11 Things People Don’t Know Until They Become Poor

There are some perspectives you just can't understand until you've been in the same situation. There are things which have to be experienced and learned before they can be understood, and we cannot truly judge someone else in that situation until we've been there too. Rich people and poor people see things very differently, especially regarding how and where they use resources. And if you’ve gone from having lots of money to spend to being poor and broke or vice versa, there might be some things that only “being poor” would teach us.

Can you think of some things you didn’t know firsthand until you became poor? In this blog we're exploring eleven of those concepts.

How to make $20 last for a week

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If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and just lost your only source of income, which is your job, making $20 last for a week is likely to be on your list. If you add the rising cost of living and inflation, $20 would definitely make you homeless faster than the speed of light. One person pointed out the food that could get you throughout the week for $20,

“Ramen, rice, potatoes, cheap pasta. Total carb-loading.”

How to make $20 last for a week

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Another person replied, “Or cheap fast food. It's no surprise that poor people have higher obesity rates. The cheapest foods are carb-ridden sugar-loaded trash, and the more expensive food has all the nutrients.”

Which of the bills to pay first

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“You have a couple of months from when you get those ‘pay us now' letters until they actually care enough to get bailiffs involved,” one person stated.

“I am currently in that stage and boy if that doesn't just make the next payment even worse. It's and endless cycle of higher and higher catch-up payments till you die or someone finally helps you,” a second person replied.

A third commenter added, “I remember a time when I had to plan which bills to pay and which to let go delinquent, and since winter was coming, I knew I could skate by not paying the electric bill and they couldn't shut it off out of concerns for safety. Those were not fun times.”

Normal errands that take twice much of your time

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When you’re poor, you will have to take public transportation and limit yourself when getting groceries or buying things because it’s too much of a hassle on the bus.

One Reddit user said, “That everything takes twice as long to do because you have to take public transportation, and have to go to the laundromat; many things are a huge hassle like limiting how many things you can get at the store because you have to lug it all on the bus; basically things that many take for granted require a load of planning and time.”

Sleeping on a hungry stomach to ease hunger

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When you're poor, you learn to manage your hunger not through diets but through sleeping.

One person said, “Sleeping not because you're tired but because you're hungry and can't grab a bite because whatever might be left in the fridge gotta last till the 15th.”

Another commenter added, “Yeahhhh. I remember my go tos were salad cream sandwiches and a can of tinned tomatoes, warmed up with a pinch of sugar in. I do not miss those days.”

A third Redditor added, “Or letting your kids go to their friends house because you know they'll be having dinner.”

How expensive it is to be poor

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One person said, “How expensive being poor can be. When you're living paycheck-to-paycheck, you can't often plan/save/budget as well as you could if you had some money to fall back on.”

A second person replied, “Yeah, a while back I was going to attempt to declare bankruptcy, but I couldn't even afford the process to get a bankruptcy lawyer, and couldn't figure out how to, or if I even was allowed to do it myself. Too poor to go bankrupt.”

Another commenter added, “I didn't grow up poor, but I've definitely had gaps between jobs where I've had to dip into what savings I had to pay for rent and bills. Now I have a steady job, but I'm still struggling to get any form of savings and often drop back into my overdraft at the end of the month. Once you're negative money, it takes a long time to get out of it until you're done paying off debts.”

Shame at not being able to participate in social and school events, especially as a kid

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It's hard when you're a kid and you can't go on fun field trips, join clubs, or watch various forms of entertainment because your parents can't afford it. There's a huge amount of envy you feel for other kids who can afford those things.

“Yep. Sport teams, club memberships, Disneyland, hanging out with buddies on the weekend costs money too! You need to pay for a meal or snack, admission if it's a movie or park, gas money, spending money,” one person stated.

“I always felt bad for the kids who couldn't go on a field trip in school because it was say ten dollars so they had to sit in study hall for the day. At least give them the day off or something,” a second person commented.

Another user replied, “The day off is an additional punishment for poor working parents…study hall is the closest safe thing.”

Resenting your parents as a kid

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One Reddit user shared their childhood experience: “Resenting your parents because you watch your mom still put that 20$ bill in the church donation pan every Sunday yet there’s no food in the fridge and you’re close to being evicted.”

The second person replied, “Or put it in the lottery machine every day, don’t forget the smokes.”

It's a hard choice for parents too, weighing their conviction to give and be generous against the struggle to provide for their families.

Being forced to use your creativity and resourcefulness because you have nothing

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“Rice and potatoes can be made for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes, your kids' unfinished meals is all you'll get to eat (even if it's just a bite or two). A few cardboard boxes and some tape will keep kids occupied with no tv to watch. Being poor is expensive and almost impossible to get out of. You miss paying the electric bill, so they shut it off, then charge a reconnect fee of (sometimes) hundreds of dollars. As soon as you save any amount of money, something will break and cost you more than you have saved. Example: my washer and dryer died within a day of each other. Can't afford new, so I had to go thru a rent to own place. Got a decent deal on a used set. But the water pipe broke while trying to unhook the old washer. Cost us $200 to fix the broken water pipe plus will cost us $700 for the new to us washer and dryer. Right after Christmas I had saved up a little money (little meaning less than a hundred.) And then a tire blew on the car. My bf and I work full time both making okay/decent money. And I work part time. And now he's looking for a 2nd job and I'm looking for a 3rd. It's exhausting to be poor,” one person shared.

Money actually can buy happiness

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Do you also believe that money can’t buy happiness? Well, it really can once you become poor and have to do your best to make your food last for many weeks.

One person said, “I HATE it when people say that it can't. I'm like, clearly you've never been poor.”

The second person replied, “And can buy basic health too. Renewing you glasses’ formula is expensive, and you end up having to go for many months with the same pair until they broke beyond true usability, for example. Also, I think lots will understand when I talk about the tiredness that comes after weeks of having a diet based on pasta, rice, and potatoes, no proteins or vegetables.”

Learning to deal with the discomfort of being comfortable

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If you haven’t been poor, you wouldn’t know what it feels like to have nothing and have to make everything last.

One person said, “Going from being poor growing up to middle class now [sic]. The uncomfortableness of being comfortable. Even though I can afford many privileges now, in the back of my head the idea of spending money on certain items still makes me really uncomfortable since it makes me feel like ill have to give up something else.”

Another one added, “Yep. I agonize over every purchase.”

Dealing with dark thoughts, such as stealing

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When you’re out alone, cold, and hungry, it’s easy for dark thoughts to come to your mind. However, while stealing a few foods would ease your hungry stomach for a time, the consequences of getting caught are enormous.

One person said, “If I were to happen to see someone stealing food at a grocery store…no I didn't… If someone is willing to risk stealing something like food, you know they're desperate.”

Do you agree with the things listed here? Which one have you experienced? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Check out this Reddit thread for more.

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