streets http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/10363/all en-US 37 Ways You’d be Better Off as a Bum http://www.wisebread.com/37-ways-youd-be-better-off-as-a-bum <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/37-ways-youd-be-better-off-as-a-bum" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/clip_image031.jpg" alt="Begging" title="Begging" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="333" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>First, apologies for the blatantly provocative title (although I do make good on it). But did you know that some people prefer to be homeless? I know, sounds crazy right? But I was watching a news story recently about the growing homeless population in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Britain</st1:place></st1:country-region>, and the US, and it seems some homeless people stay in their situations on purpose.<o:p><br /> </o:p></p> <p>Now, one thing was made quite clear; no-one chooses to be become homeless. It is definitely a situation that is thrust upon people by circumstance. Over 95% hate the life they live and want out. But after a few years, a small percentage become used to the lifestyle, in the same way that some inmates become &ldquo;institutionalized&rdquo; in prison.<o:p><br /> </o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">As it turns out, some of the pressures of living a homeless life are comparable to the pressures many of us face living our typical &ldquo;American Dream&rdquo; lifestyles.&nbsp; When I say typical, I mean the average family that has credit card debt, struggles to pay bills and wonders how they&rsquo;ll ever be able to afford to put their kids through college and, one day, retire on a livable wage.<o:p><br /> </o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">And homeless people can make a pretty good living collecting change. In one article that I found from <a href="http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/450951/choosing_to_be_homeless.html?cat=49">Associated Content.</a>&nbsp; Deanna Anderson describes in detail how her father-in-law chose to stay homeless, despite the offer of some help. He did stay during the Christmas break, however, and Deanna recounts this tale:<o:p><br /> </o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i style=""><span style="color: black;">While he was staying with us he asked for some cardboard. Thinking he wanted to do something for the kids (he loved to draw) I gave him some.&nbsp; I cringed with shame when he wrote &quot;Homeless, please help&quot; on the cardboard.&nbsp; He asked for a ride to Wal-Mart and stood outside all day (about 5-6 hours) collecting change.&nbsp; This was his job every day excpet Christmas Day.&nbsp; On a bad day he came home with $20.00 and on a good day he'd come home with $70.00 (what I make in a day filing, typing, and dealing with people in an 8-hour shift).&nbsp; He came home with an entire foot-long sandwich that someone gave him and a warm fuzzy blanket because &quot;no one should be cold during the holidays.&quot;</span><o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal">There are also <a href="http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2255/how-much-money-do-beggars-make">stories </a>of some panhandlers earning $800 a day:<o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i style=""><span style="color: black;">Anecdotal accounts suggest a few panhandlers do quite well. For instance, a recent news story tells of Jason Pancoast and Elizabeth Johnson, self-described &quot;affluent beggars&quot; from <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Ashland</st1:city>, <st1:state w:st="on">Oregon</st1:state></st1:place>. The couple estimates they can make $30-40,000 per year from panhandling. They boast earnings as high as $300 per day, and assert they once made $800 in one day. Similarly, a former <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Denver</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">City</st1:placetype></st1:place> Council president claimed to know panhandlers who made hundreds of dollars per week, or even per day. City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth said, &quot;I know some people are making $150 to $300 or $400 a day. There are some people who are in desperate situations but many who are panhandling for a living.&quot; One hesitates to generalize from such stories, though.<o:p></o:p></span></i><i style=""><span style="color: black;"><o:p><br /> </o:p></span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i style=""><span style="color: black;"><a href="http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/08/24/020301.php">And this, from my home town of <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Denver</st1:place></st1:city>:</a><o:p></o:p></span></i><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: &quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color: black;"><br /> </span><i style=""><span style="color: black;"><o:p></o:p></span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i style=""><span style="color: black;">According to a recent survey conducted by the Downtown <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Denver</st1:place></st1:city> Partnership, 42% of the population has given money to panhandlers in the past year and the average person there gives $1.84 each time he or she is approached by a panhandler, for a total of about $25 a year. This adds up to an awful lot of money - a total of over $4.6 million, divided among about a thousand panhandlers. That's an average of about $50,000 per active panhandler per year, with confidential interviews with panhandlers indicating that they make between $35,000 and $100,000 tax free per year and view panhandling as the equivalent of a job or a profession. Some even have homes and support families on their panhandling income.</span><o:p></o:p></i><o:p><br /> </o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Fox affiliate <a href="http://www.fox11az.com/news/topstories/stories/washington-2008101-panhandling-40-an-hour.ce7d4038.html">KMSB-TV reported</a> that panhandlers in the area are making $40 per hour! That&rsquo;s over 5 times more than minimum wage, and remember, this is tax-free.<span style="">&nbsp; </span>Outrageous.&nbsp; A former boss once told me that there was a beggar in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">London</st1:place></st1:city> who camped outside of a very grand restaurant called The Ivy and committed Grievous Bodily Harm to keep another beggar off his spot; it was THAT lucrative.&nbsp; And I recently saw a <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_pte2XO66Nwg/SWrowRcq9MI/AAAAAAAADKs/WI4pe-o6NSg/s1600-h/paypal%2Bbeggar.jpg">photo </a>of a beggar advertising his PayPal account.&nbsp; Wait, what?! (Looks like someone's having fun with Photoshop).</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;<img alt="Begging with PayPal" src="http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t81/pmsuggett/clip_image001.jpg" /></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p></o:p>Now, those seem to be examples of extreme cases.&nbsp; I suspect much of this is speculation and exaggeration.&nbsp; And clearly, some of these people aren&rsquo;t really homeless, they&rsquo;re more like con-artists.&nbsp; Most of the time, when I see a beggar, they really do look very down on their luck and desperate for a meal and a warm bed.&nbsp; Sometimes, I&rsquo;ve offered a homeless person food and have been turned down; what they want is money for alcohol or drugs, and many people say &ldquo;who can blame them?&rdquo;&nbsp; On other occasions, I&rsquo;ve given beggars the leftovers from my restaurant meal, or offered to buy them a sandwich or burger, and they were smiling from ear to ear.<o:p><br /> </o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">And let&rsquo;s not forget that there are homeless families out there too.&nbsp; As a father of two, I can&rsquo;t imagine what kind of pressure that it.&nbsp; But getting back to the title of the story, over my few days of looking into this story, I&rsquo;ve heard and read many accounts of how beggars and &ldquo;bums&rdquo; have less to worry about than us regular civilians; some even say they have it easy.&nbsp; Some of these came directly from the mouths of people begging on the streets, I kid you not.&nbsp; I&rsquo;ll be praying that I never get the chance to find out, but here&rsquo;s the list.&nbsp; Take it all with an enormous grain of salt. <o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>37 ways you&rsquo;d be better off as a bum.</strong><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <ol type="1" style="margin-top: 0in;" start="1"> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t pay taxes on any money you collect</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t have a mortgage</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t have a boss</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You can never get fired</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You have zero debt</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You can pick up and move anytime you want</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t have a car payment</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t get stuck in traffic jams</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You&rsquo;ll never break down on the motorway</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t have to pay bills</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">Or remember to pay bills</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t care about your credit report</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t get harassing calls from collection agencies</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t get calls&hellip;period</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t have to deal with junk mail</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t have to wake up to an annoying alarm</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t have to do laundry</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t get criticized for bad fashion choices</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t have email to check (Well, apart from PayPal dude)</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t have to wait three hours in security at the airport</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t have to attend parties with people you hate</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t have to fix yet another paper jam</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You never have to sit through an ad featuring Billy Mays</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t have to vacuum</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">Or spring clean</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">Or scrub the toilet</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t get bothered by cell-phone salesmen in malls</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don&rsquo;t care about identity theft</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don't give a crap about reality shows (you're living one every day)</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style=""><o:p>Going to jail for the night means a warm bed and a meal<br /> </o:p></li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You've (probably) never heard of Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">Newspapers are actually handy; and you can read them too</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You don't care if gas hits $4 a gallon</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">Sell-by dates are your friend</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">Every cent is valuable to you; spare change is an oxymoron</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">Hair salons are a joke</li> <li class="MsoNormal" style="">You can say you're free...and mean it<o:p></o:p></li> </ol> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>I know, for every one reason listed there are five that would prove how bad it is to be homeless.&nbsp; But that doesn't stop some people from choosing to stay on the streets; and some con artists making a very good living on the back of your sympathy and good will. Personally, I much prefer donating to homeless charities and shelters than to give it to someone on a street corner or at the traffic lights.&nbsp; I know my money is definitely going to help someone who needs it. <br /> </o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><o:p><em>Further reading:</em><br /> </o:p><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: &quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color: black;"><a href="http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=121964">http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=121964</a><o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: &quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color: black;"><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beggar">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beggar</a><o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: &quot;Lucida Grande&quot;; color: black;"><a href="http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/08/24/020301.php">http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/08/24/020301.php</a><o:p></o:p></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/37-ways-youd-be-better-off-as-a-bum">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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