My name is Kelsie Belgard. I’m the mother to two beautiful girls, Marlee and Sadie. Marlee is 5. Sadie is almost 2. My husband, Robert, works at least 50 hours a week, most days from 2 a.m. until 10 a.m., for $11 an hour driving a forklift for Procter & Gamble. By the end of the year, we hope he’ll be up to $12 an hour, which will make a big difference for us.
We are the hard-working ALICE household you’ve heard about.
I used to work in home healthcare, but we finally figured out that even with both of us working, we just couldn’t afford daycare for our girls. Financially, we are better off with me staying home to take care of them. Plus, I was in a car accident last year and now my doctors haven’t cleared me to go back. They’re not sure I’ll be able to lift the patients. So, I’m not sure what kind of work I’ll do when I’m able — but that hasn’t stopped me from trying to figure it out or trying to contribute now.
One thing that we have going for us that many other ALICE families don’t is that my husband’s grandmother gave us an acre of land when we got married. At first, we rented because we couldn’t afford to do anything with the land. Then, we moved in with Robert’s grandmother so that we could save the money we would have spent on rent and were able to put down a payment on a manufactured home last year. We used the land as collateral. For us, mortgage is much cheaper than rent. Now we pay $409 a month for our 3-bedroom, two-bath house, compared to $550 a month when we rented a two-bedroom, one bath trailer.
The other good thing that happened is we used the tax return money to pay our debt. we had left over after getting out of debt to start a little business I can run out of our house while I take care of our daughters. I used the $500 we had left and bought a Cricut machine to make customized t-shirts, decals and stickers. I make about five shirts a week, but I have six this week — and six decals. I probably clear about $50 a week on it — but that $50 is helpful. I put between $5 and $10 aside. We’re saving that on our trip. We want to go to Disney.
Usually, after we get our taxes, we’re doing pretty good for a couple of months. Then our bills start getting behind until we get our taxes again. This year, we hope my little business will help us break that cycle.
Thank you so much for listening to my story. It’s important to me that each of you understands how hard we’re working not to be poor. We are doing our best to get ahead, but it’s not easy. Just like you, we want our dreams and our children’s dreams to come true too.