Quite frequently I find myself watching Dateline NBC – it’s one of Trent’s favorite shows! A few days ago they shared about middle-class families falling into poverty. One family in particular blew me away, and I couldn’t help but get upset as I watched the show.

After watching a family struggle, I'm sharing 4 things I learned from others going through a hard time!Before this family fell onto hard times they were making a salary of $120,000. They had a comfortable home in the suburbs, a 3 month emergency fund and two cars (one being a new SUV). They said that their non-extravagant income “gave them stability with a sense of security to pay everything and have some leftover.”

Their financial hard times hit when both of them lost their jobs within a four month period. They not only lost their jobs but one of their children got sick with a rare liver disease and they had thousands of dollars in medical bills. Thankfully the husband was able to quickly find a job at an athletic store. It was not the income they were used to so their savings dwindled quickly.

After three months of being out of work and with their savings depleted they had no other choice but to get some help from the Department of Housing and Human Services. HHS gave them money for their rent and encouraged them to visit the local food pantries for assistance. They visited a food pantry and the wife said that she didn’t “want them (her children) to remember this time or a food pantry in their life.”

The family eliminated vacations, eating out and after school activities for the kids, cancelled their cable, down-graded their internet service, and shopped in thrift stores in order to meet the requirements for HSS and their assistance. They decided to keep the SUV saying it was a “symbol of security,  success, and solidly middle-class people.”

Having searched for work for nine months with no leads, the wife didn’t want to settle for anything less than an executive position. As times got leaner the husband and wife began to fight over money and finally visited a marriage counselor. She began to get frustrated at her husband wishing he would be more ambitious and find something better than his current job – even though it was a steady income with benefits. She said, “I feel like you’re selling yourself short.”

Their eight months of rental assistance was coming to an end so the husband took on a second job cleaning offices at night. The wife decided to take part of that work-load. She said she felt like she was letting a lot of people down including her family and parents. She finally realized that she “needed to grow up and make some temporary choices” and finally took an administrative position to help support the family.

This situation drew them closer as a couple and they are working together to become self-sufficient.

I think this was so hard to watch because I’ve been in this type of scary situation where you’re not sure what’s going to happen or how bills are going to get paid. I’ve been there and it’s not fun!

4 things I was reminded of/learned from this family!

1. Our stuff/job does not define us.

2. We need to be willing to do whatever is possible to take care of our family – nothing is below anyone!

3. We need to live debt free and save for a rainy day because we never know when it’s going to come.

4. It’s okay for our children to see us go through hard times – not only does it give us teachable moments but it may help them later in life.

What did you learn from their story?