One of the most important things that people don’t understand about poverty is that it literally affects every single aspect of your life and, in many ways, it’s actually more expensive to be poor than it is to be well-off.
All the little things add up and nothing is ever easy.
People took to AskReddit to discuss what a lot of people don’t understand about being poor.
Take a look.
“Being poor is exhausting. It’s draining. Mentally. Physically. It’s just exhausting.
Everyone needs a win sometimes. Sometimes that win is finding a way to just afford a meal out or a movie. Yeah, you do have bills to pay and s**t to do. But everyone needs a breath of fresh air sometimes.
A struggle needs a break every so often.”
2. Always behind.
“There’s never enough-of anything, everything is last minute. Always behind on everything – bills, haircuts, car repairs, house repairs.
Not taking someone up on an invite because you can’t afford to bring a decent bottle of wine, I could go on and on, just thinking about it makes me tired.
I was laid off for 10 months during COVID, and was slowly sliding into poverty I was quietly terrified most of the time.”
“Everything is a hustle. Every day is a hustle.
What do I have to do to make it to the next thing? This payday loan is going to be expensive and difficult to pay back but at least I can get breakfast for the kids now.
It takes 2-3 times longer to get anywhere on the bus than in your own car. That means leaving for work earlier, coming home later. In many places, the buses don’t run as often on the weekends. Grocery shopping on the bus means just getting what you can carry which means going morf often which means more time wasted waiting.
If you have a bank account, you probably have to pay a monthly fee because your balance is too low. If you overdraft, they charge your broke ass another $35 even though they can see you ain’t got s**t.”
“When your parents are lying to you saying they’re full when they’re not so you can have the last bite.”
“The fear. Of something unexpected you haven’t budgeted for. Of a knock at the door from a debt collector.
Having to choose which of your children can eat more than once today.
Having to choose which days you go hungry so your children can eat at all.”
6. A big one.
“I am going to the dentist today. I haven’t been in about a year. I’ve got stuff that should have been done ages ago, but I just didn’t have the money.
Now I’ve got a decent income and have saved a bit, I can go without too much worry, but the damage is much worse than if I just went regularly. With that, the cost of the procedure will be higher. Six months ago, I couldn’t have afforded the x-ray they do at the start of the exam, let alone a procedure.
I’m just lucky nothing went too wrong in that time. I looked at insurance. Basically nothing but minor stuff is covered by anyone. One bad tooth infection/abscess and I would have been totally wiped out.”
7. Never a good sign.
“They should rename the check engine light.
It’s the “ you’re going to be hungry” light.”
8. No time.
“It takes up all of your time.
I remember not being able to stock up on necessities. So I would have to run to the store a lot more frequently. I couldn’t afford a car so I would either have to bus or walk.
All of these little things eat up so much time.”
9. Don’t answer the door.
“My mom would always skulk around the house anytime there was a knock at the door.
She’d tell me they were debt collectors but since we never answered the door I have no idea if that was even true.
What this did though was make it impossible for me to answer the door as an adult.”
10. Adds up.
“Everything you buy has interest attached to it, because you’re NOT using that money to pay off debts that you definitely have.”
11. Try to stay healthy.
“Don’t forget the fear of going to the doctor – even a free one – and being diagnosed with an expensive-to-treat illness.”
12. Hard luck.
“Years ago I lost my job, my apartment and car. I lived in a suburb of Dallas with only one bus line into town.
Luckily I had a place to stay with my then 5 year old daughter. When I got on food stamps and back you had to go to one office by bus to pick up your voucher, then take a bus to a different part of town to get the actual stamps, then a bus to the grocery store and then walk 3/4 of a mile back home.
All if the offices were at least a 20 minute walk from the bus stops and there was always a long line. At the end of the day I’d feel exhausted and demoralized. Today that process is streamlined with EBT cards that get reloaded.
But if I was a single mom on stamps today, I’d be required to spend the day at the Workforce office and have to figure out transportation and childcare so I can sit up there waiting to apply for jobs.”
13. The cycle.
“Cycle of poverty is no joke.
I got really sick from anxiety. My stomach hurt, I developed an ulcer, I had to go to the hospital. $$$ . Ok so root problem is anxiety and depression. How do I fix it? Therapy and maybe medication. But I’m already in debt from going to the hospital. So I try to do without.
Manage on my own. Pay down bills. Anxiety grows from seeing the debt and life under covid. Anxiety. Stomach hurts. We’re back to the beginning.”
14. Not quite poor enough.
“Just because you’re poor doesn’t mean you automatically get welfare.
You can make just slightly over the line and still be poor my mom only made $1000 a month but it was still too much to get welfare.”
“When you are a kid, the bordem.
All my friends had interests. BMX, hunting, ninja stuff, action figures, video games. And their parents fostered their interest and provided funds to grow in the hobby/sport.
I had some stuff too, but never had the sort of continual investment to pursue something as a hobby or interest. Everything was 2nd hand, boot legged, pirated, half-working, etc.”
16. A big one.
“The psychological effects it has on people. They don’t realize it.
I have a friend that grew up poor. She still struggles and has to basically take care of her entire family, including her sister-in-law now. Basically, they made her work from an early age, and since you know, child labor is illegal in the US, it was all under the table. She developed health issues from it because kids shouldn’t be exposed to cleaning agents at like 8.
Anyway, so it did something to her. I remember having to coax her to buy the bare minimum for herself. She had issues spending over 10 bucks on anything. Clothes, skincare, whatever, she wouldn’t do it. Her whole mentality was, I have to save up, I have to give my parents money, I have to make sure I don’t spend over this amount of money.
I talked her through one of those moments, and I said to her “why don’t you do something for yourself?” She said something like “I need to give my dad 1000 bucks.” I was like “why, do you owe him money?” She said something like “well, he has helped me.” I was like, “well you know, he’s also your dad, that’s what dads do.”
So she got an official diagnosis. Her parents literally make her sick yet there she is, helping them economically every single day. She feels guilty if she doesn’t help them.”
17. Not accessible.
“A lot of things that wealthy people have access too isn’t as accessible or often as good. Its gotta be pretty friggin annoying for people who can barely afford food to be told that they should see a therapist.
Like yeah, mental health is important but so is eating, and mental health is also going to take a hit when the money you used to talk to a therapist for an hour is going to eat into your food budget or bill money.”
“People assume being poor means you’re cheap to others but I feel like it is more the opposite!!
We know what it feels like so we are more likely to help without asking for anything in return.”
19. Can’t make mistakes.
“In 90% of the times, you cannot fail or made a bad/wrong decision, If you do it will take years and years to recover from that.”
20. Sounds terrible.
“That being physically safe is a luxury, not a given.
It can be dangerous to not be conscious for a couple hours. when youre homeless and sleeping somewhere, youre not thinking about tomorrow…youre thinking about “what if i get woken up and there is a knife to my face?”
It’s really stressful.
Honestly its one of the most stressful things I’ve gone through. It’s t**ture. Homeless people don’t go to sleep knowing they will wake up the next day..”
21. Hard to see that.
“Just how little money it would take to drastically help reduce the average person’s stress by well over 50%.
I see stories like Post Malone putting 1.5 mil in his mouth, or how much the Kardashians spend on a birthday party & it makes me puke with the sheer pointless extravagance.
It’s time we stop treating flaunting wealth & excess like anything other than sociopath behavior in light of the world right now.”
22. Speaking from experience.
“Government assistance isn’t easy to get or keep. Nor is it enough to live on comfortably. I applied for food stamps after I got laid off and ran out of unemployment benefits. I was 26 at the time. My state required me to…
Formally register for work
Attend regular appointments at the benefits office where I was condescendingly interrogated about why I was poor. I didn’t have a choice when to go in; the office sends you a notice in the mail and often times it comes weeks after your assigned appointment time passed.
And if you’re late for any reason, even if it’s their fault, your benefits are suspended until you go through another check-in process.
Attend several 2 to 8 hour long in-person job search trainings across town. My car was paid off so I could get there easily, but most people in the room relied on the bus.
Redeem gas vouchers at a specific gas station Luckily it was across the street from my apartment. The vouchers were a piece of paper you had to give to the cashier before you could pump your gas and it always drew attention.
Complete several volunteer hours each week to give back to the community for their “generosity,” (completely ignoring that I pay taxes too, including on unemployment income)
Keep a detailed record of every job I applied to and the outcome. By the time I finally found a job, I’d applied for 75 positions and used 3 employment agencies that did nothing for me except say, “I wish I could help you.” The job I got was only for 10 hours per week. I grew that sucker into a full-time gig with benefits.
I’m a young American, English-speaking, college educated woman and I struggled to meet the rules. Imagine how hard it is for people who are mentally ill, addicts, teens, elderly, disabled or immigrants? I saw it myself. It’s HARD.
Contrary to popular belief, none of us wanted to be in “the system.” Like a women with a PhD who was in one of my job search skills classes, or the high school kid who had no one to support him.”
23. Good point.
“Having money isn’t everything.
NOT having money is.”
24. Lack of opportunity.
“As a child in poverty, how little opportunity you have, so many extra curricular activities cost money that just isn’t available, I grew up in a trailer park with a crack addict mum & an al**holic dad.
If I wanted to do something it had to be free & I usually had to forge my mums signature on permission forms. We never had food, I learned to shoplift by 2nd grade. Winters were cold. I still excelled at school, because it was my escape from a s**tty home life.
I got taken into the foster care system, but I never got adopted, I was in a s**tty group home, the only way out was to get a job & prove that I could live independently, so I left school at the end of 8th grade & got 2 jobs, cause the wage for a 14y.o.is s**t, I got signed out of the system, I loved & valued education, so I signed up to do my school certificate & higher school certificate through technical college via distance education.
I worked hard & did well, I applied to medical school & smashed the UMAT test. When I got to the interviews, everyone else had all these stories about the community work they did, or learning trips overseas, they’d all had tutoring. It dawned on me that while I was working 60+ hours a week to make a living, these people had been doing things to get a leg up, cause they could, cause they had resources I never had.
Being born into poverty is like starting the race 10m behind the block with a broken leg.”
What are some more things most people don’t understand about being poor?
Talk to us in the comments and let us know.
Thanks a lot!