Last Friday, I mentioned Justin Bieber's new prepaid card in the weekly news round up. This week, reality TV star Honey Boo Boo (Alana Thompson) is making headlines with news that her family has set up trust funds for their show earnings. TIME posted a piece yesterday with the snarky headline: Honey Boo Boo's Mom is Actually Doing Something Smart with Her Reality Show Money. (I know that sometimes journalists don't write their own headlines, but someone wrote this one.) The headline supposes that we should be surprised that a historically low-income family from rural Georgia would ever do something "smart" with an influx of cash. In fact, the way the headline frames the article sets us up not to explore the savings strategies this family is using, but instead to have a little "fun" at the expense of poor people. Not only are the assumptions that went into that headline wildly classist in nature, they also happen to be flat out wrong.
There's a myth (apparently all too common) that poor people can't save. Actually, they can and do. Decades of research from the asset building field (check out this 2011 Urban Institute paper for a sampling) show that while certainly a lower income can make saving harder, many individuals and families overcome low levels of earnings to put money away for a rainy day.