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Growing up in poverty is a reality for far too many children, and it can have profound effects on their current and future lives.
While some common threads weave through the stories of kids from poorer households, there are also deep nuances to better understand what life is like for these children.
These nuances cannot be articulated or understood until you’ve seen them with your own eyes.
Today, we will explore the often hidden world of poverty, as told by individuals who know firsthand how hard it can be growing up without enough resources to meet basic needs.
We’ll take an emotional journey into this rarely-seen space as we uncover 12 powerful insights only those from poor families understand.
1. Other Kids Make Fun Of You
Growing up in poverty can be a difficult and lonely experience for children.
They often get teased and made fun of by other kids because they don’t have the same resources as theirs, leading to feelings of insecurity and isolation.
Not only this, but poor children are also more likely to face bullying since they are easy targets.
2. Re-Gifting For Your Birthday
Receiving gifts on birthdays and holidays is something special and a time for celebration.
But, when you’re growing up in poverty, re-gifting may be the only way to celebrate a birthday or holiday.
Receiving secondhand items that have been given from one family member to another can be embarrassing and make a child feel less worthy.
3. Housing Insecurity
The ability to comfortably make monthly rent or mortgage payments is something many people take for granted.
But for people experiencing poverty, paying rent each month can be a struggle, especially if there’s no one to turn to for help.
4. Wearing Hand-Me-Down Clothing
Everyone loves the feeling of getting and wearing brand-new clothes. When a family lives paycheck to paycheck, new clothing is an expense they can’t afford unless necessary.
One of the users on the forum admits to growing up wearing their cousin’s hand-me-down clothing because their parents couldn’t afford to buy them new clothes as they outgrew them.
5. Constant State of Anxiety
Low-income people live in a constant state of anxiety because they know they’re one instance away from having nothing to eat, having their essential utilities shut off, or being homeless, says a user in the discussion.
The working poor are one or two paychecks away from financial disaster.
6. Government Surplus Food
Families living below the poverty level frequently rely on government surplus food programs to have something to eat. Somebody vividly recalls “picking the peanut shells pieces out of the giant tub of government issue peanut butter, those blocks of cheese that turn into a brick if you don’t finish it within a day, and the taste of powdered milk.”
This may sound foreign to people who’ve never struggled financially. Still, the program remains a lifeline for many individuals and families.
7. Basic Utilities
Children growing up in disadvantaged homes are familiar with the feeling of coming home from school each day and not knowing if the electrical, gas, water, or cable service will still be on because their parents fell behind in making their monthly payments.
8. The Value of Leftover Food
Financially struggling households find it difficult to put food on the table. There’s no room to waste or throw away food, so eating leftover food until it’s gone is the norm.
One contributor on the thread expresses their disbelief that some people they know refuse to eat leftovers.
9. Food Stamps
For people living in poverty, food stamps often make the difference between whether or not there’s food in the house.
Someone recollects the embarrassment and shame they felt using food stamps to pay for their groceries because they didn’t have any money.
10. No Proper Shoes
People growing up poor don’t have a sizable collection of shoes to pick and choose from. It’s common to wear the same shoes until they fall apart. A participant from the discussion recounts “putting grocery bags in your winter boots to ‘keep your feet dry’ when the boots have holes in them.”
Having a second pair of shoes is a luxury many impoverished families can’t afford.
11. Everything Old is New
Replacing obsolete or broken items is a common occurrence many take for granted. People who can’t afford to spend money replacing broken objects make do with what they have.
Someone in the forum remembers their childhood: “If your toys broke, you glued them/taped them; if you found an old toy, you just got a new toy.” Buying new things is only sometimes an affordable option.
12. Extreme Hunger
It’s one thing to feel a slight hunger pang between regular meals. However, living with the type of hunger when your stomach is empty because you haven’t eaten anything all day is quite another thing. After all, there was no food in the house.
This is the type of hunger that a person can’t even sleep to escape from the feeling, a commenter discloses.
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This thread inspired this post.
I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
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