31 Things About Growing Up Poor (That Rich Kids Will Never Understand)

Found on AskReddit.

1. Going to Grandma’s house because there’s nothing to eat at your house.

“Going to Grandma’s house ‘just because,’ and realizing that it’s because there’s no food at your house and grandma wants to make sure you’ve eaten dinner.”


2. Seeing your mom walk in the door with a box of food that you know she had to beg the food bank to let her have.

“Rich kids can never understand the pain, humiliation, helplessness, and sadness of seeing your mom walk in the door with a box of food that you know she had to beg the food bank to let her have. Thinking about this now makes me upset still, but when I was a kid it was a fact of life that I was too young to embrace the burden off. Times like that made me grow up way too fast. While other kids might’ve just complained and bitched about frivolous shit, seeing my mother go through that really left me feeling upset and helpless.”


3. No Christmas.

“That Santa doesn’t visit some kids.”


4. Pretending you’re not even hungry.

“Pretending you’re not even hungry and that’s why you’re not eating lunch.”


5. How eating shit food and living in a shit place makes you feel like shit and how hard it can be to break out of that.

“How being poor drains you of motivation and self-respect, and makes opportunities harder to take. How eating shit food and living in a shit place makes you feel like shit and how hard it can be to break out of that.

People who have always been rich have never felt that, so they assume that being poor is just the same as being rich without having money, and that if they were ever poor they would just work their way out of it while remaining chipper. But it’s not that easy, having no money is insidious and it affects your whole outlook and personality.

On a more positive note, how once you get some money you have an iron determination to never be poor again, which can make you work harder and better than the rich kids. Being poor can also give you respect for the value of money, and stops you wasting it.

Also, when I was poor I was somehow closer to the people who I lived around. We were poor together and we partied together in squats with out of date cider.”


6. Adding water to an empty shampoo bottle to get more shampoo.

“Adding water to an empty shampoo bottle to get more shampoo.”


7. When you turn 16 you don’t get a car, you just get to be 16.

“That when you turn 16 you don’t get a car, you just get to be 16.”


8. Ketchup sandwich. Adding water to milk.

“Ketchup sandwich. Adding water to milk. Only getting new toys on your birthday or Xmas, usually from another family member such as uncle or grand parent. .49 cent hamburger day (which turns to days) at McDonald’s.”


9. Trying to cook and serve dinner loud enough to cover up the sound of your mom crying in her bedroom because she can’t afford to pay the electricity this month.

“Trying to cook and serve dinner loud enough to cover up the sound of your mom crying in her bedroom because she can’t afford to pay the electricity this month. Putting on a cheerful face and acting super chipper for your younger siblings as you pack your bags to stay at a roach-infested motel because no electricity will get you all taken away by CPS. Walking five miles round-trip to buy dollar-store groceries on your food stamps because your mom can’t afford a car or the bus. Walking seven miles round-trip to see the Medicaid doctor after being without your medication for three months because that’s how long it takes to get an appointment. Having to pack everything you’ve ever owned into two bags, trying to decide what portions of your life can go in the garbage can, because your landlord died and your family got evicted.”


10. Sharing one McDonald’s milkshake with your five brothers and dad.

“What it’s like to be hungry and yet so poor that the only thing your mom could make you for dinner is a ketchup sandwich using free ketchup packets taken from McDonald’s from that one time that she scraped enough loose change to buy 1 milkshake for you and your 5 brothers for doing good in school. Remember how she made you guys take turns sipping from it so that everyone could get some but you guys weren’t allowed to finish it because you had to save some for when Dad came home? You don’t remember, do you? I do. That was my life growing up.”


11. Collecting beer and soda cans off the side of the road to cash them in for so you could buy food for the day.

“Collecting beer and soda cans off the side of the road to cash them in for the deposit so you could buy food for the day. (Summer was the worst because of slugs… ugh)

This may be something most wont understand actually, lol.”


12. Drinking sugar water to stay alive.

“Drinking sugar water to stay alive. Showering at the middle school because the water was shut off. Mayo and mustard sandwiches. Over eating at the pizza place my sister worked at because that would be our only meal for the day. Being SO excited to be able to spend TWO WHOLE DOLLARS at the dollar store. “Omg omg. Do I get 2 toys or 2 candies or a toy AND a candy?!” And so, so many other things. I had to explain to my SO early in our relationship that not everyone buys perm tags for their license plates, and that poor people renew them every year.”


13. The risk of failure.

“The risk of failure.

If i get a new job and it doesn’t work out, chances are I’ll not be able to get a job like my old job and could end up in a worse position than I’m in, potentially losing my home and being unable to support my family.

The people I grew up with from wealthy families always had a clear and obvious safety net, the ability to take risks, knowing that if everything goes wrong, it won’t harm them too much.

I’ve a friend who’s parents built him a house on their land, who’s income isn’t needed for living expenses, he’s got the freedom to quit his job and move to soemthing new without any fear of being unable to home his family.

I’ve another friend who, while living in his parents “spare” house (while the rest of us were paying most of our income out in rent) saved £20,000 to start a business and is now a multimillionaire.

Another friend with wealthy parents, again lives on his parents land, while basically doing nothing but waiting for his inheritance.

Basically the running theme, the thing rich kids don’t often get, is being responsible, 100% responsible, for your own basic needs and being unable to “gamble” your lifestyle due to the very real risk of failure.”


14. Having your parents ‘borrow’ money you saved up to pay the bills.

“Having your parents ‘borrow’ money you saved up to pay the bills. That living paycheck to paycheck is an actual thing. Late payments and having cell phone/electricity/water cut off. Visiting Cash Advanced stores with your parents. Having MetroPCS. The amount of unsupervised alone time spent growing up. Both my parents worked all day and couldn’t afford summer camp or anything like that. In the summers I would just hang out in the house alone or with the other neighborhood kids while the parents were at work. Having no money for Christmas trees/ fireworks/Halloween costumes to celebrate holidays.”


15. You can’t replace things you break.

“If I break this, my family cannot just afford to buy me another one.”


16. Being the outcast because you can’t afford the field trip or movie.

“Being outcasted in an activity because you can’t afford it (field trips, movies, etc.)”


17. Being unable to accept invitations because you couldn’t even afford to get a ride there.

“Moving past all the usual material stuff, one thing that sucked for me growing up was that I couldn’t just up and go places when invited, even if it was free or their parents covered the cost of the activity. My mother was always broke and though we had a car, gas was reserved for the work commute only. I couldn’t just ‘get a ride’ from my mom and she never had spare change for the bus. Every dollar was accounted for.

I got a lot of ‘come to the movies with us, and don’t worry I’ll pay for you just be across the city by 5:30.’

It sucked having to explain yet again that no money meant no money for anything, even a ride.

Edit: Jesus Christ, you guys. I didn’t expect this. You’re all amazing. Trying to respond to everyone’s messages, thanks for all the kind words.”


18. Not everyone graduates from high school or goes to college.

“That graduating from high school/going to university is a really big deal for some people.”


19. Hand-me-downs.

“Having your entire wardrobe consist of the clothes your older, much taller brother grew out of.

That and only ever getting to stay in a Motel 6 when traveling.”


20. Knowing how long different places take to cash a check.

“Knowing how long different places take to cash a check. Low on gas and broke? The Co-Op takes a week to cash the check so you are safe.

Also how to hook up grill propane tanks up to your water heater or furnace. My husband was baffled when I looked at hookups when we were house shopping ‘just in case.’ It was a moment I realized we had very different childhoods.”


21. Saving up lunch money to buy something.

“Saving up lunch money to buy something.”


22. Not realizing that your parents don’t hate you, they’re just under too much pressure.

“Thinking your parents hate you because of their short tempers, then you realize just how fucking stressful it is to raise kids with no money.”


23. Not having anything to eat except Kraft Dinner and canned soup.

“Not having anything to eat except Kraft Dinner and canned soup.”


24. Never traveling.

“How you haven’t been more than two states away from your home state, and haven’t been out of the country.”


25. Brown bread in a can.

“• Brown bread in a can

• Graham crackers for dinner

• Being 11 and alone answering the door at 1 in the morning to police who want to know where your mother might be because the found her car slammed into a pole.

• Christmas from the Dollar Store.

• Having your parent use your gift cards you got for cigarettes and saying I’ll pay you back later.

• Going through winter with no heat in New England, ’cause oil is too much.

• A week without electric isn’t a game to teach you a lesson but once a month thing.

• Stealing food from school so you can eat and feed your hunger.

• Stealing so you can sell stuff so you can eat.

• Being used to overdoses as a child.

• Playing did the car get repoed game.”


26. Doing all your own housework.

“I once had a conversation with one of my wealthier friends and she couldn’t comprehend that we didn’t have maids. At one point she asked, ‘Well then who does all the house work and stuff?!’ Completely flabbergasted. When I explained to her that we all pitched in when I was growing up she groaned.”


27. Having friends ask why your house is so small.

“Why my house was so small.

I got made fun of because my house was ‘so small.’ Like ‘a garage size.’

Sorry I didn’t live in a mansion like the rest of them. Come on, we had a living rooms, never had to share rooms with siblings and 1 guest room but it was still so ‘tiny’ to them. Like so tiny they almost missed it and thought it was someone’s shed!

And as you get older why I didn’t go out eating with them all the time? Or I like seafood right? Why didn’t I just order the bucket of seafood instead of the chicken club sandwich?

I wasn’t poor growing up (solid middle class background), but compared to them I might as well have been.

Edited to clarify my house wasn’t even that small. It was normal sized, but to those rich girls it was the size of their garages.”


28. Getting a serious injury but not being able to afford a doctor.

“Ok so I guess this is only in America only, but:

Getting a serious injury and trying to make it look like no big deal so you avoid people asking stuff like ‘how long did your doctor say it would take to heal?’ Because you don’t have insurance and the smallest medical expense would put your family in debt, so you never got it checked out.

Seriously, I’ve broken my foot and not even gotten crutches. Could barely walk but I had to tough it out and look like nothing was wrong.”


29. Conditioned pessimism.

“Might be late to the party, but a huge social difference I see frequently is a deeply rooted belief of wealthier people, that you are safe, that no matter what happens, you are going to be fine. Even when hit by a huge unpredictable bill that hurts their personal finances, they don’t despair, because they know the money will return soon. It always did. They can wreck cars, lose phones, get fired or be unemployed for months, but it’s OK, and they are OK, and they never know how it is to feel truly desperate, or terrified of consequences of this little setback.

And somehow this attitude is actually what keeps them cool and confident and eventually they pick up the pieces much better than the poor would.

It’s like they’re psychologically conditioned to be optimistic, and of course it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”


30. Stealing something because you need it and then crying about it later.

“• Being afraid of running out of food.

• Stealing something because you need it and then crying about it later.

• Having a ‘candle day’ because the lights don’t work.

• Sleeping in a coat, because you can’t afford to heat your home.

• Unplugging the fridge in the winter, because it isn’t necessary.

• Teaching yourself to fish because fuck it. You only have $20s anyway so buy a rod and hope for the best.

• People shaming you in college for not having to pay tuition, even though you worked hard as hell to get those need based scholarships.

• Not being able to take off work for any reason.”


31. Some girls won’t date you because you’re poor.

“People always seem shocked that I never had a girlfriend or even a date until I was in my early twenties. They assume I was too shy or not interested in women. But really, it was because I didn’t have money. Some girls won’t date you because you’re poor. Others think you’re gross because you wear the same oversized, outdated hand-me-downs every day. And even the least judgmental girls on the planet would never date you because you couldn’t afford to even go out on a date and you sure as hell aren’t going to bring her back to the broken down trailer you call home even if you could find the time between school and the 2 jobs you work to help your parents buy food and pay the bills.”

irrelevant_usernam3 Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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