THE BLOG

The In-Betweeners of a Broken System

04/15/2014 12:37 pm ET | Updated Jun 15, 2014
Ashley Schmidtbauer

We're not destitute, but we barely make it month to month.

We are making it a priority to pay off all of our debts so every extra penny we are trying to put towards our debt snowballs. That doesn't leave a whole lot of wiggle room at the end of each paycheck.

We are lucky. My husband works a good job for the area we live in. It allows me to stay home with our two young children. But there are sacrifices. Sacrifices we make every month. We do it for our family. Our kids come first. Clothes, shoes, diapers... everything for them. I can't tell you the last time I bought myself any clothes.

Yes, we have health insurance. It doesn't cover hardly anything though. We owe $2,500 on an emergency room bill from when I was in excruciating pain and found out I had gallstones. $2,500 for one hour, one ultrasound, and two pills before they sent me home. But we don't like to complain -- we're making monthly payments to pay it off. We take the punches as they come.

Somehow our children are now being punished. This is what I have a problem with. We applied for our son to get into Head Start, the preschool program that is offered to low income families. I love being a stay-at-home mom, but I want my kids to have some social interaction with kids their age before they go to kindergarten. Both of our kids were denied entry into the program because we make "too much" money. To be honest, we make roughly $35,000 a year. Somehow, we make over $10,000 more than their limits allow.

We are the in-betweeners. Not making enough to live "comfortably" -- but not "poor" enough to get any assistance either. We don't expect handouts. We just want what is best for our family. It feels like because my husband works and we don't have an outrageous number of kids we can't catch a break from either side.

I don't know how to fix the system. To be honest, my concern is my family and that's it. We will pay off every debt we have and then hopefully be able to buy our first home next year. The American Dream feels impossible sometimes. We do everything we can. I started a blog to help (possibly) get a second income. My biggest reason for starting a blog was to help others who may be in similar situations. How to live on a budget without going crazy. Recipes, meal plans, grocery lists, crafts, DIY, and more. All on a budget.

You want to know how the working poor really live? My husband works an average of 50 hours per week just so we can barely make it paycheck to paycheck. We just want to give our kids a good life. We just want the American Dream. We want to have a little house and yard. Want to give our kids their own rooms, a dog, a garden. We really just want a simple life. Seems we just have to work three times as hard as anyone else.

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Ashley's story is part of a Huffington Post series profiling Americans who work hard and yet still struggle to make ends meet. Learn more about other individuals' experiences here.

Have a similar story you'd like to share? Email us at workingpoor@huffingtonpost.com