pay for Food and Rent, We Can Safely Say the Economic Collapse Is HERE"

  1. And for those of us who have/are economized to the hilt and beyond already:
    1. Put your children up for adoption
    2. Steal a shopping cart, tent and sleeping bag to hit the streets
    3. Learn how to dumpster harvest

    • *chuckles*
      1. Got no kids. Well, one little dog but he’s not a human kid.
      2. I’m not keen upon sleeping under the stars as I once had been. Would not be in the streets anyway, rather enjoy the wilderness as it’s what I learned to live in. 🙂
      3. Well, I reckon foraging could be considered dumpster diving. My wife gets all girly on me when I mention eating grubs, crickets, grasshoppers, worms, helgramites, raccoon, squirrel, snake, bark. She tells me that it seems to her I’d eat what a goat would puke back up. Told her if it was needed then heck yeah I would.

      Thank you for the chuckle G’ma G. Hope your neck o’ the woods be faring well. 🙂 *hug* *hug* *hug* If I gave you extra hugs, pass some on to someone you know what needs. Keep our hug chain going and we’ll see it that love wins.

  2. Veri Tas 102 | May 21, 2018 at 11:43 pm | Reply

    Add this to the list of things to do in order to get by on less money:

    Switch to a whole plant-based diet!

    For example breakfast: Make your own breakfast cereal: Combine rolled oats with raw almonds and pumpkin seeds, coconut chips (coconut shavings), dried goji berries, dried sour cherries, dried currants. Store in airtight container. Add rice or coconut milk. Voila, a healthy DIY breakfast cereal.

    For example lunch: Buy wheat-free wholegrain bread, sliced and freeze in bulk. Make your own hummus (from chickpeas and tahini/sesame seed paste) and use as sandwich filler. Can made in advance and in bulk and stores in the refrigerator for several days. Add salad greens to complete the sandwich. Add an apple and banana to the lunch box. Don’t buy overpriced and unhealthy lunches.

    For example, dinners: Combine legumes with whole-grain rice and add green leafy vegetables. The legume/rice combo replaces meat, and provides a complete protein meal. Rice and legumes (beans, lentils, chick peas) are as cheap as chips, as are green vegetables.

    • For the love of all things holy why are you telling us to eat whole grain rice that is notorious for containing levels of arsenic that are known to exceed safe levels?

      “Rice is the major staple food for about two billion people living in Asia. It has been reported to contain considerable amount of inorganic arsenic which is toxic to pancreatic beta cells and disrupt glucose homeostasis.

      Hence, increased prevalence of diabetes in South Asia may be related to the consumption of arsenic contaminated rice depending on its content in the rice and daily amount consumed. In this review, we have focused on the possible relation between rice consumption, arsenic contamination, and prevalence of diabetes in South Asia.”

      • Veri Tas 102 | May 22, 2018 at 12:38 am | Reply

        True for rice sprayed with fungicides and pesticides. Try organic brown rice…
        Rice that has been grown organically is not soaked in pesticides and fungicides from seed to package, like conventional rice.

        Organic rice is still relatively cheap…

        • Huh?

          Why are you making stuff up?

          Both the FDA and Lundberg ORGANIC rice state that the arsenic in rice is primarily derived from what is naturally present in the soil.

          Both of them also recognize that rice consumption can easily exceed what is considered a safe level of exposure ESPECIALLY for infants.

          They also note that the highest concentration of arsenic is typically found in whole grain rice, as opposed to milled.

          It seems you’re more interested in pushing an anti-pesticide narrative than facts.

          • Not only does organic rice contain arsenic, it is also full of aluminum. And you know what – BIG DEAL. Metallic arsenic is poisonous, the arsenic in foods is bound to a protein and is not poisonous.

          • You are incorrect. The arsenic in rice that is troubling is INorganic arsenic. (That’s the kind that isn’t bonded to carbon-based molecules….i.e. protein).

            So many of you folks just making stuff up.

          • And how do you know that? You opened your big mouth, now back up your claim.

          • I’d love to, but every time I put a link in my post, it’s gets auto-blocked by mods.

            I know it because I’m apparently bright enough to use the internet to look up peer reviewed articles, and most damningly, rice brands’ own web pages.

            You can easily look up what constitutes inorganic and organic forms of arsenic (even WIkipedia can help you with that one).

            Then you can roll over to Lundberg’s own rice FAQ where they literally tell you that their rice is contaminated with the dangerous form of arsenic and that it’s inorganic.

            And that’s coming straight from the mouths of someone with a vested interest in selling you that contaminated rice.

          • Hide the link in embroidery.

          • Veri Tas 102 | May 22, 2018 at 3:58 pm |

            Huh? Yes, I’m certainly pushing an anti-pesticide stance…

            If the soil is “naturally” contaminated with arsenic, then all other crops grown in the soil will be spoilt by arsenic, too.

            My “narrative” was to add an idea (cheaper plant-based whole foods eating) to the list of options low-income families could include in their regime to try and make ends meet.

          • Didn’t I already tell you to stop making stuff up?

            Arsenic isn’t even uniformly present in the rice itself. It’s concentrated in the bran. (That’s the reason why I told you that whole grain rice is actually the worst form of rice when it comes to ingesting toxins).

            Why on Earth would all the other crops be as good at incorporating arsenic into their edible parts when rice (which is known to be notorious for its ability to absorb arsenic) isn’t even storing it uniformly in the parts that we eat?

            Who cares what your idea was? You spend all day ranting about toxins are now telling everyone to eat one of the most notoriously contaminated grains on the planet–and even try to pretend that it can be solved by eating organic rice (which even growers of organic rice say is not true).

            Arsenic is often higher in organic rice than conventional, which can be made worse by being grown in tainted soil, but still occurs even when the soil isn’t tainted.

            link removed due to anon poster autoblock

            Arsenic is a neurotoxin that causes cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s and mood disorders.

            link removed due to anon poster autoblock

            Arsenic causes autism

            link removed due to anon poster autoblock
            link removed due to anon poster autoblock

            Such articles are more than sufficient for you to declare vaccines Satan Incarnate, but apparently when you’re a rice lover you seem to be just fine ingesting toxins that cause autism–and even go as far as to lie about the problem being entirely due to pesticides.

          • Veri Tas 102 | May 23, 2018 at 4:02 pm |

            Calm down…. I agree with you re arsenic. Arsenic is released into the environment through the use of pesticides and poultry fertilizer. (Chickens are often fed arsenic.) Therefore, it’s in the soil and water.

            Ergo organic rice not sprayed with pesticides and poultry fertilizer contain negligible levels of arsenic. Additionally, you would always rinse the rice grains in a sieve before cooking anyway.

            Do you avoid eating chicken?
            Arsenic was introduced to chicken feed in the 1940s as a way to improve muscle growth, fight disease and make the meat pinker. Most of the arsenic is excreted, but some ends up in the chicken meat.

            In 2014, the FDA called for the removal of the animal drug Roxarsone from chicken feed, saying it can transform into inorganic arsenic. But, removing it from the market is an ongoing process.

            You may not care what my initial post was about, but my initial point was on topic and, given that poor people eat extremely unhealthy diets, my money -saving tip re dietary changes would also be an improvement health-wise, even with the (organic) brown rice.

          • I’ll “calm down” when you stop pulling “facts” out of your hoo-haa.

            You know, like pretending that soil arsenic is negligible in the absence of the application of poisonous chicken feed or pesticide. You LITERALLY MADE THAT UP. I’ve already told you twice that ORGANIC rice farmers disagree with you, and they have every reason on Earth to dupe the nothing-natural-could-ever-be-toxic crowd.

            You also clearly do not agree on arsenic as you just told everyone to eat multiple servings of the most contaminated form of rice per day (brown), which is KNOWN to be present in levels high enough to harm infants.

            Nothing anywhere says the level of arsenic in brown rice is negligible.

            You know what has been declared to be present in negligible amounts? Many vaccine “toxins,” and yet no one would ever see you accepting such an explanation.

            Do I avoid eating chicken? Well, yeah actually. I don’t eat meat.

            I know this is hard for you, but arsenic is just plain NATURALLY present in significant quantities in soil. No chickens needed. You can go read about how NATURAL sources of arsenic are perfectly capable of increasing arsenic levels in drinking water enough to actually cause arsenicosis.

            You know what else is interesting? That’s you’re perfectly cool with feeding toxin-laden brown rice to poor people for their benefit because they don’t have better options to protect their health–but you’re all ballzz out against doing the same with vaccines with toxin levels that actually are generally thought to be negligible.

            It just goes to show that you don’t really know any of the facts related to what you’re talking about, and that you’re so shameless that you’ll just make things up when you’re caught with your pants down.

            Arsenic is only present in significant levels because of evil big Ag. pFFFFT! What a buncha hooey.

      • Arsenic has also been found in mass produced chicken that folks buy from local supermarkets. My wife and I typically joke about eating arsenic patties or arsenic nuggets. That noted, I have been eating a lot more raw or as close to raw plant based foods lately. I need to do so as its a means to living healthier, for dieting, for control of insulin despite not being diagnosed as diabetic only obese.

        Rice is one of those foods I eat, granted sparingly due to another reason, but I do eat it and enjoy it. The reason I eat it carefully is due to it being high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates turn into glucose (sugar) in your body and this in turn can be stored as fat cells. There is even a likelihood that these fat cells might wind up being dead cells, which is in effect cancer.

        I think you may need to do some further research as it sounds like you’re reading from a propagandist “spread fear and doubt” script. What I’m posting here comes from various venues of research and is my opinion. I’m not saying my opinion is the gospel truth, only that it’s based upon looking over different views and thinking critically for myself.

        “Believe whatever you want to believe, because there will always be
        someone there to tell you you are wrong.” I believe you can do that, too, believe what you want. I’m not here to tell you that you’re wrong. I’m only telling you what I believe and why. You can take that at face value, or not. Have a good one.

  3. How about dumping all the iphones and their corresponding fees?? How much could everyone save? How about talking more with each other and finding better solutions for sharing, for example food, driving costs, books, newspapers, appliances, who the heck knows what else… Thank you, the author of this article for reminding everyone, that we are THINKING HUMAN BEINGS. Hopefully one day, people can be little bit better than the birds, who are saving the seeds they find every day, for future..

  4. “I believe the only answer is to begin to produce more than we consume. ”

    Some of us have already been ‘there’ for the last twenty to thirty years already. It is called doing what you can with what you have or even don’t have. You simply ‘make do’.

    So then what is your grand solution? More of the same? Wow, that’s a shock. No, not really.

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