12 Shocking Ways Growing up Poor in the United States Can Fuel Lifelong Happiness

Poverty is a reality for millions in the US, including children. Growing up poor affects everything about your life — but not always for the worse. Here are 13 valuable lessons you can learn from growing up poor.

Family Ties

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One user remembered, “The strange thing is, the poorer we were, the closer we were.” This might not be true for every family, but scraping by together can create a special kind of closeness.

Make a Meal Out of Anything

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While growing up poor has its challenges, one pro is learning to make a meal out of crumbs if necessary. This type of resourcefulness means you can likely create something yummy without a lot of money.

More Grateful Attitude

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When growing up poor, anything you receive is a blessing. Whether it’s clothing or a hand-me-down bike, you feel grateful for the opportunity to have something new to you, especially if you want or need it.

Creative and Cheap Solutions

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Without much money, you have to think outside the box and come up with creative, cheap solutions — for example, applying bubble wrap over windows to conserve heat.

Appreciation for Hardworking Parents

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Most poor folks in the US are not poor for lack of trying. Many people work two, three, or more jobs to put food on the table for their kids and a roof over their heads. This effort results in children having a greater appreciation for their hardworking caregivers.

Never Looking Down on Others

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One thing that poor individuals learn is to never look down on others. Because of the situations they grew up in, they know how tough it can be and won’t look down on others because of their hardships.

Hardworking Attitude

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Growing up poor means you don’t always have money to do things you want to, such as buy something or go on a school trip. This can foster a hardworking attitude, teaching kids creative ways to make money — and not to stop until they can buy what they want or need.

A Love for Books

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Low-income families in the US don’t always have money for expensive electronic devices. This fosters a love of books, with many claiming books became their best friends. Books are inexpensive yet allow for plenty of fun for children.

More Time Outside

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In an electronic world, it’s easy for everyone — especially younger people — to stay inside. If kids grow up poor without money for electronics, they are encouraged to spend more time outside.

Time as a Family

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This isn’t the case for all individuals who grew up poor in the United States, but it’s certainly true for some: Many adults state that their families spent lots of time together as there wasn’t much money to do anything else.

Make Just About Anything

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For many kids and teens, having the latest clothing items is paramount. Those who grow up poor can’t just go out and buy them. Instead, they learn to sew and work to purchase fabric and accessories to make clothing.

Spending on Needs, Not Wants

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Many adults who grew up poor don’t want to waste their money. They know how to buy things they “need,” not want. Therefore, many are able to live comfortable adult lives and preserve their savings account.

Better Handle on Life

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Some people who grew up poor have a better handle on life. For example, they won’t panic when cold temperatures are coming and they don’t have propane. Instead of stressing, they’ll be resourceful; they might tack blankets to the windows, close off unused rooms, and hook up a space heater to prepare.


Author: Christopher Alarcon

Title: Journalist

Expertise: personal finance, side hustles, time management


Christopher Alarcon is a journalist with a deep passion for personal finance. He has contributed to major online publications, including MSN, Wealth of Geeks, and Business Insider.