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10 Things Growing Up Poor Will Teach You

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When you grow up poor, you often look at wealthy families with a bit of envy. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could be given everything, just like they do? Guess what, your early-life struggles might just pay off.

If you were one of 16 million American kids growing up in poverty, it has definitely had an impact on your life. Although there are certainly downsides to growing up poor (ramen, anyone?), it’s not all bad! As an adult, you’re going to see some real benefits. 

  1. You know how to stretch your food budget. Speaking of ramen, when you grow up poor, you learn how to get a large amount of food for not as much money. That sometimes means resorting to fast food, but you also learn how to utilize coupons or which grocery stores have the best deals on produce and meat.
  2. You know the value of charity. It may surprise you, but poor people give more of their income to charity than any other economic group. After all, when you’re down-and-out, you know the value of charity more than anyone else. This charitable attitude can come with you into adulthood, even when you find yourself out of the poor zone.
  3. You ponder big purchases more. Those who grow up rich might not even think twice about plonking down $299 for the new iPhone. But those who grew up poor might think twice. Why spend that kind of money if your older iPhone still does the trick?
  4. You fear debt. Even if you’re making great money now that you’re an adult, that fear of debt can still follow you after a childhood of dodging calls from bill collectors. On the brightside, that fear can always help prevent you from digging yourself into a financial hole.
  5. You don’t need a ton of money to have fun. When you were a kid, you still had a great time. Your parents found creative ways to entertain you. That skill can work even as an adult. Those who grew up poor can be satisfied with a day at the park and likely have a mental list of all the free events in town.
  6. You’re happy with what you have. Using material things as a way of displaying status just doesn’t sound right to you, does it?
  7. You cherish things other than money. Growing up poor, you learn to value family. After all, you don’t have that new Maserati to fill any of the holes in your life.
  8. You measure your happiness in meaningful ways. Some people who were born rich measure their happiness by their bank account. But if you grew up poor, the bank account is a minefield best to be avoided. Instead, you measure your happiness by the quality of your friendships, your health, fun life events and other meaningful variables.
  9. You value hard work. Nothing was given to you on a silver platter. You had to work hard to get what you want.
  10. You’re grateful once you work your way out of being “poor.” You had to work hard to get to where you are now as an adult. You weren’t given a free college education—you had to work for it. Same goes for your nice apartment. It all took hard work and perseverance—something that those who grow up rich don’t always understand.

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